Earlier in the month, I ran a contest. I announced a lot of winners. Unfortunately, I am still waiting on a lot of addresses. Those of you who haven’t e-mailed me your address, please take a moment to do so. I’ve decided I’m not going to make the others who have sent their information over wait. I will be taking all of the envelopes and packages to the post office to be mailed today. If I don’t receive your address before I leave for the post office today, then your prize will not be mailed for at least another week. Please, please, please do take a moment to do that. Send your name and address to: email@example.com Please put your contest category in the subject field. (i.e. Contest Winner – Adult)
Living in Florida, it’s still hot and humid and miserable, but I do get excited this time of year. I love the potential the weather has to cool off. I love looking at photos of states further north, enjoy soaking in their beautiful fall foliage. I’m jealous. As happy as I am that fall is here, which brings the promise of heat relief in a couple months, I don’t have a true reason to wear Uggs or to sip a hot beverage unless I turn my air conditioner down to 65 degrees – which, being a Southerner, is definitely sweater weather. The saying is, “Fake it till you make it.” Unfortunately, there is no way to *make* Mother Nature do anything she doesn’t want, but a girl can dream. And I definitely dream about cooler days, longer nights and the holiday season.
Just because the weather is still sweltering here in Florida doesn’t mean the colds, flus and other crud of the season aren’t going around. I’ve been sick for the last 10 days, have gone through 2 antibiotics and have gained zero relief. I’m not alone. From interactions on social media, I know many others have hit the 10 day mark and are still fighting it. The strands of yuck are serious this year. I’ve been up and about doing as much as I can, but I’ve been operating on very little sleep. It’s one of those where every time I lay down, I suddenly can’t breathe…not that I can upright half the time either. I’m not complaining though. Best part is the kids haven’t gotten it. Roman started to show signs, but thankfully, it subsided after a day of lazing around with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
Most of you aren’t aware of this, as I don’t openly advertise it, but I do social media and book cover art on the side. Any and every entrepreneur knows that you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. You need multiple streams of income because not everything is guaranteed. I’ve been doing more of that lately between writing. I also worked a 30 hour-a-week job for a little while. While writing is my primary career focus, I do have many other side jobs I juggle. I think any mother, wife, sister, breadwinner, does. There is no such thing as a vacation from reality. I do feel incredibly blessed to be where I am and have the opportunities that I do have. My life hasn’t been perfect, and the Lord knows I am far from perfect, but I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. I’ve been through what I have for a reason. Even on the days when I cry and ask the question of why over and over, I know He has a purpose.
You all have a purpose. We are all here for a reason. Life is not a straight and narrow path; it’s a winding road with constant terrain changes, constant bumps and repeated obstacles. But surviving them makes the end of the journey more sweet. The look I saw on my children’s grandmother’s face as she passed is etched in my mind. After a day of crying out in pain, after over 3 1/2 years of chemos, radiations, operations, ports, medications, pain, pain and more pain, she was finally at peace. She was finally able to celebrate the end of a long, hard journey. She was finally able to reap her rewards for a life well-lived, which I liken to the exhilarating rush of adrenaline one gets at the end of a 5k, a 10k, a marathon or a triathlon, any event that forced us to challenge ourselves to rise above and we did. There are days when I miss her like crazy. I still have all of her text messages in my phone. Every time I take a picture of one of the kids, it’s my instinctive reaction to send it to her, nearly 2 months after she passed. And this holiday season will probably be difficult. She collected Santa Clauses. Her house was filled with them starting the day after Thanksgiving. It made her home warm, inviting and magical all December long. There are things that I will miss horribly for many years to come, but I think she fulfilled her purpose. She left a lasting impression on my heart, on the hearts of my children. She has forever impacted our family traditions; she has forever impacted all of the special needs children she taught, all of the people she worked with, and all of the many family and friends who crowded her home in Florida and a funeral home in Puerto Rico. She passed at the young age of 57, but I know she left a permanent imprint on the hearts of at least double that. And that’s all I can hope for. That’s all I can hope to do as well.
Which is why I push for self-love, for self-acceptance. Self-hatred is an obsession. Self-loathing is a time-consuming distraction. Constantly comparing yourself to the person beside you or across from you means that you’re comparing rather than conversing, that you are internalizing rather than impacting. You can’t dislike who you are and boldly, proudly share yourself with the world. You can’t treat yourself horribly and then expect to rise up like a champion. You can’t despise who you are and then embrace all you were meant to be. The longer your focus remains on what you’re lacking, the more foolish you’ll feel when you realize that, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter if you are rail thin or if you are extra extra curvy. We all have a job, a purpose, and we all have the ability to do it, to fulfill it, regardless of our size, regardless of our beliefs, regardless of any discriminatory factors. You’ve got what it takes. Beautiful women do not accomplish more than “ugly” women. Plus size women do not accomplish less than thinner women. I’ve run 5k’s alongside women half my size and even a woman twice my size. Do not let the adjectives define you. Do not let the adjectives stop you. They are just adjectives. Take away the fat or thin, take away the descriptors and the only word that remains is the noun ‘woman.’ I don’t know if you’ve brushed up on your history lately or not, but women of all shapes and sizes have made history. Women of all statures, all cultures, all education levels have accomplished amazing, wonderful things. How? They didn’t focus on what they were lacking. They focused on what they had, what they were capable of, what needed to be done rather than what they couldn’t do. Their focus was never on themselves. It was never about them. It was about all those who needed them.
And that was the heart my children’s grandmother had. She was never focused on herself, on what she was going through. She was focused on how she could still be there for her grandkids. She was focused on spending as much time with them as she could. She was focused on what her boys needed, what she could do to prepare them for a life without her. She was focused on anyone and everyone but herself in the end. She no longer cared about what she looked like, because, it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if she had arm flab, one breast or two. All that mattered was that others needed her. They were her focus. They were her drive. They were her reason for living. And, in the end, they were her purpose. You are never your purpose in life. Your purpose always revolves around others.
Love yourself every day that you can. Love others every day that you can. Make the most of the time you have. Make the most of the talents you were given. I will never stop writing. I will never stop creating. It’s engrained in me. And I just know that my purpose is connected to it. I don’t know how many writers you’ve met, but we all come in different shapes and sizes. We all come from different backgrounds and cultures. The adjectives don’t matter though. The adjectives others attach to me don’t matter. They don’t define my worth, they don’t define my abilities and they certainly don’t change my capabilities. Don’t allow the adjectives to be more than merely adjectives. If for no other reason than because it’s fall, beautiful weather is here or coming soon, and the more time you spend focused on the descriptors, the less time you have to enjoy the weather, to enjoy life, to enjoy each day, each breath and each cup of coffee.
It’s fall! It’s my favorite season. Though I have a thousand reasons to wallow, I have a million more to smile, to face each day with purpose, with drive and with appreciation. Life is a series of choices, and regardless of the descriptors surrounding me, I’m choosing to live it well. I hope you will choose the same. – Christin