11
Dec

Year in review

In what ways am I pouring inward? And how does that change the way I pour outward onto others?

Dear 2023, I walked into my year of self-respect because
*I have been a punching bag and a doormat.
*I am mean to myself, really mean.
*When I feel taken advantage of, I become the worst version of myself.
*I spent 13 months walking my father to his death and it was really hard.
*I was hurt, my heart, my toes, my eyes, they felt the physical pain, but I was hurt.

And the year did not disappoint.
I was bombarded with pain and loss and loneliness and times of deep sorrow.
There were times I felt sought after and attacked.
But, I will say that those moments made me the kindest I have ever been to myself as I poured inward.
I reminded myself that I am a good friend with a good heart and I carry people with me.
I reminded myself that I was in trouble for allowing this to happen to me and I really really looked at why.
I reminded myself that I was the common denominator and I needed to find a different way or different loves.

I backed off and backed away.
I got quiet and sad.
I cried.
I held on to memories but also forced myself to remember the hurt, shock, and pain.
I looked at old photos and I read old letters.
I walked down memory lane after lane after lane.
I thought through who I wanted to be and who I wanted to show up for.
I felt empty, most of the year, I felt empty because I wasn't sure I could be myself anymore.

And I realized a lot.
Grief is fascinating and it comes out in outrageous ways and at the damndest of times.
I spent three solid months crying on every single run I was on and every single time, I was stunned.
Grief is experienced even when the people you love are still alive.
And most significantly, I feel so honored to feel grief because real/true/limitless love was once there.
I realized that many people can only take me in small doses because I am, in fact, too much.
I also realized you can shrink not to be too much but be careful because you will start to feel invisible, if only to yourself.
If you are a lover of love, you have a superpower and a kryptonite at the same exact time.
Your superpower is how you make others feel - how loved they feel - and that feeling gives you life.
Your kryptonite is that you will make others feel stuck and like they have no out with you.
And if you try and control your superpower and extinguish its light, you will feel as though you are no longer part of the living.

I also spent some time figuring out what and how to pour inward.
I realized that I could find some space.
I found my breath on my mat again and I found my quiet in the slowness of it all.
I found people who reminded me I can and will find love again. It will take time and it will take some trial and error but it will happen. And although I don't believe it in my heart yet, I know that logically, it has to be true.
I spent time with my mom. I watched her try and re-emerge. I watched her handle grief in a very loving and healthy way. She is still deep in it, but she is also finding moments of levity and reasons to smile.
I spent so much time with my littles.
One comes home and tells me everything but nothing.
The other is a tornado in a storm and I get whisps of information in a blur.
We continued to do a lot of traveling.
I fought and made up with my husband.
I found a really loving routine for my body.
I slept.
I read.
I walked thousands of miles (or so it feels).
I lifted heavier weights and trusted the process.
I bought new clothes for my new body - the one that is now athletic - yes, on purpose.
I start my morning with a glow - -candles, a clean home, warm coffee, relaxing walks and sounds, and of course, puppy snuggles.

As my year of respect wraps up - I cannot say that I am better for it or worse.
Worse because of the blueness that I feel engulfed in at times, better because I did pour a little more love inward.
No, my cup did not run over, but I did pour a little more than the year before.
As for 2024, I will look to the beauty in this world and show more gratitude for what I have in front of me.

But, like most of us, I lived another year full of ups and downs and joy and pain.
I know that is how all of my years will go - because I am part of the living.







29
Aug

Relentless Humans.

"Surround yourself with relentless humans.
People who plan in decades, but live in moments.
Train like savages, but create like artists.
Obsess in work, relax in life.
People who know this is finite, and choose to play infinite games.
Find people scaling mountains. Climb together."

When I tuck you in at night, or when we are having a quiet moment, I whisper..."remember to always be you, because you're the best you I know."

And I forgot this message, or maybe I never learned it, for myself.

I have spent the last 18 months making myself smaller.
I have been made to feel as though I am too much.
I have been told I am too much.
I have definitely felt like I am too much.
Too open, too all in, too emotional, too sensitive.
I am too much to take.
I take too much on.
I have too many requirements.
I have too many moments to celebrate, no one can keep up.
I have too many routines.
I am crazy, no, too crazy.
I am too much to take.

And, it's all true.

So I retreated to become less.
And where I landed was being less me.
Less vibrant, less passionate, less loving, less interested.

"Your light may irritate a lot of unhealed people.
Shine anyway."

I have tried to fit into a more stable box.
One that has a nice tight lid.
One that is smaller in size.
One that does not take up space.

I wanted to be unseen, unheard, uninvolved.

And, it still wasn't enough.

I was still sought out.
I was still called names.
I still felt hurt, and very seen.
I was left feeling inside out and outside in.

I got even smaller.
I was more quiet. I was more withdrawn.
I hid. All the while, smiling through it.

It is my year of self respect.
It was time for me to look at myself to see what I was doing to attract pain...I am the common denominator.

All while I was telling you two to be who you are. At your core. Don't let this world change you. Try and allow your light to change the world...even when it gets hard.

"remember to always be you, because you're the best you I know."

So then I started calling myself names.
Hypocrite. Unauthentic. Maybe there is something wrong with my heart. Maybe my issues are that I am searching for something that can't be filled externally. I am just too damn much.

Or. Maybe it's not about me at all.
Or. Maybe it is.

Maybe it says something about me that I am searching.
Maybe it says something about me that I am in pain.
Maybe it says something about me that I do love hard.
Maybe it says something about me that I feel energy and emotions and can pick up on the room's energy.
Maybe it says something about me that people can feel my energy.

Maybe it is way too much.
Maybe I exhaust myself and others.
Maybe there is a lighter, smaller, easier way.
Maybe I can live a smaller life.

"remember to always be you, because you're the best you I know."

I do not have nor do I want a smaller life.
I do not live nor do I want to live in a glimmer-less world.
I do not want to pretend that the little things are special.
I do not want to smile through it.
I do not want to be closed off.
I do not want to not love with all I have.
I do not want to be less obsessed with what I love.

I want to plan in decades, because I see you in my future.
I want to be the one that shows up, because I love you.
I want to be the one you can count on, because I am here.
I want to be the one that understands you can't talk right now, because sometimes time is the best medicine.
I want to be the lover of life.
I want to be as passionate as I am.
I want to cry when things move me.
I want to laugh when things are funny.
I want to remember that there are dark corners everywhere so I'm okay celebrating light.
I want to tell you how beautiful you are because I believe it.
I want to listen to you, because life can be a lot and we all need good listeners.
I want to love what I love because it moves me.
I want to love a book so much I don't want it to end. And I want to be okay with the fact that I'm actually sad that it did end.
I want to be obsessed with our lives - because sometimes, it is so beautiful it could be a dream.
I want to be all in, because I'm an all in girl.
I want to be a light, because I know how dark it can get.
I want to be and am madly in love with a puppy we adopted. Because it is crazy how much I love her.
I want to find peace, love, relaxation in long rainy days. I want to linger in the sound.
I want to find comfort and warmth in snow days. I want to linger in the cozy.
I want to be obsessed with my work because I love love love to work. Because I am a relentless human.
I want to love how much I train like a savage. I put effort into me, my body, my health, my mind, my care. Because I am a relentless human.
I want to be the one you find to scale that mountain with. Because I am a relentless human.
I want to okay with being me. Because I am a relentless human.

"remember to always be you, because you're the best you I know."

To my littles and to myself...
"Keep good company, read good books, love good things and cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can" - Louisa May Alcott

17
Jul

Paradise

I spent a week in heaven.

Paradise actually.

Surrounded by sun, blue water, white sand, heat, views, mountain tops, drinks, amazing dinners, my family of four.

Paradise, actual paradise.

But, it started to creep in...just a little anxiety because I was sick.
And then a little more because we landed and I couldn't hear due to the congestion and my ears being clogged.
And then a little more because of the heat and trying to find our card.
And then a little more because we needed to find the house and the escort.
And then a little more because I realized the home didn't have AC (only in the bedrooms).
And then a little more because bugs ate us alive the second we opened our doors.
And then a little more because I realized I couldn't work out at all, no way to run up and down the mountains, no way to take a walk, even without the mountain, the temperature wouldn't allow it.
And then a little more just because.

But I'm in paradise, actual paradise.

And then I started to really miss the puppy, and I couldn't shake my old feeling of dread.
And then I started to not be able to sleep well.
And then I woke up to "we have to go as soon as possible" and "are you ready to go?" and "are we ready?".
Usually, I can just roll with that, but it all started to be...a little more.

And then the kids started to get to me, just a little here and there.
And then the facial expressions got to me, just enough.
And then I called my mom and heard her voice and how much my puppy was hugging her and she couldn't understand her love.
And then my illness landed in my chest, and the coughing started.

And then I started to feel better.
And then I went for a swim - and I remembered how hard swimming is!
And then I went for another swim and got all the one from one side to the other and I felt great!
And then I started to dance with my kids.
And then we shopped.
And then my husband and I talked and connected.
And then I felt even better.
And then it was getting closer to getting home, and I was ready.

And now I'm back. Puppy at my feet.
Working out and walking and being in my home.
Drinking my coffee, sleeping in my snuggled bed.
Getting our home ready for renters, just a few weekends this time so we can enjoy our time here.
Doing my laundry and making and eating dinner together.
Thunderstorms and heavy rains at night.
Concerts and tourists all over our little town.
The feel, the energy, the rhythm.
Routine in check.

Paradise, actual paradise.

10
Jan

Hi.

Hi 2023.
I have lots and lots to write to you.
I have lots and lots of feelings for you, about you.
But, I also want to be realistic.
I do not want to put too much pressure on you, me, or us.

As usual, I have a word for us 2023.
I have something that I want to guide us along the way.
Respect.

I want to live a year of respecting myself.
I want to live a whole year in which I have self-respect.
A year where I remember my worth.
A year where I remember my strength.

A year where I speak gently, to myself.
A year where I go easy on myself.
A year where I will forgive myself.
A year where I limit access to my heart.
A year where I set limits.

A year where I will expect more - but I no longer push for more.
I will expect more out of myself, but I will not die for my expectations.
I will expect more out of those that I allow close to my heart, but I will not beg for love.
I will expect to lean on my partner, but I will not expect minds to be read.

A year that I will not feel empty, but I will embrace space.
I will breathe in that space. I will breathe that space in. I will remember that I am privileged to have space.
A year that I will not feel alone, but I will embrace solitude.
I will remind myself that being cocooned is necessary at times.
A year of not always feeling. Not always connected and connecting.
And a year of connection.
Intentional connection. Welcoming in the new and making some quick decisions.

A year of realizing I am strong. God-dammit I am strong.
I live through a disease. A disease that I fight and I win every battle and every war.
I have mothered. And I mother you with my heart, my mind, my body, my soul. I try, I show up and I love. That all takes strength because not all days are easy.
I am a strong spouse. I love with all that I have. I think of you all of the time. I live to see you smile. I always want to feel connected and I put us first. I am your biggest fan and your sharpest critic. I am your friend, your home, your family. I live to love you, I am my best version with you.
I have driven an agency through thick and thin and gave it all of me. All of me.
Then I started something from nothing. I built an idea in my head and I grew it. I embraced the fear and the changes being thrown at me. I don't deal with fear and change well and I took it and ran with it.
I learn every single day.
I work hard, I play hard, and I love even harder.
I prioritize my health, and my body, no, I prioritize everything.
I run, I lift, I learned how to swim to do a triathlon for fuck sake.
I carry you, your feelings, your days, your memories, and our scars.
I look at my body with such disdain but look what we have done. Look what we do! Look at all we do together and we're not done.
I speak of it so poorly but time and time again, my body reminds me that we are not done. Not even close.
I have forgiven - with intention. I have forgiven those that haven't even said they were sorry.
I have loved, even those that did not gain my love, I gave it anyway.
I work on myself, and I learn from my mistakes. I take the time to learn about other people too, so I judge less.
I walked my father, lovingly, gracefully, and with dignity and respect, to his death.
I carried our scars too. I put our past behind us. I focused on what I learned from you and in the end, missing you was my greatest comfort.
That's strength.

I call myself meek. I am comfortable with my lack of self-confidence, but my lack of self-respect, that stops this year. It ends. It starts and ends with me.

Hi 2023.
I know it sounds like a lot.
I know it sounds like I've already put too much pressure on us.
But all I want is a little respect and I want it from me.

12
Dec

The power of gray

Rich colours actually look more luminous on a grey day, because they are seen against a somber background and seem to be burning with a lustre of their own. Against a dark sky all flowers look like fireworks. - G. K. Chesterton - "The Glory of Grey"

It snowed today. And although not our first snowfall of the season, our first all-day snowfall.
Although it was messy and very sloppy, I took a slow and deliberate run in the quiet gray.

If you love to run and it's a part of your routine and identity, you have to find a way to continue to do it in this kind of weather. Living in upstate New York gives you very few "perfect weather for running" days so you have to make do with what comes your way.
So, on this very wet and sloppy kind of a mess, I took a very slow and deliberate run.
In the quiet gray that surrounded me.

There's something so special about running in this weather. The streets are empty. You can see people inside their homes. You can see fires coming out of their roofs and you can see the glow of TVs and lights already on because the gray is taking over. Everything is a little slower.

Every once in a while, you'll run into someone shoveling their driveway or out for a walk. You'll catch a dog trying to figure out what is happening to its grassy patch of earth, but most of the run, it's just me and the sound of my feet. It's me shaking off the snow so I don't feel too wet. It's just me and the gray, all around me gray.

And it's gorgeous. The quiet is gorgeous, the sound of nothing. The white trees are gorgeous, the way they get heavy. The cold is gorgeous, you notice your each and every breath.

When I get home, the fireplace is on. The puppy is snuggled and cozy. The warmth takes over and the colors of my home come to life.
"...because they are seen against a somber background and seem to be burning with a lustre of their own..."

There is power in gray. There is a deepness and richness to it. There is a quiet that is needed and a slowness that is desired. Things take longer when it's gray. Time slows down to a more appropraite speed. I feel calmer in gray, more able to rest my body and my thoughts.
There is a power in that.
There is power in gray.
4
Jul

Sweet

"So much we take for granted"...

Like the sound of our puppy's feet.
Or the sound of her sleeping.
Like the smell of the season changing.
Or the smell of our children's hair.
Like how family comes together.
Or like how it is defined and created.

Like a good book.
Or a great TV show.
Like a warm fire.
Or a deep calming bath.
Like candles burning on a gray day.
Or how the sun makes rainbows dance in our house.

So let us sleep outside tonight
Lay down in our mother's arms
For here we can rest safely

Like how deep down the littles really care about each other.
Or how they both love on Pearl.
Like how much I adore you.
Or how much you try to make me happy.

Like how I start every day with a walk and end it that way too.
Or how I made a mental shift with exercise.
Like how my body is changing and how much I am learning.
Or how much I am letting go of.

Like how our house is really a true home.
Or how many memories it holds.
Like a tradition I just created.
Or how I harp on the ones I've already set in place.

One sweet world
Around this star is spinning
One sweet world
And in her breath I'm swimming
And here I will rest in peace

Like how the summer night sky is filled so many stars it takes your breath away.
Or how a winter night walk feels so calming and quiet.
Like how swimming feels so tiring.
Or how the sound of the ocean makes me fall asleep.

Like how a good storm makes me giddy.
Or how a snow storm makes me feel oddly secure.
Like how morning coffee brings me to life.
Or an evening glass of wine makes me melt away.

Like how yoga is so grounding.
Or like how a good run is so good for all of you.
Like how much love there is all around.
Or how there is peace in rest.

One sweet world
And in her breath I'm swimming
And here I will rest in peace

27
Jun

Purpose

I have been thinking through my purpose.
This last year had me really reflecting on my life, what I was intended to do, and if there was a reason for me.
I have been thinking about how people should live up to or try to complete their purpose in order to feel real peace.
True comfort.
Actual completion of a job well done.

My purpose.
For ever and always, I defined myself by my work.
And it wasn't until I lost my hum that I realized that I'm not allowed to do that anymore.
I can love what I do, love working, and still turn it off.
I can shut it down.
So, I found two amzing careers, one I was not able to shut down, the other, I learned from my lessons.
I found love in my work again, a hum, laughing, a team.
I found my purpose.

My purpose.
Soon, I was consumed with proving I can do hard things.
I still am tuned into it.
Not letting myself slide.
But I also realized I don't have anything to prove anymore.
I can do hard things, I have been doing hard things my whole life and ease and comfort are okay too.
So I run to light up my lungs.
I lift to keep my body strong.
I walk to be outside and be with my puppy.
I do yoga to stretch and really work out the tightness. I do it to breathe.
I found my purpose.

My purpose.
I met the love of my life.
I met a really nice guy.
I met a man that was so easy to love.
It was a time in my life when I was begging for easy and in he strolled.
All smiles and young.
An adorable rose smile, grinning ear to ear.
And we were family.
I was home.
I found my forever home when I saw him.
I found my purpose.

My purpose.
The family I never knew I always wanted.
It's not a surprise that the man I love wanted babies and introduced me to parenthood.
And then it's no surprise that you were both a gentle start to mothering.
And so it's no surprise how easily we found our groove.
It's no surprise that our dance was so natural.
It's also no surprise that when it took a turn, it knocked the wind out of me and I struggled to find our ease again.
Because a significant part of my purpose is childhood.
Protecting childhood and little.
So, I fight for your childhood kiddos.
I need for you to have warm memories.
I lean into our traditions, big and small, so that we have comfort to rely on.
I rely on our family and the warmth it brings us.
The family I never knew I always wanted.
I found my purpose.

My purpose.
Family.
Good friends and framily ties.
Lots of laughter.
A home filled with warmth and comfort.
A career I love and can put down.
A snuggled puppy sleeping next to me.
A partner I love and trust.
Kids that squeel with joy.
A body that keeps showing up for me and I promise to show up for her.
A home I adore, one I know will soon be way too quiet and empty, but right now, I adore it.
Little, childhood, memories, traditions, puppy snuggles and kisses, kiddos piled on top of us, holding hands all of the time, talking, being together, love on top of love.
Yeah, I found my purpose.

27
Mar

It's so quiet

Have you ever stepped into a moment that is so quiet, so wonderfully quiet, it is precious?

March threw us one last storm, a pretty big one.
My girls and I decided to take a walk right in the middle of it.
No cars, no plow trucks yet, no people, just our feet again the crunching of the snow.
Just a puppy trying to stay warm and dry.
And out of nowhere, my biggest little said, it's so quiet mom.
I know sweetie, and it's wonderful. I'm so happy you're here with me.

Last week, later at night, I took the puppy out by myself.
The wind that had been rushing through the air had died down, the rain stopped, and it was pleasant.
I had intended to just to a loop in the neighborhood but I just couldn't stop moving my feet, it was so quiet.
Just me and her.
No lights, no neighbors, no other dogs to get her to pull in one direction or another.
Just us and the quiet night.

After all the questions were asked, after the results were in, after the doctor left, it was just us.
And my tears, in the quiet.
Just a quiet moment between two people that have never shared a quiet moment.
Just a quiet moment between two of the most unlikely pair.
A moment so beautiful it was almost poetic and you don't do poetry.
It was in the quiet that I found love.

In the morning, rushing them out the door, getting in all we have to do before busses come, it's a bit loud.
And then, once our final smooches are smooched, and everything is ready, I close all the doors and take one moment of quiet.
I start a yoga class.
And take a shower.
I light a candle, I sit in my clean kitchen with a fresh cup of coffee and I get to work, in the absolute quiet that I have the privilege to appreciate.

Lying down next to you at night, you start with all the questions and all the talking and all the things to keep the night going.
Eventually, you settle into the quiet. You snuggle in and rub your eyes a little. You move around and find the right spot and then the quiet of the night settles in and your breathing gets a little heavier, a little deeper.
We continue to whisper I love you here and there, but the quiet has finally won and you are ready for sleep.

Have you ever stepped into a moment that is so quiet, so wonderfully quiet, it is precious?
Like listening and watching the rain.
Like sitting outside during a snowstorm.
Like taking a warm bath and just sinking in.
Like sitting in a dark room to write to your babies.
Like reading a book.
Like snuggling with a puppy.
Like a run with no music, no talking, just the sound of your feet on the pavement.
Like late-night walks.
Like a cup of coffee with yourself.
This introverted mother works hard for her quiet. Sometimes she has to work to find it.
Sometimes it just creeps up on her and she allows it to wash right over her body.

17
Jan

Respect

Lovies, there is a secret that I really really hope I have kept from you. Even though we're not allowed to keep secrets, I kept this one...again, I hope. If you ever decide to read this blog and learn about us and you and me and dad and marriage and our life through my second chance, well, here's something I fought hard to keep from you.

I have always and forever hated the way that I look. Always and forever...always always and forever.

And, I have tried SO HARD. The one and only thing I can say is that Anna, once I laid eyes on you, I tried even harder to fix this and I also tried even harder to keep this part of myself hidden (only from you two) because I could not even think of passing this insanity down to you.

And that's just what it is, insane. I see beauty in every shape and size. I adore women with confidence in their bodies. I aspire to be just like them, they inspire me to be better. That's how I know it's insane. I can see someone that looks like me and think she's stunning and then with me, I think it all looks wrong.

I have no idea why in all of the healing I have done, this one lingers and keeps at me. But, what else can I do or think or say that I haven't already done or thought or said? I know those that know this about me are very much over it too. Hearing me complain, me constantly asking how it looks, should I wear it, what does this part of my body look like. They aren't going to tell me the truth anyway so what am I doing? So, I can continue to blame "them" and say "I know where it comes from and they still make awful comments about my body" but the truth is, I am 43 years old as I write this. Forty-three years of age. I have zero excuses. I either figure this out or I don't. I either figure it out, or I don't. Just me. No more them, me and me alone.

So last week, I posted a picture of myself on social media. A picture that I stared at for days and thought, should I, shouldn't I? So many judgemental thoughts running through my mind and I thought, ok, this is it, one more shot at trying to just stop this insanity.

So, I wrote the story and I hit post and now it's out there.
Me. After three years of lifting. A very different version of myself.

The craze in my mind is I have actually worked so hard to look like that picture. I just didn't realize my body was going there while doing it. I'm working hard every single day, as I have always done, but lifting is different and it changes your body so much.

The craze in my mind is that I call all the other amazing women strong and I see how clearly their strength shines through. But I don't see it for me, all I see is thick and different.

The craze in my mind is that my numbers are scaling up and that's never happened to me...the girl that's terrified to know the numbers because it messes with her head too much.

The craze in my mind is my coaches love it, encourage it, want more of it. Do not care what it should be, they want to redefine it.

My whole life, I have tried to "fix" this part of me. Trust me I know how unhealthy and how damaging it is to think of yourself and your body this way. I know how devastated I would be if my daughter had even one of these thoughts. I know how angry I would be if my son thought this way about any woman ever.

So I tried to prove myself...to me.
But the harder I tried, every time I "failed" I would feel like a failure.

I ran a marathon but hit a wall at mile 20. My body failed, I failed.
I had a baby but my body gave out and I couldn't deliver her. So I had a c-section. My body failed, I failed.
I had another baby, a planned c-section, but I couldn't heal. My MS wouldn't allow my nerves to heal for three awful months. My body failed, I failed.
I do yoga, but because of my hips, I always look "off", never graceful. My body failed, I failed.
I run half marathons but because of my hips, I look like a duck, awful form and that form can cause actual problems. My body failed, I failed.
I have done triathlons but I didn't learn how to swim until I was 36 so I'm awful at it. My body failed, I failed.
I'm slow, I'm not the strongest, I always have the wrong form. And I feel like a failure.

I'm not even going to pretend that this new workout routine has fixed any of this in my brain, but my best girl told me something that did make me think differently.

I just don't spend any time thinking or worrying about my body. I can either go down that rabbit hole, or I can spend my energy in other places.

Who would have thought that was even a possibility? Not thinking about how I look. Just give it the respect it deserves by not constantly thinking about everything I want to change.
So instead of trying to get to a place where I am "fixed" and love everything about me, what if I spent my energy differently?

Immediately after I was hit with three gorgeous women that shared little snippets of self-love.

I am changing the definition of beauty.
I am in love with the woman I've become because I fought to become her.
I am thicker and I love it, I mean, why else are we going?

And the one thing I do not keep as a secret is that I do think there are moments when the universe is trying to tell me things or give me things. So, yes, I will try and listen.

I am changing the definition of beauty.

I know it has nothing to do with a look, a specific look. I believe that, fully believe it. So just as I see everyone else change the definition of beauty, can I try to for me? Somewhere I got the idea that beauty for me meant being lean. Why do I even want lean? What is the look? What is the number? How thin is enough? How lean? Right now, all I see is thick and my body is no longer lean...anywhere. I can no longer make lean my definition. I am not representing beauty by being lean.

I write about #StrongIsTheNewPretty and no matter how much muscle I have or don't have, this family is strong. And I have overcome a lot to be exactly where I am, which is exactly where I want to be. This little life I lead, it is really gorgeous and I'm so so lucky.

I am in love with the woman I've become because I fought to become her.

I have fought hard for this woman. Really hard. I've been fighting since I was 8. I put down my fighting gloves years ago and then in 2020, I stopped proving I can do hard things because I can.

I hit a wall at mile 20, but I ran 20 miles and I finished a marathon. I fought hard for her.
I had a baby via c-section, but I had a healthy baby. I labored for 23 hours, and then I had surgery and I had a baby. I fought hard for my baby girl to come into the world and she is here. I fought hard for both of us.
I had another baby, a planned c-section, but I couldn't heal. My MS wouldn't allow my nerves to heal back together but eventually I did and during those three months, I mothered. I mothered a new born and a toddler. And I fought through my MS, like I have been for almost 20 years. I fought through and I fought hard for my babies and my body and I fought hard for me.
I do yoga, I do not look graceful, but I do it for me. I find my breathe and I sink into the floor, and I feel it getting better. I feel my body feeling better. I show up and fight for me.
I run half marathons and when I run, I do look like a duck. So much so that strangers stop me in town to ask if I'm the woman that runs on their street, I make that much of a scene. But, I run without music or noise. I run in silence and I listen to my awkward feet hit the pavement and I take in where I am. I fight for those runs and I fight for me.
I have done triathlons and I learned how to swim at 36 for them. Every time I felt like I was going to sink, but I always kept going. I fought for that finish line.
I'm slow, I'm not the strongest, I always have the wrong form. But I keep showing up and I keep going and trying. I fight for who I am.
I have fought hard for the woman I am, it's time I show up for her and give her some respect.

I am thicker and I love it, I mean, why else are we going?

My coaches, the other members that go, my sister, they cannot get enough of how much their bodies are changing.
That's why we're doing it.
But I didn't know when I first started and again, my crazy definition had to do with being lean. So as things started to get bigger, thicker, as the numbers climbed and things started to feel different, I panicked. A lot. I really really freaked out. And they just kept encouraging me and telling me, we're not done. Your strength is all we care about. Your health and your ability. You living up to that ability so keep going, keep working, keep trying and keep coming. And I am so I guess that's my decision. I'm in this. I'm doing this. On purpose, paying to look like this. So enough with caring about anything other than showing up and loving my time there and letting the rest...rest in peace.

This year, I'm going to work on respecting this body. Not loving it, but respecting it.
I'm going to work on better confidence. Not loving it, but appreciating it.
I'm going to work on spending my energy on other things, not obsessing over it, but respecting it.
Respect to you 43 year old.

12
Dec

Where our story begins

There is something so beautiful about the beginning of a love story. Something so sweet, so pure. You can't stop smiling, your heart rushes, something happens in your toes. You can't get enough and you can't picture anything different. And no matter what happens to your story, holding on to that feeling is just so important. In fact, I once read that you can tell if couples in therapy have a fighting chance by the way they talk about the start of them. If they fumble through the story and giggle and remember the joy or if it's all about how it all went wrong and feel as though it started with contempt.

I am so lucky to have so many gorgeous love stories and more for me than you, I want to share them. I wanted to honor them and I wanted to remind you that happy endings look so different. There is no need to mention names, those who know already know. Some are people, or pets, or places/cities. But the who is something I will keep just for me.

When I first met you, I was 14 years old and still desperately trying to figure out how to get through this part of my life. I had my goals and my life planned out, but I was too young to be this angry. You kind of got it, you understood, and you validated how awful this was. You made me a teen with crushes and late-night talks. With an obsession with the phone, notes being passed, talks about boys, first kisses. You made me young and happy.

When I first met you, I was dating someone else and you came on strong. You wrote me letters, poems, you wrote about me. You read my writing and you were amazed that we shared this secret language that we shared with no one. You made me feel so special, so seen. You were my first young love. You made me feel like me and okay with that.

When I first met you, it was way later than I should have. Everyone else had done visits and tours of their choices and made an informed decision. I saw you through brochures because I wasn't allowed to see you in person. But when I did, when I did, it was everything I wanted. From the moment I laid eyes on you, you felt like a warm blanket, ready to take care of me. You were gorgeous, absolutely stunning.

When I first met you all, we were crazy young, a little nervous, but so so happy. We were all trying to figure out what this important part of our lives was going to look like but one thing was for sure, we were going to take care of each other, be there for each other, we created a home, a framily. Years and years and years later, we have been through heartache, heart breaks, first adult loves, weddings, babies, raising kids, taking care of aging parents. We have held on to what we created.

When I first met you, I met my heart, my forever person. Your background was so similar to mine and you understood me in a way most couldn't. Your family was so loving, so caring, so there and supportive and that's exactly what you became. What you have given me is my forever and ever family. Watching our kids become who we were, what we still are, is the highlight of life. Loving your husband in the way that I love you, knowing you love mine as deeply and meaningfully. You fill me full, you are my one week a year and you so beautifully know and accept me. You so lovingly appreciate how crazy the four of us are, and you teach me...you fill me full.

When I first met you, it was my very first night of college and we stayed up all night talking. We sat on a wall and talked the night away about where we came from, what brought us here, our families. Our stories were so different. Within months, you became my first college boyfriend. You made me laugh, you made me have fun, you made me dance, you loved music as much as I did. You let me be with my girls, and you made me happy.

When I first met you, I was taking a class that I needed to check off my list. What I found was an amazing love of the subject, a deep sense that I needed to learn more and more and that I could not get enough of you. What I found was the beginning of my love of education, no longer my have to, but my actual love and desire.

When I first met you, you were seven and you changed everything about me. You and your family had me believe in a loving home filled with laughter and healthy fights and warmth. You gave me a future to believe in and a career that would change my entire life.

When I first met you, you were the funny guy downstairs. We bonded over our love of Pearl Jam and our friendship drove us both mad and crazy. It still does to this day. You make me laugh and think differently. You opened my eyes to the world, you were protective, you were inspiring, you were a real and amazing friend.

When I first met you, we were playing a game at one of your house parties. You leaned over and kissed me. You took me by such surprise, but that kiss sparked something, years of something. You stole me away. You had a way of taking care of me, even though I was trying to scream that I didn't need to be taken care of. You had a way of making me feel special, even though I felt like I didn't deserve it. And I always thought I was just in the way, in your way. Ultimately, you were what helped me realize what I did deserve and what I needed to be looking for.

When I first met you, you were in a little ball in a cage waiting for your family to find you. As soon as we laid eyes on each other, we were locked in. The day I brought you home, you sat next to me like my little co-captain in this life. And you held that role, most times taking the lead but just a nudge, but always always being there. You became my reason, my heart, my family. You brought dad to us, you made him fall in love with us. You were soft and gentle and cute and smelled so good. We took such good care of each other. And for all of the years of love and moves and changes and life events, I have no regrets. I know I loved you as hard as I possibly could and I know you knew how much that was. You were my reason.

When I first met you, I was renting a movie, your smile immediately drew me in. I met my family, and I was home. All that we have created together is remarkable. Our decades together have meant something. Our future is still so unknown, but solid. Even through our darkest and hardest of times, you keep us...you keep us. I want to thank you for never ever giving up, for listening, for moving in the directions we needed to move. I want to thank you for your undying support, a real true partner. I want to thank you for picking up what I have needed to drop. I want to thank you for knowing how important my work is to me, but also bringing life back to us and them. I want to thank you for falling in love with puppy kisses and being patient with my mothering. I want to thank you for insisitng I become a mother, something I love so much. I want to thank you for loving me and growing with me.

When I first met you, it was different. Two little lines told me you were coming and in that instant, our connection began. I can't explain it, but when I placed my hand on my belly, you whispered that you were a girl. Months later you told me your birthday and months and months later, you were here. A person. Half me, half dad. You made us walk into parenthood so gently and lovingly. You were so easy, so easy to care for, so easy to love, nothing was ever hard those first three years. You slept, you ate, you got sick, you got better. You cried, you were serious, you laughed, you danced, you fell in love with puppy kisses. You were the daughter I was always afraid of, but exactly what I never knew I always needed.

When I first met you, well, it was love at first sight. They put your little head up to me and we gave each other our first "little guy" kiss, something we do to this very day. You looked at me differently, like I was your world...your moon...your stars. I just could not believe the way my heart felt. But today I realize that my heart was feeling what your heart feels. Because your heart is something that dreams are made of. You have such a loving and caring and affectionate soul. Your heart is always on he outside of your body...always. You feel very deeply, you love so naturally. You are a good friend, sibling, son, student. All there is to know is that you will be loved in this world and the world needs to change to accept your love. You do not need to change to meet the world, your love will be the change this world needs.

When I first met you, I was a mom in the thick of it and so lonely. I was in the middle of my marriage fog and desperate for family. I asked for you, and you showed up. My heart was insatntly connected to yours and your family. My soul was full. You were exatly what I needed at exactly the time I needed you. We raised our babies together. We struggled together. You walked me through years of heartache and change. You helped me to see my husband's side of the story. We watched our boys go from parellel play to actual best buds. We saw how complete opposites they were, we laughed at all of the ways they need each other, but drive each other nutty. I fell for you, you taught me so much. You made me a better mom and person and you helped me see balance so differently.

When I first met you, all I saw was a picture and turned to dad and said, this is her, this is our girl. We have to go and get her. There was a lot of back and forth but the day came that we finally got to take you home. You were a bundle of floopy skin and so shaken. Strangers opened up a car door and I turned to our littles and said, she's here, this is our new girl. You instantly warmed to us and we started on our lover of love adventures. A puppy that wants love, and smooches, and caring for more than food or potty breaks. A puppy that is my running and walking buddy, but also my snuggles and fireplace lover. A puppy that loves a nap and a tasty snack but hates the rain or being wet and dirty. A puppy that loves to run looks so natural doing so, a puppy that lives for us, shakes her cooley at us with excitment for just being home. The ray of light we all needed at exactly the right time we needed it. Our perfect, precious ray of light and love. A reminder that time heals and love moves on.

The beginning of a love story is so precious, so wonderful, so caring. It feels so right, exactly what you needed when you needed it. No matter how the story ends, what new chapter you write, just hold on to the feeling of love that you were a part of. Thank the universe for bringing it to you, making you feel that way, that special, that needed right back. Thank them for their part in it. Because love stories come and go. But knowing all of our hearts, we never let the love die.

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