My Box

Not to long ago I wrote about “The Box” – the box of letters from my dad to my mom while he was in Vietnam. Well I have my own box of treasures. Let me back up. A few weeks ago I get a call from one of my ex husbands employee’s who has been cleaning out a shop and found what he described to me as a box of keepsakes from my childhood. He asked if I wanted them. I thought what box would my ex have of my stuff but I told the employee – yes I do want the box and I would come and get it. Well several weeks past and I have forgotten about it frankly until today. I went and retrieved the box and haphazardly looked though it before putting it in the back of my car. It was a box of stuff my mother had packed for me when I got married and I guess it had gotten stored in a shop after one of our many moves.

Later this afternoon I went through my box to see what treasure I could find. It contained birthday cards, valentine cards, etc from friends and family. It had a “School Days” book that I would fill out every school year – include a picture and then all the keepsakes from the year. Kindergarten through Senior Year. And I apparently was pretty religious about completing the book and saving all kinds of sweet keepsakes. My box even had all of the posters from my room as a teenager – I was apparently in love with Sylvester Stalone – lol.

Then I came across a brown envelope with just my name on it. Inside of it was notes and letters. I began to read them and realized these were all the notes that were sent to me when I made my confirmation retreat as a Junior in High School. My heart stopped and I immediately started looking for his handwriting….. I held my breath when I found it. My DAD’s letter written some 30+ years ago to me. I read every word and it was like I was reading it for the first time. I don’t remember ever reading it although I know I did. Now at age 48 his words resonate with me and the young girl that I was. The letter echoed how proud he was of me. That we had our disagreements but he knew I had my own way of doing things that would serve me well one day. He knew that I was reasonable and would understand that he had to make me live within the rules of his household. Even then he promised to always be by my side and to help in anyway I needed him to. He knew I would forge my own path and believed in me. I am certain it was the most difficult thing to stand idly by and watch me become someone who he knew I wasn’t – someone that had become so small and meek- all those years while I was married. My mom always told me that when I did things in my youth that they didn’t necessarily agree with – That we got no reaction from my dad or opposition from him was because he didn’t care. But that wasn’t the case – he did care – he cared differently than she did. He was a quiet man – he let me live my life and only stepped in when I needed or wanted him to. In his letter he states that he isn’t good at expressing his feelings. Most men aren’t – especially from that generation. But for my dad he didn’t always need to say his feelings – as I grew up I knew them – she showed me by his actions.

What a treasure that box brought me today. His handwriting. His thoughts and words on a page to me. Him loving me as a teenager who challenged him in every way – lol – but him seeing and knowing my potential! I am forever grateful that MY Box found its way back into my possession.

There was even a letter from my sweet Grandmother. Oh the treasures…. Here are a few newspaper clippings that I found in the box – who knew I was in the newspaper that much.

The End of a Season

Everything has a reason for showing up in your path, some things last for a lifetime and others just for a season. Although bittersweet, the season that was my Camp at the Tickfaw River has come to an end.

Let me rewind to 2017. I was freshly divorced, broken and needed a place where I could recharge and have some fun out of the spotlight. The Camp at the Tickfaw was that place for me. If you have read my previous posts about the camp and the Tickfaw river you will know that it held a special place in my heart. I found healing there, solace and a whole lot of fun. I had many many good times with my friends and my family. The camp was even where Dean and I met face to face for the first time. Just driving there and getting to the exit sign – all the stress of the world I was carrying around would instantly melt away. Just seeing that sign would make me smile.

Things change, healing happens and new chapters begin. Although bittersweet, (and I did shed a few tears driving there for the last time) – it was time to close this chapter. I’m a different person with a different life than I was when I initially bought this place. BUT..with the close of one chapter – a new one begins. And so I have a couple of new projects I am working on and who knows where or even if we buy a camp again. You’ll have to stay tuned. But I can say this…. I am so excited about the future and what is in store for me and my family!

To the new owners of my beloved House on the Tickfaw…. I hope that it brings you many good memories, good friends, lots of new adventures and healing of your own.

Just to close I had to include some pics (not all) of the amazing times I have shared at the camp. Thanks to all my people for being part of some wonderful memories there.

Cheers to new chapters!

Life dad

I have been super weepy these past couple of weeks as we approach my dad’s birthday. This blog was entitled “Life After” but I never really thought or wanted it to be about Life after my dad, but here I am. Here I am with tears welling up in my eyes thinking about all that he has missed and all that I want so badly to tell him about. My mind starts making a list, so to speak…. So here is the list:

  • Lizzy’s College Graduation – this was the 1st event he missed and it was hard. He was so proud of his grandchildren.
  • The toxic girlfriend of my ex-husband finally left our lives – Boy did we all rejoice on this one. He would have too. It was a long 4 years and he prayed many days for GOD to remove her from our lives. I like to think he finally got some face time with the man in charge who got this done for us.
  • My ex and I finally stopped warring and we co-parent well together – He was my sounding board for all things that I struggled with in that situation.
  • Lizzy landed a job in Houston at Aire Liquide in the HR Department and most recently received a promotion
  • Christopher landed his dream job at Purina and has had a couple of subsequent big promotions.
  • Maddie plays on a U15 Boys soccer team and wears his number 00 proudly as she kicks those boys butts!
  • I built some more apartments, bought a couple of houses and most recently another apt complex… Even named the new apartments after him – Clifton Heights had a nice ring to it..
  • Mia is playing tennis!!!! Finally one of his grandchildren that love Tennis like he loved it!
  • Christopher secured us a spot to compete on Family Feud
  • Lizzy made a fantastic score on her LSAT and will be heading to Law School in the near future…
  • We endured a global pandemic, COVID itself and quarantine…. and the most ridiculous presidential election ever. – I would have fiercely protected him against COVID and he would have thought all the media hype about it was horseshit. I can hear him now.
  • We survived 2 hurricanes and an ice storm. He would have been proud of how I handled all that was thrown at me in 2020
  • I got married… this one was a big one to miss
  • Baylor won its first ever Final Four – March Madness was truly maddening
  • I went back to work for the coolest company EVER – He would have loved hearing all my cool stories about what we do.
  • I bought a new car – this really isn’t that significant except that it is – see he LOVED cars.

The list could go on and on…. It would seem the more time passes the less I would miss him but it is quite the opposite. The more time soldiers on and the more things that transpire in this life with me and my kids – the greater the longing for him to be here for me to tell him about it.

“Life After”_________ (many things: divorce, re-marriage, etc) is so good. But “Life After” my dad is bittersweet.

That is all……

Dean’s vows

I never write anything specific about Dean – nor did I write specifically about my ex – most people just connect the dots in my writing. BUT… I received a simple text message that was so profound this morning that I am breaking that rule just a bit.

First of all let me preface this entire post by dispelling any myths that I am this perfect soul – I am not – and I am a lot to deal with at times. Dean takes all that comes with me in stride, right! This morning in a text exchange I was apologizing for me not being the most pleasant person yesterday…… and he sees my struggle. His response instantly brought tears to my eyes. “I ache when you struggle”. He ACHES…., not he gets pissed off, or he ignores me – HE ACHES. I looked up the definition of the word this morning just to see the full breadth of the word. One meaning states – “causing distress, deep emotion or longing.” There it is folks – when I am at my worst he ACHES for me – how beautiful is that?

Soooo…… many know from my previous post that Dean did not write his wedding vows – he really leaves that kind of mushy talk between just him and I. But if I could write his vows for me by what I witness everyday in my relationship with him here is what they would say:

I Dean, take you Melissa for the rest of my life. I promise to always be faithful to you NEVER EVER letting my eyes wonder. You are enough. You fill my cup. I desire you and only you.

I promise to be patient with you, especially when you are undeserving of patience.

I will ache when you ache, I will laugh when you laugh, I will cry when you cry.

I promise to find joy in the simplest of moments with you – longing for nothing more than just you – your touch, your face, your time.

I promise to love you so completely even beyond what you thought was possible – loving you more today than I did yesterday and loving you more tomorrow than on the first day I loved you.

I promise to always be by your side and come along with whatever shenanigans you have planned. I am in – sign me up. Wherever you go – I go. We are one.

I promise to be your help mate – helping make your life easier in every facet and at every level. Just let me help…. Put me in coach.

I promise to always tell you the truth, always say I am sorry, always have a kind word for you, always be willing to compromise and always attempt to be funny just to see you smile or laugh.

I will embrace growing old with you and love every moment of our simple happy life together – even when its not so simple.

I will love you completely forever and ever until I take my last breath

THIS! THIS is what he would have said but doesn’t need to because he models it EVERY SINGLE DAY for me! He is the absolute love of my life. Even in the moments where I struggle – I see the beauty in our relationship – the overwhelming beauty at that. He will be quite embarrassed that I put him out on display but gosh I needed to sing this from the treetops! I love that man!

EDIT- this is not an exaggeration!! This is truly who he is in the most humblest way. I just see it so clearly because I have had the extreme opposite for so many years. #Perspective #IHopeINeverLoseSightOfThisPerspective

The Valley

There are so many quotes that I read daily, in various places. This one is profound for me:

We don’t get our healing at the mountain top, we get our healing in the valley.

Wow. How many valleys have I walked through. And 9 times out of 10 – when you read my blogs you are reading it when I am in the valley – healing myself. Many years ago I was so oblivious to what that quote truly meant and now I have a PhD in it. When I started this journey I was so scared of the valley – it was uncomfortable and dark. I hated walking that walk – hated it. Now I embrace it because I know the walk out of the valley is coming and a new healing is achieved – a new level of courage, wisdom and vulnerability was gained. I crave it now.

So many of my beautiful friends are walking the valleys….for various reasons, some have a commonality in why I walked the valleys. This post is me in my megaphone telling them and others walking that same path – that healing is found there!

My valleys are not gone, I still walk through some but the mountain tops are more frequent. For this I am thankful. The brokenness will always be part of who I am but RESTORED is what shows up in the world now.

Stay the course, embrace the valleys – they will get you to the mountaintops!

I always try to include a picture with my posts that represents what the topic of the blog is. But do we ever take pictures of our lowest moment? I don’t. My camera roll is representative of only the best of times. But here is one of the earliest pictures of me when I was months maybe even weeks after my separation/divorce. The picture is cute – but it was a night I was going to a large function alone with some of my sweet friends. I felt awkward that night being alone and that smile was a fake it til you make it one. In the end I conquered the night and ended up having a really good time. It’s the best I have as a representation of the valley…. Me, just me, putting one foot in front of the other putting myself back together.

Wedding Stories

Weddings have stories. Some have stories within stories. Ours is no different. What is a little different than the normal wedding story is that ours is unconventional… Obviously not our first marriages – and our stories come with extra stuff. Beautiful extra stuff that needed just as much attention as the bride and the groom.

Here are our stories:

Let’s start with the beautiful venue. With COVID being in full swing we wanted a smaller type event with a more intimate feel, as this is a very intimate moment between a couple. My dad not being able to be present I searched for how to keep him connected – I even had looked in Rayne for a wedding venue knowing he was buried there. It never felt right. And there were other things to consider as well. The venue was the perfect location – the chapel overlooking the golf course that my dad had played before, the small quaint lodge that our family and friends could stay and enjoy the festivities, the location of our rooms to the basketball court and playground for the kids. Any parent knows how important it is to keep kids entertained – this court saw a lot of action, fun times, family bonding moments and more. The onsite restaurant, the event center again led to ease of managing our now growing group of 8 (we’ll get to that number in a minute).

You know how you have a certain vision in your head of the way things should be – like when planning a wedding. Again I am not a traditional bride with the traditional dress and veil. I wanted my bouquet and the decorations for the reception to match what I envisioned in my head and be appropriate. My sister stepped in for the rescue. She is so talented. I did not want flowers, I wanted my bouquet to look like i went outside and grabbed some beautiful greenery – She Nailed it. She went the extra mile knowing I wanted to honor my dad and included his referee whistle as well as his jersey number 00 in my bouquet. The reception greenery was trimmed from my yard and my mothers yard the day we left for St. Francisville. Just trimmings off some trees that we see everyday at our houses. She made them look beautiful and feel like a million bucks. (she has that gift). Having her special touch on our special day was important to me.

The Preacher… Dean had initially wanted some wise old man to perform the ceremony. His thinking was that someone old would have lots of experience with marriage and could add that wisdom to the ceremony. That was not exactly what I was thinking – and we had several heated discussions regarding the wedding officiant conceptually. I wanted Truett. Let me rewind and tell you how Truett fits into this story. In 2015 Lizzy goes off to college at Baylor University. At that moment in time, I was months into my divorce proceedings, sad and broken, and even more heartbroken that Lizzy was leaving me. Lizzy quickly develops a friendship with Truett. He is studying ministry/biblical studies and has career goals of being full time in ministry/pastoral work. In one of my MANY visits to Baylor to see Lizzy she introduces me to Truett. From the moment I met him – he made me feel SEEN and KNOWN at a time in my life where I felt invisible and unworthy. He affectionately called me MOM and instantly I felt like I had known him forever. He has a unique gift that will serve him well as one of GODs shepards. When Dean proposed and wedding planning commenced – I knew Truett had to be involved. He knew my story, my struggle – from the tragedy that was divorce to the redemption that was Dean’s love. He brought a freshness and humor to our ceremony that I wanted my guests to experience – He knew Dean and I and made it personal… in a real way. And in the end…. Dean admitted I was right. Truett was the perfect Man for the job!

When Dean and I blended families we ended up with actually 7 kids rather than only 6. I have an extra…. I have since 2007 had an extra beautiful soul I consider one of my own – Lilly. You will see her in my family pics from the wedding and if you scroll back on my fb or have been on my christmas card list for more than 6 years you will have seen her beautiful face before. Lilly blessed our lives in 2005 as Lizzy’s bff from Camp Champions. She was as vivacious as Lizzy. Lilly’s life had tragedy and we as a family stood in the gap for her and called her one of our own. We saw her more regularly when she lived in Austin… after moving to San Diego for college our physical visits got less frequent but she was never more than a text or phone call away. She flew all the way from Los Angeles to be with all of us on this important weekend – to celebrate this new chapter. That means alot to me and spoke volumes of our connection as a family unit – sometimes water is just as thick as blood!

Kip is going to be a great dad! When he comes to visit we call him the “activity coordinator” because he is organizing all the littles in games, outdoor activities, etc. So all of the littles were soooo excited and were anxiously awaiting his arrival on Friday afternoon before the wedding. When he arrives they are all pulling at him to go play. He takes just a few moments to do something special. Emily, his beautiful girlfriend shared this story with me after it transpired – because if you know Kip he does things completely under the radar – never looks for accolades. Shortly after Kip arrives he has a quiet sweet conversation with Dean’s boys. He gets down on their level physically (as he towers over them) and says something to the effect of – You know after the wedding we are going to be a family – Will you let me be your big brother? I can imagine their sweet faces when he gave them that option! How special that he went the extra mile to help us BLEND all together and make Ethan and Cooper feel PART of this newly defined family unit! I love that BOY!

Cooper is shy. Lizzy is not. Cooper struggles with being the youngest of our large group. Lizzy lost that title many years ago. Lizzy is used to having more sisters than brothers – its easier to relate to other girls. Little brothers are new for her. She took extra care to include Cooper in our family first dance. Even encouraging him past his shyness to let loose and have a little fun on the dance floor. Those sweet gestures that my bigs extend to the littles mean a lot to the those on the receiving end of that kindness.

I’m a blogger, right? So it is no surprise that I wrote my own vows. Dean is not a blogger – so it is no surprise that writing his vows caused him a ton of anxiety. I wrote mine weeks before and in 1 sitting, He put it off until the 9th hour. He was still struggling as I walked out the door to leave for St. Francisville. I noticed the computer screen he was sitting in front of displayed the topic he had googled “How to write your own vows” lol. During the ceremony there was no shortage of laughs about the fact that I wrote my own PAGE of vows. Dean opted for the customary and standard verbiage for wedding vows, although he had written something additional but changed his mind at the last SECOND literally and put that piece of paper back in his pocket. Which was fine with me. I know how deeply he loves me – no need for a public profession. For me, I felt so much more than just the standard vows. I needed to spill out what my commitment for him, our marriage and our family was – and I didn’t mind one bit that my “village” was watching. One sentiment that I wrote was that Dean’s love restored everything in me that was broken. Speaking that sentence brought tears to my eyes….

We underestimated the emotion our children would feel when we finally made our union permanent. During the rehearsal dinner, Kip, Lizzy and Mia made a toast, rimmed in humor but anchored in love for Dean and what he brings to our family. Maddie opted to express her feelings on Instagram – and her choice of words were wise beyond her years. During the ceremony, Maddie and Cooper were filled with emotion and cried tears of joy – Maddie the entire ceremony and after. It was a happy moment. She saw in real life what I preach all the time – beauty from ashes. When you read what Maddie wrote, you have to admit that she gets it more so than most adults do, she sees our love for each other and knows how special it is…… I want all of our children to experience what we have and what we will model for them over the rest of our lives.

My dad died April 12, 2019. I was dating Dean and had a pretty good idea that we would get married at some point. The day that my dad passed away I laid in bed and cried for what was lost… the special moments that he wouldn’t see. I so wanted him to give me away to someone who really deserved me and he didn’t get that opportunity. My son however filled that gap for me beautifully and I was honored to be given away by him. What I didn’t expect is that my mom would find love again, with a man who willingly stood in the gap for my mother during the wedding and eased her sadness over my dad not being physically there (although he was there in spirit) AND in the most generous of gestures extended what surely my dad would have done for me and covered the cost of a beautiful rehearsal dinner. If you think Dean and I are a beacon for finding love again, you should see my mother and Craig. At age 74 they are very much in love. At the reception when it was time to throw the bouquet I decided to hand it to my mother – as a wedding is certainly forthcoming. I wanted her to know that I support her and am excited that she has found love again! We are excited to welcome Craig into our family. More details to come…..

Here are special moments that were captured on film during the weekend. Its a glimpse of cooperation, togetherness, bonding, love and silliness – real life in pictures – its the abundance of life lived richly and very connected to the people we love. Grateful isn’t a big enough word to describe my feelings on this wedding weekend. It was simply magical and filled with lots and lots of stories…. thank you for reading just some of them.

BUT…. the main story is about a girl who meets a boy and they each find love again with each other after being discarded like yesterdays garbage. If I wrote a book it might read like a fairytale – a dark fairytale with a couple of twists and turns – albeit a fairytale… Our journey to each other spans more than 20 years – each having our own struggles within our own stories. Those struggles shaped us into the somewhat wiser, slightly weathered individuals we showed up as when we first met. The road that led us up to today was bumpy – to say the least – but full of great times and lots of adventures. Dean was patient as we navigated through and pealed back layers of my ultra independence (which is a trauma response), controlling & outspoken personality. But he did so with love…. he was understanding and loving and was always ready for a conversation about whatever baggage decided to show up that day. And I offered solice to him and a soft place to land from his experiences as well. What quickly became evident with Dean is that he loved me in a way no one else has ever loved me and embraced everything that I am (even the bad) – he jumped on the bandwagon that was my CRAZY traveling, always on the go, catering to kids, entertaining friends, social butterfly life and never missed a stride. Through all that life might throw at us we both agree we don’t want to go through it without the other. He’s the ying to my yang. A true love story and on my wedding day I felt like Cinderella marrying her prince charming!

And last but certainly not least: A developing story…… Like mother like daughter. The apple never falls very far from the tree lol

Embracing the NEW

Happy new year. Well at least we HOPE it will be happy. As we turn the page to 2021 and leave behind the historic 2020 – I am deep in thought about my Theme for the year. (I don’t do New Years Resolutions).

I was inspired by GOD’s word the other day in my daily devotional. It has continued to resonate with me and when I stopped and gave it some thought – I decided that it was meant to be what kicks off my 2021. Here’s the verse:

Isaiah 43:18-19 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!

2021 will see many NEW things. And it is time – wayyyyy past time – for me to let go of the former things. A new marriage for me in just a few short weeks will kick off the new year. With that comes alot of newness as we settle into married life and the NEW of blending our families as well as lots of NEW opportunities to converge together. – I mean I’ve been single for quite a while. It’s time to leave the mindset of singleness behind and embrace life with a real partner. Most would think that would be easy – and for the most part it is – but I have carried around the hurts of the past and created mechanisms to deal with my singleness that now need to fall away.

The newness of the worlds new normal is something else that I need to cling to this passage for and believe that GOD is really doing a NEW thing – in my life, in our country and in our world. My prayer is that my eyes are open and I have the vision of GOD to see what it is HE is doing. Let me not cling to what “We use to do” – let me clearly see what is being taught by the ultimate Teacher.

My eyes are set on the future… on the NEW thing GOD is doing. I am excited about this NEW journey GOD is taking me on and am looking forward to really embracing it in its fullness. This journey should be fun… stay tuned! 2021 here I (WE) come!

My 1 polticial (non political) post for the year

I am not a deeply political person. I do have strong beliefs and of course opinions about politics but for the most part the whole institution of politics is plagued by bad behavior and corruption and I had enough of that in my marriage to last a lifetime. However, I do believe in our country, our system of justice (although flawed at times), our constitution and of course our right as citizens to vote. I know there are many generations of people before me that have fought for the right to vote for everyone. I remember registering the moment I turned 18 so that I could participate in having my voice heard. As well, I encouraged both of my grown children to do the same.

I have been silent on this current presidential election because I know I have friends and family whose beliefs differ and I would never want to make them feel like their opinion doesn’t count – because frankly it does. Just like mine and as adults we exercise our opinion at the voting polls and then for me – enough said – life goes on.

Today’s post is not about Trump or Biden – Its bigger than 2 men. Its about Voting – Voting IS our democracy. We the people have a voice at the polls. Its the foundation of our country. When the integrity of the vote is questioned that is concerning no matter who your candidate is. So let’s talk sports – I like basketball – everyone knows it – like super passionate about it. There are rules of the game that are officiated on the court – and sometimes I don’t always like how they affect my team – but at the end of the day even though I want that win so badly – I want to win fair and square. And after what I have been through in my life – I want truth to always prevail – its so important.

I can’t say beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is definite voter fraud or any manipulation of our voting systems. However, the suggestion and eye witness reports of such should make us ALL as american citizens want to know the truth. Let’s investigate – if there is nothing there then we move on – if there is WE need to know – its critical. Just like instant replay in basketball – lets look at it, investigate all angles and make the call. THIS is so worthy of our attention – our leaders on both sides of the party lines should be calling for a thorough investigation. I know if I was running as a candidate I would NEED to know that I won or lost fair and square. Just think about sports and your favorite team when you know the call was wrong and no one is willing to look into it (case in point the Saints Super bowl game).

Again I cant say enough times that VOTING is one of the key foundations that defines us as a democracy – its so important that we know there is integrity in the system as a whole. Just my 2 cents. You can now return to your daily activities.

Life and Achieving Happiness

Earlier today I watched a TedTalk about happiness in life. In summary, Harvard University conducted the longest running study of 700+ men over the course of their life and studied what led those to have happy lives. (This study has spanned over 70 years!) Those that were happy were not void of struggles or trials but the common denominator was that they had surrounded themselves with authentic relationships and had a greater sense of community; with their friends, family and their surrounding community at large. I started thinking about that concept today with regard to me, my life struggles, my present and my future.

I am 90 days away from my wedding, from a starting a new chapter in my life. And although my life has been far from perfect or free from struggle and trials; TODAY I am rejoicing in those. I can so clearly see the beauty in my journey. And I somehow knew that one day I would have this kind of vision when I looked back upon the treacherous and long journey that Divorce has taken me on. Has it been hard – absolutely! The hardest. No sugar coating that fact. And it wasn’t just hard on me, it was hard on the ones I love the most – my children – which in turn added more pressure on me to get it right. This blog has been my therapy. I can look back and see every emotion, every valley I walked through, poured out into each post. AND now I can see the bigger picture – the 10,000 foot view and I can count the blessings that came from that arduous journey – the many life lessons that I learned and the wisdom that is inevitably gained by experiencing it.

What I am most proud of is that even though I had my moments of grief (and they were never easy) I persevered!!!! I overcame!!! One moment at a time. Some times I would take 5 steps forward and 10 steps back, in the beginning I probably lost more ground than I gained. BUT I never stopped striving for the life I knew I wanted – and I knew what I wanted it to look like. Looking back at all the pictures that documented all my adventures, friendships and family time – I achieved it – I have actually arrived! I have traveled all over the world (OMG too many places to list), I have surrounded myself with some amazing friends and friendships – always open to adding to my circle (I love people). And the cherry on top is the LOVE and PARTNERSHIP that I finally found. I just wouldn’t settle for anything mediocre or less than what I knew I wanted and my family needed. And to be honest, I knew this piece of my life (my love life) whoever it ended up being – I would have to fight for. Fight against what I had been programmed to believe was a normal relationship, fight against the guilt and shame of divorce and not providing my children an intact family, even fight against those few that for one reason or another didn’t support or want the relationship to move to the next level. I was determined because if you know Dean – his love for me and our relationship is worth fighting for.

So those who may think that my life is by happenstance you, my friend would be wrong. My life as a whole just doesn’t happen with luck – it is purposeful movement and decisions toward the goal I set way long ago in 2015!

My life, just like those men in the Harvard study will continue to have struggles and grief and trials throughout my entire life – That is a definite truth. However, just like those that achieved a lifetime of happiness, I will walk in their footsteps and embrace the truths that have been studied and proven. I love the relationships that I have and will continue to purposefully nurture them – they are life, love and happiness for me! I am ready to close this chapter of my life and begin a new one – one with an amazing man by my side!

Parting thoughts: Never settle….Deal with your issues… open to change even if it feels different, different doesn’t always equal bad, sometimes its just different….forgive often….embrace life – even the bad stuff, because that’s where the growth happens!

Christmas 2020 is coming…

What a year we have had. 2020 did not turn out the way anybody thought it would. Pandemic, Tiger King, Murder Hornets, Evacuations, 2 Hurricanes and Insurance Adjuster nightmares. And as we approach the end of this year I am trying to find some perspective on what this year taught me.

I have blogged about the upside (if you can call it that) of what the Pandemic brought – and the word that continues to come to mind is togetherness. We spent alot of time together as a family – good quality time. And just as things were beginning to become a little more normal – we got the opposite of normal in our corner of the world. Devastation, Destruction, and Debris – the 3 D’s but again I see that this abnormal circumstance in our reality leads to more togetherness. And who can really be mad about that.

As we move into the last quarter of 2020 my focus is on the holidays. I decided that since my Christmas tree makes me super happy I went ahead and put it up – even before Halloween – because at this point in 2020 – Why Not? I also told my children that for Christmas they will be getting only 3 gifts. Now one would think that this would cause quite a stir among kids – not mine. For my children, they know I come up with some grandiose hoop jumping hoopla that they must do Christmas morning in order to get their gifts. Last year it was a scavenger hunt that required them to retrieve presents that were hanging from the willow tree at my moms and some that were floating in the pool. For my children I don’t think they even remember what they got as their gifts – they just remember the fun and crazy things I make them do before they get them. This year is no different and they can rest assured I have something pretty Grand up my sleeve. But what struck the most is that in making their Christmas lists none of them could come up with 3 things they wanted. When it really got down to it – nobody really wants for anything this year. They want for togetherness – they want for the fun of Christmas morning my house is known for – they want for family.

This year has stripped away the need to have things. Because in a quarantined Pandemic none of the stuff really matters. And what stuff I do have – the hurricanes threatened to take all of that away – and yet although I worried about that – my first priority was that my family was safe. Because at the end of the day – if we remove all of things we have – it really is just about togetherness.

The things of this world are fleeting and can be taken away in a heartbeat. Always remember what’s important #togetherness2020