Posted in Letters to..., Thoughts and Opinions

Perspective Makes Me A Stranger

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Two questions for you today – have you ever looked at someone and wished you could be like them? And – who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Stay with me here.

We have all been the person a stranger wanted to be.

Read that again. And again. Now let it sink in. Believe me.

I am willing to bet you have looked in the mirror and saw a person you never thought you’d see staring back at you. Maybe you thought you’d be stronger, skinnier, healthier, smarter – maybe all of these things. I am willing to bet you have looked at that reflection and hated every single thing you saw. To say this is normal is sad, but it’s a reality. We can never be perfect. You will always see more flaws in yourself than anyone else will ever see in you.

Now, the tougher one. We all know the girl in the coffee shop who’s wearing the black pants void of cat hairs and perfectly pressed. Her top is tucked into her pants, it isn’t causing any lumps or bumps on her hips. Her bottoms aren’t rising up causing the dreaded camel toe. Her top is showing just the right amount of cleavage. She’s staring at the menu above the barista’s head, probably reading, considering what she’ll order today, and in the moment, you would give anything to be her. You glance down at yourself and see your jeans that should have been washed two wears ago and you’re shirt wrinkled from being in the hamper half an hour before – the sniff test deemed it okay to wear one more time. You look at yourself and you are disgusted. Why can’t you be more like the girl in the black pants with the perfectly clean hair, gorgeous face contemplating the menu like it’s a work of art?

What you didn’t see though, as you looked down at the body you have labeled as ‘gross’ and ‘unworthy’, was the Goddess before you running her eyes over your body, wishing with every ounce of her soul that she could be more like you. She woke up two hours early to wash her favorite pair of pants. She tried on five different shirts before deciding on this one, all of the others showing too many rolls. She stood in front of the mirror for an hour applying and reapplying her makeup until it was perfect. She cried for ten minutes over her eyeliner wing not being just right. And now she’s standing here staring at the menu with an anxiety bubble forming in her chest, hoping she doesn’t start crying while telling the barista she would like a small latte. She looks over at you as you glance down at your own body, and she wishes she didn’t care what people thought. She wishes she could look as effortless as you, as beautiful as you do.

But you both look up and go on with your day without ever knowing that you were that stranger. Without knowing that you are perfect just the way you are.

Let’s revisit my second question, but let’s revise it a bit this time. Who are you going to see tomorrow when you look in the mirror? You see, who we are is all about perspective. You can choose to see the bags under your eyes and see the hours of sleep you didn’t get showing on your face, or you can see the nights you stayed up laying with your boyfriend or cuddling your baby. You can see the way your clothes fit too tight and beat yourself up about the weight you’ve gained, or you can think about how much better your a** looks, about how full your tummy feels, about how good the food tasted.

It’s not easy. Change never is. But next time you look in the mirror, try seeing yourself as a stranger. If you saw you on the streets, what would you think. Because I promise, some girl has wished she was you while you would have given anything to be her.

 

 

This post was inspired by a real interaction I had with a former co-worker. The story was too long to share in this post, and storytelling isn’t my normal content, so I decided not to include it. But if you’d like to hear the story, please let me know in the comments! 

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Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

You are perfect just the way you are

You are perfect just the way you are. I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but if you do, please keep reading. Wipe your face. I see those tears, tears for a person you think you’ll never be, tears for a person you once were – I want you to look in a mirror. Wipe your face and take a good long look – who do you see? On a good day, you might say you see a girl with brown hair and green eyes, a girl with a smile and too many freckles. Today though, you tell me you see defeat. You see a girl who has tried so hard and just doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. I will tell you now to look again. 

What I see is a girl who has never given up. I see a radiance that is only born through being knocked down over and over and standing up every single time slightly taller. I see a smile that has seen shadows, yet still steps into the light and allows the sun to shine on it. I see a spirit that has been nearly broken, yet is still chugging along each day. I see a girl who is enough.

If you look in the mirror today and this is not what you see, please just take a seat and listen to me. You don’t have to feel perfect every single day. You don’t even have to feel okay every single day. All that I ask is that you remember you are enough. Remember that when people look at you, they see a completely different person than you are currently seeing in the mirror. Remember that I believe in you. You can do the hard thing. You can take this life by the horns and you can live it in a unique way that only you can. And if you don’t see that today, that’s okay.

Look in the mirror again tomorrow, and maybe then you’ll see it. If not, read this again. You are perfect just the way you are.

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

Self Love Is Messy

People love to romanticize self love. Everyone does it – and recognizing the importance of self love is a huge step, but romanticizing it can be destructive, and here’s why.

In the romantic version of self love, we see bubble baths and wine glasses. We see facial masks, nail polish, silky robes and a romantic comedy on Netflix. While at first glance, this self pampering seems like the ideal pinnacle of self love, it isn’t the reality for most people. Here is my example.

When I think about self love, my go to is a night alone, me in my apartment in fuzzy pajamas, sitting on the floor in front of my TV watching the same movie I watched last week, eating a jar of pickles and drinking a can of diet coke. My nails aren’t painted, my hair is piled in a bun resembling that of a pineapple on top of my head, my boyfriend’s sweatshirt adds five pounds, and my face hasn’t been washed since early this morning. It isn’t pretty. If someone was to look in my window, they wouldn’t think this was self love. They would probably think I was self destructing. But here is where I am my happiest. I might pass out on the carpet, wake up with a half eaten pickle in one hand and my cat curled up on my chest, but I will wake up happy.

It is important to recognize this as self love too, because for many girls, self love isn’t bubble baths and facial cleansers. I love a bubble bath as much as the next girl, but if I need a night to really relax and find myself again, I will be on the carpet with my pickles and coke, not in a bath tub smelling pretty and looking nice.

Self love isn’t always pretty. Most of the time, it’s sloppy. It’s messy, greasy, fuzzy, and dirty. Self love is the feeling you get when you are complete. Self love is treating yourself like a priority, instead of an after thought. On a normal day, I go to the gym and I eat a good breakfast, I wash my face and I listen to good music. I do consider this self love. Loving the only body I get was the best decision I ever made. This is my every day.

And then I have nights of pickles and coke, nights when bubble baths and silky robes aren’t doing the trick. These nights, I need something else. I need to remember what makes me feel whole, what makes my heart sore and my skin tingle. It’s a rare feeling, a feeling people usually dedicate to finding your true love – my first true love was in myself, as it should be.

Take bubble baths. Do face masks. Let social media advertise to you it’s ideal of treating yourself. But also have your pickle and coke days. Let yourself fall in love with just being sloppy, being alive, being messy. Let yourself feel – that is in fact, the whole purpose of self love. Remembering to breath, remembering to live, remembering what a blessing being alive truly is, and then allowing yourself to feel it. All of it.

 

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

What is that bump on my stomach?

As many young woman, I have always been focused on perfecting my body in one way or another. Whether it be finding the perfect face wash to rid my complexion of every blemish, or working out morning and night to smooth out those rolls and lumps and bumps. From my hair to my toes, I have in one moment or other, nitpicked the f*** out of every little part of my body. These past few months, I am not shy to admit, it was the added rolls on my stomach from extra donuts and chips that I had begun to focus on.

Until I started seeing the red, brown, and white marks all over my body. Not a normal rash, not my normal skin, I had no idea what I was seeing. So of course, like most people would, I took to the Web. Where I found I must have skin cancer. Without a primary doctor in this new city, and feeling silly bringing such a ‘small’ problem to the ER, I spent the next three months watching as this mysterious new passenger on my body grew and spread to other parts of my body. The rolls on my stomach quickly took a back seat as I convinced myself I must have a terminal illness with mere weeks to live. Dramatic I know – but I am dead serious. My anxiety was through the roof. I was losing weight but not in a good way. I was cutting people off and letting areas of my life slack. I was falling apart over the unknown.

Finally, I decided it had gotten out of hand. Looking back, and as advice to anyone reading this, please, please use me as a cautionary tale. Thank the Heavens, my trip to Urgent Care revealed to me I had developed a none life threatening, relatively normal skin condition brought on by (surprise, surprise) stress and hormonal changes. But it could have been so much worse.

Please, if you see something of worry on your body, go to the Doctors. Do not worry about looking silly. Do not worry about feeling silly. Take your health into your own hands – this body is the only one you get. We are so quick to stress over the tiny imperfections on our bodies, so quick to go to fixing them, trying everything we can to erase these things we find wrong with ourselves – I wish we could have the same concentration when it comes to just keeping ourselves healthy.

I got lucky. But I should have went to a Doctor months ago. Not only would it have saved me so much time and stress, energy and worry – it could have been so much worse because I let it go on for so long. It could have been something completely different. If you catch a problem early, you have a much better chance of solving it. And that stands for anything in life from your health to that small pile of clothing in the chair in the corner that next week is going to be a mountain. Address it now. Fix it now.

I know this is a much different post than my usual. But it is a topic so important, so necessary, and not talked about nearly enough. I am not a doctor. I do not offer medical advice. I am just a normal girl talking to more normal people urging you to please, please take your health seriously. Take it into your own hands. Don’t be like me. Don’t be like the whole list of people I have talked to that tell me they have done a version of the same thing.

You are important. Your life is important. You need this body to live this life – this body with every roll and lump and bump and imperfection that is perfect the way it is, carrying you from day to day, happy and ALIVE.

I know there will be those of you that will read this and think, wow, she’s dramatic. And yeah, I am. I am not going to argue that. But it’s better than not caring at all. It’s better than ignoring things that matter.

Take care of yourself. Your body. Your mind. Your physical health and your mental health. You are worth it.

Posted in Letters to..., Thoughts and Opinions

I Am So Sorry

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I am so, so sorry.

I am sorry this cruel world lied to you. I am sorry you have been kept in the dark, force fed fairy tales and romance since the day you started dreaming. I am sorry you were convinced your dreams were too big – they handed you heartbreak and fear and told you that was life – live with it. I am sorry you believed them.

I am sorry I wasn’t able to reach you sooner. You fought their words for so long, pushing back with a sharpened tongue and soft heart – I can see your battle scars. But eventually they wore you down. The lies snaked into your ears and began to take root in your mind and grow – you began to shrink to fit the world’s picture of yourself. You wanted castles and an empire built on blood and sweat and they told you a girl like you would never make it on your own. Each time you took a step forward, they pushed you two steps back, until you decided you had had enough.

So here we are. You’re giving up. Who could blame you really? You were told you could do anything, you could be anything, but when your anything became too big, you were shut down. You were stomped on and spit at – you were told to sit down, shut up, go back to the kitchen. You were told little girls don’t achieve big things. I wouldn’t blame you if you threw in the towel right here and now. I would hold your hand as you walked about, and yes, you would have a beautiful life. I am sure of that. And you would be happy for a while. Until that little girl inched her way back to you, crawling on hands and knees and looked up into your eyes and asked – ‘why did you give up on me’?

Hear me out.

I am so, so sorry.

I am sorry you think giving up is your only option. I am sorry quitter has become synonymous with successful. 

I am sorry I did not find you sooner – I am sorry you now believe it’s too late – it’s not. The cliche truth is, it’s never too late. Not now, not tomorrow, not until your heart stops beating is it too late to start over and start reaching again. It’s really not that complicated. So they told you that you weren’t enough – now’s your chance to show them that you are. They told you little girls with big dreams don’t make it that far – now is your chance to show that them little girls grow up to be woman with fire in their stomachs and ideas larger than sky scrapers and not even the strongest army can hold back a woman with motive.

I am so, so sorry for everyone who ever doubted you – because now is your time to prove every single one of them wrong. I can only imagine how they are going to feel when you reach for your dream one last time and end up going farther than the top – I can only imagine how sad they will be, how angry, that they didn’t back you. They will all say ‘I always knew she could do it.’

Smile. Shake their hands. Turn around. Look back and say –

I am so, so sorry. But the only one who knew I could do it was myself, and even that was iffy.

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

Remembering Yourself: A Guide

Opening up Facebook this morning – this generations version of the morning paper – the first post I scrawled across: How To Be A Good Woman. Curious as to what tips this random stranger might have for me and what ‘being a good woman’ actually looks like, I opened the article and felt my jaw drop more and more the farther down I scrolled. Tip One was basically a lesson plan on how to impress the man in your life. Tip Two was all about putting your children first. And the article continued, painting a picture of what society evidently views as a good woman: Beautiful, intelligent, put together, focused, putting others first, ect.

I felt like I was watching one of those movies where the popular girls transform the class nerd into a beautiful princess by taking off her glasses and letting down her hair. As I always wondered when watching these movies, I began to wonder now: What was wrong with her before? Society has us convinced that to be a good woman we have to look and act the right way. We have to say the right things and wear the right clothes. Our hair has to be perfectly styled. We have to be amazing mom’s every second and great friends at every chance we get. We have to be perfect. Every minute of every day.

I say to hell with that theory.

Being a good woman starts with remembering yourself. It starts with wearing the clothes that make you comfortable and doing the things that make you happy. Being a good woman has nothing to do with how you treat others, and everything to do with how you treat yourself. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying to treat everyone around you like scum and think you can get away with it. I’m saying that the one person we all spend the most time with is ourselves; shouldn’t we be our biggest priority?

Remember yourself when you go the grocery store. Buy the box of donuts you’ve been eyeing for days. Remember yourself at night after you’ve tucked the kids in. Take a hot bath or read a good book or do both. Remember yourself when that guy asks you to come over. Think about if you really want to or if you’re just trying to impress him. Remember yourself when your best friend asks you out for coffee before you say yes. Do you really want to meet her, or would you rather take the few spare minutes you have in your day for a little me time?

A good woman isn’t perfect. She is flawed. She is struggling. But she is trying. A good woman makes steps every day to be the best version of herself. And some days she takes two steps backwards instead of one step forward. But that’s okay. A good woman gets up and tries again tomorrow anyway.

Here’s to all the great woman out there – forget society and remember yourself. You are perfect just the way you are (cliche for a reason).

 

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

Be That Girl

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Be that girl. You know the one I’m talking about. The girl you always stare a little longer at. The one you always listen to a little harder, because every word sounds like poetry. The girl who walks with a confidence so loud, the rest of the world goes quiet to breath her in. You know her – we all do. The girl who holds her head high and smiles at strangers. The one who stops to ask you what’s wrong when she sees you crying on the park bench and everyone else just passed by.

Be her. Be the girl who stops for squirrels crossing the road and swerves slightly when her head lights catch a toad in their gleam. Be the girl who stands up when she sees injustice and sits down when someone already has it handled. The girl who walks into the room and wonders not who noticed her, but who she can make feel noticed.

You think it’s hard, I know. You see her walk in and you ask yourself ‘how does one person manage to be so put together all of the time?’ And your answer is, she isn’t. She’s broken a little on the inside too, I promise. We all are. The best of us have cracks and dents we aren’t sure how to fix. The girl you so desperately want to be still sits behind closed doors and sometimes even open ones, and wonders why she isn’t enough. She still has days on which nothing seems to be going right, but she still gets up. She still smiles and walks out the door with her best foot forward, and when she sees you on that park bench, she still asks you if you’re okay.

Be that girl. The world needs more of that girl. The world needs more kindness, more compassion, more desire to lend a helping hand. So be her. Set aside your doubts and your questions and just be her.

So often we spend so much of our lives watching other people and wondering how they managed to be so amazing, but we do nothing to achieve the same level of ‘amazingness’ – I know I am guilty of doing just that. And the beauty is that we often fail to realize – we don’t have to change ourselves completely to be that girl. If you want to, by all means, reinvent yourself every day until the girl you see in the mirror is the girl you love, and then change her again just because this is your life and you can. But if you’re not feeling quite that ambitious today, start by smiling at the first stranger you meet. I promise you’ll see that girl smiling back at you.

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

Finding My Moment With Betty And Joe

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Recently I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone in regards to how I use my free time. Falling into a routine of wake up, eat breakfast, binge watch Netflix, take a shower, dress, and go to work for eight hours is comfortable but not productive or entertaining. Being the introverted little nugget that I am, baby steps are needed here – but the task will get done.

I go through phases when it comes to my physical activity. I used to go to the gym basically every day, and while I saw results in my appearance, I didn’t love going. This isn’t to bash gym goers or say there is anything wrong with it – more power to you. It just wasn’t exactly for me. So instead, I now keep to a routine of at home workouts that give me the same results. However, I was lacking the cardio I so crave. In High School, I ran Cross Country and after graduating, kept at it with the gym on the treadmill or bike. Now, missing the peace moving gave me, I was on the hunt for something different.

I found this boardwalk in the town I recently started working in (picture above) that is quiet and conveniently only five minutes from my job. So now, instead of watching one more episode of New Girl that I have already watched at least five times, I get up and leave an hour early, coffee in one hand and water in the other. Some days I opt to keep my head phones in as I walk or jog down the boardwalk, listening to music and avoiding as much eye contact as possible. On other days, I keep my head up and ears clear and I smile and wave to each person I pass.

If you’ve kept with me to this point, today was a head phone kind of day. My soul was tired, but I knew an extra long walk was just what I needed. So I charged my phone to full battery, and left two hours early instead of one. I bundled up in hat, coat, and scarf, pushed my head phones into my ears, and began my walk.

Immediately, I begin to feel lighter. And today, the people feel different. Even with my head phones in, people are still smiling, waving, even saying hi as they pass me. And I’m reminded why stepping out of my comfort zone and adding new routines to my day is good for me.

When I pass a bench labeled “Betty and Joe’s Lucky spot”, I feel inclined to sit down and take a break, even though my legs aren’t tired and I don’t need to rest. Maybe my mind does. Maybe my soul does. So I allow it to. And sitting here with my view of the ocean, the waves gently lapping the rocks, smiling faces passing me in the chilly breeze, I do indeed feel lucky. This week has been hard, I’ve found it harder to smile and breathing hasn’t come as easily, but right now in this moment, I feel pretty damn lucky.

I encourage you to move. Get up and move. Dance, walk, run, leap, for heaven’s sake go into your yard or parking lot and just scream as you run in circles with your arms spread. People might look at you funny wondering what’s gotten into you, but I promise you, even if just for a moment, you will feel better. And sometimes a moment is all we need to convince us to keep going.

Break your routine. Add something fun. It doesn’t have to be big or exciting or even out of the box. Just find your moment. You deserve it.

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

I Am Both – Embracing My Unique

Me 2018
Embracing My Unique

I have been both the quiet girl with too much to say and no voice to say it and the girl too loud, who every person stares at even though she is only speaking her mind. I have been the girl smiling shyly and also the girl jumping for joy around the room because her happiness can’t be held in any longer. I just want you to know that I see you. Whichever girl who are, I see you. And I still struggle with deciding which I want to be; because society likes to put us in boxes. You’re either shy or outgoing. You can’t be both. You’re either sad or happy. You can’t be both.

So let me tell you this. Both girl’s are perfect the way they are. And on my best days, I AM BOTH. And while society judges that as wrong, labels it as abnormal and tucks it away out of sight, I say we should wear it proud. Because I am the quiet girl who chooses to hold back, and the next second or minute or day or year, maybe I will be the girl who you can’t get to shut up even if you wanted to. And that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me. It merely means I can’t choose between the two. And I wouldn’t want to.

I am both. And they both have their perks. For the first fifteen years of my life, I was under the impression that I had to choose. So, I chose to be quiet all of the time. I sat in the background and I listened. And I learned a lot. I learned about people and situations, I learned how to empathize on such a deep level, I learned how to feel everything because I was doing it every second of every day. When you aren’t speaking, you aren’t exhaling your emotions, you feel every single one of them individually. This has been something I’ve kept with me, and I love it about myself. Being quiet and withdrawn, I also learned how to make real friends. People came to me who needed me, who wanted to be heard and knew I would listen – this is a complete feeling of wholeness you can’t understand until you’ve felt it. I loved being the quiet girl. But society didn’t. People would always ask me “why are you so quiet”? They would turn to the people I was with, as if I was incapable of talking at all and ask “Does she ever say anything?” – And then I found my people. I found the people who accepted my quiet, who loved sitting with me and talking about life and love and being – that or not talking at all.

I also love being the loud girl. After graduating from High School and moving away from my hometown, I have had to find a different voice within myself. This one is louder, but she’s thoughtful and still speaks with intent most of the time. But sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes things come out of my mouth that I don’t mean to say, and I love that about me now. I love that I can say anything without fear of looking stupid because I no longer care. I love that I can laugh as loudly as I want now and know that most of the time, people are going to be laughing with me, not at me. It feels amazing to be outwardly happy, loudly happy, and watch what that does to the people in the room. Spreading the emotions I have kept inward for so long is lovely, and seeing people feel them with me is even better. Being able to express to anyone when I am mad or sad or happy, telling people what I want when I want it has opened so many doors for me, and is something the quiet girl in me would have taken much longer to do.

I am both. I invite you to be both. Boxing yourself into one way of living, one way of being, closes so many doors that could be open for you if you just allow them to be. Invite them in. Open your arms. You might find that you love the side of yourself you’ve been shutting out just as much as you love the one you’ve been.

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

2018 was a roller coaster…

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2018 is almost over, and for me, this is bittersweet. A lot happened this year. I survived my boyfriends first deployment, that months before had seemed impossible. I quit my job of almost five years and moved four hours away from my family and friends. I moved in with my boyfriend of three years – something we had been talking about for a long time. I learned how to truly love with all of my heart by learning how to be an Aunty to a niece deserving of every world, when I can only give her mine. I got my first apartment and a new job, where I met some really amazing people. I got my first pet – a needy and annoying little orange kitten that I love dearly. I went from part time to full time to part time again at one job, and then picked up a second job doing something I really love, which I’m now making my full time job in just a few short weeks. I got to stand up beside my best friend as she married the love of her life.  2018 was hard, but it was also beautiful. So with 2019 right around the corner, I thought I would take a minute in this busy life to reflect. I’ve never been one for new years resolutions, so instead I am going to look back on the year behind us and think about what I’ve learned. Because the truth is, I have no idea what 2019 holds – but I do know what 2018 held. I encourage you to take a moment to do the same.

1.) I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. This one might seem kind of egotistical and a little bit of a cheat, but it’s true. 2018 tested me. It put me in places I never saw myself being. But I made it even when I didn’t see any way that I could.

2.) I am never truly alone. Again, might seem like a cheat, but this is a big one for me. I have always known I had an amazing support system, but this year it really showed itself. From when my finances were low to when my spirits were, my parents and sisters and friends were there to help in any way they could, when I didn’t expect a thing from them. They dug me out of holes this year that I put myself in and did it without a second thought – reaffirming one thing I already knew – I am surrounded by incredible people.

3.) I am capable of doing so much on my own. Ever since I was little I had always wanted to move away from our small town, the number one reason being that I wanted to prove to myself that I could. And yes, while this year I did have to accept some help here and there, I got two jobs on my own in a state where no one knew me. I have made connections all on my own that will last me hopefully a long time. These things are huge for me.

4.) It is okay to be selfish. I have always cared about others happiness over my own, and this year it nearly drove me to a mental break down. I was getting so stressed trying to please everyone that I was getting sick almost every night, I was barely eating, and I was more depressed than I had been since High School. And then I put myself at the front of the line and all of that faded away. It’s okay to look out for yourself sometimes. In fact, it’s crucial.

5.) I am valuable. This one I will keep short and sweet even if it is perhaps the most important. This year I learned my worth and next year, I intend not to let people take me for granted anymore. I’m not one big on new years resolutions but this is one I think I can keep – 2019 will be the year I say enough is enough to a few people.

6.) My parents will always be my number one’s. No matter who else comes and goes, no matter who else is important to me, they have had my back since day one and continue to do so every single step of the way. I won’t forget that.

7.) While I’m still working on this one, it is a lesson I began to learn this year – it’s okay to accept help from others. It’s always been very hard for me to do this – I’m a very independent person. But if you’re kicking and screaming and working your ass off to get where you want to be and someone offers you a step stool, it’s okay to step up on it.

8.) Last one. I learned not to feel guilty for making my own choices. This one is a work in progress, but one I feel confident about. My choices might not always make others happy, but I can’t feel bad about that.

This year was huge. I learned so much more. From how to love a cat to how to care for a grown human being to how to pay my electricity bill – but these are at the top of my list. So I encourage you to do the same thing. Look back on this year with a warm heart. Look ahead to the new year with an eager one. And remember, just because the calendar changes doesn’t mean you have to – but you can if you want.