I save for travel. I buy food for tomorrow. I exercise the option to refuse medicine. I can sleep through fire alarms, earthquakes, and hurricanes. I have one good shoulder that isn’t over-stretched out. I can see the colors of this world even when my contacts aren’t in. I’ve almost always had a ride home except for the time I jumped out of my parent’s car to prove that I stand with my truths. I’ve only had a handful of injuries that sidelined me for slightly longer than a few years, and scars that live mostly on the surface. Blessed.

I’m sitting on my floor listening to Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and reading from Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee. I realize that as much as my parents thought they were giving me a better life (in their definition of better life), they have done that so many times over. They have given me a freedom of expression. They have given me a freedom from defining success as dollars in the bank or stuck under a mattress. They have given me a freedom of possibilities. I know my kids won’t have to eat Kraft mac n cheese, ramen, frozen vegetables, vienna sausages, cereal for breakfast, spam, and foods canned or processed if they don’t want to. Sometimes, I crave “non-perishables” for they remind me of a time when being a tight family unit meant quick meals and achey stomachs. The past always seems harder in the present.

My dream, implanted by others, for most of the past decade has been to open a bakery, an extension of and expression of me. I sometimes fear failure, but if I linger on that thought, I will never know what could be. And when it opens, no matter the length of time, I did something, maybe planted a seed, and left blessings out there.

Thank you mom and dad for giving me blessings far greater than you imagined.

Planned pauses

There’s always talk about how mothers plan pauses in their careers to have a family. What we should also be talking about is everyone who “pauses” for all other real life opportunities, and investing in themself. My personal pause was a desire to be a better me, and to be a better source of laughter; thus, down the line, a better mother, a better wife, a better friend. A desire for a work-life balance that allows me to see my friends, have time for small art projects, and travel has changed how I approach a career of living life.

I believe this slight pause at not going full-speed will enhance the world around me. I sleep more; but, when I am awake, I am much more present. I exercise more; but, when I’m sitting down, I am much more still. I play more; but when I work, I do the same amount of work in less time. I feel so much more a part of me, like I’m finally living inside my own self – living my life, the way higher being intended me to live. I’m not rushing to get anywhere; I’m already here. The waterfall always ends up in the same place. I am here to accept what this world has to offer—all of it, even its imperfections.

I am discovering that we are a generation who defines success differently and less linearly. I’m learning that as I plan to not let work define me, I make time to do the things that really define me.

Traveling slows me down, takes me away from distractions, allows me to sway back and forth a bit until I find my center again.

A Creed to hold my life by

I wish I had more chances in the past to re-evaluate my life. I passed them up, over and over. I strayed from the path least taken and walked on the path that maybe shouldn’t have been taken. I could have lessened the depths of my darkness (if darkness could be quantified) and maybe had a slightly higher baseline, but the grass is always greenest in the spring. I fell in a cycle of being too caught up in my stresses that seemed so much larger and heavier than what they really were. Every time I came up for air, the weights on my ankles got heavier. My daily activities were played in a loop, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year. No matter how many times I hit the contrast button on the screen, I still could not see. My skin was marked with bruises, some were fresh, some had been there a while, some were so deep they have permanently discolored my skin. My sister would point them out, but I almost never knew how they got there. The theory of “No Pain, No Gain” is not exactly a proven scientific fact. (There is in fact a thing called detrimental pain.) Alas, I was numb. When I regained some feeling, I realized how exhausted I was, how stale my mind had become, how illness would just overtake my weakened body, how physical injuries would take months, if not years to heal. I should have never ignored the glowing core inside the glass doors of my very open heart. Everyone else could see it.

Inspired by Automattic’s Creed, I have written my own.

I will never stop learning. I will never pass up an opportunity to love. I will strive to be vulnerable and compassionate. I will build up my friends as they have built me up. I will put my needs first, for this is not a selfish endeavor. I cannot possibly help others if I’m not healthy and happy. I will pour time and energy into outlets that give me strength, creativity and freedom. I will not be motivated by money, for there is no happiness in worldly riches. I am intentionally participating in this ironman, not a sprint, and no matter how far the finish line may seem, the only way to get there is to honor the past, present and future, to dig deep (sometimes deeper), to breathe with control, to sun salutate my way through dark clouds, to keep moving when the fibers tire and to smile. I will flow like a river, carving my experiences in the canyon walls that will echo my deepest desires. I will create memories. I will leave a legacy.

I will be my own ironwoman.  What my sister has accomplished three times, I will accomplish once.

If you are reading this, you have inadvertently signed a pledge to hold me to mine, and I promise to hold you to yours. 🙂