One day at a time…

As kids we’re taught to plan for the future, right? Go to school, get into college, pick a degree & career path and have our entire life figured out by the ripe old age of 18! WOW!

Does anyone else see that as completely crazy??

I’m 34 (SHH! Don’t tell anyone), and for a long time I have beat myself up for my life being a holy hot fucking mess …oh, for as long as I can remember. After all I finished high school at 17. Had my first degree and a full time job by the age of 19. So, I of course, should be doing very well for myself by age 34 … right?

Well, let me tell you – nothing went as “planned.” Not a thing! I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I did the only “logical” thing I could think of. I went back to college for degree number 2. Now this time, I thought for sure I had it all figured out. I was going to be a graphic designer, an artist who got to follow her passion for art and photography and I was going to make a career out of it! HA! Did I have another thing coming! That dream lasted for 3 months after I graduated. The small company I was working for went through lay-offs and I was part of them.

Flash forward a couple of jobs and a few years and I’m still wondering what I am going to do with my life. I knew I wanted more than the entry-level customer service jobs I had been in and was convinced the only way I’d succeed was to, yet again, go back to school. This time for my M.B.A. For sure with an M.B.A. I’d land a stellar job right out of college making good money and finally be able to have what I want in life. This was the dream …

During this time I had a baby, went through challenging times with my sons father and became the financial head of my household. I completed my degree all with the hope that when I finished I’d get a job making enough money to be the head of my household and at least live a comfortable life. I stressed, daily, about money and the future. Would I be able to pay rent this month? How am I ever going to afford my loan payments? What if my car breaks down or we have unexpected medical bills? Where will I come up with the money for these things? I could never just live life one day at a time. I was constantly worried about everything that I could not control. Even after I landed a great job, moved to a new city, and was making progress in my career, I worked part-time as a bartender 4 nights a week (on-top of my day job) and stressed constantly about everything! The part-time job was a necessity because I was the only one working and bills have to get paid. But the stress was eating away at me from inside out.

Finally, one day I decided I’d had enough. I made some major changes in my life. I finally took control of it! I decided what I would and would not allow. I decided what was important to me and what could fall by the wayside. I knew above all else, I wanted to spend more time with my son, and wanted to feel like I got to live my life and enjoy it! Most importantly, I stopped beating myself up for where I was at. Heck, for where I still am at. I wish I could say that I have money in a savings account, that I have invested a fair amount into my 401k and that I have my student loan payments under control – but I do not.
I invest a minimal amount in my 401k (something is better than nothing), I’m paying off my debt (better to pay off the high interest credit card than put money in a savings account making WAY less than the interest I pay), and my student loans … well they get what I can give them each month. Someday I may own a home, someday I may put money away for my sons college, someday I’ll take that vacation I want to take … someday …

But for now, I am reminding myself to take one day at a time and to do the best I can.

 

**Taking life one day at a time is so much more than careers and finances. I plan to dive deeper into other areas of my life that force me to live this way. Keep an eye out for the next installment**

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Time = Love

Time seems to be a luxury that is in short supply. The saying “there are not enough hours in the day … ” I feel speaks to every day of my life. I can be sure there is always so much to get done everyday that I will go to bed at night thinking about the uncrossed off items on my “to do” list. I have come to the realization that it is what it is, and I can only do what I can do. Why stress about things that are out of my control, right?

But as a parent, time is always something I wish I could get back and get more of as life goes on. As adults we have accepted how it will be. We will “wash, rinse, and repeat” the cycle of our day-to-day lives. Our kids on the other hand, haven’t been smacked in the face with this dose of reality and all they want from us is time.

It has become ever apparent to me lately that to my son time = love. In total honesty I had help getting to that realization, (thank you mom and my dear friend yoda). Sure! I tell my son every day, multiple times a day “I love you,” and he hears the words and at his own 6 year old level, he knows that my love for him is something of great importance. He knows he loves me and is sure to shower me with “Mommy, I love you” many times a day. In fact it warms my heart when out of the silence in a car ride he pipes up from the back seat and says “mommy, I love you.” But, the time we spend together is the action behind the words that shows my love for him.

It’s Sunday night, and tomorrow we’ll wake up to another busy week of school, work, homework, more work … etc. I am sitting here thinking about our weekend together where we spent alot of time just hanging out; me and my little man. I do my best to cherish the nights we snuggle while watching TV, or our impromptu dance parties in the middle of our dining room because I know that these times are fleeting.

I am happy that I get to spend this time with him, showing him my love with something as simple as my time. We watched cartoons on Friday night, had our traditional Friday night take-out, he discovered filters on Snapchat, had a “movie” night watching Flash on Saturday, and enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the park. I hope he will always want to spend time with me as he grows into a man and realizes the importance of time.

To those of you who need to hear this, you’re doing a great job!

#sonotaperfectparent #momofaboy #time=love

Progress – Not Perfection

Now that is something I have struggled with for longer than I can remember. Since I turned 12 and the wonderful hormones of puberty decided to kick in, in my body, I have struggled with my weight. Majority of the women in my family are on the heavier side. Now that’s not to say we’re all obese and spend our family gatherings eating and drinking to our hearts content (who am I trying to kid, of course we spend our family gatherings eating and drinking!! That’s part of the fun!) But, on a serious level, the women in my family are typically not super model skinny. We have curves, we have larger thighs and yes our assets are very much so there. Am I blaming my life long struggle with weight on family genetics? Sure! I’d absolutely love too, but the reality of it is, I haven’t always made the best choices when it came to my diet and exercise habits so that has played a role in my life long journey of health and wellness.

So in my pre-teen and early teen years, I started to put on weight. I ate what I wanted based on the food my mom sent to school for lunch and what she made for dinner. Breakfast was always some type of cereal with milk. My adoptive dad loves his sweets, so we always had dessert and junk food around. I don’t remember over eating on the junk food in my pre-teen & teenage years, but I’m sure it happened from time to time. Then at some point I became conscious of my weight and looks and wanted to do something about it. I distinctly remember comparing myself to my closest friends who were much thinner than me. Do you remember having close friends and you just LOVED their top, or skirt or bathing suit and you would try it on to see if it looked good on you too? Well that was me, I loved my close friends fashion style but when it came to trying on clothes and sharing clothes, I just couldn’t. My hips, thighs and ass were much too large to fit into their jeans and my shoulders were too broad and torso much taller than theirs so shirts really didn’t fit well either.

At this point I was very conscious of my size and weight and started to “diet” and exercise. I was involved in karate and would workout 3-5 times a week at home plus train at the dojo 3-4 nights a week. I did this for a couple of years and managed to get myself in shape. I weighed around 155 lbs and was the most fit I’ve been in my entire life. At this time I was in my mid-teens and continued working out and “dieting” throughout the rest of high school and into college. Of course my weight fluctuated throughout the years and I do not ever recall being completely happy with my size or looks. There was this one summer, I was 20 had just moved into my own apartment, worked full time (in fact I worked 2 jobs because well why not) and I worked out a lot. I remember I had this white mini-skirt that I absolutely LOVED wearing. Until recently, that summer was the only time I felt happy with my body and I felt comfortable in my own skin.

Flash forward to marriage a baby and years upon years of stress and I was turning 30 weighing in over 240lbs at 5 ft, 7.5 inches. Simply saying that I was depressed does not come close to how upset I was over my self image. I hated myself, I hated my body, I would beat myself up every day that I didn’t go and workout (which was quick frequent). Instead of making healthy choices about food, I perpetuate my self loathing by taking comfort in food. I really do enjoy cooking and baking, so I baked and while I was baking I enjoyed an adult beverage (or 3!) Don’t get me wrong, the baking experiments were a ton of fun, and quite delicious but they didn’t help me loose the weight. I would drop 5-10lbs, be so happy with myself and treat myself to my favorite unhealthy meal complete with adult beverages and dessert! Then a few weeks later I would realize I put some or all of those lost pounds back on.

Somewhere between 31 and 32 I realized I had to stop this cycle and make A LOT of changes and get healthy. I needed to do it for myself and for my son. He needs a mom that can keep up with his never- ending energy level. Plus, more importantly, he needs me to set a good example for him because he is going to learn from seeing me how to live healthy when he is grown up.

I am proud of myself to say I’ve lost over 40lbs and am hovering just above 200lbs. This is the “skinniest” I have been in almost 10 years and I am very proud of what I have achieved so far! I am still a work in progress and would like to lose another 40-5lbs but, I am happy! Better yet, I have taught myself how to be kinder to myself and love life while living a healthy life at the same time. I still really do love food and adult beverages, and I love experimenting with baked goods but I have discovered that I can have a balance and it is OKAY.

I recently became a Just Strong Ambassador and cannot wait for my Progress – Not Perfection tank top to arrive! I should probably order a few more because I’m going to want to wear this tank for all of my workouts!

I am for sure not perfect. I’m not a perfect mom, I don’t have the perfect body, I don’t have the perfect eating habits and I don’t always follow the perfect healthy lifestyle. But, I am a work in progress and during the time of working and making progress I’ve learned to stop hating myself because of my downfalls. I can look in the mirror and tell myself “wow, girl you look good today.” 5 years ago, forget it, I didn’t see beauty in any part of myself.

I’m sharing this story hoping you too will find strength and encouragement in knowing you’re a work in progress and you do not have to hate yourself or beat yourself up because of it.

Seize the Day because You Only Live Once

So yes, I am a millennial. I was born in 1985 and I honestly don’t care what generational label I am bucketed into based on the year of my birth. I understand that each generation is significant for what happened during that time. The general overarching personalities of each individual are going to have similarities that identify us as “millennial’s.” What I’m saying here, is that I recognize it is more than a “label” but at times it seems to be nothing more than a commentary joked about in the media. Of course, the era I grew up in had an effect on me. How could it not? I remember the days of household landline phones that were attached to the wall and it was a big deal when your friend had a cordless phone in their home. I remember the days before everyone had a computer in their home. I got my first computer when I was 16. 16! Now my 6-year old son has a computer class once a week and he’s only in 1st grade! I’m sure he will have computer homework long before he turns 16.

Why am I talking about being a millennial? Do I even care about it? Slightly. I slightly care about the stereotypes given to my generation and of course I care when someone stereotypes me personally simply based on the year I was born. But, at the end of the day do I lose sleep being concerned over the fact that I’m a millennial, nope – it doesn’t bother me one bit. I embrace the jokes and chatter that comes my way regarding this topic.

Recently a woman came into the bar I was working at and me being the outgoing chatty person I am, started a conversation with her. She was very impressed with the super dry martini I had made and was expressing her gratitude saying she was going to come back and see me again. This of course brought me to tell her I would be “retiring” from bar-tending in a few days (yes, I had put in my proper 2 weeks notice), and she wanted to know the reasons why. I explained that I needed to spend more time at home with my son (since prime bar-tending hours are when he is home from school I had missed a lot of time over the past 2 years), also I needed a break from that type of work.

At some point in our conversation I made the statement “you only live once.” I mean, shit, it’s true and I believe you need to recognize that and make the most out of your life. It will pass by in the blink of an eye and before you know it you’ll be looking back on your life wondering what happened and why you didn’t do X – Y or Z. This woman, in a nice way, made the comment that she hates the millennial saying YOLO (you only live once). I wasn’t offended, and the conversation continued along, with her wishing me the best of luck after I “retired” and that she was sorry I wouldn’t be around to make her martini’s in the future.

I was thinking though, during our conversation, why is the saying “you only live once” a mantra for millennial’s? Are we the first generation (and only generation) that embraces and recognizes we have this one life to live so lets live it to our fullest? Maybe we are. But, I do find that hard to believe. Recognizing we have one life to live and choosing to live the best most adventurous life we can is not something that only millennial’s believe in. Is it? I’ve meet enough people both older and younger than I that have come to the same place I’m at. They want to embrace life, take the bull by the horns and have the adventure of a lifetime! I’m 33 years old, by no means am I professing to have my life all figured out. Shit, I’m a hot fucking mess 90% of the time, but I keep going forward because when I look back on my life I do not want a single regret. Circumstances and situations have brought me to this place and I plan on sharing my experiences with anyone who wants to hear them.

I plan to teach my son to embrace life, love, happiness, learning, and experience something new every day. Recognize that trials and tribulations, they will come. Embrace them too. Learn from them, grow and be stronger because of the good and the bad times.

Carpe Diem (Dictionary):  the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future

The Roman poet Horace had it right, we need to enjoy life while we can. I’ve had far too many reminders already that in the blink of an eye it can all be taken away. I do not want to live in fear of the unknown so instead I want to have as many adventures as possible in my time here on earth.

Be Happy.

Do Good.

Love Life.

Be Adventurous.