Things I’ve Learned in My Forty Years of Life

#1 I suck at being drunk. Especially at social gatherings. I do not have an off switch and quite often will stress myself out the next day about what I did or did not say or do.

#2 I am more of an introvert than an extrovert. I like small groups. Socializing too often exhausts me and I recharge when I’m by myself.

#3 Holding a grudge is time consuming and pointless. Not to mention heartbreaking. You could be losing a forever person. Someone who will still be there when the tough stuff is at its worst. So, extend that olive branch and if someone does it to you, accept it.

#4 Good friends are a gift. Try not to alienate them.

#5 Travel as often as you can. Even if it’s just a quick little side trip after work. It soothes the soul and makes the BS in life a little easier to deal with.

#6 Set goals for yourself. Even if they seem outrageous. No dream is ever too big or small. It’s our self doubt that gets in the way.

#7 Being a bit lost is a part of life. “Finding yourself” is a part of the path.

#8 Being a parent is the most difficult and rewarding job I’ve ever had. Even when I’ve felt lost, confused, broken, I can look at my kids and know I did at least two things right.

#9 Your life partner should be able to weather any storm with you. They should be your lover, best friend, and every day companion. What you give up for them, they should be willing to give up for you.

#10 Sex and physical touch can heal a damaged soul. A good snuggle can ease any hurt and make you feel you’re not alone.

#11 Never let a day go by without saying, “I love you”.

#12 Laugh as often as you can. Let it bring tears to your eyes and pain to your tummy from the joy of it.

#13 Allow yourself to cry. It does not make you weak or overly emotional. It makes you human.

#14 Don’t let the past control your future. This is the hardest lesson to learn. I’m still working on it.

#15 Don’t be afraid of what people may say or think about you. Worry about what “you” think about yourself. You need to be your own best friend and treat yourself with kindness.

#16 Cherish those who would drop what they’re doing to help you out. It is a rare gift and should not be taken for granted.

#17 Learn to say, “I’m sorry” and mean it. They are never just words to the person you say it to.

#18 Appreciate good drinking water. So many people in the world don’t have access to it.

#19 There is always someone out there having a worse day than you.

#20 Never judge a human by they’re cover. You can not judge a person by their appearance. Judge them by their actions and character and remember they’re human. We all make mistakes.

#21 Allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Even if it scares you. You would be amazed at how much our minds warp reality.

#22 Enjoy other cultures. Try their food. Listen to their music. You will find quite often that us Americans are the bassackwards ones.

#23 Dance, sing at the top of your lungs, and make sure to let a person know their fly is down. They may be embarrassed for a moment, but at least they didn’t walk around all day for others to see.

#24 Open the door for a person who may be struggling to do it on their own, offer your seat to your elders, and allow an old gentleman to flirt shamelessly while you’re ringing their purchase up. It may just be the highlight of their day.

#25 Get to know your grandparents. They are the key to your past and usually have fantastic stories to tell.

#26 Bow your head in prayer at a service, wedding, or funeral. Even if you are personally not a believer. It shows respect.

#27 If you see a sign for a Historical Marker, stop and check it out even if it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. You can say you once stood in its spot.

#28 Always take the backroads. Even the gravel ones.

#29 Go to as many concerts as you’re able to.

#30 Love, respect, and enjoy your parents. They brought you into this world with no instruction manual to help them. They made just as many mistakes as you and you’re still in this world to tell them, “thank you”.

Life can suck. Life is also a wonderful gift. I’ve made mistakes. Some I’ve learned from and some I continue to make even though the end result doesn’t seem to change. I’m human. I’m flawed, but I’m a good person. I love deeply. I stumble and falter. I say mean things from time to time, but it is never out of hate or maliciousness. I cry at sad things, happy things, and when I get angry. This does not make me weak. I suck at writing thank you letters and there is a good chance I’ll forget your birthday, anniversary, or any other big day. I haven’t even begun to achieve all of my goals or dreams, but as my Dad once told me, our dreams don’t go away, they mature and change as we grow. So, this list will continue to be added to over the next decade. It’s going to be rocky and miserable, and beautiful. Such is life.

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Thankful

I have seen an endless amount of posts on Facebook this month mentioning what people are thankful for. For every day of the month, people write one thing they are thankful for and although I long to have the discipline to try to do something everyday, I lack the ability to try to sum it all up in one statement a day, so with that being said, this is my month of thanks all rolled into one post.

I am incredibly thankful for the warm snuggly man sleeping upstairs hogging the entire bed in hopes that my side will be warm by the time I join him. When I say he is my best friend, I don’t say these words lightly. He brings out the best parts of myself, understands the worst, and supports me as I travel down the road of life. I have no idea what I would do without him by my side taunting me and helping me to become a better person. He’s exhausting, loving, affectionate, and so very hard on himself and I am so very thankful he is mine.

I am thankful for my son for he is why I am here today. I am so very proud of the sweet, intelligent, and talented man he has become. Every heartache he brings and every smile he inflicts is a testament to me doing something right. Becoming a mommy at the age of eighteen is never an easy thing and I would never recommend it to someone. However, because we grew up together, his opinion of me is just as important as my opinion of him and I have an incredible desire for him to be just as proud of the woman who loved him first. I am so glad his little soul found mine all those years ago.

I am thankful for my beautiful daughter with her wild, loving, and affectionate heart. I am so proud of how she grasps her own personality and struggles while she finds others who will accept it rather than changing for those who don’t. I love her giving nature and how she doesn’t understand how humans can be so mean to each other. I am thankful for her desire to still snuggle with her Mama before she starts her day at the tender age of eleven and I am so thankful for her ability to march to the beat of her own drum when so many others don’t have the courage.

I am thankful for my amazing father. He has truly become one of my best friends. He has picked me up at my weakest moments, praised me when I needed it most, given me words of advice, and hugged me when I just needed a daddy, very very badly. He was the first man I ever loved and the role model in which I have judged all others. We are too much a like and have moments in which we lash out, but I am the parent I am today because he showed me how it’s done.

I am thankful for my fabulous siblings. Not only because they are the link to my past and future, but because of the people they are today. I am thankful for every single phone call my sister makes to me, even when she makes claims of stalking. Her support of me is so very loved and needed. She is my personal cheerleader in life and I could never imagine a moment without her. I am thankful for the strength of her outstanding husband and her loving kids. My brother has become the man I always knew he would become. I am thankful for the strength he has within himself to have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. He is beautiful, proud, and softer than he appears. I am thankful for the lovely woman he has brought into our lives and his gorgeous daughter. I am thankful for my other brother in his ability to straddle the lines between two families with such grace. It is never easy being a child caught between a blended family. We claimed him as our own years ago and ours he continues to be.

I am thankful for the open arms of my fabulous in-laws. They accepted me and my son in a time when I was so unsure of myself. They showed me such love and I continue to be humbled and honored to not only have them as my own, but for their giving nature and ability to continue to inspire me to be better than I could ever hope to be. I am also thankful they have raised such an amazing son for without their guidance, I wouldn’t have the husband I have today.

I am thankful for my job. Yes, the one I gripe about on a regular basis. It has given me the opportunity to not only work full time, but be a Mommy. I have been able to go on field trips and participate in activities without having to always use vacation time. I have managers that although drive me batty, are willing to work around children sick days, me going back to school, family emergencies, and on some days just simply having the desire to leave early because everyone needs to play hooky every once in awhile.

I am thankful for quiet nights and moonlit skies. I am thankful for the guitar pic in my pocket and the dear friend I was with when I got it. I am thankful for wine and girl nights and my cats when they’re warming my lap when no amount of clothing will ease the chill. I am thankful for road trips and strangers who never need to know my name. I am thankful for my Mother and all the things she taught me in her short life. I am thankful for my pillow and coffee and old movies and Johnny Depp. I am thankful for my step-mother and her constant desire to be everyone’s something and yet never her own. I am thankful for her friendship although it’s not what it used to be. I am thankful for my Grandmother. For her years of insight, love, support, and honesty. I am thankful for my family and I’m thankful for my friends.

So, before this list of thankfulness gets any longer, take a moment and list the things you’re thankful for. List even the bad things that may have turned good in the end. List even the smallest thing. Be sappy about it, be brave, and then go out and spread it around. There are those out there who have so very little to be thankful for. Be the change.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

My Jessie Bessie

I have a pretty amazing family. We have shared many ups and downs over the years and quite frankly, we are a bit codependent on each other. Today however, I really need to put some positive words out to my sister and lets face it, writing is how I do things best. I will be the first to admit that face to face confrontation often makes me stumble with my words. My tongue gets tied up, I may cry, or simply lose my thoughts and say things I didn’t intend to. This way, I can put it out there for her to see and read over and over when the mood takes her and maybe some of you can cheer her on too. Sometimes, even the best and strongest of us need words of encouragement. So with that being said, onward I go.

My sister is just as loud as me, funny as hell, giving, emotional, loving, and one of my biggest cheerleaders in life. We have fought like cats and dogs, said hurtful things to each other that no one should be able to recover from, and loved each other unconditionally because that is precisely what sisters do. They are often the first to hurt you and the first to pick you up when you fall on your ass. They know the part of you that you don’t quite understand yourself. My sister also suffers from the middle child syndrome. We may joke about this, but it is real. She has had to not only be my little sister, but the big sister to our brother. She also takes the mothering role to a whole new level and will be the first person to check up on both of us. She is the glue that is always there to keep us together. She has the tendency to be the voice of reason when no one else wants to listen. She became the woman of the house when our Mom died and at the young age of fourteen, she took this role seriously. I will never try to understand what that must have felt like for her. Especially when I moved back into the house for almost a year with a toddler in tow. Our twenties were spent in a rocky state and we didn’t really find the strength of our friendship until the last eight years or so. I think it took us that long to truly see each other. To see not only our weaknesses, but to help each other boost our strengths.

Today, she is successful at an incredibly stressful job, helps to run a household with my fabulous brother in-law and is the stepmother to two amazing kids. I admire her for her ability to take life on even when she doesn’t want to. I love that she can bust out into song in the middle of a crowded store and not seem to be embarrassed. I love that she doesn’t take herself too seriously and I love that she can admit when she needs help. Asking for help is never as easy as it sounds. I love that she can be a bitch, I love that she is a daddy’s girl, I love her bravery and her ability to be honest with herself when she realizes that she is human and not Wonder Woman. I love her hugs. They make me feel whole. I love that she still likes going through my make-up or my bathroom cupboards in general just to see what I have. I love that she talks to Dad about his diet and health concerns. I guess where I’m going with this is to tell her that she’s needed. She’s loved beyond measure. The Ford Family quite frankly wouldn’t work without her and I don’t think I tell her these things often enough. We all are so used to going on about how amazing our Dad is I think we forget about each other. I think I may even have to write a separate post about my brother just to make things even. You know siblings, I have to be fair. Oh, and if any of you are jealous, I don’t blame you. My Jessie is pretty fabulous. She’s mine and I don’t share very well with others. : )

Dad

This is a journal entry that I wrote for class the other day. It’s not one of my best pieces of writing, but it expresses how I feel about one of the most influential men in my life. Oh, and he’s super groovy.

Today is Father’s Day. To many, it’s just another Hallmark Holiday. However, I can’t help but enjoy all of the well wishes, words of appreciation, gratitude, and love that I see while scrolling through Facebook updates.

My Mother was confined to a wheelchair due to Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. She was a woman who enjoyed her job as a mother and when the disease took away her ability to perform the job as she saw fit, my Dad had to step up to the plate and quite often performed the role of both mother and father. He was the breadwinner, carpooling master, hair styling king, homework helper aficionado. This was not something that he would have chosen to do, for it pained my Mother to not be able to take care of us kids. However, their marriage was one of balance that I came to respect and now share with my own husband. They were fantastic role models

Dad would work a sixty hour plus work week and somehow fit in soccer games, cheerleading practices, dance lessons, and homework help. It was not uncommon to find him asleep in his lazy boy after trying to read his newspaper each evening. He became friends with the parents of my friends and between them, shared carpooling responsibilities. I can look back on these things now and wonder, “How the hell did he conquer such feats?”. I’m currently part of a two income family with one vehicle and two kids. My family wouldn’t work if it was lacking either myself or my husband. I am in no way selling my Mother short by giving my Dad such praises. She was an amazing woman. She was blunt, sassy, and honest. She was easy to talk to and would invite you to “spill your heart out”. She was the kind of mother that the other kids envied because she was a good listener and no subject seemed to be too taboo. I cherish the memories I have, for it was too short a time I had with her. As for Dad though, he had to keep it together for all of us when Mom died.

I remember working so hard to impress him in my teen years, whether it be with my singing or a dance or cheer routine. He was a tougher audience than Mom. There was always a tightness in my chest and a smile plastered on my face when he simply said, “good job”. If I’m being honest, I still seek those small words of praise from him. I seem to inundate him on a regular basis with my writing, just to see if he likes it. I do however think he has become more free in his affections as he gets older. I can always depend on a song of some kind to let me know how he feels. It’s one of his signature traits. If he can’t find the words himself, to express how he feels, he finds a song to do it for him. These dedicated songs have become the soundtrack to my life.

My Dad is not perfect. I put him on a very high pedestal, but understand that he is human. Being an adult now, I can say how much I appreciate what he did to make our lives better and as normal as possible. I had friends with dad’s that beat them and dad’s that walked out. I was lucky to have two parents that not only loved me and my siblings, but loved and respected each other. My Dad became the model for which I judge all men. He is a tough act to follow. On a closing note, a few years ago, Dad made a small list of what he calls Life Lessons. It is here that I’ll share his list with you.

#1 A#@holes and idiots are born that way and they usually don’t change.
#2 You don’t want to go to jail.
#3 When you start to take life too seriously, you’re in trouble.
#4 It takes no more time to see the good side of life than it takes to see the bad.
#5 If you decide to run with the ball, just count on fumbling and getting the S#$t knocked out of you a lot, but never forget how much fun it is just to run with the ball.
#6 Remember, that green grass on the other side of the fence, a lot of the time turns brown and dies.
#7 Everything changes, nothing changes.
#8 Sometimes there just isn’t a right answer.
#9 Some people just are…..
#10 It takes less muscles to smile than to frown
#11 Always buy at least 2-ply toilet paper
#12 Remove toxic, negative people from your life
#13 Drama should be left in movie theaters and on stages
#14 Some people you can never make happy, maybe moments of happiness, but not for long.
#15 YOU are responsible for your own happiness!
#16 Never give your past more power than your present!