Tonight, when I found out some potentially disappointing news and you told me to believe, I felt you had my back.
Tonight, when I was about to break down into a full out adult-meltdown right in front of the kid, you told me that you wanted to help me.
Tonight, when I felt like my depression was starting to surface and I was going to break apart, you held me close and told me that you’re right here for me. Always.
Tonight, when I starting going down the slope of negativity, you told me to trust in myself.
Tonight, when I started losing faith in myself, you told me to trust in my abilities.
Tonight, when I started feeling like I will never amount to anything, you told me that I’m special, educated, and passionate.
It can be so difficult for me to keep faith in myself; to believe in myself.
It can be equally as easy for me to compare myself to others and convince myself that I’m not good enough, or strong enough, or clever enough.
But you, for you, it’s so easy to believe in me. It’s so easy for you to know my worth. It’s so easy for you to love me completely and entirely.
I envy your ability to see things through your eyes – realistically and pragmatically. I’m so sensitive and easily brought down. But not you. You have a strength I only wish I had; the same strength that you see in me, but that I often fail to notice.
When my depression starts to creep its way through, you’re right there, making sure I know I can come to you when I need to. When my depression tries to knock me down, you remind me how much you love me and how important I am to you and this family. When I start to cry, you remind me that it’s okay to feel the way I’m feeling; that it’s only a minor set back and that I just need time.
You take the picture I need you to take. You read the words I need to write. You listen to the silence I need to have.
Another year has gone by and I have a lot to look back on, particularly, the post I wrote last year after my birthday: Not Where I Thought I’d Be At 38 . While there was truth to that post, I’m taking a different look at my life and surroundings this year, through the eyes of 39.
Thirty-Nine. Big number, huh? I can honestly say that this past year has been better and more rewarding than the last. I can also say that I’ve learned a lot about myself this past year and what I want out of my life. You can say that I’ve gained a bit of perspective, and I have writing to thank for some of that. Looking back on the recordings of my life during the past year, I can visually see all my ups and downs and recognize patterns and so that I can make the changes I need to make to be happy.
Birthdays are a big deal for me; they always have been. When I was younger, it was all about being the centre of attention. I had 2 parties every year – one with my family and one with my friends. I felt like the luckiest girl around.
However, birthdays hold a different meaning for me now that I’m older.
First, it’s been 21 years since I was in a terrible car accident four days before my 18th birthday. The accident kept me in hospital, but I was able to go home and celebrate my 18th year with my family and friends.
The other reason, and probably the more meaningful one, is a bit harder to swallow. When I was sixteen, I was going through some pretty rough and destructive depression and anxiety. Mental Health was new to me and my family and we were all learning how to swim with the currents. In my diary, the one covered with cut-up pictures of Drew Barrymore plastered all over the cover, I had explicitly written that I would not live past eighteen. That never happened, nor was an attempt ever made.
Since I turned eighteen, I’ve been silently celebrating these miracles at each and every birthday. I give myself a smile in the mirror, pat myself on the back for my amazing recoveries, and promise myself to keep trying.
I may not be exactly where I thought I would be at 39, but I feel like I’m finally in a place where I’m happy. Mind you, life hasn’t always been all gumdrops and rainbows, but I’m a work-in-progress and as long as I hold on to that, things are going to be okay.
I’m learning to accept that I’m where I’m supposed to be at 39.
I made choices a long time ago that got me traveling and experiencing a life that I wanted at that time. Those choices put me behind career wise, but you know what? I’m happy about the choices I made. I got to experience things I never would have experienced if I didn’t do what I did when I did them.
Because I’m a dweller, I keep having those pestering “what ifs” thoughts. But I think it’s time to pack up the dwelling and bury it along with the other garbage that plagues my mind. We all make choices and those choices are what brings us to where we are now. I can’t change the past, despite my anxiety’s insistence that I can, but I can change my future. I’m not old. I still have time; tons of time, in fact!
Where I am now, is a good place. I have a beautiful son who lives to drive me crazy. I have a wonderful and supportive husband who I’m lucky enough to call my best friend. I have a family who has my back no matter what.
And I have my life.
Despite the daily struggles and my overactive anxiety, I’m in a good place. I’m reaching goals and meeting a lot of my expectations. I’m still as hard on myself as ever, but I’m noticing that my hard work is starting to pay off and I’m learning to breath a little deeper and a smidge slower.
The hardest thing that I have to come face-to-face with is that it’s the journey, not the destination. That is what I need to keep my eye on.
I know what I want and where I want to be. Now I just need to go get it.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and I couldn’t agree more. But that village is also needed to keep the parents of these children semi-sane in this carnival we all willingly became a part of. I mean, let’s all be honest. Parenting challenges everything – including your friendships – and I’m lucky enough to be part of a tribe that has stuck together through it all.
My tribe resembles an old tree, whose roots are deeply embedded into the ground. With over twenty years of friendship, we are as tight as the knot we tie in our kids’ shoelaces.
The women in my tribe are the kind women you want in your corner when you’re making really bad life choices – and I made a lot of really bad life choices. They’re the kind that will give you shit when you need it, yet will be by your side, supporting you no matter how bad things are. Finding your tribe means being part of a group of women who you can laugh yourself to tears and cry yourself to sleep with.
Here we have a group of friends who know everything there is to know about each other. In fact, most knew each other from elementary school and a few others, like me, joined the crew in high school. As adults in our late 30’s who are spread around and living our own lives with our own families, it’s harder to see each other on a regular basis. With the busy schedules filled with sports and birthday parties and family time, we do our best to pencil each other in weeks – if not months – in advanced to make sure we get our time.
However, no amount of time apart or distance between us has ever made any difference. We always knew that despite venturing off to find ourselves, when we came home, our tribe would be there welcoming us back into the fold with open arms. The conversations would pick up as if they’d never ended and the laughter would only increase in pitch.
You see, when you have a crew as special and tight as this one, you hold on to it. You cherish it. These strong and incredibly successful women are women I look up to and strive to be as good as. They motivate me and they inspire me. There is an abundance of love between us and there is no shortage of support. I’ve trusted these women with holding my hair, my hand, my tears, and my heart; things they have all held at one point or another.
When you have people in your life who have not only helped you plan your wedding and your life with kids, but who have also helped bring you out of black holes and pulled you back from relapses, you know you’re in good hands. You believe in trust.
For more on Family, take a look at No Ordinary Boy: A Child Growing Up With a Heart Transplant
In the past few months, I’ve had a variety of different kinds of messages sent to me from men on my Instagram page. Some of the greetings have started with “Hey beautiful”, “Hey sweetie”, “Hi there gorgeous”, “You’re cute!”, and even a heart emoji. To be honest, I’m really not flattered with this introduction tactic. I mean, it’s clear these men are not messaging me about my content and are looking to talk to me about who-knows-what (but we all know what though, don’t we).
I did open a few of the messages at the beginning because I’m quite a curious person. I also try to not assume anything and I do try to see the good in everyone and everything. However, as suspected, any question that I was asked had nothing to do with my writing or my blog and everything to do with inappropriateness.
These inappropriate messages were quite unappetizing. No, I do not want to see your “thing”. I can assure you that I am absolutely okay with not seeing you do “that”. No, I don’t want to meet you as I have said that I am a happily married mother. Yes, I really am happy with my husband and family. What kind of question is that anyways?
Come on! My Instagram bio on my page is pretty specific as to what I am there for. I write mostly about being an anxious mom. However, since receiving these messages, I have since changed my bio from “Anxious mom” to Anxious wife and mom”. I don’t think I can be any clearer.
WRONG. Apparently there must be a way because the message isn’t getting through. Or is it and these men just don’t care?
In case of the latter, here’s the bottom line:
I am not now nor will I ever be interested in engaging in that kind of conversation with you online, let alone in real life. My husband is aware of every single message that is sent to me and is equally unimpressed. Your messages are ridiculed and then deleted.
I’m not sure where some men got the idea that women like these kinds of raunchy messages. I’ve italicized ‘some’ because I do not want to lump all men into this category. Being married to a man, I know that not all men are like this.
If you want to engage in conversation with a woman, then do so with the same kind of respect you would want someone speaking to your mother, sister, friend, daughter etc. How about showing a little respect and introduce yourself before labeling the woman in question by a beauty standard.
How about starting off with “Hi, I’m so-and-so and I read your blog/read your micro blogs. I have a *insert statement here or *insert question here about *insert topic here. Easy enough, right? One would think.
Since I received my last crude message, I have been declining any message I receive that starts off in one of the above ways before opening. Apparently, once a message is declined, that person is no longer able to message you so that helps in keeping repeat offenders off my messaging board.
To those who are looking to continue sending me these kinds of messages, please kindly refrain from doing so as again, I am a wife and mother and have no interest in your stuff.
“I want to write about you. Do you think that would be okay?”
I asked my nephew if I could write his story while we sat together on the couch, cooling down from a blistering hot day. I’ve been wanting to write about him for a while but since he lives in the US and I live in Canada, I wanted to wait to see him before I got started. This kind of thing is best done in person.
My nephew Landon is no ordinary boy. He is a ten-year-old kid who has gone through more than any child should ever have to go through in their lifetime. His story began when he was born with half a heart; the right side didn’t work. As if being born with only half a heart wasn’t bad enough, he was also born with Hirschsprung’s disease, a disease that affects the colon and causes problems with bowel movements.
Landon lives in a full and boisterous house with his younger brother and sister and his parents (my sister and her husband). They live in a wonderful neighbourhood surrounded by supportive family and friends.
Before Landon was even three-years-old, he received one blood transfusion and five open-heart surgeries (he received a second blood transfusion earlier this year). When he was just over two-and-a-half, my sister and brother-in-law took him to Boston where he received a mitral-valve repair and a biventricular repair. He was also given a pacemaker with the hopes that it would help.
From Boston, they came to visit us in Toronto, and that’s when things took a turn for the worst. The left side of Landon’s heart failed, and he needed a heart transplant. As I was not yet a parent, I could only express how I felt as an aunt. However, I hurt terribly for my sister and her husband. More than that, my insides felt like they were crushing under a thousand pounds when I thought about what this meant for my nephew.
At 2 years and 9 months, Landon had a heart transplant. He spent the next 2.5 months in and out of a hospital in Toronto. My family stood together like the glue and did everything we could to ensure Landon was comfortable.
One of the most amazing things Landon’s transplant had to offered – besides giving him another chance at life – was when his skin started to turn pink from the gray tinge it had been since he was born. The change was astronomical. It was the most positive beginning to his recovery.
I wanted to know how he felt about having a new heart. I wanted to hear from him, a child, what life is like through his eyes. He agreed to my request. In fact, I think it made him feel good that I even asked.
Even though he agreed to the piece, getting information from him was like pulling teeth. After all, he is a ten-year-old boy. However, using the wonderful world of word-association helped me get what I needed from him.
Pain. Even though he was so young, he still remembers the pain after the surgery. He said that he remembers the limitations and worry around him when he woke up after the surgery. He remembers what it was like to be constantly monitored and poked and prodded, mostly because he still gets poked and prodded.
Terrified. Landon explains how being in the hospital as much as he is can be terrifying. He’s terrified of the needles and the continuation of said poking and prodding. While he’s used to it and handles everything like a champion, there’s always a chance that something else could be wrong and that frightens him.
Frustrated. He is frustrated with any limitation he runs into due to having a weaker body. Bike riding is tricky for him because his legs don’t have the same kind of strength as other boys his age. However, at the same time, he laughs in the face of limitation. He can do most things a typical boy his age can do, including playing sports, which he does a lot of. His determination keeps him going and he is often able to use the frustration as a motivator to push himself.
Grateful. He is grateful for the devoted and dedicated family he has and how his siblings help him. He is grateful that, being a major sports fanatic, he can play sports. Lastly, he is not only grateful to his donor, but to donors in general. My nephew got the heart of a young child who had passed away that same weekend. Through the pain of losing their own child, these parents made the brave decision to donate their child’s organs and in turn, saved another child’s life.
While writing this piece together, I found out that this incredible kid doesn’t have insecurities, nor does he think about needing another heart down the road. He lives for the day and in the moment. He also laughs at the fact that he is the only kid we know who gets to celebrate two birthdays: one on the day he was born, and the other on the day received his second chance at life.
Landon lives a complicated life, yet he always seems to smile. He has travelled across the states to see different doctors and specialists regarding his conditions, yet he never stops being positive. No matter what is going on, the kid fights with all his might. He was forced to grow up before he was ready, but he did so without blinking.
The boy is a poster-child for resiliency and I’m super proud of him. He’s my hero.