Truth is Not Trendy: Part 1

If you were ever looking for a word to describe me one of the last to be chosen would be “trendy.”

I can recall exactly two times in my life when I have been trendy. Both were by accident. It’s not that I’m against following trends (depending on what we’re talking about), it’s just that I don’t have a trendy bone in my body.

Growing up one of my best friends and I made quite the odd pair. She has always been drop dead gorgeous and very fashionable. And I was pretty dorky and dressed like a grandma even in middle school.

Once, after college she commented on how impressed she was that the sweater I was wearing was actually cute. I laughed and mentioned she had teased me about that exact sweater a few years earlier. She replied that it hadn’t been in style then.

The other time I recall being trendy was something very similar with a pair of shoes and another dear friend of mine.

I do appreciate my fashionable friends because on days when yoga pants are a no-no, I totally need them.

Clothes aren’t the only things that come in and out of fashion. Right now, one of the least trendy things seems to be truthfulness. Look at our political leaders, our media, and our culture in general. It doesn’t matter which “side” you find yourself on, truth seems to the exception to the rule these days. And this, is dangerous for all of us.

Years ago someone told me to watch The Invention or Lying, and afterwards I joked that someday they will make a movie about me called The Invention of Telling the Truth.

Certainly no one tells the truth all the time, but lying seems not only to be second nature in our culture, but also promoted. Common statements that can be heard today include things such as: Truth is relative. What’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me. We all have our own truth. All roads lead to the same place. But these just aren’t logical. Not only that, they pose the possibility of a great deal of harm and damage.

As an example, let me use an important issue in the forefront of our current national conversation. Women are coming out of the woodwork with allegations of sexual misconduct of varying degrees in both Hollywood and our government. And it’s about time we start tackling the seriousness of this. But let’s apply the post-truth ideology to it for a moment.

If a woman accuses a man of sexual assault, either she’s telling the truth or she’s not. If he says it was consensual, either he’s telling the truth or he’s not. These encounters couldn’t have been both assault and consensual. One’s perspective doesn’t erase facts or make them disappear. By definition, one must be right and the other wrong. One must be telling the truth, while the other is being dishonest.

They cannot each have their own separate truth. That’s not how reality works, and I believe this example exemplifies that truth isn’t relative. We need to apply the same logic across the board.

But if we keep muddying the waters of truth we risk unintended consequences that will hurt many.

Truth is not relative. By definition, truth is an absolute.

But that’s not trendy. It’s trendy to let people think whatever they believe to be true is true. Can you see the danger in saying that one’s perspective is their own truth?

The media and our politicians are so deceitful, but when we don’t demand honesty and transparency because we ourselves as a nation have pushed aside the importance of truth what else can we expect?

Perhaps I shouldn’t have such high expectations of the secular world, but I do. I have even higher standards for the church, though. I mean they must be better at this truth thing… right??

Sadly, in many cases the church is failing here as well. Truth isn’t trendy in the church either, but I’ll save that for another post.

I for one cannot wait until truth is trendy and people recognize reality for what it is again.

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The Good and Bad Days

This weekend my son asked me what the happiest day of my life was. I told him I don’t know what the happiest day was, but that one of them was his Dad’s birthday last year, which knowing our circumstances may seem puzzling at first.

My husband spent his last birthday alive in Afghanistan. That year my son was only 3 and my daughter was an infant. I thought it would be good to celebrate it for my son’s sake anyway. I let him pick out a cake and we sang Happy Birthday. If memory serves, Tom called home that day and we sang it to him.

Ten months later, he was gone. His birthday has always been one of the hardest days for me and the first couple of years after his death I spent that day sobbing. I can’t imagine how painful a day it is for his Mom.

A few years ago I decided that instead of being depressed we should use the day to celebrate his life and do something fun to honor him.

Last year we took a day trip to Chattanooga. We had an amazing time with laughter and stories and exploring – and only one or two small sad moments. We talked about fun memories keeping the trip upbeat. The whole day felt as perfect as possible. Our server even had a frog tattoo as if Tom was letting us know he was there – like he was sending us a gift on his special day.

Even with missing Tom, it truly was one of my favorite days for so many reasons.

But after we talked about the best day, I later started thinking about some of the worst days. If I’m honest, it scares me to think that I may not have already been through the worst experiences of my life, and if I live long enough, I likely will endure more painful events. But I can’t dwell on that. It’s not healthy. So when those thoughts come to mind, I acknowledge them and send them away.

What helps me to rest easy is that even if I go through the wilderness again, I won’t stay there forever. I will get through it just as I did before. Now, I may need someone to remind me that the wilderness doesn’t last forever if I do find myself there in the future because when we are in it it’s hard to remember it’s only temporary.

I’m not saying that all the pain is temporary, and once someone is on the other side they will never feel pain again.

The wilderness is brutal. That’s just reality. I don’t know anyone who has arrived at the other side totally unscathed. But I also know many who have come out stronger even with all the bruises, scars, and thorns that stay with them.

Some thorns get so embedded that you carry them with you the rest of your life. If you’re lucky most days you won’t even notice the thorns. Other days there will be a dull ache. And then there are those days when you bump into something familiar – a smell, a song, a person, or a memory that seems to come out of nowhere, and in an instant you’re transported back to the middle of the wilderness, and pain floods your heart as if you had never left to begin with.

It’s consuming, but there’s some solace knowing that the overwhelming pain will subside just as it has in the past, and once again you can take a deep breath and move forward knowing there are brighter days to come.

Everyone’s journey is different and we can’t compare the details. We need to just be there for those who are in the midst of the wilderness as best we can. And remember if you’re in the middle of it, brighter days will come and they will be worth the struggle to get there.

I met and heard Vice President Biden speak on what would have been my 7th wedding anniversary. The words he spoke years ago have rooted themselves in my mind, “Eventually there will be more good days than bad days.” That’s sound advice from a man whose experienced tremendous grief in his life. Hold on to that as you journey along.

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Lessons on Love Learned from Cats

I once heard that the average person dated 100 people before getting married. I joke that with that statistic, I should be on my 4th marriage. Honestly, though, I’ve done a bit of dating, and there are plenty of lessons I’ve learned along the way. I could write an entire book on online dating, but can sum it up in 3 words: Don’t do it.

I’ve happily become a crazy cat lady. I think it was inevitable as I became a widow in my 20’s, and well, cats are as addicting as tattoos. In some ways they also offer a parallel to some of the lessons I’ve learned about love. And since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, I thought it’d be a fun post, but to be fair, it might end up being more about my cats.

You Can’t Fill The Void:

One thing that has been consistent in my life is that when my heart breaks, I try my best not to feel the pain. When my husband died, I jumped into a relationship with someone entirely too quickly. And when that relationship ended, as it was doomed from the start for a multitude of reasons, I found someone else.

I always tried to fill the void, and it never worked. I knew I did this, but it wasn’t until my son’s kitten, Marvin died that I truly realized what I was doing, and that it’s impossible to fill that void.

You see, I spent nearly $1,000 trying to save this amazing little guy’s life, but 6 days after the 6th anniversary of my husband’s death, I got the call that Marvin wasn’t going to make it.

The tears are forming in my eyes as I write about him. He was such a special kitten, and in the 5 months we had him, he left a lifetime impression on our hearts and in our lives.

My daughter’s kitten was utterly depressed and so were we. I thought a new kitten would help Coco snap out of her depression, and about 5 weeks later we adopted 2 new kittens. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my crazy boys (they are off the charts crazy), and they have a special place in my heart.

But they aren’t Marvin; 2 new boys couldn’t take his place – 200 couldn’t either. I will always miss him. I could write for days about that sweet tabby who was only on this earth for a short 9 months. His impact can’t be unfelt, and while I love cats – my goodness I’m a proud card-carrying Crazy Cat Lady – no one can be replaced.

Each one is unique and plays a significant role. But trying to fill that role with another won’t make the ache go away.

I couldn’t replace my husband, and it wasn’t that I was trying to replace him. I just didn’t want to feel the pain so intensely and thought that someone else could ease that pain, but it didn’t work.

I tried that over and over in my love life. Everyone fell short because when love is deep and intense it can’t be replaced.

First Impressions Aren’t Always Accurste:

After Marvin died and we welcomed Mortimer and Creamer into our home, the dynamics were a little off. Our resident cat, Coco probably would have done better with just one male in the home. Bringing in two boys sent the testosterone levels through the roof. Coco was still grieving Marvin (it was heartbreaking to watch her), and she was overwhelmed. I had no idea animals experienced grief the way humans do.

My brilliant solution to the problem was to adopted another female kitten to even things out. So we went on a search for the right kitten.

The Humane Society was going to allow us to adopt another kitten for free because Marvin was already sick when we got him, but one day my daughter and I stopped by PetSmart just to look at kittens.

There was one tiny little girl, fittingly named Ity Bitty. I picked her up and she purred. Then she fell asleep in my arms. It didn’t take much begging from my daughter to shell out $120. Ity Bitty was the sweetest little thing ever.

Until we got her home. Then she wasn’t. The feral, bottle-fed kitten was, well, feral. Have you ever seen a feral kitten? I felt duped. It’s not like that hasn’t happened in real life relationships either.

Oh, the pretty boys who seem so sweet and nice and charming usually (and pretty much always in my case) end up being the complete opposite. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve fallen for it. It’s one reason I enjoy the single life now. I don’t trust my own judgement. 

A year later she still attacks us and runs around like a crazy squirrel, but sometimes she let’s us hold her, and with the colder weather she even snuggles in bed at night. Of course it’s to stay warm and not because she likes me – story of my life. 😉

It takes time to get to know someone – a cat or a person, and sometimes who we think they are when we first meet them isn’t the real them, or at least not the whole picture. It’s always wise not to fall too hard or too fast when deciding if you should take someone home with you because you may end up disappointed.

Similarly, Looks Can be Deceiving:

When we were looking for kittens online at the different shelters we came across a litter with some beautiful cats, but one of them was on the less than attractive side. My thought was ‘I’d never pick that one out of the litter.’ But when we got to FurKids, he ended up being the first one we held. And he totally melted into my daughters arms. His purr was loud and he was the sweetest thing. I held him and instantly knew he was going home with us.

(I’m sure you can see a theme here: if you purr for me, I’m taking you home with me.)

Initially I didn’t think he was a cute kitty, but that quickly changed. I judged him on his looks alone, and if we hadn’t have given him a chance because I was being 100% shallow at the time, then we would have missed out on the most snuggly, cuddly cat ever. He (like Marvin before him) allows us to pick him up and carry him all over the place. He’s a lap kitty, too. And if there’s a book nearby he will try to lay on it, so now I have two books with me when I read. The one I’m reading, and one for him to lay on next to me.

He’s still super crazy and makes a huge mess, but those stories are for another day. But he’s the most lovable kitty.

Sure, looks matter in romantic relationships, I’m not saying otherwise. But they certainly aren’t everything. We all know you should never judge a book by its cover, but we often still do. My Mom always told me that people become more attractive when you get to know them and fall in love with them, and she’s right. I definitely have experienced that, not just with Mortimer either. One person in particular comes to mind.

I wasn’t really attracted to him when we first met, but there was something different about him from the beginning. I fell in love him faster than I had with anyone else, and the attraction I had for him was a surprise.

He ended up being such an important and life changing part of my journey, and I can’t imagine where I’d be without his part in my story.

Don’t miss out on something great because at first glance it’s not wrapped in the prettiest package.

Loyalty:

Mortimer. Again. So like I said, Mortimer is snuggly. We call him the snuggle-buddy, but honestly he was my snuggle-buddy until last summer. Then all of a sudden with my daughter home from school he became her snuggle-buddy.

One night when I was putting her to bed, Mortimer was laying on her and she kind of got upset that one of the others laid down on me. I made a joke about Creamer still being loyal to me, and her response was epic. She said, “If Mortimer isn’t loyal to you now then he never was. That’s not loyalty. You can’t lose loyalty.” It’s worth noting she was 8 years old at the time. Pretty deep stuff there from one so young.

And yes, there are certainly times in life when loyalty can be lost, but that’s if the other person has done something to lose it. If nothing has been done to lose the loyalty, then she’s right.

If someone isn’t loyal to you now then they weren’t from the start. I don’t think that one needs explaining on the human side. My kiddo is wise, and I hope that serves her well as she gets older.

Hearts Expand:

My first lesson was that you can’t fill the void, and that’s very true. But that’s not the end of the story.

When we don’t compare what was to what is we make room in our hearts for more love. Not all loves are comparable, but that’s okay. The heart is ever expanding to love more. There is no limit on how many can fill the space, or how much love our hearts can hold. And that’s the greatest lesson of all. No matter what, there’s room to love. Another cat, a new significant other, another child. There’s enough love to go around. I wish I could make my kids understand this so they’d stop asking who I love more. 😉

Lessons on Love Learned from Cats

I once heard that the average person dated 100 people before getting married. I joke that with that statistic, I should be on my 4th marriage. Honestly, though, I’ve done a bit of dating, and there are plenty of lessons I’ve learned along the way. I could write an entire book on online dating, but can sum it up in 3 words: Don’t do it.

I’ve happily become a crazy cat lady. I think it was inevitable as I became a widow in my 20’s, and well, cats are as addicting as tattoos. In some ways they also offer a parallel to some of the lessons I’ve learned about love. And since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, I thought it’d be a fun post, but to be fair, it might end up being more about my cats.

You Can’t Fill The Void:

One thing that has been consistent in my life is that when my heart breaks, I try my best not to feel the pain. When my husband died, I jumped into a relationship with someone entirely too quickly. And when that relationship ended, as it was doomed from the start for a multitude of reasons, I found someone else.

I always tried to fill the void, and it never worked. I knew I did this, but it wasn’t until my son’s kitten, Marvin died that I truly realized what I was doing, and that it’s impossible to fill that void.

You see, I spent nearly $1,000 trying to save this amazing little guy’s life, but 6 days after the 6th anniversary of my husband’s death, I got the call that Marvin wasn’t going to make it.

The tears are forming in my eyes as I write about him. He was such a special kitten, and in the 5 months we had him, he left a lifetime impression on our hearts and in our lives.

My daughter’s kitten was utterly depressed and so were we. I thought a new kitten would help Coco snap out of her depression, and about 5 weeks later we adopted 2 new kittens. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my crazy boys (they are off the charts crazy), and they have a special place in my heart.

But they aren’t Marvin; 2 new boys couldn’t take his place – 200 couldn’t either. I will always miss him. I could write for days about that sweet tabby who was only on this earth for a short 9 months. His impact can’t be unfelt, and while I love cats – my goodness I’m a proud card-carrying Crazy Cat Lady – no one can be replaced.

Each one is unique and plays a significant role. But trying to fill that role with another won’t make the ache go away.

I couldn’t replace my husband, and it wasn’t that I was trying to replace him. I just didn’t want to feel the pain so intensely and thought that someone else could ease that pain, but it didn’t work.

I tried that over and over in my love life. Everyone fell short because when love is deep and intense it can’t be replaced.

First Impressions Aren’t Always Accurste:

After Marvin died and we welcomed Mortimer and Creamer into our home, the dynamics were a little off. Our resident cat, Coco probably would have done better with just one male in the home. Bringing in two boys sent the testosterone levels through the roof. Coco was still grieving Marvin (it was heartbreaking to watch her), and she was overwhelmed. I had no idea animals experienced grief the way humans do.

My brilliant solution to the problem was to adopted another female kitten to even things out. So we went on a search for the right kitten.

The Humane Society was going to allow us to adopt another kitten for free because Marvin was already sick when we got him, but one day my daughter and I stopped by PetSmart just to look at kittens.

There was one tiny little girl, fittingly named Ity Bitty. I picked her up and she purred. Then she fell asleep in my arms. It didn’t take much begging from my daughter to shell out $120. Ity Bitty was the sweetest little thing ever.

Until we got her home. Then she wasn’t. The feral, bottle-fed kitten was, well, feral. Have you ever seen a feral kitten? I felt duped. It’s not like that hasn’t happened in real life relationships either.

Oh, the pretty boys who seem so sweet and nice and charming usually (and pretty much always in my case) end up being the complete opposite. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve fallen for it. It’s one reason I enjoy the single life now. I don’t trust my own judgement. 

A year later she still attacks us and runs around like a crazy squirrel, but sometimes she let’s us hold her, and with the colder weather she even snuggles in bed at night. Of course it’s to stay warm and not because she likes me – story of my life. 😉

It takes time to get to know someone – a cat or a person, and sometimes who we think they are when we first meet them isn’t the real them, or at least not the whole picture. It’s always wise not to fall too hard or too fast when deciding if you should take someone home with you because you may end up disappointed.

Similarly, Looks Can be Deceiving:

When we were looking for kittens online at the different shelters we came across a litter with some beautiful cats, but one of them was on the less than attractive side. My thought was ‘I’d never pick that one out of the litter.’ But when we got to FurKids, he ended up being the first one we held. And he totally melted into my daughters arms. His purr was loud and he was the sweetest thing. I held him and instantly knew he was going home with us.

(I’m sure you can see a theme here: if you purr for me, I’m taking you home with me.)

Initially I didn’t think he was a cute kitty, but that quickly changed. I judged him on his looks alone, and if we hadn’t have given him a chance because I was being 100% shallow at the time, then we would have missed out on the most snuggly, cuddly cat ever. He (like Marvin before him) allows us to pick him up and carry him all over the place. He’s a lap kitty, too. And if there’s a book nearby he will try to lay on it, so now I have two books with me when I read. The one I’m reading, and one for him to lay on next to me.

He’s still super crazy and makes a huge mess, but those stories are for another day. But he’s the most lovable kitty.

Sure, looks matter in romantic relationships, I’m not saying otherwise. But they certainly aren’t everything. We all know you should never judge a book by its cover, but we often still do. My Mom always told me that people become more attractive when you get to know them and fall in love with them, and she’s right. I definitely have experienced that, not just with Mortimer either. One person in particular comes to mind.

I wasn’t really attracted to him when we first met, but there was something different about him from the beginning. I fell in love him faster than I had with anyone else, and the attraction I had for him was a surprise.

He ended up being such an important and life changing part of my journey, and I can’t imagine where I’d be without his part in my story.

Don’t miss out on something great because at first glance it’s not wrapped in the prettiest package.

Loyalty:

Mortimer. Again. So like I said, Mortimer is snuggly. We call him the snuggle-buddy, but honestly he was my snuggle-buddy until last summer. Then all of a sudden with my daughter home from school he became her snuggle-buddy.

One night when I was putting her to bed, Mortimer was laying on her and she kind of got upset that one of the others laid down on me. I made a joke about Creamer still being loyal to me, and her response was epic. She said, “If Mortimer isn’t loyal to you now then he never was. That’s not loyalty. You can’t lose loyalty.” It’s worth noting she was 8 years old at the time. Pretty deep stuff there from one so young.

And yes, there are certainly times in life when loyalty can be lost, but that’s if the other person has done something to lose it. If nothing has been done to lose the loyalty, then she’s right.

If someone isn’t loyal to you now then they weren’t from the start. I don’t think that one needs explaining on the human side. My kiddo is wise, and I hope that serves her well as she gets older.

Hearts Expand:

My first lesson was that you can’t fill the void, and that’s very true. But that’s not the end of the story.

When we don’t compare what was to what is we make room in our hearts for more love. Not all loves are comparable, but that’s okay. The heart is ever expanding to love more. There is no limit on how many can fill the space, or how much love our hearts can hold. And that’s the greatest lesson of all. No matter what, there’s room to love. Another cat, a new significant other, another child. There’s enough love to go around. I wish I could make my kids understand this so they’d stop asking who I love more. 😉

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On the Verge of Vegan

Last week my children and I watched the documentary “Food Choices,” and since then we have started to make some changes. I’ve tried to do a vegan/plant-based diet a few times before, but was motivated by the desire to loose weight and/or wanting to detox from all the junk I’d been putting into my body.


It was always so complex to me that I’d eat like a rabbit, and only last a week or. Plus, I never included my kids. A lot of what was shared on “Food Choices” wasn’t brand-new to me, but there was also plenty of information I didn’t know, such as grass-fed beef leaving a high carbon footprint and how the ratio of Omegas was adjusted.  

As a single mom who isn’t a good cook to begin with and has two picky children who like completely different foods, I dread mealtime. I find dinner particularly overwhelming. I usually go for easy and pleasing, which typically equates to unhealthy. I have felt guilt and shame for feeding my children the accepted American diet, and feel like I’m poisoning my own children. In essences, I kind of have been. Most of us are. But that’s okay because it’s all FDA approved right? Wrong. We are setting them up for failure, but for some reason, “Food Choices” was my turning point.

I suppose I’ve been working our way to healthier already, though. My kids were starting to get a little chubby, and I realized we were eating out entirely too often. Not only was our healthy being depleted, so was my bank account. I started cooking at home more. Their weight improved in a very short amount of time (oh to be young again). But our meals revolved around meat. And more times than I’d like to admit, we’d skip the veggies. 

I’ve known a large amount of meat isn’t good, but I also felt stuck. When I say I’m not a good cook, I am not exaggerating. My children used to suggest I should go on “Worst Cooks in America.” And let’s discuss how many times my smoke alarm has gone off when I do cook. Actually, on second thought, let’s not discuss that at all. 😉 When my husband was alive he stopped a fire or two in the kitchen. 

I finally learn how to cook a handful of chicken dishes that my children absolutely love, so that has been our go-to. And it felt good to be feeding my children home-cooked meals they enjoyed. I think I needed that confidence in myself before I could even consider making such a big change to a plant-based diet. 

My son has decided that he still wants to eat meat, but he understands that it will only be a couple of times a week if it fits in with whatever else I’m cooking. For example, last night was lentil tacos, but he had ground beef, and tonight he had a hamburger, while we had vegan burgers with lentils, rice, and oats. 

My daughter on the other hand doesn’t want to eat meat because she saw how animals are treated and slaughtered. Technically, she looked away for the “bad parts,” but it was enough to have her in tears the next day asking why God made her an empath because her heart hurt so much for the animals.

While I’m disturbed by the treatment of animals, too, I think watching that would only make me cut back on my meat consumption. The health benefits of a plant-based diet are what sold me. I would say that right now we have more of a vegetarian thing going on, but I believe that my family needs to take it slowly if we are to sustain this as a lifestyle change. And I can’t say I won’t ever eat meat again, but it will not be my primary source of food. 

What I have realized in the past week-ish of trying to cook plant-based meals is that there are so many alternative options out there. Sure, many of them are complicated for me, but there are also some simple recipes, so that’s where I’m starting. Cooking right now takes more time to plan and make, but it’s so empowering to be taking these steps and making our health a priority. I feel so accomplished. And goodness, the fact that my super picky eater is enjoying most of it is such a relief and a blessing. 

It’s not just about cutting out meat, though. Sugar is a poison. It’s a drug, and like all drugs it is addictive. It affects people’s health and moods. We have been cutting down on the processed sugar, too. And honestly, I have seen a positive change in my mood and my daughter’s mood (my son doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth to being with). 

It’s really quite amazing how quickly things start to change when you put the right things into your body and remove the bad things. Some people can make complete lifestyle changes overnight, but going slowly is working for us. And I’m not knocking those who eat meat and sugar, because they are still in my house and likely always will be to some degree. It’s a personal choice, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan because everyone’s nutritional needs will vary depending on many factors. I just know that working my way towards being a vegan is what makes sense here. The bonus is, I can already see how it’s going to be saving me money to eat a plant-based diet. 

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Fear No More 

Two years ago, after recovering from a surgery, I started taking Pure Barre classes. I knew right away the pain I was feeling wasn’t normal. And two months later, I was under the knife again having major surgery. It was supposed to be an 8 week recovery, but that wasn’t even close to my experience. It was so bad that in the early days I cried and at times, wished to be dead. It was a few months before I could go an entire day without needing someone to help me stand up. Nearly two years since that surgery, I still have pain, though considerably less (thank God).
I was cleared to workout again before the holidays, and have gone running on occasion. But I have held myself back from “real workouts” out of fear even after getting the okay from one of the top doctors in his field of medicine.

Fear will ruin our lives if we let it, but I’m so tired of holding myself back. I’m so tired of living in fear. I do it in every area of my life. I’d shut my heart off to the world after all the emotional pain I’ve been through. But recently someone found a way to opened my heart up again, only to turn around and try to crush it.

And it hurt. But you know what? I’m okay. And I think it made me realize that I don’t want to go through life afraid of pain – physical or emotional.

So, today I went back to Pure Barre with a mix of fear and excitement. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish the class.

But I went anyway. And you know what? It was hard. It hurt. And I had modify some moves. But I didn’t leave. I persevered. And I know that I will reach my goals. At one point the instructor even came over to tell me I was doing a great job. Talk about encouragement!

Pain is where we grow – both physically and emotionally. I’ve known this, but I wasn’t ready to face it again until it found me on its own and reminded me that pain isn’t what stops me; it may slow me down but only I am what stops me. 

And now I’m excited. I’m excited to see where life takes me. I’m excited because I know it will make me a better person. I’m excited because when I push through my fear, it loses some of its grip on me, which gives me the reassurance that I can do this again and again. I can face fear and overcome it. I won’t allow the fear of a broken heart or the fear of working out to the point I need yet another surgery stop me. My body is sore and fatigued, but my spirit feels renewed.

So I’m ready to take those steps in fear both emotionally and physically and see what transformations will come.

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A Year Without Facebook 

​It’s embarrassing to admit, but I used to be addicted to social media. My drug of choice? Facebook. 
I realized a long time ago it was a problem, but I couldn’t control my time on there unless I deactivated my account. It was always short lived, though. I gave it up for Lent one year and felt wonderful, but quickly fell back into my old habits.

When my husband died in 2010 Facebook became my pseudo-therapist. I poured out my emotions for everyone to see. I needed to purge the pain raging inside of me. Sometimes I’d post 7 times in one day. I was essentially publishing my diary and all the dirt that my grief journey was collecting.

The attention fueled me to continue, and I cared very little that it wasn’t all positive. Some people walked away because they couldn’t stand to see the mess I had made of my life, others couldn’t help but watch the train wreck that unfolded before their eyes. They could pop their bag of popcorn, and watch the chaos that consumed my existence from the comfort of their homes. Still, there were many who offered me unconditional love and support, and stood by my side through it all. Those are the people I am most thankful for, though I cannot fault any who walked away.

Facebook evolved into my place to vent about the ridiculousness of the world at large and especially our own politics.

I decided that my New Year’s Resolution for 2016 would be a year without social media (i.e. mainly Facebook). I wondered when I took on the challenge if I’d make it, and if so what my life would look like a year later.

I’m delighted to say that it was the wisest and healthiest decision I could have possibly made for myself and my children.

2016 was one of the best years of my life. I was present in my life and with my children. They didn’t complain that I was “always on my phone” because I wasn’t. I focused on what’s truly important – my children, my life, that which is in front of me in reality, not everyone else’s lives, not what’s going on 3,000 miles away, and definitely not the political spectacle that seemed to define the year for so many.

My head wasn’t in the sandbox, though I tried to keep it there as much as possible. I knee what was going on, but not being connected and consumed by the social media frenzy gave me the objective perspective I would have never gotten otherwise.

From what I can tell, 2016 was marked with anger, hatred, and division that seems reminiscent days long past in our nation politically, racially, and genderally (yes, I know it’s not a real word).

I would have been swept up by the fury had I not unplugged for the year, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed my life nearly as much. More importantly, my children wouldn’t have enjoyed  me as much, and they are what’s most important.

Yes, what’s going on in the world and our nation are very important, but nothing is as important as our children, families, and communities.

Here’s the thing: We will never all agree on anything, so to get along best we need to be willing to agree to disagree. Sure there are moral issues that need to be addressed, but we get so worked up over things that are not truly significant in the long here.

Here’s something else: There are so many worthy causes that need to be fought for. We can’t all fight for all of them, so it’s a good thing our passions are different. While I care deeply about animals (to the point I may have yelled at someone recently who was trying to hit a dog, and I have rescued 6 animals in the last 4 years), my passion is more for Human Trafficking. I have a cousin whose passion is animals and not people.

My point is, the world can balance itself if we invest in our passions. If we spend our time taking care of our families and our communities, and bringing awareness to the plight of those both near and far in a non-hateful way we could get so much more done. If we stopped using social media to attack others and spread hate. If we used social media to solve problems instead of just complain about them.

I’m not judging because I’m guilty of many of these things myself. But the truth is if we don’t stop worrying about everyone else’s lives and start taking care of our own then the world will continue to self-destruct. 

Be the light the people around you need to see. 

As for me, I’m staying off of Facebook. I know my limits and the past few days have shown me I’d rather not be sucked back into the vortex of chaos. 

Peace, love, faith, and contentment to you all. 

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A Sick Kitten and a Changed Boy

​We adopted Marvin and Coco one year ago today. The kittens were part of my children’s Christmas presents. Little did we know then that 4 month old Marvin was sick. We took many trips to the vet over the next few months and spent hundreds of dollars trying to get him well.
There was no pushing this kitty away when bacon or salmon were around, but I knee something was really wrong when I offered and he wouldn’t take it – he wouldn’t eat and barely drank anything.

We went back to the vet in May, and he told me Marvin needed surgery. The assumption was he had swallowed something that was obstructing his intestines, but I couldn’t afford the $1,500 price tag after all I had already spent. So, they sent us elsewhere.

We ended up at WellPet Humane in Atlanta. The owner came in on her day off because it was deemed an emergency and the other vets were booked solid.

When she called in the middle of surgery, I assumed it was to tell me it was worse than expected and would cost more than originally thought. Sadly, it was to ask permission to euthanize our beloved Marvin. He was dying and and there was no way to save him. To finish the surgery would be inhumane because he would starve to death in the following weeks. Of course, I gave my permission to end his suffering as my heart broke and my eyes flooded with tears.

I gained my composure and went to take my babies out of school early to say our goodbyes. My sweet, innocent Avery thought we were just going to go visit him while he recovered. But Nathan saw my tear stained face, and said, “He didn’t… did he,” as tears welled up in his eyes. It wasn’t a question. He knew Marvin didn’t make it.

I hadn’t felt such grief since the early months after Tom’s death. I had lost pets before including one I’d had from the time I was 3 to 20, but none had ever made my heart ache like this.

My sweet, sweet boy, who has been through more than any child should, lost his beloved kitten just 6 days after the 6th anniversary of his Dad’s death. Our whole family felt it. Coco hid in my closet staring at the wall refusing to eat unless I carried her to the food bowl for weeks.

Marvin and Coco have both blessed our hearts more than I knew animals could. And Marvin (both his life and death) did something even more powerful than I could have ever imagined – he softened my sweet boy’s heart.

Marvin’s death allowed me the opportunity to comfort my son like I should have and couldn’t do when his Dad died. It gave him the permission he needed to cry – the permission that had been stripped from him when a close family member told Nathan that he was the man of the house now and needed to be tough. Marvin brought our family closer together in life and even more so in death.

God knew that sweet kitten wouldn’t live long, but he needed love while he was here – and we gave it to him. God also knew we needed Marvin more than he needed us.

It still aches. We still cry and tell each other how much we miss Marvin. But in the seemingly simple act of adopting a shelter kitten we were given such a gift that transcends grief and pain. 

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