As we are closing out the month of December and concluding the last month of this decade (yes, this decade!), I am reminded of the importance of gratitude. We celebrated Thanksgiving last month, Christmas is tomorrow, and I realized that it is near impossible to summarize a year (and life) full of things to be thankful or grateful for in one sentence.
This year has been a year full of blessings, lessons, and setbacks. While some have experienced the best of times, for sure, there have been people experiencing the worst of times, and even more experiencing both! Despite what we post on social media or what we show in the company of others, 2019, has been a beautiful, chaotic year. Maybe it is because of a shift from one phase of life to something new, I’m not quite sure.
I want to encourage and remind anyone else that has had a challenging year of the things we can be grateful for every day, no matter the year, no matter the holiday, no matter what.
I am grateful and thankful for these things everyday:
Life. How many times are we hearing about people dying young or unexpectantly? Every day we wake up is another opportunity to get something right, impact someone else’s life. Plus, nothing is guaranteed, not even our next breath.
Love. Whether it is from a parent or a child, from a lover or friend, to be loved and give love is something to be grateful for. Love is patient, love is kind, God is love.
Family. We have the families we are born into and the ones we create. Family is our built-in friends, counselors, confidantes, helpers, and more. There is always love. Not everyone has such a luxury.
Moments. I have a running movie of moments in my head that I am forever grateful for. Some things are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, while others may seem rather routine and not that big of a deal.
To be of sound mind and body. Now, when older people used to say this, I had no clue nor appreciation for how important it is to be able to walk, use my hands, and think.
The ability to provide. Whether it is something material or not, it is a gift and blessing to be able to provide knowledge, gifts, shelter, love, food, or more.
For redemption. We are able to recreate our narrative if we want to. It is never easy, but we are not tied to who we used to be, and isn’t that great?
For free will. We have a choice in what we participate in and with whom.
If I were to write out everything I am grateful or thankful for, the list would be long, including all sorts of things. I want to remind you that the big things matter, but so do the small victories and moments.
How Do I Get it Done? By “it,” I mean everything. This is probably the question I am most often asked. I really wish there was a magical formula I could sell, but there isn’t…at least not in the physical sense.
Contrary to belief, I do not have a clone and there are some things I just do not get done, like folding laundry!
I’m a mom of three, a fiance, and have a bonus child. I am a full-time Physician Assistant, I am a member of a non-profit community organization that I once sat on the board of, I write, I work out (sometimes), I participate in pageants and am currently working on my doctorate degree. I also binge-watch reality tv, spend way more time on social media than I should, try to be social and squeeze in outings with friends, and travel.
Yes, just a few things, right?
Again, no secret formula, but here are some truths. I do not keep a rigid schedule. I need flexibility in what I do because all parents know, things can change in an instant. I have to be adaptable or go insane. I come up with a list in my head of things I’d like to complete in a said time frame and sometimes it happens, and other times it doesn’t. I do not be too hard on myself unless it was something major, but I typically accomplish my big, major goals.
I have a tendency to be distracted and procrastinate, so I often struggle with getting started. I’m good a zeroing in on a project or task. This has been a challenge for as long as I can remember. If something does not interest me and I find it boring, it takes me forever to complete it. For example, I am currently in school and the two classes I am enrolled in is a research class and social issues, class. I like the class on social issues finding it particularly interesting, meanwhile, I just do not like research and statistics so my other class is boring and takes me forever to finish the work.
Here are some tips to help you “get it done:”
Figure out what you want to accomplish and assign general deadlines to it
Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize. You can’t do everything you want to do at the same time, so put some things on the shelf to do later.
Assign times to perform certain tasks. For example, spend 30 mins a day writing if you want to write a book.
Be realistic. There has to be a balance between the dream and reality.
Do not mourn the failure of completion. If you feel it is necessary to mourn, then it should be brief because part of getting things done is to keep moving forward with the understanding that things will not always work out.
Listen to logic more than your feelings because sometimes, you will not feel like doing anything. This always happens when I start going back to the gym.
Put on the blinders and do not compare. Your goals and your dreams are YOURS. Do not look at what someone else is doing and try to make that your dream, because then it is just their dream…
I was a teenage mom. It was not glamorous. It was not a television show. No cameras, no confessional rooms, no reunions. It was real life. My real life. I was a 17 year old kid about to have a kid. My experience changed the course of my life, for the better. The journey was not easy, nor pretty.
I thought I was in love and that I knew way more than I did. I mean, I was 17 years old, almost an adult, right? I thought I had everything figured out. I was on birth control, but I was late in taking it. I thought I would be good. Now, I did not intentionally become pregnant. It was more carelessness and a belief of invincibility than anything. I had these big dreams of going to the Olympics as a track star, becoming a doctor or teacher or becoming a famous model. None of my plans included having a baby. As a matter of fact, I did not want any kids the immediate future. I was the oldest of four, raised by a single mother, which means I helped a lot in watching my siblings. They made me not want any kids. It’s funny how God and the Universe works.
I was starting my senior year of high school and the details are fuzzy in the very beginning, but I do remember waking up horribly nauseated during summer school. I didn’t think much of it. My period was irregular, so I didn’t think much about missing it for a month or two. I eventually took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. No matter how much denial I was in, it was definitely positive. I remember a surge of feelings. I was ashamed, embarrassed, afraid. I felt like I definitely screwed up. I was afraid to accept the reality of it all initially. I had so many questions. What would my teachers think? What will my classmates think? What about college? What can I do? What can I be (in a professional sense)? Can I really raise a baby? I thought about an abortion, but I was convinced to my core that if I followed through with an abortion, I would not be blessed to have a kid in the future.*
I had to be around 4-5 months before I told my mom I was pregnant because of fear. I was super skinny, so eventually she would have found out. I was afraid of what she would think of me after telling her. I was afraid of what others would think of her about me. I felt like such a disappointment. When I told her, she didn’t snap on me, didn’t sound angry, didn’t say she was disappointed. She was calm and said she knows I will be ok. It wouldn’t be easy, but I would be ok. Talking about a weight being lifted! I was afraid of her and what she thought more than anything. Her response made anything anyone else thought or say not matter.
People at school did not know I was pregnant until I was 6 months along. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself because of it. I went to school and every class every day. I do not remember missing a day of school because I was pregnant. I also worked on the weekends. I did not want to be a burden on anyone, so I tried to do as much as I could. There came a time when I couldn’t work because my job required repetitive lifting. I performed well in class and applied to area colleges because I knew I had to prepare a decent life for my son.
I delivered a healthy baby boy exactly three months before my high school graduation. I stay out of school for 4 weeks and during that time, I tried to stay on top of all my school work. There was one teacher that would not let me make up any of my missed work. She stated that if I could go to K-mart, I could be in class. I had seen one of my classmates while picking up my lay-away at Kmart. She mentioned seeing me and the teacher overheard. So, I earned a C- minus in that class. It was ok, I excelled despite that. When I returned to school, I finished the work I needed to, applied to college, and took my ACT. I had decided nursing would be perfect to pursue. I liked taking care of people, I enjoyed learning about the human body, and I knew I could make a good living and provide for my son.
I graduated valedictorian of my high school class. I bust my butt to do so. I had the support of my family and some very dear teachers. My high school chemistry and nursing teachers were phenomenal. At times, I felt my chemistry teacher believed in me more than I believed in myself. She helped me write my valedictorian speech and then she gave me a card that I still have today. She wrote that I was a star and to never let anyone dim that. She saw my potential and did not label me or discard me.
Being a teenage mom was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I had to grow up quickly. I had to make responsible decisions because what I did affected me and my son. I had to build a tough exterior because not everyone spoke positively or were encouraging. Below are some lessons I learned.
No one is perfect. Not a single person. We are human and we will make mistakes.
Life can be hard, but it won’t be impossible.
Prioritize priorities. Everything cannot matter on the same level.
Work hard, prove the doubters wrong.
You are not your circumstances. You are whoever you want and work to be.
Be kind. Speak kindly into the life of others. You don’t know their story. You never know who that person is to become in your life or in the life of others. They could change the world.
Have faith in God, the Universe, our ancestors that your life has meaning and purpose. DO NOT GIVE UP.
It’s ok to cry and not have it all figured out. DO NOT GIVE UP.
Surround yourself with positivity.
Have a plan for where you want to go.
It will all work out for our good in the end.
*I am pro-choice. I chose what was best for me and believe in women having the right to choose what is best for them.
Allow me to reintroduce myself to some and introduce myself to everyone else!
I’m Jackie and this is the relaunching of my blog, I Am Jackie!
I have been blogging since 2015. I found writing to be not only therapeutic after my divorce, but influential and impactful to others. I have changed the content of my blog over time to reflect my stages of growth and learning.
In 2017, I self-published my first book, Messages to Our Daughters. It’s a book of affirmative messages and positive quotes, for young girls and women. It was one of my proudest moments because I struggled bringing myself to complete it and publish it. I was afraid of critique, but once I put it out there, it was there.
I had taken a break from writing in the past year to adjust from some life changes. I went through a season of letting go, seeking balance, and treating myself better. I had to slow down and enjoy each moment. I had to be intentional with my time and reconfigure my goals.
I’m glad to say I’m back and ready! My whole intention in writing is to inspire, encourage, make you think, and when I can, make you laugh. I want to keep it real, talk about meaningful issues and to demolish this perception of perfection.
I welcome you to come along on this journey. Please comment or share!