Picking Up Chicks

The military has afforded us the opportunity to make some incredible friends. INCREDIBLE. Friends who I cried for as we or they moved on to the next adventure. Friends who I still chat with via social media and text, and yes, even by phone. There have also been what I call “friend fails”. Those would be the people you find out much too late are just either not compatible or are flat out crazy, but slipped under the craydar (crazy radar).

I’ve pondered the wonder that is making adult friends many times, but I have to say – California is a world unto its own. How the heck do you make mom friends when you move every three years? One word about being in the military sends many potentials running for the hills, even in a military town. Why invest when you’re just gonna move away? I get it. How do you make adult friends when your kids are older than all the toddlers running around the playground…and you don’t drink….annnnnnd you are kind of an introvert?

I met one mom at school orientation. She seemed nice and the kids hit it off. She told me many great places to eat in the area and some of the local hot spots. The secrets to navigating traffic timing were shared. We saw each other at a couple of functions. It was nice, all happening organically and not too fast (wouldn’t want to rush into anything too quickly). Then I bumped into her at a store and noticed what could have been a bit of powdered donut residue just around a nostril. Or it could have been some not-blended face powder. But….it seemed to be something else entirely based on observed behavior. It was also 8:30 am. Super awkward. Not my scene.

The second day of school I was approached blindsided by a mom of a student in my son’s class at the crosswalk. “HI! I noticed your son is in my son’s class! My name is June and this is my husband Mark. You are? And are you new to the area? Oh! You’re military! So you live right here!? No? Oh, you are on the waitlist. I see. And how long are you going to be here for? Andallthe500otherquestions.” I had no idea you could interrogate someone at a crosswalk and ask that many question in the time it takes for the stoplight to cycle through 1 time. I had to sit in my car for 3 minutes sipping my coffee to digest that entirely one-sided conversation. Who does that?!

Over the summer I chatted with a nice mom at the playground in our neighborhood. She had just moved in so we were commiserating on the challenges of relocating and being in the thick of the cardboard ocean. Against my better judgement, we exchanged numbers. I haven’t heard a word from her since. Today I got a text asking how I was, and what I was up to this Saturday. It had been so long, I had to think for 10 minutes about who the heck this person was. Once I realized it was a ghost from summer past, I responded, and she then invited me to a “business opportunity” to make residual income. Obviously I need to trust my instincts. A month and a half and no word. Then boom – besties who are going into business together?! Uhhh, no. Lose my number thankyouverymuch.

Not so shockingly, Hannah has made many friends already, being the ray of sunshine that she is. (Come to think of it, Hannah might one day be the crosswalk interviewer!) She came running up to me after school last week, breathless, “MOM! My friend’s mom wants to meet you!! Come quick!”

Me: “Sure!” I say brightly! With lots! of! exclamation! points! and! fake! smiles!

Sigh.

Turning the corner I walk in the room and see a woman who is everything I am not. She literally looks like she stepped out of Vogue. I tower over her because of course she is the size of a child. I could hip check her and she’d bounce half a mile. “Hi! I’m Hannah’s mom,” I introduce myself and try not to crush the limp Barbie-esque hand she extends. Picture Real Housewives. Or Stepford Wives.

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Friend’s Mom gushes: “Oh it’s such a pleasure to finally meet you! Hannah has told me so much about you!”

Me: Blinking. ***Crickets***  ‘Finally’ meet me? School has only been in for a week and a half! What the heck has my child told her? Oh I’m sure I’m under the bus. Waaayyyy under that bus.

Friend’s Mom continues in her sing-song voice, “My daughter has been raving about how wonderful Hannah is and I was so hoping she’d find someone to be her BFF! They seem to be a perfect match! Let’s meet at the park tomorrow if you’re free to have a playdate!”

Me: Still blinking. This is all happening way too fast. Her voice is seriously like a character on SNL. (Yes, the Californians. EXACTLY like that. For real.) “Okay, that would be lovely,” I reply, continuing the ruse that I am, in fact, a functioning adult and am not panicking inside that I will have to make small talk with a stranger to whom my daughter has no doubt told our entire life story.

The following day Hannah can hardly contain her excitement. We meet up at the playground and the kids play. We chat. Lots of talk of GMOs and healthy eating. She insists that I must try a nut bar she just purchased. She laments that her “household help” that has been with her family for over two decades has suddenly moved away. “I’m simply overtaxed with committees and volunteer work – I just don’t know what I’ll do!” She asks if I have a cleaning person. I respond with the “I’m a do-it-yourselfer”-type. She tells me that I “simply must come by the house for another play date some time.” When my daughter sees this person’s beach front property, boat and hired help, she’s never going to want to come home!

I try to be an optimist/”bloom where you’re planted”/make the best of all the duty stations sort of approach to life in the military. Some are better than others, but after my track record so far, I’m just not holding my breath. I feel like I’m being Punk’d. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Recreational drug use, check.

Crosswalk interrogator, check.

Untethered to reality, check.

Pyramid/ponzi schemer, check, check, check.

As the saying goes, ‘I think the more people I meet, the more I like my dogs’. Based on what we’ve seen so far, if I’m friend-single this time around, I think I’ll be okay with that!

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365

Air filters changed: 4

School days: 170

Snow days: 1

Hurricanes: 1

Road trips: 2

Field trips: 10

Lawn mowed: 35 times

Weed eater cord changes: every dang time!

Vacuums broke and replaced: 1

Vehicle Oil changed: 3 times

Houses sold: 1

Plumbing repair: 1

Roof repair: 1

Alternators changed: 1

Vehicles sold: 1

Vomit clean up: 5

Cups of coffee consumed: 87,931

Lunches with friends (aka adult conversation lifelines): 2,376

Grocery trips: 9,897,654

Meals prepared: billions

Holidays apart: 12

Dogs kept alive: 3

Minions kept alive: 2

Emotional homecomings: 1

States traveled: 4

PCS transfers: 1

Sobriety days: 365!

Being done with deployment AND one year sober: PRICELESS

Internal Thought Vomit

Eric and I have a commonly repeated conversation, usually while driving. It goes something like this:

Me: “What are you thinking about?”

Him: “Nothing.”

Me: “Hmm.”

Him: “What are you thinking about?”

Me:”I’mwonderingwhyyouaresoquietandthisotherthingI’mworriedaboutandblahblahblahblahblahblahmorestuff,” comes tumbling out.

Him: “Oh…I was thinking about how the cotton is only a foot high now.”

Me: **Crickets**

WHAT?! I have brain on rapid fire and he’s just looking out the window and seeing what’s there. I don’t think he gets thought-vomit like I do.

“I really don’t know how you do it,” says any number of people, shaking their heads slowly as they discover we are a military family and my other half is deployed. “I could never do that.”

Yeah, you could. If it was your life and you didn’t have a choice. There are plenty of us doing it.  It sucks. There are good parts, like anything. The highs are high and the lows…well, they suck. My strategy is to tuck my chin, focus on the next right thing and move. Keep moving, keep doing, keep on keeping on. Everything we do gets us that much closer to it being over. Every missed holiday, every missed event, every school function he’ll watch via social media….it all gets us that much closer to homecoming day.

A random day of mid-deployment thought-vomit looks something like this:

It’s Saturday and we’re at the trampoline park because I feel sad that they are missing their dad. They need activity and busy-ness from time to time. They need to wear themselves out. Looking around, I’m struck by how no one smiles. Looking across the cavernous lobby, I catch sight of a couple walking to the exit with a small child, their jump time now concluded. The sweaty, flushed face looks up as she reaches to grasp the hand of one of the adults.

“They don’t even look happy,” I think to myself as I condescendingly judge them. The adult seems to carry the burdens of life physically on her back, slightly rounding at the base of her neck.

As they walk out, I continue to ponder the inner thoughts of other patrons. Cell phones in every hand, boredom tinged with a traces of anxiety, we are all watching each other, sizing everyone up. “Look at how good I’m doing at this whole parenting thing. I’ve really got my life together, ” we all think as we pray no one sees how we really don’t have it together, and we are all pretending.

Or maybe it’s just me who feels like a pretend adult.

My eyes return to my book, though I can scarcely recall the sentence I’ve read 4 times. Turns out this whole deployment business has well, ups and downs. And some of the downs, I don’t handle very well.

Thanksgiving. The 4th holiday he missed. Fourth out of the 8 or 9 that he wasn’t here to celebrate. Normally the holidays evoke gratitude and reflection. This year I was angry and irritable.

I’m angry at the political climate. I’m angry that my son is blind in his right eye. I’m angry that I can’t be with my person. My best friend. I’m angry at the sexual harassment perpetrators, the hypocrisy of politics. I’m angry at the church and myself for not loving people as well as we should, being chastened by a remarkable conversation with an atheist/agnostic who’s actions are more Christ-like than most of us who claim a relationship with Jesus.

I’m angry that I have to fear when I send my kids to school that they may not come home.

Still sober and clinging to my 9 months. I feel good about that, but life isn’t as it should be. It’s paled, almost black and white. The color has slipped a bit…my anger turning to a melancholy I can’t shake.

I can laugh. I can take my kids camping in the rain. I can joke and be social with friends. I have girl friends that I see regularly for adult interaction and coffee. I’m reading, learning and growing. I’m working at being a better dog parent/trainer. The stuff I’m learning about is awesome and I want to pick up the phone and talk to him about it, and then oh..wait. I can’t. Dang it.

I look over and see a birthday party in progress. The noise makes my skin crawl.

I’m nervous about our move to San Diego and simultaneously can not wait to get there. Once we get the transition over with, it’ll be fine, I remind myself for the 500th time.

I want to wake up and have this year over.

I try, yet again, to read my book. The kids come running up, their faces flushed. “MOM! This is so fun!” they holler over the loud music, then darting back out to play dodgeball, practice their flips and cartwheels and see how high they can jump.

They will be okay, I marvel. Borrowing some of their enthusiasm, we’re getting through it, I think. Maybe not without some bumps and bruises and rough days, but we’re getting through it.

Put most simply, my thought vomit is well, messy.

Perhaps everyone’s thought vomit is messy like that. Or not. Mine’s pretty loud. And she likes to talk and analyze. A lot.

In our pre-marriage counseling some 20 years ago, a reference was made to a marriage book, by Chad Eastham, “Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti.” In short, men compartmentalize areas of their life, like the little squares and of a waffle. Women, on the other hand, are a tangled mess of saucy goodness where everything is tangled and intertwined, like spaghetti.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve got some sauce falling off the plate because the noodles of my mind are being twirled a bit too fast by life.

Hmmm, now I’m hungry.

Messy spaghetti, anyone?

A Peek Behind the Curtain

Not just because of an election season that has left most of us feeling like we’ve been sitting in the spin cycle of a washing machine all wrung out, and not because of another public shooting, or other tragic event.  Just the d-word in general. Depression.

I started writing about my own experiences with depression a couple of years ago and it’s been sitting off to the side ever since:

As I’ve gotten older, I have noticed seasons come and go where I was more myself, light-hearted and easy going. There were dips when I made poor choices in relationships, knowing it wasn’t going to lead anywhere good. Job changes, promotions and other events gave cause for the usual ups and downs of life. Overall, I had a hopeful outlook  – and that things would always work out even if I didn’t love the crap out of every single day.

I got married when I was 23. 8 years later I felt the weight of postpartum depression come crashing down on me in the shower as the water rushed over my now-foreign body, the sound of my hollow sobs echoing against the bathroom walls. Would he ever stop crying? Would my nipples ever stop aching? Bleeding? How was I ever going to be a functional person again? It was all so very overwhelming and completely unexpected. No one tells you about this part of bringing a baby home. No one told me there would be a “new normal”. I thought my new normal was insanity and a deep, dark hole that seemed insurmountable.

A few years and another child later, my husband left for what would be in total a 15 month deployment with a couple of weeks off during the holidays. That was a rough couple of years. We didn’t know then that our son would later be diagnosed with HFA (High Functioning Autism) or Asperger’s. We thought he was defiant and strong willed. I felt like a total failure at this parenting thing.

And now, here I sit. In the middle of it again. Our oldest is now 6 and our daughter is 4. Every day seems like such a struggle. They are bigger kids, but they aren’t quite big kids yet, so they are pushing every boundary and testing every limit. They don’t listen like we think they should. Our expectations are often more than they are capable.They fight with each other. Both my husband and I were the youngest of our own families and were much younger than our siblings – so we were basically raised as only children. It seems we don’t know what we are doing, daily. I have a book on my bedside table called Stop Arguing and Start Understanding…but it seems so exhausting to put forth the effort to read it. I’m so tired. I’ve been exercising daily, as I know that it is my tether to sanity. But I’m lonely here. I don’t have many friends yet, and I don’t have the gumption to really put myself out there to meet people. At the end of the day, I often feel like I can barely give enough to my kids and myself I just don’t have anything left over to offer in terms of friendships. I would be a taker and it just would be so much effort.

Yes, I know, I’m worth it, and I matter, and all that. My hope is that this is just a season. I really do. And I want it over. I don’t usually like to rush the time with my kids, but there are a few phases that I would love to just skip over entirely. This would definitely be one of them.

I wrote this in a draft 2 years ago. The kids are older and some things are easier with them. They are more independent and we are moving forward with evaluations for our son. I have peace about the things I was unsettled about before, but there are other things that seem so much the same. I feel it coming again. The heavy blanket that I know is not good, but feels so comforting. It’s deceptive in the way it makes me think I want it. I want the heavy blanket to wrap itself around me. “Sleep…” it whispers. “Don’t fight it…relax…” And rest is what I crave. It always knows what to say.

In my work as a trainer, I often fill the role of encourager, cheerleader, or simply the friendly instructor who is quick to smile and offer a friendly good morning. Exercise and physical activity has, and will continue to be, my method to maintaining mental health. “We leave all the stuff of life outside those doors,” I tell participants in my group classes. “Turn off the phones. Whatever is needed of us will still be there in 1 hour. Take this time – it’s yours. If you are anything like me, we need this time,” I say. Lately it’s been a struggle to be the encourager. How am I supposed to help others when some days it feels like I can’t even help myself?

Part of it is the season. Part of it is less sunlight. Part of it is – I just don’t know.

And I don’t care.

That’s what scares me.

Depression is the not caring that you don’t even care. I just want to sleep. I want to numb out. I want to drink and stay in that perfect buzzed state where you know you won’t get sick, but have enough that you just don’t give a shit or have to think to deeply about anything.

Sometimes I think those of us that feel things deeply have to go through periods where we numb out for a while to turn it all off. The feeling of everything just gets to be too much.

For me, I wait this out. It passes. I let go of what I can. I take a deep breath and try again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

It’s Time

When I was pregnant with him, I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I read all the books, studied up on exactly how he was developing and growing. We dreamed about what this little baby would be like when we were able to finally meet him, like all parents-to-be surely do. When I held him for the first time I was on so many drugs from the c-section, but I distinctly remember the overwhelming and crushing tidal wave of love I had for this boy.

Watching your child grow and learn to crawl, and walk, and do all the miraculous everyday things they do is – in a word; incredible. Going through the sleepless nights, the endless days of diapers and feedings that feel like every day is groundhog day – all of it in hindsight seems to pale in comparison as we move into new phases of hard.

We’ve always known, really.

From the time he was two and half and cowering under a chair in the doctor’s office, when he still didn’t have any words at three, and stuck to the sign language and the mother/son way of communicating that we had developed, the way he speaks without consideration of volume and personal space, the rigidity of thought, and the extreme meltdowns when plans were not executed in the way they were supposed to be; we knew deep down. We’ve met with professionals, each reluctant to give us the official word for various reasons.

He’s not like other kids. He’s different.

He will eat the same 4 things every single day. For 5 years. Change to routine is hard. As a military family, moving is very challenging under the best of circumstances, it becomes chaos at times for us. Florescent lights in retail stores and the constant over-stimulation while shopping overwhelms him to the point of meltdown. Outsiders only see a bratty kid having a tantrum, because well, ‘he looks normal’. For the record, a meltdown is not a tantrum. While my heart is breaking trying to deal with his inability to deal with life, a stranger will mutter cruel and unwanted “advice” as they walk on by. This has happened more times than I can count.

It’s hard to watch your kid realize that he is different.

It’s hard to see him recognize that he doesn’t have many friends.

It’s hard to explain to him that to have friends, there has to be a give and take. He simply doesn’t have the social tools.

I cringe when people meet him for the first time and the wave of realization that he is different crosses their face.

I fluctuate between denial and harsh reality.

I’ve been living in the denial land of “he’s just a little different” and “maybe he will outgrow it”. We didn’t need a label before, but things are changing. Last night we met with his teacher at his new school. The first two weeks have been bumpy. He’s cried in class multiple times. He’s having a hard time adjusting. He is a quick learner and can do the work, but lacks the social skills for his age. He needs tools that a diagnosis will provide.

My heart breaks for his struggling little self.

It’s time now.

He’s different. He’s a kid who falls on the autism spectrum. And it’s okay.

Weekend

Sigh.

The fall around our house is busy. Probably not as busy as some, but for us it’s the busiest season. Eric is umpiring football (nearly every night). Our kids are starting to get involved in extracurriculars, school is in full swing, I went back to work, and I decided to throw in marathon training to the mix. What was I thinking?!

Last weekend while playing with the neighbors, Hannah “was defending Jacob” and gave a 3 year old a bloody nose. Screen time privileges were revoked. In the past week we have racked up 8 weeks of no tablet time due to various things of which I have simply had enough. Things like arguing about who sits where in the car.

Every. Single. Morning.

Things like “this is my door, she has to go to her own side!” or “I don’t want him to be looking at me right now!” “STOP LOOKING AT ME!” and scream-crying, and whining in general. I can feel my skin crawling thinking about it. It’s a GREAT phase. (Sarcasm really does deserve its own font!) There is a reason I refuse to take my kids to the grocery store. Not because they can’t behave. They can and do when necessary. Mostly it’s because I just don’t have the patience. (I’ve prayed for patience before, but often when I do, God, in his great sense of humor, continues to place me in situations where I then have to exercise that patience. No more patience prayers!)

Yesterday was fun. The kiddos played outside and Hannah got into all kinds of muddy fun.

After we told her not too.

After I told her not in her dress.

And her new shoes.

She then received an outdoor shower via the hose, as did her new shoes. (Side note: Kohl’s brand Jumping Bean shoes wash up nicely!) Afterwards she was to dry off inside and change. She put on a fancy dress up dress to come back out in. She was denied entry to the outdoors until she had proper attire. Like how I phrased that? That is not *quite” how it went down, but you get the general idea.

I went to work this morning after setting up the kids to play Monopoly. Eric had a late game last night and was waking up watching the news on the couch. Flash forward to 11:30 when I drive home and I pull up and see the garage door half way open but completely cock-eyed. Like this:

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Not our house, but this is exactly what it looked like!

This should have been my warning to turn around and run. I didn’t heed that warning. I walked to the front door and as I tried the locked handle, I could hear stern voices. My husband’s stern voice. I braced myself.

As I slid my key out of the lock and swung open the door, I was met with a bounding soaped-up (but not yet rinsed) Chihuahua. I lifted my eyes to meet Eric’s and I knew. It’s been a continuation of my previous night. Poor Eric.

“Hi! Mommy! You’re home!” exclaims a completely naked Hannah.

Yep. I am home.

I caught the dog (after some calming and coaxing her off of my now wet bed) and got her rinsed. While I was already done with one, I quickly scrubbed up the other dog. Eric came in to give me the rundown of my time away from the asylum. Turns out Hannah was inside because she was bored of playing outside and then had the brilliant idea to give the dog a bath. When Eric came in to see what she was up to, she told him I said she could wash the dogs on her own.

So. Not. True. Needless to say, it had been a morning for him as well.

Now I sit sipping an adult beverage, Eric is at yet another football game, and tonight? Tonight there is a thunderstorm rolling through and I’m looking forward to an early bed time for the kids and a “non-eventful” Sunday for all of us!

Cheers to the weekend!

Here’s What I Want You to Know….A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Sweet Girl,

You will be 5 in just a few short days! The time goes by so fast (and slow simultaneously) I know that I’m going to blink and you are going to be asking me for the car keys. *Shudder* While it may be awhile for some of these, there are some nuggets of wisdom I would like to pass on to you. Life stuff, girl stuff, love stuff – a bunch of stuff. Growing up is hard. Here is my advice for just some of it…

Make up

Right now you are far more interested in dirt, keeping up with your brother and showing me how strong you are. You are starting to express yourself in more sparkles, pink, tutus, and purple. There will no doubt come a day when you want to wear makeup to go along with your creative outfits. Understand that no matter what other people do, when it comes to make up – do your own thing. Less is more. Trust me. Unless you are in the school play on a stage, you don’t have to cake it on. Use make up to enhance, not mask.  You are beautiful just as you are. You don’t need makeup before you engage the world. Even if I wasn’t your mother, I would think you are beautiful without it. Seriously. As cliche as it sounds, true beauty will shine outward from within. Make up doesn’t make you. You make you.

Watch this (when you are old enough to handle a sprinkling of language):

Fitness

Find something that you love and do it. Regularly. I don’t care if you don’t like the same things I do. You’re you. Find what you are passionate about. Soccer? Gymnastics? Yoga? Softball? Do what you love, not what you think your father or I want you to do. Finish what you start. If you decide you want to run track, but decide you don’t like it after 3 days – sorry. You need to finish that season. You don’t have to do it again, but we finish what we start. Even when it’s hard. Sometimes it takes a while to fall in love with an activity.

Those Girls

You know the ones. The girls that are always perfectly put together, they have the greatest style that appears effortless.  Their lives seem amazing compared to yours. Trust me, that’s not the case. They have their own insecurities, worries and problems just like everyone else. Don’t try so hard to be cool that you stop being yourself. Popularity wanes. It’s fickle. If you have to compromise what you believe is right to gain approval – they aren’t worth it. They aren’t worth YOU.

Listen to this song:

Crying

Like me, you are a deep feeler. Things affect you. There is nothing wrong with that. If you need a good cry to feel better – do it. Tears are cathartic. Have your moment. It is far easier to cry when you need to, than to bottle up your feelings and not deal with stuff. Even when it’s painful. The only way is through the pain. Learn to sit in the uncomfortable. It will be okay.

Significant Others

They say that 90% of your happiness or misery is a result of who you choose to spend your life with. I agree. You can go through the roughest of times, but clinging to each other while life is chaotic can be what gets you through to calmer waters. You may not be besties with your spouse, but you should like them as people. You should want to spend time with them, even if you aren’t doing anything special. The romance and infatuation of the beginning of any relationship will fade over time. When the adrenaline of falling in love subsides, be sure there is a relationship to nurture when that happens.

Choose someone who treats you the way you deserve to be treated. Do not stand for anything less. Like Maya Angelou says, “When people show you who they are believe them; the first time.”

Look for someone who makes you laugh. Laughter will see you through all kinds of things.

Don’t buy into the lie that you have to be with someone to “be complete”. No one will complete you. You complete you. There is no one true soul mate. There are people with whom you will be more compatible than others. When you choose someone – choose that person over and over again every day. Love is a verb.

Motherhood

If you choose to have kids, you’ll have so many ideas of what you want to do and how you’ll do things. Things you swear you’d NEVER do, things that you think you would ALWAYS do. Be wary of the always and never statements. I’ve found I’ve had to eat my words on more than one occasion for all the times I swore “I would never….”. Trust your instincts, even if it doesn’t feel like you have them. You do.

You will make mistakes. Lots of them. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. No parent is perfect. It’s okay. When you mess up, ‘fess up. Apologize. Make it right.

Listen to your children. Hear them. Don’t be so busy that you miss them growing up. You will have far more distractions than I did growing up. I feel like it will be even more challenging for your children to keep the distractions at bay long enough to grasp the really good things in life. I will not tell you to “enjoy every moment”, because truthfully, some moments just bite. They do. But you will get through them. Your kids will grow you in all sorts of ways you never thought possible. And you will know the meaning of unconditional love. You’ll think you know before, but when you hold that child, your child in your arms – you will feel the depth of love that you have never felt before.

Tattoos

Not until you’re 18. Don’t get one just because. The longer you wait the better. Make it mean something.

Work

When people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, think in your mind, “What do I want to do?” Your occupation is not who you are. It doesn’t define you. When trying to figure out what you want to do for work, ask yourself the following:

What am I passionate about?

How can I use what I’m passionate about to help others?

Is there a way to make a living doing this?

What you think you want to do at 18 will undoubtedly be different than 28. And perhaps even 38. Your interests will change. What ever lights your fire and sparks your passion may change. That’s okay. Most likely there will be a common thread among your interests. Be enthusiastic, optimistic and courageous. If it’s a little scary – that’s often a good sign. Whatever you choose – when you do it, it shouldn’t feel like work. It’s a livelihood.

I can’t wait to see what life has in store for you!

I love you and always will.

Happy (almost) 5th Birthday!