A little grace please. And maybe some patience.

I am a lot of things. Perfect is definitely not one of them.

When you have been through some of what I have been through, I’d like to say you develop a thicker skin, great discernment skills and incredible strength, but that is not always the case. I guess in some ways I have, but I think that most of what I have developed is a plethora of coping skills, some of which are not healthy for me or anyone else. Not healthy and not fair. And then there is the baggage associated with them. Oh, the baggage.

I have encountered narcissists, assholes, selfish men, jerks, deviants, users, liars, abusers and men that make promise after promise, only to blow me off time after time. They have made me question my worth and my place. The last of these  issues was only part of the problem in my longest relationship, but it gave me the bulk of an attitude I have developed that can best be described as “Fuck the world, I will do it my damn self.”  While most men I have encountered, save my dad and my grandpa, have contributed to this attitude, not all of them have. Unfortunately, it is my immediate, knee-jerk response when something happens, whether it is a missed call or text or unforeseen circumstances that screw up my plans with someone. Fuck the world. I will do it my damn self.

This attitude is hurtful and not at all fair and, from something I read recently, seen by others, especially men, as a weakness. Regardless, my fear of the same bullshit happening again, elicits the same response. Fuck the world. I will do it my damn self. Even though someone has proven time and time again that they are not like that,  That they are to be trusted and treated with kindness, an honest mistake will, again, result in that response. Fuck the world. I will do it my damn self. I have been let down so many times that that is the expectation when people make promises or say they will do something. I am always anticipating it. This is just a portion of the baggage I carry with me. It is something, one of the somethings that I would like to get rid of. This response can be off-putting and it pushes some people away. What would be nice is for someone to stay long enough to get past the bullshit response and help me unpack my baggage, leaving room to fill it with new memories, good memories, fun memories.

While I can be  serious pain in the ass at times, insecure, afraid, angry and hurt over dumb, sometimes irrational things, there are good things about me too. I have an awesome sense of humor, dark and twisted sometimes, and maybe even a little dirty, but well worth seeing come out. I am easy to amuse. I can find fun in just about any situation with just about any person on the planet. I am passionate about life. I want to go and do and be and meet. Life is beautiful and I want to experience it. I am kind to others, or at least I try to be, even when they are horrible to me. I forgive easily and I try to see the best in people. If I do get angry, wait 5 minutes and it will pass. When I love someone, and that love is reciprocated, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them. They are my world and I don’t see anyone else. I am faithful. There are a lot of good things about me that I think are worth others’ time.

I just hope all the good trumps the bad.

New year, new me? I don’t think so.

I have really come to resent this idea that with each new year, you are supposed to reinvent yourself. You see it on every magazine cover, in newspapers, on TV and in a million blogs that cover a plethora of topics.Why? Do we somehow lose value with each year that passes and must reinvent the nature of who we are to be relevant, loved, appreciated or valued?

Can improvements be made? Sure. Who couldn’t make a few improvements in their lives? Lose a little weight perhaps? Maybe eat healthier and hit the gym more? Be kinder? Love more? We all have areas where we fall short, but the essence of who we are, unless that happens to be a complete jerk, a serial killer or a total pig/pigette , shouldn’t need to be completely reworked each and every year.

The beauty of being in your forties is that you have a lifetime (or half a lifetime, as I plan on living a long time and being around for great grandchildren) of experience, both good and bad, that make you who you are and shape your perspective. You can allow the experience to break you or you can let it build you. The choice is always yours.

I have been through a lot, as a lot of people have, some of which broke me. Thank God we are resilient creatures and can rebuild from the broken pieces. We may not “look” the same when we come through the hardships, but if we are fortunate and determined, we can be better, stronger, kinder, smarter, more loving, etc.

There is a Christian recording artist, Jason Gray, that had a video, and I can’t recall the title on YouTube, but the gist of it is this: People who have been in need of grace and mercy are perhaps more capable and more willing to give those things away to others because they know what it means to need those things. I liken it to a piece of pottery. An intact piece of pottery is capable of collecting water and holding water, but until it is to the point of overflowing, the water does not spill out around it. A cracked, broken and chipped piece of pottery can collect the water, but much of what is collected spills out onto whatever is around it. Those of us that have been beaten by life and broken and damaged, have a unique perspective and vantage point. We can see the damage others are enduring and we can also see the possibility for beauty from those ashes, because we have lived it.We can “wash” them in the grace and mercy that someone once granted us. Someone who has only ever known good fortune may not be able to pour love out in the same way.

So all that heartbreak, all that hurt, all that pain that we have survived has made us who we are. So has the joy, the success, the beauty and the love. Would I change anything? Probably not. If I did, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I fought like hell to get here. I am a better, stronger, more compassionate person today than I was when I was younger.

So, the plan this year is to be even better, stronger and kinder and do what makes me happy.

To be better, I will revise my diet to be closer to what I was doing when I first got diagnosed with Celiac disease and Hashimoto’s disease: very little processed foods, lean meats, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, yogurt, cheese and my Shakeology. I will do my best to resist the beckoning of the evil that is Funyuns and Coke. And chocolate. And (gulp) bacon.

To be stronger, the plan is to become a sort of middle aged, wannabe gym rat. I will take classes and figure out the gym equipment (for the umpteenth time) and get some sort of routine going. I will sweat away the wheat belly (thank you Celiac, you heartless witch), and hopefully shrink my the rest of my body, except my boobs, but we all know those will be the first to go.

To be kinder, I will try to look past people’s faults and flaws (including mine) and love them anyway. I will give wherever and whenever I can and give as much as I can and as often as I can. I will randomly compliment strangers and friends and people I love. I will hug my kids more, even when they try to resist and push me away because I am “so annoying.” I will tell them often that I love them and how proud of them I am. Because, despite their ability to push every single piss-mom-off button I have, I love them with everything that I am. And I am so proud of the compassionate,  kind-hearted, loving young men that they are becoming. I am also proud of the twisted sense of humor, goofy antics and endless chatter that they all have in common with me.

I will do what makes me happy. I will paint more. I will laugh more. I will see beauty in overlooked, unappreciated, mundane things. And grand, amazing things. And things that others regard as strange and weird. I will stop and smell the lilacs and jasmine, because roses do nothing for me. I will have more nerf gun battles, doodling sessions, long walks and long talks with my kids and try to make the most of the time I have with them. And I will learn to just be.

Yes, 2017 will be a year full of change, but new me? Screw that.