Self Discovery isn’t as pretty as I thought it’d be

Goodness!  Do you ever feel like an amazing rockstar who’s nailing this whole “I’m a powerful woman who is living her best life and I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m gonna be me” and then BAM! You get knocked off your high horse so hard that you feel it reverb in your teeth?  No? Not you?  Oh ok, you can stop reading now then because you are basically perfect and we should all bow down to you.  The rest of you, and please for the love of everything holy, tell me there are “the rest of you” you can keep reading:)

I’ve recently decided to take time for myself and to figure out how I can be the best me possible.  I’ve been writing more and singing at scary little open mic nights, because these are the things that give me life and bring me joy.  It’s been AMAZING!  I was on my journey to be this empowered woman who didn’t need anyone’s approval.  And then I realized that I may not need the approval, but I sure do want it.  I fight these feelings a whole lot but they are so engrained in me.  I wrote a blog post recently, and I felt like it was my best one yet.  Someone very important in my life has already decided they won’t read my blogs, so I don’t even ask if they got around to it.  And when I did my first Open Mic Night I made the decision not to ask them if they watched it, because I knew they wouldn’t, and I was totally at peace with that. But that nagging little voice that tells me I need their approval and praise wouldn’t go away.  So when they mentioned they saw that I did an open mic night, the first words out of my mouth were an excited “Did you watch it!?” That excitement quickly turned to mortification, regret, shame, and hurt.  I knew not to ask that question, but that part of me that craves approval from this specific person, isn’t as dead as I thought it was.

A few days ago I told a friend that I was just an insecure person by nature and there wasn’t really much I could do to help it.  That insecurity is just engrained in my being.  This friend, who so easily looks straight thru all the walls and facades that I put on as my armor, looked at me and said, “You are using your insecurities as an excuse to never try and to allow yourself to always fail.”  If you are wondering if I kept my composure, that would be a NEGATIVO! I straight  up ugly cried my eyes out.  I really wish I was a pretty crier but I’m not.  I get all snotty and my face scrunches up in these weird not so flattering poses.  It’s not pretty.  Good thing I wasn’t in public to make these beautiful faces for everyone to see.

I never really thought of me being an insecure person that way.  I knew where my insecurities came from.  A broken home, with a dad who left me at the age of 8 and lots of other things that weren’t made to foster a well adjusted and healthy self esteem in a young woman.  But when this friend said that I was using it as an excuse to never try and to never succeed, that hit me right in the gut.  I am still allowing the things in my past power over my present.  I am allowing myself to give up before I start because I’m still that terrified little girl, hiding in a corner with her brothers, while ugly things happened on the other side of our bedroom door.

ENOUGH! I have had enough of this mentality.  I have had enough of living in fear of the things that seem too big for me to ever accomplish.  I’m so sick of being so scared to do the things that excite me and make me want to be something more.  I am MORE.  I am more than a scared little girl.  I am STRONG, I am SMART, I am CAPABLE and I CAN DO BIG THINGS.  My brother told me, “We have to stop being afraid to try.  Fear of failure shouldn’t stop us from trying.”  He’s right.  He recently invested in a business and it didn’t workout, but at least he tried.  He said “So what, I have a little debt because of it, at least I know I have the strength to try and to dream.” He is my hero for that.

I feel like Hollywood paints this very pretty picture of self discovery for us to look at.  That we are going to end up learning all these amazing things about ourselves by riding a motorcycle across the country and meeting someone who pushes us out of our comfort zone and makes us dance on a table in a crowded bar, or skinny dip in a lake.  And through all these fun adventures we learn who we are as a person.  But they rarely show us all of the ugly parts of self discovery.  The tears when you realize you aren’t as whole as you thought you were.  The agony when you discover the things you have worked towards your entire life are not in fact the things that make you happy.  And when you discover that you are actually too scared to ever dream, it kind of breaks you.  I have been discovering all these things about myself.  It’s been a tough road.  A very humbling and scary road.  But I’ve also discovered that I’m worth the work.  I’m worth this painful and character building road to a better me.  The reason I write these words and put them out on here for whoever to see, is because, 1. It’s very therapeutic for me to write my thoughts down, and 2. I never want anyone to feel like they are alone.  It’s hard to admit these weaknesses to people but if I can encourage just one person by letting them see my struggles, then I feel like I’ve done what God has called me to do.

Blame it on the peppers

Once upon a time I ugly cried at Aldis.  Actually, this has happened more than once.  Once I cried tears of joy because our baby’s lawyer called to tell me that every parent/family member that could have taken Jamie away from us had given up all their rights to him.  Which meant we would now be able to begin the adoption process.  I was picking out cheese when this happened.  I got home and realized I must have just been chucking packages of cheese in the cart the entire time I was on the phone, because I had a reusable grocery bag filled to the brim with cheese.  I died.  But the second time I cried was even uglier.  I was listening to a book “Girl, wash your face” by Rachel Hollis. It’s a book all about the lies we believe about ourselves and how to get over them to become exactly who we are suppose to be. Now listen, I didn’t want to like this book.  Me and Rach, unbeknownst to her, have a very strained relationship.  I’m not always a fan of how she thinks and I’m certainly not a fan of how her freaking ootd’s make me want to go out and shop till the credit card melts in my hand from so much overuse.  ANYWAY, I have to admit, I am now back in the Rachel Hollis fan club.  Or at least I was, until she made me ugly cry at Aldis.  I was going around the produce area.  If you’ve ever been to Aldi’s you know that the produce is in a circle in one spot of the store.  You really should go around at least 2 times if not 4 times to make sure you see everything that’s available to you.  I was on my 3rd trip around and that’s when it happened.  I got to the chapter she wrote about a very traumatic event that happened to her when she was a child. I kind of had the thought, hmmm maybe I should wait to listen to this, but I brushed that aside and just prepared myself for what was coming. I could take it…..  NOPE I was wrong!  Her story cut deep.   Like rip my chest open and pull my heart out for everyone there to see it beat for the very last time, deep.  And that’s basically what happened.  It came on slow at first. I felt some emotion and then, I felt it a bit more.  Then it moved to my throat.  Next thing you know my eyes were stinging and then it was too late to stop.  I just cried.  I cried and I tried to hide it.  Why I didn’t turn off the book immediately, I will never know.  Finally my body caught up with my mind and I paused the book.  That’s when I noticed the people.  The people everywhere.  They were watching me have this crazy emotional breakdown, while holding a bag of green peppers.  A sweet lady stopped what she was doing and came up to me, and in the nicest “am I dealing with a crazy person and maybe I shouldn’t provoke her” voice asked, “Are you ok dear?” I just looked at her and said, “These peppers are no good” I forcibly threw the peppers down and walked away, bawling my eyes out.  I had about an hour more of shopping to do in that tiny grocery store and so did all the people who witnessed my breakdown. ::sigh::

I was ready to hear this woman’s story of trauma, tragedy, and loss. What I wasn’t ready for was to relate so deeply with it.  I wasn’t ready to hear the pain in her voice and I wasn’t ready to feel it in my heart for my little girl self.  I didn’t go thru what Rachel did, but my childhood wasn’t pretty.  It was broken and full of ugly things that no little girl should ever have to see or endure.

Finally I left and got to finish the rest of the chapter in my van.  She went on to tell her story of fear, loss and trauma.  How it almost ate her alive and how sometimes she didn’t think she was gonna make it thru to the whole mess of it. Then she said, “But I am still here.  And so are you.  I am still here because I refuse to let anything or anyone decide what I get to have.  I am still here because I refuse to let my trauma have the last word.  I am still here because I will not let a nightmare have more power than my dreams.  I am still here because I didn’t allow the hard time to make me weak; I willed it to make me strong.”  Yes.  yes and yes and amen and all the praise hands in the air!

When I think about all the obstacles I’ve had to cross to get to who I am today, its overwhelming.  And when I think about who I could have been if I allowed those obstacles to get in my way and rule my life, it’s staggering.  When I start to list the things that I’ve gone thru in my life one by one, they pile up to this gigantic pile of ugly. It looks like too much for one person to ever handle.  I could definitely be a victim and with just cause.  But I decided to be a survivor. I decided to be better.  I decided to not let that one part of my timeline, rule the rest of my life.  Like Rachel Hollis said. “I am still here. And so are you”

 My childhood wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t all bad.  We had good times and I have lot’s of really great memories.  I’m thankful for all of it.  Every single thing I’ve gone thru, hard as it was and I’m still working thru some it to this day, all of it made me who I am.  It made me a person who has empathy for others.  It made me a mom who wants nothing but the best for her kids, and not in a financial way. I want them to be filled with joy and know who they are and what makes them truly happy.  I want them to be strong and independent.  I want them to know that I love them and will always fight for them.  I want them to know that the sky’s the limit, and that there is NOTHING they can’t accomplish.  Most of all I want them to know Jesus in a way I didn’t get to until I was an adult.
Life can be ugly and unfair.  I can’t tell you why it’s that way, I just know that we live in a broken world with broken people.  I will tell you that I’m sorry you have to go thru the ugly.  I will also tell you that ugly is not a reason for you to give up.  Ugly can make you into something broken and beautiful.  And just for the record, broken people can be some of the most empathetic and sympathetic deep people you’ll ever meet. Broken isn’t always bad. Ugly can make you strong.  Don’t let the ugly win.  You are in control of your life, not your past or the circumstances you find yourself in now.  It’s never too late to take charge of your own life.  Don’t let those around you tell you any different.

2 Weeks

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2 weeks is all we have left with our sweet little ginger babe.  His story is a story of success.  A story of his parents doing whatever it takes to get their baby back.  They’ve jumped through all the hoops and taken all the tests and attended every meeting and every visitation.  They have thanked us for taking care of their baby during this process that is their worst nightmare.  We are truly happy for them!  We have never experienced a  success story.  I’ve definitely never had another mother write me a letter to thank me for all I’ve done for her baby.  And the most amazing thing of all is that they are so sad for us.  They have recognized the fact that we LOVE this sweet baby.  He entered our house at the age of 2 weeks and will leave our house at the age of 6 months.  These parents who had their baby ripped away because of one bad night, knows how my heart is breaking with him leaving.  They know that my kids are going to be so sad to see him go.  That our whole family has put in so much time, love, and effort to make sure their sweet little boy has had a really good start.  We did our best to make sure he knew how to love and be loved in return.

This is going to be hard.  It already is hard.  I’ve been “Mama” to this kid for almost half a year.  He’s lived on my chest since the moment he entered my house.  We’ve done pretty much everything together.  From errands, to praise team practice, to actually Leading worship on stage.  He lives in my sling.  Our baby Jamie is his biggest fan.  Kissing him, feeding him, bringing him flowers that he picked out of the yard.  When G babe is out for his visits, Jamie insists that he comes home.  “Baby home now? Go mama, baby come now”  those words are repeated until G babe is home.  It’s sweet and so very heart breaking.
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I’ve said this before, God didn’t promise easy, his promises are so much better than easy.  He has promised to be a refuge in times of trouble.  He’s promised to be with us and to hold us up with his right hand.  He has promised to be a kind God and to give us peace.  His mercies are new every morning.  These are the promises I cling to as I get ready to say goodbye to our sweet baby.  These are the promises that I will tell my children about.  And when I cry fat ugly tears on the day he leaves, these are the promises that will allow me to do this process again.  Foster Care is hard but it’s what we do.  I can’t allow the fear of losing a child stop us from doing the job God has handed our family.  This baby was in the best home he could have been in.  That’s what we are focusing on.  He won’t remember his time with us, but we will. I will never forget how his whole face lit up when I sang to him.  And we will know that we took care of him in a manner pleasing to our God and have given him a foundation of love. We love you sweet G Baby, and will pray for you always.

Summer Time

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It’s almost that time! It’s almost time for SUMMER VACATION!! And it’s almost time when I don’t feel like an absolute loser of a mom because I can’t get my crap together to help these kids with ALL of their school needs!  I mean, come on! Is it not enough that I make sure they bathe and don’t smell like funk when they come to you, you actually expect me to be involved and meet deadlines?  UGH!!!  I don’t have time for deadlines.  I don’t have time to hunt down that stupid blanket to take a picture of it because you need a picture of my 7 year olds “most treasured thing”  It must not be that treasured if I CAN’T FIND IT ANYWHERE!!!  God in heaven! Don’t get me started on the blasted Heritage projects.  I dread them every year!  I’m a mix of half Mexican and half Irish, but I’m not enough of either to know things like “Traditional Mexican Dress” are you kidding me? The only “real Mexicans” I know wear very tight, colorful clothing and paint their eyebrows on with sharpies.  and the Irish side?? NOTHING….. I got nothing.

There are reading logs and snacks and lunches.  There are field trips that I can’t ever volunteer for because I work, and that brings on a whole load of special mom guilt.  The award ceremonies and the special picnic lunches and field day! All things I cannot attend and every time I say no, the tiny knife that is mom guilt digs a little deeper into my heart.

Listen I’m barely hanging on at home just providing for their basic needs.  I’m sorry to the teachers and other moms who are volunteering in my kid’s classroom, if I can’t finish that project on time, or send money on the day I need to for the stupid book fair (that happens like 12 times a year! REALLY??!) I promise my kid is loved and cared for.  That’s where my time and energy is going.  To make sure my kids know that I love them.  To make time in my busy schedule to hear about their day.  To make sure they eat, and wash their stinky feet, and that they are on the road to becoming halfway decent adults.

Thank God for summer time!! No we won’t be attending any camps or sports activities.  We will be on the couch with the AC blowing on our faces, recouping from our year of school.  Maybe we’ll visit the pool, maybe we’ll go to the beach, not likely though, we all hate the beach. (See pic up top for reasons of hatred)  Mostly we will be lounging and resting and getting ready for the next busy school year.

 

OH MOTHERHOOD

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Dear Motherhood,

I dreamed of you since the time I was a little girl.  I had big plans for you Motherhood.  I thought we could do crafts together.  That we could plan beautiful meals and have them with beautiful, clean children.  That the beautiful clean children would enjoy every organic bit of that meal.  I thought maybe we could have a house together. Not a grand house, just a house big enough for us all to live in, full of love and laughter and pretty things.  Maybe we could even have a clean house that’s nice and organized.  Where everything has a spot and is easily found when you need it.  Oh Motherhood, I thought we would be able to learn to sew and make elaborate Halloween costumes for the adorable children you blessed me with.  Motherhood, I feel like we have failed each other.

I think back on all the failures I had from the start of my journey as a mom.  From the c-section that brought my twins into this world, making me feel like less of a woman because I couldn’t push them out myself.  To the failed breastfeeding attempts which led to 6 months of pumping for those sweet little girls.  To having 3 kids under 3, living in a 3rd floor apartment and falling down the stairs with precious Ronin who I may have dropped on the way down.  My start as a mother wasn’t the magical start I longed for.  Looking back at my 24-year-old mom of  3 under 3 self, I wish I could tell her one thing, CALM DOWN.  Well maybe two things, CALM DOWN and PERFECT IS STUPID.  I carried this insane pressure to be “Super Mom” with me for years, and it very near killed me.  I literally had a nervous breakdown when I turned 27.  I was a stay at home mom of 3 kids, a wife, and a church member.  That was my whole identity.  I realized that I had no idea who I really was.  I knew I wanted more out of life but felt stuck in all 3 of those roles and they were demanding roles.  I couldn’t keep up with other moms.  I couldn’t keep my house as clean as other people’s, and  my crafts weren’t as cool, and my kids didn’t eat their vegetables like other people’s kids, and my husband and I fought a LOT about the house being in a constant state of disarray and other wives didn’t have that problem, and, and AND….. Needless to say my anxiety was thru the roof and it all just kind of came crashing down around me.  BUT GOD.  But God came with me as my whole world fell apart.  And when I couldn’t get out of bed he gave me children that needed me to.  He gave me a husband who was also tired of living miserably together and pushed us to go to marriage counseling, where we learned how to talk to each other in a manner  that was non threatening and could convey how we really felt.  God helped us see each other’s point of view and the fact that I had 3 young kids meant MESS.  We were at our absolute lowest point and I can’t help but thank God for that.  Living the way we were living was killing us and we were on a path to end up as a broken family.  Something had to happen and my breakdown, though painful and shameful, was what we needed.  God’s amazing healing power swept thru our lives and changed us forever.

Going through such a life altering situation brings everything into perspective.  I’m so relived to learn that I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t have to have this whole motherhood thing figured out completely.  My house is still a mess, but it’s getting better as the kids get older and can help more.  I’m still a mom, wife, and church member, but now know that I don’t have to be the “perfect” mom, wife, and church member.  Comparing yourself to other people is a good way to drive yourself insane.  I will never be anyone else but me, and I’m ok with that now.  Do you know how freeing that is??  Living in a world where you can appreciate the women in your life and their specific strengths and not be jealous or wish you could do what they do, is such a beautiful place.  I encourage you to speak into people, not about people.  I encourage you to find the strength in you to be able to truly love and appreciate your friend who is a tad more organized than you, or the friend who’s house is always a bit messy but always has an open door.  Motherhood and Wifehood, isn’t easy, that’s why God gives us friends to help us survive it.

Oh Motherhood, our start together may not have been everything my little girl mind imagined, but it’s definitely an adventure.  Sometimes you are magical and sometimes you make my hair fall out.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Is it suppose to be this hard?

My family is a fostering family.  It’s something that I always thought about doing as an individual, but I never thought my husband would ever want to do something like this. We already had 4 kids, why on earth would we take on another one?   BUT GOD is God and he has a way of messing around with your heart and making it want something you never thought you would. One day my husband looked at me and said, “I think we should look into that Foster Care stuff now.”  James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress” -ESV  had been a verse that kept coming to him during prayer or conversations.  Of course I got a bit dramatic and started to freak out at the prospect of this whole Foster Care Idea. With the help of my undramatic and very logical friend Christie, I made the first phone call. 10 MAPP classes and 3, almost 4 years later, we are still at it.

Here’s some super flattering pictures of us at foster care graduation night

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We’ve had many kids come through this house, and have loved everyone. But February 2015 my heart didn’t know what hit it.  We got the call on a Friday that a newborn baby needed a home straight from the hospital. He was supposed to arrive on that Monday but it was the year of blizzards and Massachusetts was closed on Mondays for the month of January and February, so he showed up on a Tuesday.   Baby boy was 5 days old, and I knew from the moment I saw him that he was something special.  It took a couple more months for my husband to realize this, but he’s always a bit slower and needs a little time to catch up:)   We called him JC and he captured the hearts of everyone he met.  There were times when we thought he would leave us. About a year into him being with us, the weekend of my girls 12th birthday, I was told to pack him up and have him ready to be picked up on Monday. They were going to take him to live with his half siblings and their relatives.  It was a weekend of mourning and worry and trying to figure out how to tell my 4 children, that the baby we have all grown to love so much was going to live with absolute strangers.  But in the true fashion of social workers, it was Wednesday when I finally called and asked when they were coming to get him, just to be told that they decided he was going to stay with us for a little bit longer.  This process happened 3-4 more times.  Having a baby whose future is unknown is a constant pain in your gut.  Knowing that if they decided to take him from us, not only would our world be turned upside down but so would his.  We were the only family he’d ever known.  The people he would go to wouldn’t know that his favorite band was Johnnyswim, and the only thing to get him to stop crying when he was teething was to put their album on repeat.  They didn’t know the songs I sang that would get him to smile and  calm down.  It was an unimaginable pain and deep seeded heartarche to be reminded that he wasn’t actually ours.  Through all of this I couldn’t help but think that “MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T BE DOING THIS, IT’S TOO HARD.”   I feared that our decision to be a Fostering Family would ruin my other children.  That this heartache would be too much for them and it would harden them.  Somedays I just wanted to crawl into my little introverted hole and not come out.  I had deep conversations with God.  I let him know that I might not make it if my baby boy left me.

A couple pics from the weekend we thought we were saying goodbye

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BUT GOD. He has taken care of us this entire time. He’s given me a husband that is my true partner in all of this. We cry and ache together.  He has given me friends that I can call on and cry with or rage with or just be overly dramatic with.  He’s blessed me with children that are amazingly strong and he’s molding them into humans who care about more than just their own little world.  They are compassionate, caring, and selfless.  They have depth and know what it is to serve others.  They hurt sometimes but that’s ok.  Learning to hurt and still have joy is something people work on for years.  They’re just getting a head start:)  Trusting God through all of this has definitely made us a stronger family unit.  Someone told me recently  ” You know it’s from God if it’s easy”  I think I strongly disagree with this statement.  In fact I know I do.  God never promised easy, but he did promise his unyielding support, love, grace and mercy.  This is our calling.  I feel that clearer than ever these days.  Just because its hard doesn’t mean you should quit.  So we are making  the decision to hang on and cling hard to the Lord and his promise to never let us go.

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Well 2 years and a whole lotta tears later, HE’S OURS!! We are going to be able to adopt our baby boy!  We’ve even chosen his new name,  Jameson Michael, Jamie for short. It’s still a little unreal to me.  I no longer cry tears of grief over him.  My tears are of relief and joy. And because I’m sooo dramatic (eye roll please) I’ve gone on to worrying about if I will be a good mother to him.  I’ve never adopted anyone before.  I don’t know what it’s going to be like to try to answer his questions of where he came from.  He has 4 bio-siblings out there.  I have no clue what to do with that!!!  Then I take a deep breath and think “BUT GOD”.  He knows, and I trust that he will get us through it all.

HELLO….

Well hey there!  If you are reading this then WELCOME TO MY FIRST BLOG POST!!! Before we get too deep, there are a couple of things I would like you to know.  First I AM NOT A WRITER, but I do have some things to say and share with you.  Things that might make you laugh, or cry.  Or maybe a story of the way I mother my children will make you realize that you aren’t as bad at being a mother as you thought you were.  I will set the bar REAL low people.  Be blessed.   Having 4 biological kids wasn’t in our original plan, neither was being foster to adopt parents, putting our total to 5 kids, and neither was taking in another foster baby which gives us a grand total of 6 freaking kids that we are responsible for keeping alive. (I cut it pretty close some days) Oh Lord I can’t wait for you to meet Destry.  He has definitely cut my life expectancy down by 5 years with all the stunts he’s pulled. You will love him! But that’s for another time:)

I am awkward.  Sometimes it’s painful to watch. Other times you just gotta laugh real hard at me.  I don’t need you to laugh “with me”it’s ok,  you can laugh “at me” I don’t mind. One time I described one of my bestest friends by the size of her bust line, complete with hand gestures to an absolute stranger. “Yes Hannah, she has real big bajangas.” I don’t know how or why that came out of my mouth but it did and I’m ready to own it.   I have a lot of fears, spiders, heights, making phone calls, ordering food, any kind of winged beast, from butterflies to birds.  Birds are evil and will peck out your eyes. OH and rodents, including bats which are flying rodents!!!  GROSSS!! (taking deep breaths now)  And don’t worry if you are my friend and have a fear, I’ll fear that too! I wouldn’t want you to have to face your fears alone.  What kind of friend would that make me?  🙂  I also have a few OCD tendencies.  I really don’t like it when people’s eyebrows are going the wrong way.  I will fix them for you or ask you to fix them yourself.  But rest assured, I will not quit helping you fix them until they are perfect! I also CANNOT STAND when a fork (breathe)  scraps (breathe) a plate (scrunch shoulders up in imaginary pain) I will rub your plate where I think that fork has scraped.  I’m sorry but it must be done.  I need to heal the scrape that was carelessly made by that dang fork.  I might even try to take the offensive fork and wipe it with my napkin to help make the offensive fork a better behaved fork. All the while my face will be doing really pretty things.  It’s not my most favorite thing about me.   I’m an introvert and an extrovert which is great because I can fit in pretty much anywhere.  I also think there’s a lot of stuff I’m still trying to figure about myself, and I think I’m ok with that.

I guess the most important thing I want you to know is  that I’m starting this blog for me. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since forever and I’m finally going to do it.  It’s scary to put yourself out there, but I’ve found that I’m getting too old to be scared.(don’t ask how old)  It’s time to DO and not hold back.  God gives us one life to live, just one.  I’m not going to continue living it with the fear of failure, because that is one sure-fire way to never DO anything.

So that’s me in a nutshell.  Thank you for reading my first official blog post. (all 5 of you. I really love you;)  I am pretty excited about this new adventure.  And who knows, maybe I will  acquire some followers but even if it’s just me writing things to myself, I will be ok with that too.