Define Yourself

girl with arms raised

Many people put their dreams and goals off for the right time.  You hear these and similar words all the time.

“I’ll do it when my kids are grown.”

“When I retire, I’ll have time to work on my dreams and goals.”

“Once I’m stable in my job, I’ll have time.”

Life won’t wait for you to decide your dreams and goals are important. It keeps right on going day in and day out, despite what you are doing. One day, it will be gone, and you will be left standing in the void wondering, what if..?

What if I broke my goal down into something I could do once a week or once a month to get me closer to achieving it?

What if I could find 15-20 minutes a day to work on my goal?

I’m asked all the time, how I am able to be a single mom, full-time attorney, ultrarunner, and writer.  Here’s my answer:  I can do it because it’s important to me. I can do it because everything else is dropped like a dirty diaper.

You have to be willing to sacrifice. You have to delve deep and find what is important to you and who you want to be for yourself and the world.

You have to leave behind people who don’t support your efforts at achieving your dreams. Sometimes that means cutting them off completely or regulating them to a small role in your life. Chasing your dreams is hard work. Don’t drag unnecessary weight with you.

It comes down to that question we all began to answer the moment we drew our first breath, who am I? We exerted our independence as toddlers and again as teenagers trying to define who we were separate from those around us.

As we become adults, we become caught up in society’s grey dream as automatons. We color within the lines laid before us by others. We paint by the numbers.  We wait for the right time and the right place to escape into our dream.  If you don’t work toward your dreams, you will be paid to work toward someone else’s. Why is theirs more important than yours?

It is not what we do that defines who we are. It is the why we do it that defines us. Decide your dream is achievable, conquer all obstacles, and jump through any hoop, even if it has burst into flames.

Cherishing a Short Life

baby in isoletteAlice Park Photography

On a weekly basis parent child relationships are forever severed by the law. I’ve seen it too many times to count. I don’t envy those responsible for supervising the goodbye visit between parent and child. The thought of looking either of my children in the face for the last time brings tears to my eyes. I know many substance abuse treatment programs require their parent participants to write goodbye letters to their children as a way of driving home, how their drug use has harmed their children.

Loss of this sort, is nearly a daily occurrence in my world. Despite its frequency, it never passes over me as freely as water does. It’s more like oil that takes good soap, hot water, and scrubbing to remove. Then you always find it someplace later and have to repeat the process.

This past week was much the same with an enduring difference, I was reminded of how quickly life can pass us by and to cherish all that I have, especially relationships with others because you never know when they will slip through your fingers. Even the relationships you believe will endure for a lifetime, such as your children.

I’ve become an expert at cherishing what I have even during the darkest times of my life because of the frequent reminders I receive, but this one has hung on with more persistence. A short life, which rippled through the world.

A woman with long auburn hair bends over the warm isolette watching her sleeping child through the clear glass. The baby girl’s tiny chest rises and falls, a comforting sight. She weighs a mere 3 lbs and 8 oz. Tubes run into the baby’s underdeveloped lungs through a tracheotomy and into the side of her abdomen, providing her with breath and nutrients to grow and get stronger.  The woman is able to hold her child for only a short time each day due to the child’s precarious hold on life.

Ava was born premature due to her mother’s drug use during pregnancy. Ava is not this woman’s first child and she probably will not be the last because the auburn hair falls on the shoulders of a twenty-year-old woman. Her slender build makes her appear more like a prepubescent female than other’s her age.  Like the baby in the isolette, the drugs have sapped all excess life from her body.  Her hair is dry and brittle. Her cheeks are sunken, and her skin has a grey pallor.

She has watched her child cling to life through the glass for four months. She visits when she can, about once a week. Doctors tell her that Ava, will not survive without the machines. She must decide how long Ava should be forced to remain here. The little blue eyes flutter open and she brushes the fine soft hair on Ava’s small head with her shaking fingers.

When asked why she doesn’t visit more, excuses and justification spill from her lips.

“No transportation to the hospital,” she said as her eyes flicker around the room, pupils the size of the abyss.

“What about the bus pass we gave you?” asks a nurse. They know she is high, but how do you approach that subject with a woman who is here to say goodbye to her baby forever.

“I can’t find it.” She looks at her black converse shoes with grey frayed laces tangling along the floor.

Ava’s father was allowed to leave the prison accompanied by two guards to help make the decision of when his daughter will be taken off life support. It is the first and last time he will be able to see her with his own eyes and hold her. He caresses her cheek, and places his finger in her tiny hand. He understands this loss more than the mother because he views it through a mind that has been forced sober by incarceration for the past six months.

His hazel eyes are rimmed in red and tears trickle down his face. His breath catches in his throat as it constricts with the ache twisting his heart and soul. Our poor choices eventually catch up to us. Sometimes we lose the most precious things in our lives when they do.

Once he’s released  from prison will he remember the short time he was able to cradle his daughter in his arms and make choices she would be proud of him for making?

Ava is given morphine and the machines are turned off and the tubes are removed.  Her breathing slows as her parents cradle her small body wanting to hold her for as long as they can.

The Death of a Dream

dream death

The death of a dream is the worst imaginable type of death. Death in any form is awful, but to watch someone’s dreams struggle for breath, fall to its knees clutching at its heart, to never rise again is the most traumatic experience this life has to offer.

Dreams are crushed everyday throughout the world. War, poverty, family violence, drugs, and many other more mild things you would not suspect gobble up dreams with careless abandon.

Dreams are precious. They are the essence of our soul. Without them, we are nothing. Our dreams define who we are and who we may become. If a person could trade in dreams, they would be the richest person in the world.

Dreams cannot be sheltered or hidden away, but they do have to be protected because they can be lost or stolen, and once gone fighting to get them back is a battle easily lost.

A dream can be lost when a person becomes caught up in the desire for money and power. They forget all about the thing that made their heart sing and dance. The forgotten dream lies upon the ground becoming buried beneath dirt, laundry, diapers, and bills.

A lost dream can be found. Once you realize you have misplaced your dream, an extensive search should begin immediately. The longer you are without your dream, the more soul will leak out of your body. Call upon friends and family, form a search party, and bring in the bloodhounds. Spare no expense. Without your dream, you will wither away.

A dream is stolen when a person perpetrates a trauma against another. The victim’s dreams are ripped out of their soul, and it leaves them consumed by pain and suffering.

A stolen dream can be reclaimed, but it leaves a gaping hole in the center of your chest. The separation is debilitating, and reinforcements are critical. Dust off the chainmail, and strap on the battle-axe. Call your dragon, Pegasus, phoenix, griffin or any other fantastical creature you rely upon during times of immense crisis.

A dream dies when it is forgotten or starved by its owner. Separation by loss or theft for an extended period of time will also result in death.

You can tell when someone’s dream has died. The glimmer of light in their eyes is gone. They walk in the dark going through the motions of their life. Nothing drives them. Nothing moves them to action. They resent others who have thriving dreams. It is difficult not to stop, stare, and try to help these empty vessels, but if you spend too much time with them, they often siphon your dream’s energy trying to resurrect their own. Dead is dead, and there ain’t no coming back.

Dreams feed on thoughts, beliefs, faith, and love. Never let your trough become empty and continuously fill the troughs of those around you. A waterfall fills the pools below it until they are overflowing, and then another waterfall is born to replenish yet another pool farther along the path.

The best protection for a dream is visibility and sharing. It is hard to forget what has been etched, into your skin and that is where you should wear your dream. Each morning we rise and wrap our bodies with clothing and each morning we should wrap our heart in our dream. When you share your dream with another, they may take it up as their own assisting you along the journey. Find a mentor who can be a mirror reflecting your dream back to you. If one cannot be found, find someone who will hold you accountable for progress toward achieving what feeds your soul.

Is there no hope for those who have buried their dead dreams? There is always hope. Roaming among the average and hidden by a veil of normalcy are dream architects. Like an underground spring that never runs dry, they pour forth the food of dreams. An architect will provide the plans for a dream, but the dreamer must gather the supplies and begin construction on their own.

Dream huge, without limit and restraint. Share your dreams with the world. Devise plans for the walking dead, just in case construction is ready to begin.

What’s it all about?

023

Fighting for a Chance to Dream is my life’s premise and theme. I began fighting for my chance to dream when I was seventeen years old. My archenemy was myself as is the case for many of us. My newborn son was the inciting event, which caused me to drastically change my life’s course from what you see above. That’s my brother and me. I’m 13 years old in that picture.

Homelessness, major depression, suicidal ideation, delusional, cults membership, a rape victim, a domestic violence victim, a drug addict, criminal, high school dropout, pregnant teen, and teen mom, all of these labels have hung from my neck. In the past, I have allowed other people’s beliefs and my experiences to define who I was and what my abilities were.

I chose to fight back once I realized that the sun still rose over the mountains despite my belief that I was not worthy to walk in its warmth. I decided that I didn’t want to be a victim anymore, especially the victim of myself.

My prior experiences still color who I am and the decisions I make. They always will, but they no longer define me. Rather than allowing them to weigh me down, I have climbed on top of them using them to reach for the sky. Currently, I am a single mom, attorney, ultrarunner, and writer.

True freedom is the combination of the ability to dream and the courage to fight for your dreams. Acceptance, belonging, and hope begin and end within yourself.

Here you will find posts containing my writing, writing tips, thoughts on children with mental health issues, parenting children with mental health issues, advocacy issues, and frustrations of mine with the world as a whole. You will also find inspiration and hope.

This blog will have no boundaries. It will contain all facets of me to some extent. However, my running advice, experience, and musings will be posted primarily on my blog Ultrarunningmom.com, but I’m sure some of it will leak into a few blogs here. So, if you only want to read about running you can go here.