My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 37

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 37
70. Write a letter to someone you need to forgive

Dear Self,

I forgive you.  I forgive you for so many of the things that you have been feeling guilty  about for so many years.  I forgive you for all of those things that you have been holding in your heart that have been weighing  you down.  It’s time to let forgiveness start to heal you.  Only when you can forgive yourself will you be able to put all of these negative feelings behind you.

I forgive you for falling in love when it clearly wasn’t right.  If you were a stronger person, you would have not gotten caught up in the emotions and would have been able to see that you were going down a path that was not safe.  Not safe for your or any of the others involved.  Because you were not stronger, it caused (and still causes) so much pain.  I forgive you for being weak, but it’s time to learn from your experiences and move on.

I forgive you for staying in relationships that have caused more pain then happiness.  To many times in your life you have taken the easy road.  Even if it meant that you had to be unhappy while doing it.  You wasted a good deal of your life settling for mediocre because it was going to be to hard and to much work to try and make a change.  You deserve so much more then mediocre.  You are a good and kind person and settling for letting others treat you as if you are insignificant is not acceptable.  You tend to bend over backwards for others, and while you are doing that, they are walking all of you.   It’s time that others should value your importance and show it.  If they can’t, then you do not need them in your life.

I forgive you for not following through on the things that were important to you.  There were so many things you wanted in life, yet you didn’t have the strength or the courage to follow them through.  You gave up to easy and now you are finding that it’s to late to go back and fix any of that.  Luckily for you, life has turned out pretty well, so it is time to let go of the sadness for what you haven’t done and focus on the things that you can still do.  There are still so many things that you want to accomplish and now that you have learned your lesson about not giving up, I hope that you are able to see all of these things through.

I forgive you for being a difficult teenager and putting your parents through so much. They really are good people and there was a time when you caused them a lot of pain.  The pain in their eyes when you would tell them that you hated them and wished you could go live in a foster home is still burned in your heart.  It’s time to forgive yourself for those past mistakes.  You have done so much for them as you have all grown older.  You can never go back and take back things you have done or said.  The only thing you can do now is try and show that you never meant to cause the pain that you did.

I forgive you for never speaking up about being sexual abused.  Although at this point in life, it seems pointless to tell those that don’t already know what happened to you when you were a child, you still hold a lot of confusion and uncertainty in the fact that you never shared what was happening.  Could things have been different?  Would it have changed anything in anyway had you spoke up?  It’s time to let go of those feelings and accept that how you handled it was the best way you knew how at the time.

I forgive you for not learning to say NO when it was important to do so and for not saying YES when it was important to do so just because you were afraid.  How many  times in your life have you done something you didn’t want to do, just because you didn’t have the strength to tell someone no?  Or how many times have you missed out on something because you didn’t have the courage to say yes?  It’s impossible to know the impact on your life from making all of those choices.  How would life be different if you would have said yes on that one occasion?  Would saying no that other time have changed the course of your life’s direction?  You will never know.  And for that reason, it’s time to forgive yourself and not dwell on what could have been.

This letter is sent in hopes that you will soon learn to start forgiving yourself for the mistakes you have made in your life.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone has regrets.  The important thing to remember is that you have a beautiful heart that deserves happiness.  Beating yourself up over things that you cannot change will never give you true peace.

With Love,
Yourself

My First Adventures By Disney Vacation is Booked! FINALLY

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I am extremely excited to announce that after many years of trying, our very first Adventures by Disney vacation is now officially booked!  FINALLY!

Here is my Adventures by Disney story…….

About 3-4 years ago, I got the bug to want to travel Internationally for the first time.  Neither my husband or I had ever traveled outside of the country and although I am terrified of flying, something just clicked in me that made me decide that it was time!  Being a Disney Vacation Club member, I often get various Disney information in the mail.  One day I received an brochure that contained information about all sorts of glorious vacations (both International and Domestic) that were provided by Adventures By Disney.  I started flipping through the catalog and came across the pages for a trip of a lifetime to Germany.  I was instantly hooked… bait, line and sinker.  They showed the most amazing pictures of visiting beautiful castles (Neuschwanstein Castle: the castle that  Walt Disney himself used as motivation for Sleeping Beauty Castle), taking a Berlin Wall bicycle tour, learning to make pretzels, brewery visits, chocolate factory tours and of course, lots of yummy German food.  I was in a vacation  haze.  The trip would start in Munich and end in Berlin with stops in Rothenberg and Bamberg.    As fabulous as all this was, it was all wrapped up in a big red bow by adding the fact that this all was accompanied by all the Disney magic one would expect.  They would take care of all the transportation, excursions, many of the meals and hotel check-ins.  Being the person in our household that plans all vacations and events (which I do enjoy doing), it was still such a wonderful thought to realize that we could book this vacation and that is all I would have to do.  They planned EVERYTHING.  We just had to basically show up.  What a nice break that would be for me.
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Although I was completely on board 100%, my husband…. not so much.  This could be because I basically came home one day and said, “I am booking this trip to Germany”.  Not very nice of me to not include him in the decision making.  There were also all sorts of other wonderful locations we could go (Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, London, etc.).  His response was “OK” and he went about his business.  He never showed a great deal of excitement, but I felt I was excited enough for the two of us, so I went ahead and booked the trip.  A booking which included a $1000.00 deposit.

The trip was booked for the following year.  I continued to be super excited about the whole experience and kept reading the itinerary and continued to try and get my husband to rise to my excitement level (he was excited about the Berlin Wall Bike, but that’s all I could get out of him).   As the months passed by and the trip started getting closer, in true Tammy fashion, I realized that I had committed to more then I could afford and there was just no way I was going to be able to swing this trip.  We decided that we would postpone one year and go the following year.  I was pretty devastated, but my husband seemed okay with it all.

I postponed the trip to the following year.  During this time, we decided that we were going to get MARRIED!  Finally, after 14 years, we were going to take the leap and become husband and wife.  At first we thought we would just make the Germany trip our honeymoon, but as the wedding expenses started getting higher (amazing how much a wedding costs, even when you go relatively cheap),  I realized once again that we were not going to be able to swing the cost of the trip.  By this time, my husband was starting to get on board with the idea, so we were both disappointed, but we had the wedding to look forward to, so again, the trip was postponed to the following year.

This brings us to the year that I found out I would be going to France for a month for work.  I’m sure you can see where this is headed… there was no way I was going to be gone for a month in France and then turn around and take this elaborate trip back over to Germany.  Unfortunately, by this time, Disney had enough of our postponing and we had to forfeit the $1000.00 deposit.

So, life went on and I continued dreaming about eventually taking an Adventures By Disney vacation (to any location).  Which brings us to a month ago when out of the blue, I received an email saying that if we did not confirm and book a reservation by end of April (for travel within 2019) that our reservation would be forfeited.  Hmmmm… the reservation I already thought had been forfeited had now returned?!?!  This was such amazing news.  Now the problem was that we had to figure out which Adventures By Disney vacation we could afford to do in such sort notice.  They have what they call “short escape” trips which are usually 3-4 nights long.  We narrowed it down to Boston, New Year, Montana or good ole’ faithful Disneyland.  After much financial debate  (remembering that 2019 is supposed to be my getting out of debt year), we compromised and decided to do the Disneyland Resort and Southern California Short Escape.  Now this may seem silly, since this is only 6 hours from our home and because we have been to Disneyland more times than I can count.  However, I look at it this way.  1.) We are FINALLY getting to do an Adventures by Disney vacation.  I truly believe that once my husband sees the amazing service that is going to be provided, he is going to be as hooked on these Disney trips as I already am.
2.) We go to Disneyland every October anyway.  Instead of losing the deposit (again), it made more sense to put the deposit towards a trip we were already planning on taking.

So what makes the Adventures By Disney trip different then just going to Disneyland on our own?  Well, to start with, it’s the whole special treatment thing that Disney is so famous for.  We will get to stay in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which we have stayed at once before, but is just to pricey for a normal yearly trip.  Plus, even with all of our previous Disneyland trips, we will get to do some special things that we have never done before.  The group will get a special visit into Walt Disney’s apartment that is on Main Street above the fire house.  I knew that it existed, but I never thought I would get to go inside.  I’m almost giddy at the thought.  Plus we will get a special backstage tour of the park and a private tour of the Walt Disney Studios.  They will arrange character breakfasts and special dinners.  We will also get to have VIP entrance to the park (hopefully cutting down on those crazy long lines that we always end up standing in).

To say that I’m excited is an understatement.  I cannot wait for October to get here.  I am pretty positive that after the trip is over, we will end up booking another Adventures By Disney trip right away.  It’s really crazy because I’m normally the one that is very apprehensive and gets anxiety when put in a situation where things are new or unknown, however, when it comes to travel, it is my husband who turns into that person.  He is always a little reluctant about things until we actually do them and then is get so excited!  This happened with cruising.  I took him on his first cruise and now he wants to go every year!

We’ll be seeing you real soon Mickey!

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge day 36

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 36
159. Is writing a form of self therapy?

Writing has been a form of self therapy for me for years.  I find that having the ability to express myself through writing helps to reduce my depression and eases my anxiety.  I often feel that my brain is overly cluttered.  I spend so much time thinking about so many different things that I do not ever feel that I am able to relax.  I think about past, present and future.  I worry about things that are happening to me now, things that have happened to me in the past and I especially worry about the “what ifs” of the future.  When I have the opportunity to write things down and release them from my brain, even if just temporarily, it lessens the amount of anxiety that I hold within me.

I have found that I am not that strong at expressing myself verbally.  I will often hold back on saying what is going on in my mind, or even more often find that I just cannot formulate the words to express what I am truly feeling.  I find writing to have the opposite affect on me.  When I start to write, words flow more naturally.  It could be that  I find writing emotionally safer.  I feel more protected behind my written words then I would verbally expressing them.

I also find writing to be a way of processing and working through old and new emotions.  I tend to keep things bottled up inside, so when I let them out in my writing, I feel like I am freeing myself of all the negative thoughts.  By doing this, I truly believe that it is helping my mental clarity.

Writing is also a great way of sharing your experiences (both good and bad) with others.  I think especially when we experience bad things in our life, sharing those experiences not only helps to release our own emotional strain, but also could possibly help others by letting people know they are not alone.  If sharing your experiences helps even one person, then it is almost as if your bad experiences were not in vein.

During this 365 day blog challenge, I have been writing each blog in the evening.  I will say that after I am done writing in the evening, I tend to feel more relaxed and less anxious.  My brain is less cluttered and I find that I can sleep a little better.  Clearly writing is a form of self therapy to me.

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 35

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 35
101. Write about an old resentment or unhealed hurt

For the most part, I don’t hold a lot of resentments.  I try hard to let things go and forgive (not always easy, but I try).  As for hurt, although my heart  and mind have been through the ringer on countless occasions, I’ve learned over the years how to heal it, or at least find ways to pretend that it is healed.  That being said, my one greatest unhealed hurt is the pain of never being a mother.

Infertility is a bitch.

Although the hurt lessens as I grow older, it doesn’t take away from the agony I have dealt with my entire adult life.  The hurt started not long after I began trying to have a child. This was back when I was still under the impression that it could happen. Yet, it wasn’t happening and I didn’t understand why.  At the same time that all of this was happening, many of my friends were getting pregnant and having babies.  It is an indescribable pain to have to try and be happy for those around you when inside it was actually tearing my heart to pieces.  The countless baby showers and 1st birthday parties would often times lead me into a funk that would take weeks or sometimes even months to pull myself out of.  Yet, few knew this.  I would always go with a smile and a happy attitude.  Very few knew of my hurt and even those that did know could never really understand.  Some tried and looking back now I appreciate the effort, but it is hard to hear someone tell you they “understand your sadness” as they head home to take care of their two children.  I had someone tell me once that they understood EXACTLY what I was feeling because they really wanted to have a fourth child but couldn’t afford it.  I still am baffled to this day as to what this person was thinking when they said this.  Did they honestly think that that not being able to have any children at all compares not being able to have four??  That one still makes me shack my head.
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After many years of trying, I was finally given some relief in finding out that I was just not able to get pregnant. I say “relief” because at least now I didn’t have to continually get my hopes up that “maybe this is the month”.   So, once you find out it just isn’t going to happen… then what?  Well, at first you grieve.  Yes, I mean real grief.  The same grief you feel when you lose someone important in your life.  It was at that moment that I lost a piece of myself.  I had wanted to be a mother since I was a young girl.  I had names picked out for my kids when I was a teenager.  When I was a senior in high school, each person was allowed to write something about themselves and their future in the year book.  I didn’t write about traveling the world or attending college.  I wrote that I was going to have kids and live happily ever after with my beloved husband.  When that is what you have expected that life will bring you (and why shouldn’t you.. EVERYONE has kids… it’s just a very matter-of-fact thing… until it isn’t), when it gets taken away from you, it is a blow to the gut and a stab in the heart.

To be perfectly honest, even after I was told I would not be able to have kids, I still would imagine myself getting pregnant.  I don’t know if it was a defense mechanism to protect myself from a full fledge breakdown, but whatever it was, I always would tell myself that “There is still time.  It could happen.”.  As the years passed by and I got older, I began to finally accept and realize that I would never be a mom.

I spent many years of my life trying to disguise the pain by pretending that I was better off not having children.  I would make up stories about how I wouldn’t have been a good mother anyway because I don’t have the patients, or say that it was better off because I could do anything I wanted to do and didn’t have to be responsible for another human being.  But let’s face it, that was all lies.  Lies to help protect me from being the outsider of almost every female conversation.  When you are in your twenties and thirties, it is impossible to have a conversation with a group of females without it being about kids.  NOT TO SAY that there is anything wrong with people talking about their kids, but it can be difficult to have relationships with people when you start to have fewer and fewer things in common with them.  And I did have relationships that ended up fading away due to our different life styles.  So on top of dealing with never being a mother, I was also losing friends.  Talk about a double kick in the butt.

I used to go shopping a lot when I was younger and would buy a ton of baby clothes.  I had so many friends and family having babies and I wanted to also put some of those baby clothes away for when I had a child of my own.  At one point I had bags and bags of brand new baby clothes.  Over the years, I gave them away at baby showers and donated some to shelters.  However, for the last 25 years, I have kept hidden in the bottom drawer of my dresser one outfit that I just have never been able to part with.  I always imagine my daughter wearing this and the thought of given it away meant that I officially accepted that it was never going to happen.  After all of these years,  there it sits, in the bottom drawer of my dresser next to my old high school cheerleading skirt.  I have a strange feeling I will never be able to let it go.

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I could go on and on about this topic and I am sure that future blogs will discuss this in more detail, but for now, we will just leave it as my greatest unhealed hurt.  Because it still hurts.  Even all of these years later.

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 34

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 34
41. If you had to evacuate your home because of a natural disaster, which of your possessions would you bring with you?

This is a topic that has crossed my mind on many occasions.  Living in earthquake country, it is hard to not think about how you would react.  I’ve often thought about what I would grab if the “big one” actually were to hit.

We are extremely unprepared when it comes to a natural disaster.  Unlike most people that live in this area, we do not have a stash of water or food to hold us should we need it during the aftermath of an earthquake.  My parents on the other hand have enough emergency supplies to cover their whole neighborhood, so our plan is to find our way to their house and camp out with them as long as needed.  Probably not the best plan, but that’s what we are going with right now.  I do think it would be beneficial for us to put together at least a small bag that we could grab.  At least have a few articles of clothing and some basic toiletry items.  I think about doing this all the time… and yet, I still have nothing.  I’m sure it will be one of those situations where I’ll be thinking “I should have” after it is to late.

To be perfectly honest, the only thing I can think of that I would want to grab and get out safely during a natural disaster is our cat Chrissy (and she is not really a “possession”).  I am not entirely sure how that would work, because she does NOT like to be held, so once I got her safely outside, I have no idea what I would do with her.  We do have a crate that we use to take her to the vet but that is stored out in the garage, so I wouldn’t be able to get to it.
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I am not sure how I feel about the fact that we really do not have any possessions that are worth worrying about.  I would say pictures, but the majority of my pictures are saved on an online site, so I have backups.  I do have some older pictures and some things like old report cards and other misc. memorabilia, but I am not sure I would be overly devastated if they were to be lost.  We have nothing of real “value”, which I guess is sort of sad, but yet kind of refreshing as well.  It seems the less you have, especially the fewer high value items you have, the less worry you have, so I’m okay with having very little.

On a practical note, there are a few things I would grab if we had to had to evacuate our house during a natural disaster.  My purse (or just my wallet), a change of clothes, Chrissy and car keys.  There it is… my very short and boring list.

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 33

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 33
37. Your 10 greatest joys are….

My 10 greatest joys in no particular order:

1.) Random texts from those I love just saying they are thinking of me
There is just something so special about getting a random text from someone for no other reason then because they wanted to say they were thinking of you.  It does not happen often, but the few times this has happened, it not only brings me that instantaneous joy, but also puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day.  Just recently I was having a not-so-great day at work and out of the blue, I received a text from my god-daughter saying that she just wanted to say she loved me and missed me and that she hoped I was having a good day.  I found it interesting that she just happened to send that text on a day when I was having a rough time.  It made me smile from ear-to-ear and it pulled me out of the funk I was in.  It just goes to show that the smallest things can bring another person such joy.  We should all do more to bring joy to others life.  I love that girl.

2.) Taking pictures and revisiting those memories
I love taking pictures.  I have my camera (yes I still go old-school style and have an actual camera) or my cell camera out taking pictures wherever we are.  It does not matter the event or vacation, you can be assured that I will have pictures to document the memories.  The importance of documenting moments with photos is extremely high on my list.  Although I have pretty much always been that person that has her camera out snapping shots, the importance really hit me just recently when we attended a memorial for my friends husband.  During the celebration of life ceremony after the service, they showed the most wonderful slide show with photographs spanning his whole life.  It made me realize that this is exactly why I do what I do.  I take pictures so that down the road, I (or others) can look back and revisit the experiences that were important enough to for me to take the time to photograph them.
For a while I was big into making the photobooks of each individual event and adventure. There are times when I will just sit down and look through them all and remember all the wonderful memories.  With all the pictures I have, I probably could make another 200 books and still not be finished, but I am determined to try.
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3.) Disney
I have no other words then Disney brings me joy.  Pure and complete joy.  I cannot walk into any Disney location without instantly being overwhelmed with happiness and a strange sense of calmness.  I think the calmness comes from the fact that in everyday life I am very anxious and high strung.  Disney is one of the few places that all of those feelings vanish and I can just be at peace and enjoy everything around me.  Granted, I am not a big fan of crowds or screaming children.. and outside of Disneyland it would pose a problem, but inside Disneyland I seem to be more tolerable of the things that cause me anxiety in everyday life.

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4.) Planning Vacations
Yes, planning vacations brings me joy.  I know for some it is stressful, but for me, it is often one of the best parts of vacationing.  I love the organizing, the searching around for new and interesting things to do and the hunt for good deals.  I love keeping binders with reservation printouts and google map directions (I know.. there is GPS on the phone.. but what can I say, I’m a paper person.  I like to hold that piece of paper in my hand rather then the phone).

5.) Taking vacations
Getting away from life, whether it be for 1 day or 9 just makes me a much happier person.  My husband and I don’t often get to vacation on our own.  We are usually with various other people.  So part of the joy of vacationing for me is that during all of the pre-planning, I try and make sure that I am able to do special things to make vacations special for others.  If we can go on vacation with other people, and I can in someway make their experience better by having something planned that is going to bring them joy.. then that brings me joy.

6.) My alone time
My work offers the option of working a 9/80 schedule.  This means that I work all of my 80 hours in 9 days and then I get a day off every other week.  I find a lot of joy on that every-other Friday off when I get have some quality alone time.  I personally think it’s important to spend time alone.  It gives your time to decompress and get some much needed space.  This is a difficult part of my relationship with my husband, because he is the opposite.  He does not like to be alone.. ever.  So he does not understand why I find so much joy in being by myself.  I think after 15 years he is finally starting to get it, but it still can be difficult.  I try to explain to him that sometimes a person just needs to have time to sit and watch old reruns of their favorite show without someone else there giving comminatory about how stupid they think it is.

7.) Having time to work on hobbies 
Since extra time is not something that I have a lot of, I usually don’t give myself the opportunity to spend time doing things that I enjoy.  As mentioned above, I love pictures.  So this has created an obsessive hobby of photobook making and scrapbooking.  I recently started getting into a form of scrapbooking called Project Life.  I purchased a ton of products to get started, but have yet to find the time to actually sit down and do it.  So, on the rare occasion I have time to do any type of hobby, it brings me a lot of joy.  It could be that I find more joy in it because the time I get to spend doing it is so rare.

8.) Paying off a bill
Having been in debt for so much of my life and always having those credit card bills hanging over my head, there is an extreme since of joy when a bill gets paid off.  I wish I could say that over the course of the last 35 years that once I paid off a bill, it would stay “paid off”, but that unfortunately wouldn’t be the truth.  Even though I know the joyous feeling of paying them off, it still apparently is not enough to keep me from charging them back up again.  I have gotten much better and this is the year of my debt free journey, so here is hoping that I have that feeling of joy more and more often in the upcoming months.

9.) Socks
There is not a lot to say about this one.  I have no explanation for my strange fixation for socks.  But they do bring me joy.  Socks are comforting to me.  I wear them all day and all night (minus the few times I wear sandals or go to the beach/pool).  I wear them to bed regardless if the weather is 45 degrees of 100 degrees.  I know it sounds crazy, but I just feel very uncomfortable without them.  I actually despise the feel of sheets against my feet.  You know the shivery feeling  you get with nails on a chalkboard?  That is how I feel when I have to have sheets rub against my feet.   Hey… what can I say… I’ve never tried to pretend I don’t have some serious “issues”.

10.) Lists:  making them and crossing things off of them
Sheldon Cooper said it best….”If there were a list of things that made me more comfortable, lists would be on the top of that list”.  How true that is.  Lists do all sorts of things for me.  They not only bring me joy, but they bring me comfort and a sense of calmness.  I would be lost without my lists.  I have them everywhere.  I have work lists, personal lists, grocery lists, food planning lists, money budget lists…. need I go on?  I clearly am obsessed with lists.  The only thing more joyful then making the list is crossing something off of it when you have completed a task.

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 32

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 32
275. I wish I were more…..

I wish I were more……  courageous.  Maybe this is why I love watching the Wizard of Oz so much.  The cowardly lion and I have a lot in common.  I feel for that poor lion.  I can relate to his pain.

If I would have had more courage over the course of my life, I am pretty confident things would be dramatically different for me today.  If only I would have had more courage to assert myself and stand up for myself.  More courage to go after the things I wanted, instead of walking away merely because it might be something difficult to obtain. When you lack courage, you tend to take the easy road instead of following the path that you know is best, merely because you don’t have the courage to fight for it.  That has been the option I have taken my entire life.

It is a little scary to think of all of the opportunities that have passed me by, simply because I didn’t have the courage to speak up or do something outside of my comfort zone to obtain them.  There are particular instances that come to mind immediately when I think of how having courage would have dramatically differed the direction of my life.  For instance, there was a particular love in my life that was lost merely because NEITHER of us were courageous enough to fight for it.  Even with all the different relationships I have experienced throughout my life, this was the only one that I have ever rerated not fighting for.  I guess things have a way of turning out for the best, however, if I could go back in time, you can be assured that things would have had a different ending with Mr. X.  I would have had more courage which would have helped me force him to have more courage too.

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I have no doubt that my work experiences would have been drastically changed had I been one of those people that had the courage to put themselves out there.  I am one of those people that will have ideas about things, but I am to afraid to speak up so I sit there quietly and say nothing.  After many years in the workforce, I have learned it is those that speak up that end up getting the promotions and special opportunities.  I proved this to myself one day when I was in a meeting and they were talking about doing a regional work exchange program.  They were focusing on specific job positions that would be a good fit to have participate in this program.  My position was not one of the ones they spoke about.  So instantly after the meeting I sent an email to my boss explaining in detail why I thought I should be considered for this opportunity.  And guess what?  Within 2 months, I was called into my boss’ office and asked if I was interested in going to France for a month!  Had I not had the courage to send that email (which is not something that would be considered normal for my personality), I would have never had that opportunity.  That is just the ONE time I actually did have the courage to speak up.  Imagine all of those other times I hadn’t had the courage.  Who knows how much farther along in my career I could be had I taken more opportunities to be courageous.

The definition of courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one”.  Courage is when we choice to confront uncertainty instead of running from it.  Taking the easy road may make things simpler at that moment, but can actually make things harder down the road.  If something seems like it is worth being courageous for, then it probably is.  Don’t let the fear keep you from being brave.  Now… I just need to learn to start taking my own advise.  🙂

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 31

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 31
104. What have you accomplished in the last five years?

I am pleased to say that the past five years have been chalk full of accomplishments.  As a matter of fact, I would have to say that in the past five years, I’ve accomplished more then I have for the majority of my adult life.  My top accomplishments in the past five years?  Marriage, college graduate,  and my first trip to Europe.

It’s been about a year and a half now since the much anticipated wedding day.  I think our friends and family just assumed we would never get married.  We were together 14 years before we finally took the plunge into marriage.  I guess we just really wanted to make sure it was going to stick this time since we both made prior marriage mistakes.  Seriously though, to be perfectly honest, it never really seemed all that important to us and we rarely ever even spoke about marriage.  We were basically married already in all senses except for the piece of paper that said so.  However, one day we had a situation were he had some health issues and I ended up having to call an ambulance.  When the paramedics kept asking me if I was his wife and I had to say no (meaning I had no legal grounds to make any decisions for him), I think it was a trigger for both of us that just maybe it was time we made things legal.  I thought after 14 years together that being marriage would not really change anything… and it really didn’t change anything in our day-to-day life.  There was something special about being about to call him my husband verse boyfriend (it was always very awkward for me being in your 40’s and having to say “this is my boyfriend”).
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It’s been about 3 years now, but my other major accomplishment during the last five years was graduating college.  I think that is the accomplishment I am most proud of, mainly because I know all the hard work that it took to get to that piece of paper that is now hanging on my wall in the bedroom.  There were so many times I wanted to quiet.  I thank my husband all the time for his support because without it, I would have given up.  I was working full time and taking classes in the evening and doing homework all weekend.  To say it was challenging would be an understatement.  There were times when I would just be sitting there starting at the same page of a text book for half an hour because I just did not have the clarity and mental capacity to retain any information I was reading.  It was at these times I would end up breaking down into tears.  Which is where the support of my husband was priceless.  He would calm me down, make me laugh and also make me step back for a minute and take a break to regain my composure so that I could jump back in and get things done.  It was some of the toughest times of my life and yet some of the most rewarding at the same time.

finally

Last year I was able to take my first international trip.  My work sent me to France for a month to work in Paris office.  I am one of just a select few that have been offered this opportunity, so that in itself was a great accomplishment.  I know people travel to Europe all the time and probably don’t consider it an “accomplishment”.  Part of what makes this an accomplishment for me is that I have a HUGE fear of flying.  The longest I had ever flown up until that point was the 5 1/2 hours to Florida and Hawaii.  The thought of being on a plane for 11 hours was almost a deal breaker. Especially since I would be making the trip alone.  Anytime I am able to overcome a fear is always something I consider to be an accomplishment.  Being an introvert also posed some challenges to this trip.  Not being an extremely social person made this trip more of a challenge then someone who does not have social anxiety.  I don’t usually venture out and do things that are unknown to me when I’m in my own country… so you can imagine the fear of having to do that in a foreign country… all alone, without speaking the language.  That was a huge personal growth and accomplishment for me.
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Sometimes I worry that on a day to day basis, I am not accomplishing enough.  I get overwhelmed and often feel defeated by life.  This was a good topic because it forced me to step back and realize that I have accomplished a lot more then I often give myself credit for.  I think it’s important for us all to do that every once in a while.

 

 

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 30

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 30
342. Tell about a work experience

 

I started working and making my own money when I was 12, so I’ve accumulated a lot of work experiences over the years.  I recall one work experience that has stuck in my memory for the last 20+ years, so apparently it had a pretty big impact on me.

When I worked for Peerless Lighting Corp. when I was in my early 20’s, they thought it would be a good idea to send me to a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking course.   I had somehow managed to get away with doing very little speaking while I was in school.  I pretty much got away with sitting in the back of the class and rarely if ever speaking.   So imagine, an incredibly shy person, heading off to a public speaking class.. alone and afraid.  Although I had had many jobs throughout my junior high and high school years, this was actually my first “real” adult job, so I really wanted to do good and impress.  Whatever the expectations were from my employer in terms of what I would gain from this class, I’m sure if I would have been graded on my progress, I would have failed dramatically.

I still remember sitting in the parking lot out in front of the building where the class would be.  If I recall correctly, I believe it was a 4 or 5 week class, once or twice a week in the evenings after work.  Night one was torture before I even walked inside.  I sat in the car and felt horribly sick to my stomach (clearly anxiety).  I had a pounding migraine and was nauseated.  I’m one of those people that has to be on time though, so I managed to force myself out of the car and into the building.  The trauma started as quickly as the introductions.  Even something as simple as standing up and introducing myself in front of a group gives me a panic attack.

Each class was a different topic or variation on public speaking.  We had to stand and read something to the group, we had to do a group activity where we all gave a little “skit” and we also had to get up and give a presentation.  I was miserable the whole time.

I didn’t learn any public speaking skills from that course.  I was a terrible public speaker before the course and continued to be after the course (and still continue to be today), but it was during those classes that I did realize something about myself.  It was then that I realized that my fear for speaking in a group is so bad that I feel the need to go over what I’m going to say 100 times in my head before it’s my turn to speak. This includes something as simple as an introduction of myself.  Why does this realization matter?   It matters because it means that if I am not the first person to speak and I have to wait, I am not listening to ANYTHING that is being said by other people before me.  I still have this problem today.  If I am in a meeting and I know that I have a presentation that I have to give at a certain time, everything that comes before my presentation is a big blur, simply because I was so busy going over what I would be saying that I didn’t hear a word of whatever was being said during that time.  It is actually a pretty big problem because there are often times I really need to pay attention to what is going on, but my brain just won’t allow it.

So, do I have any takeaways from this course, or any other public speaking classes I’ve taken?  Only that I suck at public speaking.  I think there are just somethings that cannot be taught, even with continual practice.  Some people have the ability to speak with confidence and no anxiety.  Some of us just do not have that trait.  I do not enjoy public speaking.  As said by Dale Carnegie himself, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing”.  I can’t imagine there will ever be a day in my life where public speaking is “fun” to me, so changes of being successful at it are probably not in my cards.

photo of group of people in a meeting
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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 29

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 29
352. You know you’ll be ready to die when:

I have to admit when the random number generator came up with this prompt, I almost bypassed it to get a new one.  This seemed like a pretty depressing topic to write about.  However, sticking with the true nature of this challenge, I went ahead and kept the prompt and will work through the uncomfortableness of the topic.

I suppose if I had to come up with a basic ending to this sentence it would be that I will know I’m ready to die when I start to become a burden on others.  Which leads to the much more scary and upsetting reality that I am not really sure if there will be any “others” around to burden when I get old.  As I’ve mentioned before, I was never able to have children.  I’m sure there are people out there with children that wonder if their kids will take care of them when they are old, but for the most part, I think it’s a pretty fair assumption that as you grow old and start needing assistance, people assume their children will be there to help.  Since the majority of the population have children, it’s probably tough for most to imagine that there are some of us that have to worry about growing old and dying alone.
To put things into perspective, my husband is 11 years older than I am.  Although we can never really be sure what life has in store for us, the chances that I will be left to grow old alone is a reality.  My husband has children, but I would not say we are close.  At least not close enough to feel they would want to take care of me when I was old, or even be around when I pass.  We current all exist together for the sake of my husband.  Although I don’t think they “dislike” me (at least not anymore.. there was a time they did), I don’t think they consider me a part of the family by any means.  If we did not have the common bond of my husband, I don’t imagine we would have any relationship at all.

It is terrifying to me to think about growing older and being completely alone.  I imagine having no one to call for help when I need it, or to have anyone at my bedside when I pass and of course that makes me sad, but it is also just down right scary.  No one wants to die alone.
Which makes me wonder what is worse… being a burden on those as you get older, or not having anyone around to burden.

I could also say that I will know I’ll be ready to die once I’ve accomplished everything on my bucket list.  However, that would require me to actually have a bucket list.  I have many things floating around in my head that I want to see and do.  I suppose it would not hurt to get them all written down someplace and start checking them off.  It’s amazing to me how fast time goes, so it’s never to early to start getting those “must-do’s” done while there is time.

postit scrabble to do todo
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This topic brings up a lot of underlying anxieties for me.  I envy those that do not fear death.  I am not one of those people.  Death is something I try to avoid thinking about, which is why I was so reluctant to write about it.  It is however true that when forced to think about such things, it also forces you to realize what little time we have and how it is important to not “putting off until tomorrow”.    On that note, I will end this with a quote by John Henry Cardinal Newman.  “Fear not that life will come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning”.