Chuck it in the F@$k It Bucket

Learning to let go of things that are not meant to be, is one of the most freeing things someone can do.  I was just catching up on FB and read a post by one of my friends.  Her journey of single life started around the same time mine did.  Our journeys are different, but it still resonated with me.  It was a time of reflection.  Exactly what did I chuck in the f@k it bucket.  What are the challenges I faced?  What have I accomplished?

That list is pretty extensive.  It’s a list I am so proud of.   The last 6 years have been such a test for me.  I had never lived on my own before.  I had never really dealt with “grown up” bills on my own. I was fortunate enough to never have needed to work at more than one job, until I lived on my own. At one time, I worked 3 jobs at a time. I had never been on a plane that went over the ocean. I had never made a long road trip on my own with the kids. And I had never realized it was okay to stop putting everyone else first for fear they wouldn’t like me anymore.  And I never thought I would ever, ever, ever, let anyone into my heart, much less my home and my family again. These are some of my greatest challenges, that have turned into some amazing accomplishments. 

I realized I was living a life of fear.  Fear of failure, fear of dying, fear of not being liked, fear of failing.  I was carrying a huge load on my shoulders. Most of us do.  It was time to lighten that load. 

As with many divorces, I had to move.  I live in a pretty expensive county and rent, on my private non-profit salary would have been unaffordable.  Leaving the area was not an option.  My kids are here.  My parents and my sister are here.  That’s my support.  With a lot of help from my superstar mom, I was able to purchase home.  And let me tell you, I love my home.  It’s the perfect size, in the perfect  location.

Bills. Ooooof. No fun at all. I didn’t know what was in our bank account. I had to open my own, to start separating things. It was scary. Taking over bills was not the scariest part. At first, they were split based off income. But, once the house was sold, all my bills were my responsibility. F@!ck it! Let’s do this. Face it head on.

When the kids were born, I quit my job and stayed home with them. I wanted to do that. It was something my mom did for my sister and I and I wanted, and had the luxury to be able to do it, Don’t get me wrong. When I say luxury, that, by no means, means it was a cake walk. It was hard. One of the hardest things in the world. But I never regreted it.

When my youngest started school full time I decided to volunteer for a local non-profit. I never had a clue it would lead me into a job that would be a huge part of my life and a source of strength, for the next 11 years. I had always thought I wouldn’t be able to go back to work. I never got my master’s degree. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anything. But this job, was huge for me. When I moved to my new home, I could afford it, but being single and making friends means going out to meet people. That isn’t always cheap. I met someone that helped me get a job at a local distillery. What fun that was. I met so many new people I learned how to mix some delicious drinks. And I had a blast. But, a friend that had worked at the distillery started running the restaurant at a local golf course and needed help. So I became a cart girl at the course. 7 days a week, I worked, Did I mention my first job was sort of 24/7. I would get calls at all hours and took on call shifts on a regular basis. But, for one summer, I said f@!ck it, I need money to have some fun. So I worked 3 jobs, 7 days a week. It wore me down. Finally, despite knowing I was letting a good friend down, I had to say f@!ck it. I can’t do this anymore. I realized I had to focus on myself. I knew finding someone would not make her life easier and I was really frightened she would be upset with me. Not because she is likee that at all, but because that’s my fear. Letting someone down and them not liking me anymore. But guess what. She definitely still likes me and we are still friends and I adore her.

Did I ever mention a huge fear of flying? When I was married, we had an RV and travelled cross country. If I knew I had to get on a plane, I would have anxiety attacks for months. So, post divorce, my daughter’s flute choir planned a trip to tour the Tuscan region of Italy. F@!ck it! I am getting on a damn plane and flying across the ocean…not just with my daughter, but also with my sister. What an amazing trip. I have blogged about it, so I won’t go into details. But the experience I had, just by letting shit go. What’s next with international travel? I have my fingers crossed for some hiking in the mountains of Austria.

When I first got separated, my daughter’s flute choir was traveling to Orlando to play at Universal. We had all been planning to go, but it turned into me going with the kids and one of my son’s best friends. I said f@ck it. We drove to Disney first, then travelled to Universal. That was a trip I never would have thought I could have done by myself. My son and his friend drove a couple of hours, but I did most of the driving and it was so empowering. To do the parks and the drive with the kids was amazing.

Learning to say what I need to say, and not worry about whether it will make someone not like me has been one of my greatest challenges. I had to fall in love with myself to be able to see what kind of person I am and to be able to let go of people, if they couldn’t accept me for who I am. So…f@!ck it. Here I am. If you don’t like it, you can walk away at any time. If you don’t treat me well, I can walk away at any time. In these last several years I have found that I had an amazing foundation of a support system with my family and a few friends. And then I built onto that foundation with some equally amazing friends. I am surrounded with people who love me for who I am. Whe treat me the way I deserve to be treated. I’ll be honest, some of them don’t always say the easy things. I don’t always like what they say. But they always help me grow. They always encourage me to continue on my path of loving myself.

I dated for a while. Hated it. The dating world sucks. I had learned to live on my own and I found that no one was worthy of letting in. One guy mentioned moving in. I said no and he lost it. F@!ck it! That was scary. So long. So, I stopped looking. Then, one day, a random person completely changed my world. Well not at first. Walls were up. I had someone to hang out with. That enjoyed the same things as me. I told my girlfriends, he’s in a box. He was not going to overflow into my life. After a few months, my girls would laugh when I mentioned the box. It was a super flimsy box. But I spent a lot of time protecting myself. Protecting my heart. But the effort he put into us, just floored me. So, guess what…FUCK IT! Welcome to my heart, welcome to my home, welcome to my family.

Chucking my fears in the f@!ck it bucket has completely opened up my world. I still have fear. Sometimes it gets the best of me. But it is no longer the driving force in my life. Living my best life is the driving force now. It doesn’t come without risks. I know that. I don’t expect my life to be perfect. There are going to be some really hard things in life. In fact, there are challenging, scary things now. But I have the strength, the self-love, and the support to know that I can get through anything life throws at me,

The Importance of a Good Story

I’m always excited about new adventures, new experiences. So, when my parents invited me to the International Storytelling Festival in Tennessee, I was thrilled. Not only do I get to enjoy the amazing art of storytelling, but, I also get to spend the weekend with family that I don’t get to see very often. Double awesome!!

So here I am, in Johnson City, TN, and I just finished my first ever Storytelling Festival. I had a blast. We were in Jonesborough yesterday from about 10 am until 9:30 pm. It was a long day, but there were such amazing people we saw. I laughed, I cried, and sometimes, I felt like I had to pick my jaw up. I was picturing hearing people similar to some of my favorite childhood authors, Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein. While more modern, I was not disappointed. Some were quirky, some were hilarious, others were thought provoking, but they all offered something. Some shared their own stories and others shared stories that had been passed down from generation to generation. Others used music as a part of their storytelling (I heard a blues rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that send chills through my body).

Last night ended with an incredible performance by Dan Hoyle. His performance of Border People left me speechless. He portrayed 11 different people of different types of borders. He did not just represent immigrants. He represented the LGBTQ community, the black community, and citizens who were from other countries. He portrayed different types of borders: physical, cultural, religious, racial. You would have thought a different person portrayed each individual. What’s awesome is he is not representing an entire community with each portrayal. He is representing one person, that he interviewed and spent time with to capture their truth. His accents, his body language…I felt that if I met the individual whom he was portraying, I would recognize that person. Check him out online. It was amazing.

And the best part. I have had a weekend with family. I have not had a chance to visit with my cousin a lot. I don’t see her near enough. Until this weekend, I hadn’t seen her since 2015. And the silly thing is that we have always gotten along so well. This is a good reminder for me that I love road trips and have no excuses to not make my way down here more often.

Road trips and time with family build amazing stories. While I won’t be up in front of a crowd at a storytelling festival, hearing the storytellers, this weekend, inspired me to continue to share my stories and thoughts and to live my life to the fullest and create more memories to share. And, I have learned that not everyone has to like what I share, nor agree with it. But, if I can make you think, and sometimes think outside the box, and make you see another perspective, well, then I am doing something right. Thank you to everyone reading and thank you for all the amazing responses.

Oh the Places You’ll Go

I used to struggle from horrible anxiety. In 2001, after 9/11, it was so bad, that I was afraid to leave my home. That was my all time low. My anxiety overpowered every other aspect of my life. But I love adventure. There are so many places I have always wanted to visit (Amsterdam, Spain, Germany, Nepal, Alaska, Australia, and the list goes on), however, I have always been afraid to fly. I actually find I’m kind of an adrenalin junkie who has always been afraid of everything around me.

A lot of counseling and one divorce later, my anxiety has completely disappeared. I cannot be certain what, exactly, caused the anxiety to disappear, but I can take a pretty good guess. The day I was separated, I felt no anxiety. I felt a lot of fear about what would be next, but no anxiety. It took some time, but I realized all my adventure lies ahead of me.

So far, my adventure has been limited, but it’s still been amazing. I’ve done things I may have never thought to do. Maybe nothing wild and crazy…okay, some things have been, but not a lot of traveling. I did go to Sedona, AZ. That was amazing. It was on my bucket list and every bit as stunning as the pictures. I’ve done a girls’ weekend with my tribe. That was amazing too. We went boating (okay, we were tied to the dock, but it was still an adventure). I drove to Disney with the kids. They helped a bit with the driving, but not a lot. I never thought I could do a road trip like that as the only adult.

So, where am I blogging from? Beautiful Montecatini, Italy. Never, in a million years, did I think I would have the nerve to get on an overseas flight. While my fear seemed to have disappeared, I wasn’t sure how I would do with knowing I would be taking an international flight. I never lost sleep worrying about the flight. I didn’t have to take medication for anxiety. So I am sitting in Montecatini keeping up with my blog and enjoying the beautiful sites of Tuscany. Florence, Lucca, Siena, Cinque Terre. In fact, what I am finding is that I am excited to come back to Europe and explore other countries. The world is open to me now and I love that.

I really don’t know what the actual cause of the anxiety was. But I truly believe that when you are in the right surroundings, sometimes that makes all the difference. Clear your mind of the what ifs and the I can’ts. Do something wild that you only thought you could dream of, not actually do. Enjoy life. Anxiety can be so paralyzing that it’s so easy to forget that we need to live. We have one shot at this life. Make the most of it. Be kind, be happy, be brave and seek out adventures.

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss