As I reflect on this July 4th, the eve of my 46 birthday, I have taken the time to reflect on this past year. The saying it was the worst of times and the best of times was my year pretty much summed up.
My theme song this year is Tubthumping (I get knocked down, I get back up again). As I reflect upon everything that has happened, I realize that my uncle's saying, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger is 100% truthful.
I also realized that without pain, you would never see that beauty in the ashes. We all go through things in life; I genuinely believe that we can help other people. This year completely sums up all of that.
From putting my grandmother into a retirement home on my 45th birthday while dealing with distraught and emotional parents to dealing with a grandmother with Alzheimer's who is not herself; and trying to understand and not make her wrong for it, but finding your way through it all—and losing a parent in the most inhuman way possible 2.5 months later.
This year has been about overcoming and realizing that 45 years of the same story has got me where I am today; you see, the last year has been challenging, but it has also been one of the best years of my life, and I don't say that easily.
Many amazing things have happened; this year has allowed me to get outside my comfort zone, accept new challenges, learn who I AM, and have a complete faith walk at times. Not really understanding what was happening or why I had chosen this path, as somebody who spent most of their childhood being bullied and belittled for who they are, it impacted me throughout the rest of my years.
I didn't even realize how that has affected me until today. I didn't know my dad's constant "you need to eat everything off your plate" or being made to feel wrong about it had affected me.
My dad has instilled in us hard work, dedication, and love for family. I knew that he grew up being the oldest of five, not always a lot of food for the table, and there have been times that my grandfather had gone without so that he could provide for his children. And I knew that drove my dad to make us not waste. I know he always tried to give my brother and me a better life. But with that, it has also brought me 45 years of thinking that I had to clean my plate, and then if I didn't, that was wasteful and made me feel like we were terrible for it.
I realized in the restaurant bathroom this weekend that it was OK if I left food on my plate in 100-degree weather; I wasn't going to take it home. I wasn't going to have it in the car for an hour and a half ride and then bring it back to my brothers. It was OK to leave that food where it was, and I also realized that some of the conversations I was having with my stepson were the same things I had been going through in the past.
I also realized that over the last 45 years, I just took what life gave me: even though something may be uncomfortable, I could live with it. I learned to live with a lot of things.
This weekend when I was going for a walk with my amazing friend Gina, I realized I had a stone in my shoe, it was uncomfortable. I also realized I had never stopped and taken it out before. I asked her to wait a minute while I took it out; I don't have to live with something being uncomfortable; I have a right to live in complete peace, harmony, and joy, and my shoe can be removed, and I can take out what is bothering me.
It took me 45 years almost 46 years to realize that yes because it's put in front of me doesn't mean I have to accept it. I can choose powerfully to say no thank you.
I also realized this weekend that even know different things have been dealt with me, I can choose powerfully to change that thinking, I can powerfully decide to see that it looks a certain way, and I can choose powerfully tell let go of these moments.
I've taken the last three days off being 100% on social media. I hardly looked at my phone the previous three days, and I can now create where before I was blocked. I don't have to work to prove who I am constantly.
I need to be present in the relationships I have, I need to be present in the conversations that I have, and I need to be present in allowing myself to find joy in everything.
These last three days have been frustrating and beautiful, and when I say frustrating, it is because I'm learning these lessons that I should have caught onto earlier. It's OK, I forgive myself for not catching on sooner, and I also forgive myself for allowing the journey I've been on.
On this day, I give myself freedom because of the things that used to hold me back; the bondages that used to hold me back are no longer holding me back.
I choose to forgive not only myself but also the people who have hurt my dad. I forgive myself for being angry at my parents for not caring for themselves. I see that my anger was a reflection of me because I was not genuinely taking care of myself, yes I would workout, and yes I would go for walks, and yes, I would do different things that my parents weren't doing, but I was just as guilty as they were. I had allowed myself to lose 50 pounds once and gain it back.
So on this Independence Day, I choose to give myself freedom. I choose to let go of the bonds and the chains that have been around me, and I decide to step into the greatness that God has laid out for me. I will no longer let fear stop me from the massive calling on my life. I choose to step into the glory; I choose me.