You Grew Up, Now What?

Butterflies. Or, gas bubbles. That is how everyone explains it. That first faint awareness of feeling your baby moving inside of you. That wonderfully delicate and precious life you co-created, is not becoming an active organism inside your very own body. It is random; almost undetectable and fleeting, at first. Once you realize what the feeling is, you spend hours on end in stillness just waiting to the chance to feel it once again. Eventually, the fluttering gives way to more forceful kicks and then it is like an army of circus elephants have taken refuge inside your womb. Regardless of the shortness of breath, the swollen ankles, and the all too often tear drawing kicks to the rib cage, you savor every single movement that beautiful infant makes. You have just entered a new and exciting, and sometimes terrifying, chapter of your life- you are now, a mother.

Your life is now forever changed, and you will never be the same. No day in your life will ever be the same, either. You feel a sense of elation. I mean, after all, babies are precious; they are adorable, and sweet, and fun. Right? Well, they are, that is, when they are not cranky, or crying for hours on end and there is nothing you can do to make them happy. They tend to get sick, too. Suddenly, horror sets in alongside elation in a perfect marriage of hot and cold emotions. You come to realize that you are now responsible for keeping this precious and innocent human life safe. It is your job to care for them when they are sick, when they get hurt- which you will try with your most valiant efforts, yet fail time and time again to prevent, and when they wake in the middle of the night from the nightmare that torment their peaceful sleep. You think about the future, it is your job to raise them to be decent and responsible adults, and when if they turn out to be less than positive and productive members of society, you feel as though you have failed at your job.

First days of school are times when we believe as moms that are the hardest. From irrational fear that your child will spill his lunch tray as the class makes the, what seems to you, far too long trek from the cafeteria back to their classroom, where they must carry their trays to eat lunch in class, rather than getting to sit in the lunchroom. You worry all day while he is at school about him spilling his lunch and then having to wear wet cloths, and will they provide him another tray? But what if his classmates laugh at him for dropping his tray? It turns out, that his first year in school was much harder for you than it was for him. While he was busy making new friends and learning new games, you were beating yourself up with fear of not being there to watch over him for every minute of the day. He was, after all, your child. Your responsibility.

After that delicate first year of school, they seem to get a little easier with time and practice. You eventually get excited for those memorable first days of a new school year and forever capture them in pictures taken of them in their new outfit with new shoes and those new backpacks. It is, as they say, a Kodak moment. However, it feels as though the school years fly by all to quickly and then one day you are staring down the fact that this new first day of school, is far different than any before it. You are now sending that precious child off to high school. And suddenly, the fears of spilling lunch trays in the hall or scraping knees on the playground or wearing we shoes all day because he cannot resist splashing in mud puddles or if he sits close enough to read the board give way to much greater fears. Now, you are faced with a whole new set of fears- what if someone tempts them with smoking, or drugs? What if he falls in with the wrong crowd and becomes defiant in class? And, what about, girls?

Ah, the teenage years. The time when you realize that up to this point, you only thought you knew what fear was. There are few fears for a mother greater than the first time she watches her child pull out of the driveway for their very first driving experience on their own. It had been somewhat fun, albeit terrifying at times, riding around with them as they learn to drive. But now the learner period is over, and they think they are ready to take the car out all by themselves. Legally, now they can do that. But you are full of fear and a sense of what ifs that you will try anything to convince them they need more time with you in the car with them. It seldom works. Incredibly, following what seems like a never ending few years, you look up one day and come to the stark realization that you have survived. You no longer have the typical drama entailing such things as who will be their good influences, who will be their bad influences, and just how much trouble can they get into. Alas, your child is now an adult.

For a solid twenty or so years your entire being has been centered around your identity a mom. The fact is, being a mom has been your sole identity. And, then one day those children grow up and become adults, and they go out and they begin lives of their own. They now possess the ability to pull from the ideas in their own minds and develop a desire to pursue their own dreams. They morph into their own identities as adults, and you do not get a choice as to where they can or cannot become adults or when that change happens. When it happens, we are not always ready for this change, and we can find ourselves in a place where we simply do not know how to not be a mom. Initially, the first reaction to this new and even more terrifying chapter in life is a gut reaction. We panic because we want to cling on to them as children because being their mom has been our entire identity for the better part of half our lives. You are terrified because you do not know  how to not be a mom and you do not know how to be anything else, so it is terrifying and it entails a deep sense of loss because it sis not as much about control and turning over control to allow them to live their own lives as it is that you can feel as though you are losing your own identity. When your identity is attached to being a mom, you do not know how to let that go easily, because you can feel that you are losing the core of who you are – you identity; your purpose in life.

While is our job, as parents, to nurture them and to protect them and to try and teach them morals and manners, it is only our jobs, for a time. One day, they will grow up, and we are expected to allow them to go out into the world and make their own dreams their own reality. They grow up, then what? That is when we trust that we did the best that we could, even though we made our share of mistakes along the way. And, we trust that we have given the world amazing people. It will be hard to remember what life was like before we were moms. Life without wiping more runny noses than our own or grocery shopping without having Capri Suns and Lunchables in our carts. Now we find ourselves in a place where we trade the Capri Suns for bottles of wine and the Lunchables for frozen bags of vegetables to steam. The house is quieter now and we get to watch programs without ducks or mice or crime fighting turtles, or catchy hero names like T-Bone and Razor. Although I am not thoroughly convinced Hallmark and Lifetime are better substitutes for cartoons. Just my humble opinion. Family game night has given way to date night and movie night for two. Road trips are now much easier, and to some degree, a little less exciting. Sometimes, we reach back into the recesses of our minds and pull out tiny fragments of ourselves before we became mothers. There was a time, when we were ourselves teenagers, when we had dreams and ideas and aspirations. Perhaps, this is the time to go back to college to finish that degree or buy that shiny sports car with only two doors. Maybe, you move down to Florida and spend a year on the Gulf of Mexico trying to rediscover yourself and what you want out of life. Perhaps, what you discover is that what you want is to be close enough to enjoy a relationship with your grandkids, and decide to move back home, after enjoying that year-long vacation on the coast. Regardless of whatever choices you make, they are now yours to make. Find a hobby, or join a new social group, or binge watch Criminal Minds on Netflix. Either way, we cannot hold on to them forever, but we do still have ourselves after they grow up. Always cherish every minute as a mom, it really is a life long commitment. However, never lose sight of your own identity and the person you were before, because, while there may be some of those crazy dreams and ideas that it may be too late for, such as being a drummer in a rock and roll band, there is still a chance to write that book.

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“Girl, wash your face” an Honest Review

Often times we are reminded of how much influence we allow society as a whole to have on us. I was recently reminded of that myself when I read “Girl, wash your face,” by the witty and charming Rachel Hollis. The book takes an in-depth look at how we can buy into the lies that society spoon feeds us and how we can, in turn, begin to feed those same lies to ourselves. She tackles many commonplace misconceptions about oneself, such as, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not a good mom,” “I’ll start tomorrow,” “I am defined by my weight,” and a whole smorgasbord of self-defeating inaccuracies that can limit ourselves to step out of our proverbial comfort zones and realize our true potential.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading her book, but in all sincerest honesty, Rachel made me acknowledge some hard truths about myself. While, most of my later adult life, I have been a self-proclaimed “independent woman” who had my shit together, the reality is that I have been independent because life had thrust me into circumstances, not of my own choosing, that warranted my self-independence, however begrudgingly. No matter how much we think we have ourselves together, there will always be those things that society sells that we are buying up like they are bargain deals at a going out of business sale at our favorite boutique. I for one, have come to accept that I have bought into so many of the lies that society, family, and even friends have been dishing out to me. Many of those lies, I have held on to and hid behind as though there was a sense of comfort in attaching myself to them, like a tub of death by chocolate ice cream after a stormy break up.
There is something about the way that Rachel engages her readers with her own life experiences and stories that lends an air of realism to her, and allows the reader to relate to her words and gain a sense of trust in her, as though she gets us, because she has gone through so many of the same things. While Rachel’s stories may not be exactly the same stories, verbatim, as the ones that I or anyone else who reads the book owns, Rachel allows her one personal accounts with the lies that society places upon us to in some way, come across as a comforting chat with a dear friend, or sound advice from a trusted therapist.
She speaks volumes of truth in her book in how she implores her reader to peel back the layers upon layers of untruth and tragic bullshit that society has heaped upon us for years and years, and realize the true and real value that we all possess. I would highly recommend anyone to read “Girl, wash your face.” But I would really encourage anyone reading the book to take the time to really dig deep in to the pages, and the words that Rachel is expressing to each and every one of her readers. Take her stories and let them seep in deeply into your mind and your soul. The advice she provides at the end of each chapter, noted as: “Things that helped me” are there as stepping stones, not meant to be disregarded or taken lightly. She has, as the reader will learn, overcome overwhelming odds to become the dynamo that she is today. And, people do not get that far in life without learning a few lessons along the way. When such people offer to share those learned lessons in an effort to prevent others from giving into the lies or to aid them in seeing past the lies dished out daily by the world around us, we listen. We learn. We adapt. We wash our faces, and we show the world just who we are!

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Colorblind

From early on in my childhood, I had been exposed to racism, even though I had not realized it until I was almost an adult. For most of my life, I did not see if for what it was. However, when I was well into my teenage years, I started to pick up on little signs that there was a problem. The first time I specifically remember noticing anything that was out of sorts, was when I was a teenager, I was about sixteen years old, and I had been working at the local sewing factory. I do not even remember why, but there had been a company come in to the plant to take photos one week. It was kind of like when you had school photos done as a child. I had a friend, and we had become best friends at work. I had talked about her all of the time at home, so my parents were familiar with her, at least as far as her name. So, on the day the photos were to be taken, we had decided to have our pictures taken together. We were so excited. We had one individual photo taken and then several of us together. For the next few weeks, I talked non- stop about the photos and how excited we were to get them back to see how they turned out. My parents had very little to say about the photos one way or the other. Finally, the day arrived, and the company came back to the plant to deliver the photo packages. Tracy and I waited anxiously to get our photos. I had never ad photos taken with anyone other than my brother and two cousins, and she did not have siblings, so she had never had hers taken with anyone else. We were very please with how they had turned out. That evening, when I arrived home from work, I had mustered up all the excitement I could handle to show off the photos to my parents. I expected them to go on and on about how well the photos turned out, how pretty we looked, as we had coordinated our outfits to match in sheer perfection. They stood silently for what seemed like eternity. The looks upon their faces were not that of parents who were pleased with the result of seeing their child captured in picturesque gloriousness. I stood there, confused, wondering why they were not saying anything and why they looked horrified rather than smiling. My dad was the first to break the awkward silence. He tossed the package of pictures down onto the table and said some pretty harsh words, the “long story short” of which translated into that I could throw the package of pictures away. They were not interested in keeping them at all. But I had paid for them with my own money made from my job at the plant, and I would never wish to throw them out. I was shocked and horrified myself now, as I wondered why I had looked so bad in the photographs that they had rather toss them in the trash than to keep them. They both went on for a time, mainly yelling curse words at me about how they were unacceptable. I still did not understand why, neither of us had dressed in any way that could have remotely been considered provocative or sexy. Then it happened, like a freight train slamming into a semi. My dad yelled it out at me, He did not hold back any taboo words when he exclaimed to me that the problem was not in our dress, or our hair, or our smiles. It was the fact that Tracy was black. I was taken aback. I had not thought about how during my life time growing up, I had heard that word before, but had never really associated it with any specific person, or group of persons. In that very moment, my innocence was lost to the world. They had never had any problems with Tracy and I being friends, when I talked about her, because they had never met her and just assumed she was white, like us. My gut reaction was one of shock and dismay. But the more I thought about the whole ordeal, I became enraged. How dare they think such horrible thoughts about my dear friend, just because she was different than them? They did not know her; how funny she was or how kind she was to me. They did not see how we laughed and talked about everything from Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups to boys. We were, in essence, two sixteen-year-old girls. Girls who should have still been in high school, planning what kind of dress to wear to our senior prom, what kind of college we would like to attend, and what kind of shoes to wear under our graduation gowns. But life and circumstances had forged its way into our life plans, and for whatever reasons, we had both dropped out of high school, and were working in the same local sewing plant. Being that many of the ladies working in the plant were much older than us, we needed each other. We were spending our days in an adult world based on productions totals and incentive raises, and we needed each other to remind ourselves that we were still only sixteen years old, and we still needed to enjoy some part of our lives. To this day, I still have those pictures. Not long after that whole ordeal, when I made a feeble attempt to give out some of the pictures to my family members, it was quickly made apparent to me that my entire family felt the same way as my parents had, and they wanted nothing to do with the pictures either.
Over time, as I grew older, I began to disassociate myself from my family. I have been mocked and shunned by various member of my family for not inheriting the same family beliefs. I had a huge falling out with my own brother when my sister in law was babysitting my daughter for me, and I learned the he was teaching her those same beliefs, at only three years of age. I had a friend who then I got to start keeping her and my son after school for me. Only to later learn that her husband had proved to be a very negative influence on them. When I had picked them up after work on a day that was a school holiday, and on the ride home, my son was explaining to me that he had taught them it was “James Earl Ray Day.” I could not believe what I was hearing! Obviously, I was out another baby sitter. Growing up in a small town rural north Georgia, it is something that is near to impossible to escape from. I am just grateful that I somehow managed to have the compassion and foresight to not buy into that dangerous way of thinking, and that I believe people are not inferior or superior to me simply based on the color of their skin or intelligence level, or really, anything at all. We are all equally human beings, some good some bad, but all human.

Meet My Best Friend

Throughout our lives, we tend to have friends who come and go. We even find ourselves often with best friends during a season of our lives. We may find work best friends, or we may have school best friends. When we are in relationships, our romantic partners become our best friends also, and for different reasons. In fact, my own husband is my best friend in so many ways. But when we are truly lucky, we can have that one true constant who remains a best friend through all the seasons of our lives. I am fortunate enough to have such a friend.
My best friend is stunningly beautiful, and that is the cause for many a person to want to meet her. However, when anyone gets to know her, it is her inner beauty that shines the brightest and then they naturally want to keep her in their lives as well. She has a charm and wit about her that is truly a rare treat.
Of all the people who have grown to love her, I am most lucky to have had her by my side for her entire life. Because, you see, it is my beautiful daughter who is my best friend. She can be, at times, both complicated and frustrating. Perhaps, it is the mother in me that can see that part of her, because as well as laughing and sharing with her, I have also had the unique role of disciplining and guiding her along the path of life.
Total strangers have had the opportunity to meet her, and within minutes, feel as though their meeting was not merely by chance. She has the ability to make anyone believe that she had been sent to their life in the right moment by some higher power. She will listen intently to others as they pour out their problems to her. She will cry tears of joy and tears of sorrow alongside anyone in her presence.
Her and I have laughed at others, and at each other. We have also cried over boys together. We have cursed others and threatened outlandish acts of revenge on anyone who has hurt the other. We have been furious at and deeply hurt by each other, but at the core of every day, we love each other unconditionally. That love, and the bond of mother and daughter, always prevail no matter what temporary emotions that we allow to pervade our minds.
In the past year, she has decided to grow up and move out on her own. At times, with her boyfriend, and at times, by herself. For various reasons, that did not always work out for her. And she was crushed by how unfairly life had treated her. She is one of the most loving and caring and deserving people I know, and I too, was crushed every time life has pulled the rug out from underneath her. She made the decision to move back home with me a few months ago. She was not just my little girl who was broken and sad, she was my best friend, and my heart poured as freely as my tears at night to see life not giving her all she deserves. Over the past few months with her being home, we have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together. It has helped that I currently work from home and am around when she if there before or after work, or on her days off. We have lunch together, and we spend just a few minutes a day just chatting over love, life, and all things girl.
Now, we find ourselves once again at an impasse. For several months, my husband and I have been making preparations and saving money to make the move to Florida to be close to my son and granddaughters. And for much of that time, she has been also making plans to join us. However, as the time grew near to make the move, she has made the tough decision to stay behind in Georgia. She has a job that she does not wish to leave at this time, in hopes of promoting up and advancing with the company. I could never fault her for that, it is always good to stick with something. Far too many people these days are flakey. She has never really dealt easily with change. She lost her dad when she was only three years old, then lost her grandfather, whom she was very close too, at an early age as well, and lost homes to natural disasters. For most of her life, she has had to deal with some pretty radical life changes, without any warning. So, it makes perfect sense that she would need and desire a sense of constant in her life and possess a need to feel a sense of control over some of her own decisions. Being that my husband and I had made the decision to move to Florida just prior to her coming back home to live with us, the choice to move there was never hers, it was simply that all her family had moved, and she felt that it was her only option.
Our days now are a mixed bag of emotions. She is excited about the potential prospects that she has had open up with her job, and I am excited about the opportunity to explore new destinations in a new state and to be spending time with the girls. However, looming over us is a constant sadness. It is hard for me to think about leaving my best friend behind, and it is equally difficult for her to be feeling like she is being left behind. Additionally, as her mother also, I have this sense of heaviness about this situation, in that I want her to succeed and do well in her job and achieve all of the amazing things I know she is capable of, yet as her mother, I worry over her being on her own. I want her to be safe, and fed, and when she is sick, I want her to cuddle on the couch in a warm fuzzy blanket while I make her soup and bring her medicine. I know she is a strong and independent young lady, but she has also had a lot of harsh experiences with life knocking the wind out of her sails, and because she is both my daughter and my best friend, I have an ingrained need to be there to wipe the tears and help pick up the pieces.
So, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, my best friend is amazing, and anyone would be lucky to meet her. Everyone who knows her will attest to the fact that just knowing her will make your life a better place and leave you a better person. I look forward to seeing all of the incredible things that she accomplishes in her future, because I know she is meant for great things, and will, no doubt, live up to the hype.

5 Things That I Absolutely Love About Myself, Without A Doubt.

If I were asked to name five things that I absolutely love about myself, without a doubt, I would struggle quite a bit, as I am sure many others would. We tend to see the good and the best in people around us. Yet, we most often tend to be blind to our own good qualities. We easily see that we may be overweight, or that we have thin hair or short hair, or that we have freckles, or that we have not completed college and gotten that degree that we started out to work on several years ago, or that we are in a job that we are not in love with, or maybe that we are in a relationship that only benefits one partner. Regardless, we should do better by ourselves and realize the qualities that we each possess that make us great. And now, I will attempt to embark on such a task.
One- compassion. I do love that I possess a true sense of compassion for others. I once was told by my director when I worked as an Emergency Medical Technician that I would make a great paramedic one day because I had something that many of his current paramedics in the county lacked- compassion and a true love for others. Even though I do not work in public safety any longer, I still keep those words with me. It really meant a lot to me then, and it means a lot to me now that someone saw me in that respect. Often times, I believe that it goes a step beyond mere compassion and that I have been granted both the blessing and the curse of being an Empath. Everything I have ever read about Empaths sounds exactly word for word like I am reading something written specifically for me. I suppose I don’t hate being an Empath, but there are times when I wish I could be a little tougher.
Two- tenacity. I do not give up on things easily. Even in relationships, although I know in my head and my heart that the relationship is toxic for me or the relationship has reached its ending point, I have a hard time walking away. For some reason, I feel like a failure when things end, whether it be relationships or jobs, so I tend to persist in them, despite my need for closure and the limiting it puts on my self-growth.
Three- simplicity. I have never been a materialistic person, and do not foresee that changing anytime in my future. I love the simplicity of life. I enjoy quite time by the lake, a hike in the woods, and sitting on the shore listening to nothing more than the sound of the waves crashing against the sand and the occasional call of the Gull. At the risk of being cliché, life if made up of all the small moments that fill in the dash between the two dates on our death stones. But, that is true. It is truly the simple things like holding hands under the night sky bursting with fireworks, the laughter of a child, or the smell of fresh cut grass that make life worth living
Four- good listener. It seems that for most of my life, I have had family, friends, and coworkers alike come to me to talk about their problems. I went into college to get my degree in Human Services and learned a lot about active listening. But, the funny thing is, I think in some way I have always engaged in active listening, long before I even knew what it was. I was always that friend that people went to when they wanted to say, “don’t tell anyone.” I have long since been out of school and lost touch with almost one-hundred percent of my former classmates, yet, I still today hold secrets that were told to me in the strictest of confidence within the halls of my high school, that I have not dared to share with another soul. I have always had the tendency to be very accepting of other, and have never considered myself, nor have been considered by others as a judgmental person. Although, I think as I get older, I am losing that sweet innocent acceptance of everyone, and do notice a hint of cynicism showing its ugly head on the occasion.
Five- Pisces. It may seem a bit crazy or childish, but I truly love being a Pisces. They say that Pisces are so different because they have characteristics of all the other eleven Zodiac signs. I do believe that. A true Pisces can be quite a challenge, it is like riding a roller coaster, at times. We can be hot one minute, then cold the next. Yet, Pisces, are the dreamers and the believers. We see the good in people and we would move mountains to help others see the good in themselves. Pisces are creative and artistic. I would never say that I was good at anything but being far from perfect does not limit my attempt. I love to paint, and I love to sing. While I cannot do either of those well, I still continue to do them. That is why I love being a Pisces, it is kind of like that Steve Jobs quote- “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

If I Could Go Back In Time, What Would I Tell My Younger Self?

If I could go back in time, I would probably tell myself to slow down. Life goes by far too fast, and I have allowed myself to rush through far too many things. As a child, I had a bit of a rocky start in life. I had a father, who was, some would say strict, based on the bruises and marks often left on my body, others would say, abusive. Regardless, I was a very withdrawn and insecure person from a very early place in life. After a “situation” that left my legs covered in bruises, I ran away from home at the ripe old age of seventeen. I moved in with my cousin’s friend, who was much older than me, and I found out quite quickly, that I was no where near ready for adulthood. But as they say, you can’t go back home, thus, I began my life of rash decisions followed by an almost emergent series of adjusting my life and myself to make those decisions fit as though they were what was meant to be for my life. There have been many times when I suffered as a consequence, there have been times that it was my children who suffered as a consequence. As a parent, you never intentionally do things that will end up being hurtful to your children, you try to make choices that you believe, at the time, will be in their best interest. But often times, those choices do not play out so.
I find myself now, facing the latter part of my life, and often get down because I feel as though I do not have anything to show for my life, thus far. I do not have my own home, I do not have my own car, and I still have far too much student loan debt. Following a nasty divorce, I wound up having to go through bankruptcy, and am at this point in my life, still trying to rebuild good credit. I do not even have a comfy nest egg saved away for retirement, even though that will be quite a few years away. Many times, I find it far too easy to get down on myself pretty hard about the things that I have failed to accomplish at this point in my life, mainly due to rash choices I have made since I was younger. But, I think, sometimes it is far too easy to play the victim and toss around tickets to the pity party like confetti. I can say with most certainty that most of those snap decisions I have made have came from the influence or as a direct reaction to the actions of someone else. Therefore, there is an entire laundry list of people for whom I can blame for the little that I have accomplished in my life. But, throwing blame rarely ever improves one’s circumstances. I rather choose to put my energy into what I have gained from life. I have two wonderful and amazing children who happen to be incredible adults and have accomplished so much in their own perspective lives. I have an incredible daughter in law, who is such a wonderful addition to our family, that I could not imagine life without her. I have two of the most perfect granddaughters that have ever graced the earth. They are my whole world. I have found the love of a good and decent man. I challenges me and lifts me both, at times when I need to be challenged or lifted up. I may not have a home, but I have found that not owning a home allows me a degree of freedom and mobility. My husband and I travel, often, and now have decided to tempt fate, and move to Florida. One of my biggest dreams in life has been to live on the Gulf of Mexico, and he has made it his mission to make my dream a reality.
So, at the end of the day, I believe the one thing I would say to myself, had I the opportunity to go back is to slow down. Life has a way of getting away from you and it is important to stop from time to time, and truly smell the roses. Perhaps many of the choices I have made in my life have been hasty and have not all been the most sensible of the most beneficial ones to me. However, each and every choice I have made has brought me to the place I am in life right now. While I may have some regrets about some of the decisions I have made, overall, I am in a really good place now, and I cannot possibly imagine the path of my life taking me in any other direction than where I am now. But, I only wish I could go back and have just a little more time to enjoy and appreciate the value of certain aspects of my life, things that I will never have an opportunity to get back. Such as, getting to enjoy the simplicity and freedom of childhood, or getting to enjoy the idea that the teenage years are so much a part of what shapes us as adults. It would be nice to get the time back to appreciate my youth and have the knowing that teenage years are only temporary and nothing that happens in high school actually lasts forever. I would truly love the opportunity to go back in time and hold my children just a little longer and play with them just a little more when they were young. I truly believe one of the harshest regrets of getting older, is the reality of just how fast our children grow up.
So, I am going to move to the Gulf of Mexico and enjoy the beauty and simplicity in watching a sunset across the ocean. I am going to enjoy slow, uninterrupted time with my granddaughters. And, I am going to take time to sit with my husband and take in all the love and laughter we share, and I will spend the latter part of my life, having no regrets, because I plan to make every decision a thoughtful and purposeful step in my journey.

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