Category Archives: Reflection

2015: A Year of Good

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Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe it’s 2016. To be honest, I never thought I’d make it this far. Years ago, 2016 seemed impossibly far away. And with all of the craziness in my life, the idea that I would make it to the year I turn 33 seemed to be more of a haunted dream than a reality.

Here I am, on the 2nd day of the new year, and I no longer worry about how far I will make it. I no longer question if I can survive another year. I no longer fear what lies before me.

Life is good.

It’s been a long time since I could say that and truly mean it.

2015 was a mostly positive year. The only heartbreak was the loss of my grandfather; however, even though the loss was painful, the opportunity to celebrate his life, and the knowledge that he is no longer in pain was uplifting.

2015 started with instability. I was in the middle of the ocean and I had a choice: sink or swim. I swam. And as the year continued, I rose above the water and started to soar.

In the middle of January 2015, I started a new job. It all happened really fast. I was interviewed, hired and began training all in one day. It began as a part time position, but by April, I was working almost full time. That was quite a change from 5 months earlier when I was applying for disability and believed I’d never be strong enough to work again.

This job was unlike any I’d had before. Unexpectedly, I LOVED it. I’ve had many jobs that were good jobs, and many jobs that I enjoyed, but this was different. This job gave me energy. I looked forward to going to work. I was surrounded by positivity and good people. I even took on the 5am shift 3 times a week. Anyone who knows me well knows that is saying a lot. I do NOT like mornings. But here I was, waking up at 3:45am, and driving 40 minutes to work to start at 5am. And I loved it.

Why is this job so great? For starters, I work for good people. I admire and respect my boss, and I feel valued and appreciated by her. I told her that I loved admin work and she responded immediately with extra things to do. I kept asking for more, and even though I was new and still learning, she trusted me with important responsibilities such as scheduling and payroll reports.

I also love that I have the chance to meet new people daily, and get to know those who are regulars. I’ve made friends through this job. I’ve heard stories of people’s lives, I’ve listened when people need to talk, and I’ve had opportunities every day to make people smile.

For those of you who aren’t aware of what I do, I work at a local gym that has 3 locations around Essex County. It’s a job that encourages me to stay healthy and take care of myself while I encourage others in their health and fitness goals.

As I come upon my one year anniversary at this job, I celebrate the accomplishments I’ve had. I’ve been given two raises, officially become a full time staff member, and been given a new title: HR Specialist/Shift Supervisor. And I truly love what I do. I am so filled with gratitude for this job and the opportunities I have been given. I have learned, grown and increased my confidence through this position, and I’ve had the full support of a fantastic boss.

2015 also saw me moving out on my own again; something else I wasn’t sure would ever be possible back in November 2014. I’ve been renting a room in a house in Tecumseh since May. That is about to end because the house I am living in is sold and I will be moving out next week. However, I am on to a new, exciting time. I have found a small, one bedroom cottage to rent – a tiny home that is all mine! I’ve lived in apartments and rented space in homes belonging to others, but this is the first time I will have my own little house. And best of all, it’s a 5 minute walk from the beach!

Yes, life is good. I am healthy and happy. I am standing on solid ground. And I am excited for what’s ahead.

Whether it’s continuing to grow my jewelry business, starting a book, taking a class, or more growth in my job, I am ready for whatever is next. God stands before me, and my friends and family stand beside me.

I am ready for 2016.

I am ready for another good year.

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Fighter

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On Friday I had an appointment with my counsellor. I love counselling. I think it is the best and that everyone should go whether they are living happy or not-so-happy lives. It is amazing what you discover about yourself as you are asked questions and you respond in the moment. I have had countless revelations during years of counselling that have helped me know myself better, understand myself better, and see why I am the way I am.

On Friday, as we were discussing my struggles with depression, I said that every time I go through a dark period I come out stronger and smarter. My counsellor got really excited and saw this statement as a break through in my thought process regarding my illness.

As I processed what I said over the last few days I realized how powerful that revelation is. I knew it already but had never really acknowledged it or spent much time thinking about it. But it is so true. Every battle I have with my depression, I come out of it a little bit wiser and a little bit stronger.

I look back over the last twenty years of war with this illness, and I see the progress I’ve made. The ways that I responded to my depression when I was younger were quite destructive. I turned to cutting, drugs and alcohol in times of need because I just wanted the pain to stop. I was drowning and desperately needed to escape.

I haven’t cut myself in five years. I haven’t touched a drug in eight years. I barely drink alcohol, and when I do, it’s usually no more than one glass. I am no longer trying to escape. I am learning to accept my illness and I have found ways to fight it that do not include self harm.

I’ve taken the time to learn about and understand my disease. I’ve not only taken steps toward healthy recovery, I’ve taken leaps. Though there have been many times when I just wanted to give up, something inside me kept fighting.

I’ve always had a strong will to live. Even at times when I was suicidal, deep down I knew I’d never follow through. My life is worth fighting for. I am worth fighting for.

I believe I am here for a reason. I believe that I have this disease for a reason. I don’t believe God gave me depression, but He has allowed me to endure it. And He has given me the strength to fight. And I believe He can take all my struggles and all my pain and use them to create something good.

I can help others who go through the same struggles. I can help others with mental illness. Simply by sharing my story and vowing to never give up the fight.

Knowing these things does not make my illness easier. It does not mean the depression is going to disappear. It does not mean there won’t be days when I can’t get out of bed.

But it does mean I’ll get through it. It means I will survive. It means I will come out stronger and smarter.

Life isn’t easy, no matter what you are faced with. Whether it’s mental illness, single parenting, the end of a relationship, losing your job, losing a loved one or any of the other many many things that can go wrong. It’s not easy.

But it’s still worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for.

I pray you never forget that.

2014: A Year in Review

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2014 has been a roller coaster ride from start to finish, filled with extreme highs and desperate lows. It certainly didn’t turn out the way I thought it would, but life hardly ever does. It is filled with surprises, both good and not so good.

I could easily look back on this year and focus on the rough times because we always seem to remember the bad more clearly than the good. But as I look at 2014, I am choosing to focus on what I learned about myself and about life. Some of these lessons I had previously learned, but was given a much needed reminder this year. So here we go.

1. Single is GOOD. I began dating again in early 2014. Three guys later, I recognize just how good it is to be single. I’ve always been good at being single. But I’ve never been great at the dating game. Or maybe I just haven’t found the right person to play the game with. Who knows? But for now, I am back to single and will not be pursuing dating. If it happens, so be it.

2. Heartbreak is worth it. Of the three men I dated this year, I fell in love with one. It was my first time falling in love. It happened quickly and unexpectedly, and it was great. But as fast as that relationship started, it came to an abrupt end, and I was left completely broken hearted. But it was worth it. Loving someone is never wrong.

3. Being Open and Vulnerable is the Best Way to Live. For most of my life I’ve been a closed book. Past wounds and fear of judgement kept me locked up like a safe, with all my feelings and thoughts hidden inside. This year I opened myself up more. I let people see the real me. Being vulnerable is what allowed me to fall in love. It’s what has brought me into deep bonds with friends and family. The lock on the safe has been broken and I am doing my best not to replace it.

4. Take Risks. In March I planted a church. I didn’t do it alone of course, but I was the one who started it, facilitated it and led it (which I still do). This was terrifying for me. But the pastors of this church, Three Rivers, believed in me. They asked me to do it before they moved back to Australia, and although I hesitated, they never did. With their support and faith in me, and the help of others here in Windsor, I started a Three Rivers gathering.

5. Slow Down. I am not a patient person. When I want something, I want it now and I rush after it. I decided I wanted a full time job and was able to get one pretty quickly. Two weeks later I bought a car. Two months later I moved to an apartment in Windsor. What I wanted was my independence back. I wanted to be on my own, taking care of myself and doing what I wanted to do. The job was not great, and the apartment had massive problems. I moved out 3 months later. I left my job two months after that. Maybe if I had slowed down,  I wouldn’t have experienced so many headaches.

6. Trust Your Gut. I sometimes ignore gut feelings because I don’t want to listen to them. I realize that I need to because they are usually right. When I was interviewing for the job, I had a voice in my head telling me it wasn’t a good fit for me. Then in the summer, when my old job was hiring again, I had a voice that told me to quit the current job and try to get my old job back. I didn’t listen to either. The full time job ended up being a toxic situation that caused unbelievable stress. I walked out of that job in early October and never went back. And of course, the position at my previous job had been filled.

7. Don’t let anyone treat you as less than you are. I used to pity girls who would bend over backwards for their boyfriends/guys they were interested in who never appreciated them and didn’t treat them well. Then I became one. I spent a few months after a break-up with a guy pining for him and wishing we would get back together. But he kept ignoring my attempts to talk and/or hang out. I finally came to my senses 4 months after the break-up and realized not only had this guy not treated me the best, he didn’t deserve me. And I was finally able to move on. I know my worth and refuse to allow someone to under value it.

8. Appreciate those that love you. I often wonder how my friends and family put up with me. I am not an easy person. I have a disease that changes my personality and can leave me in bed for days. It can make be mean and it can shut me down completely. Yet, as I have struggled through my depression over the last few months, my family and friends have done nothing but love me and support me. I am so lucky to have such incredible people in my life. I love you all and I thank you.

9. It’s ok not to have it all together. The truth is that no one has it all together. Everyone is dealing with something. Everyone is trying to figure it out. I have been hard on myself for not getting it together. There are some days all I want to do is scream the “f” word at the top of my lungs over and over again. But I am working to get healthy and trying my best. That’s all anyone can ask for.

10. Cherish what you have. We live in a society that always wants more. We’re told we need more. A bigger house, better car, more clothes, etc. But many of us have more than we need. I know I do. And every day I work at being grateful for all I have, and shutting down all of my ‘I wants’ that aren’t ‘I needs’. There are many people with a lot less who live happy lives. Things won’t fill your soul. Only people can do that.

11. Be There for Others. Humans are naturally selfish. We immediately think of ourselves in any situation and how it can benefit us. But it’s not the way to live. Put yourself aside and help others. Be there for others. We can easily regret selfish choices. But we will never regret helping someone else.

And finally…

12. NEVER EVER break up with someone in a text. As someone who has been on the receiving end of one of those texts, I can tell you that it is NOT ok. It is awful and cowardly, and makes the person you are breaking up with feel worthless. If you want to break up with someone, have the courage and decency to do it face to face.

So those are my life lessons for 2014. Some are newly learned and some are re-learned. I have to admit that I am happy to put this year behind me. I don’t do resolutions, so I have none for 2015. I just want to be healthy and happy and for those I love to be healthy and happy too.

Happy New Year!