Tag Archives: self

Confused

Have you ever made a decision thinking it was a good one and then a week or a month later began to think maybe it was not such a good decision? That’s where I am at right now.

I took a promotion at work with some trepidation. I had been offered the job twice before and declined each time. I didn’t feel prepared to take the job. My daughter was still very young. She is a few years older now. The time I can spend with my daughter is very precious. I am lucky that I have a very supportive sister and mother who will care for my daughter anytime I ask. Being a single mother I worry about babysitters and child care services, I am not always trusting when it comes to my baby girl. Not to mention the money those services cost. When I was offered the job this time I considered it briefly before accepting. I asked for a 90 day probation period, I was given 60 but told they would prefer 30. After almost 30 days I spoke with the owner and received a salary offer that wasn’t quite what I hoped but was sufficient. I waited a few days and then accepted the offer. It has been 4 days and I am now wondering if I made the wrong choice. The scope of the work is quite a bit more than I have handled in several years. I am capable of doing the work, I just am not sure that I want to do the work. I was also hired with an assistant. She got a new job and will be leaving, no new assistant to be hired at this time. Looking to the future I wonder if a new assistant will be hired and worry that if one is not hired that I will not be able to keep up with the work my assistant did as well as my own work. I want to be fair to the Center Director and the owner and let them know how I am feeling. The truth is I am not sure I really want this job. I thought I did, but second thoughts are creeping around inside my head.

I feel like I am in one of those cartoons where the character has to decide between doing two things and the little angel and the tiny devil pop up on each shoulder. Instead of an angel and a devil, my little people are my daughter and my checkbook.

My checkbook is constantly yelling at me about the bills I have to pay. I feel like there are alarm bells ringing all the time, “IT’S TIME TO PAY ANOTHER BILL”! That damn checkbook always reminding me that there never seems to be enough money to pay for every necessity, every bill and still have a little fun. When I think maybe I have bit off a bit more than I can chew by taking on this new job my checkbook begins to whisper in my ear. Well, it starts whispering and then begins to scream a list of everything I am responsible for paying. House payment, gas, electric, car insurance, car maintenance, gas for the car, groceries, pet care, student loans, medical insurance, co-pays, clothes, shoes, camps for my daughter, debt relief program because at one time I couldn’t control my spending, Dad’s funeral bill that, according to my Aunt, should have been paid off awhile ago, the kitchen remodel that I started (and now have no time to keep working on because I am working more hours), school field trips, and next year school uniforms and the list just keeps going and going until I feel like I am drowning. Oh, how that checkbook makes me feel so damn guilty!

On the other shoulder is my beautiful, smart, loving daughter. She is backed up by my writing wants and needs, as well as at least one of her aunts. When I was trying to figure out if I should take this job I considered the impact it would have on my daughter. She is my priority, always. I thought about it and the bulk of my working hours are when she’s in school, with the exception of school breaks. I talked to her about it and she was all for me taking the job. Now I am left wondering what I am going to do with her for part of the summer. She has 3 weeks of day camp, but then what? Summer break is 9 weeks long. I am working extra hours and I feel like I cannot make some school functions and as though I am not spending much time with her, not like I was able to before. Despite the fact that I am at work mostly during the day while she is in school, I feel that I am taking something away from her. Then there is my writing, something that I really want to make a priority in my life. By the time I get off of work I am so tired that I am ready for bed after dinner is made. There are dishes in my sink and I haven’t done laundry in 2 weeks. One of my daughter’s aunts told me that she wouldn’t accept the job if she had social security like I do, she would stay home with her kids. If you are new to my blog I receive benefits from social security until my daughter turns 16 because my husband died 6 years ago. I can understand the aunt’s point. It was my intention to only work part time until I was no longer eligible for the social security and then go back to work full time. I don’t really care about money. My daughter isn’t going to remember all of the things that I buy her but she will remember the times we spent together. For this reason, it was a difficult decision to go to work full time. A decision that I am now struggling with.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my dilemma with work is small potatoes, but I could really use some advice. I feel like I have been deceptive to the owner and the Center Director and unfair to myself and my daughter. I am conflicted because I want to do well at this job and not give up so easily and yet I want to be able to give as much of my time to my daughter as I can. I don’t have another half that can pick up the slack for me when I fall short. I have a wonderful family that helps out, but it isn’t the same. I have roughly 2 months to make a decision before I will lose my social security benefits. I feel that taking those 2 months would be very unfair of me, so I am trying to do my best and decide what it is I want and make a decision within the next week. I am so very confused.

 

Change is in the Air

Hello! It has been awhile since I have written anything :(. Big things have been happening around my house :)! I am considering a promotion at work, I have started the process of publishing my second children’s book, I have started writing a for all ages book(sort of) and I have contacted a plumber to try to get the ball rolling again on my kitchen remodel. Lots of things happening!!!

I am really excited about my upcoming children’s book! It is called No More Hugs and is super cute! I get to meet with my illustrator, John Olmstead, towards the end of May to go over some of the rough drawings. I am hoping everything will be completed by the end of June so I can have it published by September. YAY!!!! I have also begun work on a book about enduring the loss of loved ones. The book is my story of loss and how I found my new normal. It is a hard story to write so it may take me awhile. I think it’s time to write it though, maybe someone else can benefit from my perspective.

The plumber is going to come to give me an estimate on moving my dishwasher sometime this week. I am not sure why the dishwasher was across the kitchen from the sink and not next to the sink in the first place. If I find out that it can’t be moved I think I will have it completely removed. I have found this amazing piece at a great local store that is handmade. It’s a bit rustic looking and I think would fit great in my house! With a kid and animals I don’t want to feel like things have to be pristine. I want that loved/used look that let’s people know I like to cook and makes my house feel comfortable and inviting. I have never felt comfortable in houses with formal living rooms and formal dining rooms. You know, the ones with the furniture you are afraid to sit on because you might break it or get it dirty? The houses where you feel like you can’t relax and sink into the furniture, instead you sit on the edge of the couch or chair to make sure you don’t somehow mess it up. I am glad that I can start that project within the next month! I told myself that I am not in a hurry and can be patient, but I am ready to start the next phase of this remodel!

I was recently offered a promotion at work. I have been considering taking the position for about a month. During this time I have been training for the job on a probation period. I think I will be decent at the job. My struggle with taking the promotion has several layers. Layer #1: I have had social security benefits since my husband died six years ago. This has allowed me to work part-time and be home more for my daughter. By taking this job I won’t always be able to take off work for day time school functions. On the flip side, I will get off most nights between 5 and 6. Which means I will be home to make my daughter dinner and help her with her homework. If I officially take the job I will lose the social security. This means if the job doesn’t work out there is no getting that back, I will have to get another job. Another job that may not be as flexible with lunch breaks and child illnesses. Another job that may not allow me to pick my daughter up from school and bring her back to sit in the office until I get off work. This is a scary prospect. An unlikely one, but one that must be considered.

Layer #2: I like teaching and working part-time as a tutor allows me to teach. Becoming the Director of Education will not leave me much time to teach. I have spoken with the owner and the Center Director and I will be able to teach a couple of hours a week. It isn’t the same as being a teacher, but at least it’s something.

Layer #3: I like to write and would really enjoy making that my full-time job. Taking this job will make writing more of a part-time job. On the other hand, taking this job will make it easier to pay for my illustrator. At least I think it will. I have not yet spoken to the owner about salary. During my probation time I am considered hourly. I have an appointment tomorrow to discuss salary. I am crossing my fingers and sending out as many prayers as I can that we can come to an agreement about salary that will make it worth giving up the short-term financial stability that I have with the social security. Social security isn’t much and there are some months when I wonder if I am going to be able to pay all of the bills and put food on the table, but it is a guaranteed amount of money coming in every month. Taking this job means losing that stability. Which in turn means that I need my salary to be more than what I get from Social Security after taxes to make it worth losing the benefits and the ability to be available for my daughters school functions.

Layer #4: Since 2011 my priorities have changed. That year I lost my husband, my grandmother and my Dad. Making money has never been first on my priority list, but that year made me realize that life is too short and too precious to not spend time with the people I love. My daughter comes first. She always will. I realize though that money is needed to provide for my daughter and living on social security and a part-time job does not always provide her with opportunities to experience life and learn new things in interesting ways outside of the classroom. As I said earlier, there are times when paying for food trumps paying the electric bill. Taking this job might mean that I can take her on vacation or send her to a summer camp. It might mean that she can join after school programs like track or take a martial arts class or purchase the drum set she wants so she can learn to play the drums like she’s been wanting to do for a year now.

That’s it! Big things happening here! Decisions to be made and lessons to be learned. Life is bittersweet and losses sometimes happen with gains. Until next time my friends! I hope your life is filled with a great mix of ups and downs. May the downs not be too low or too long and may you always be grateful for the ups and everything in between. As someone wise once said, “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.” Lots of love friends.

Learning to Dance Alone

January 12th, 2011. This was the start of a really horrible year for me and my family. It has been six years since that date and in those years I have never felt more despair, anger and gut wrenching fear. In these past six years I have also felt myself rise from all of the fear and anger to become stronger and have more love and acceptance for those around me. And I would trade it all for one more day with him. Is that selfish or stupid? Possibly, but I would be lying if I said otherwise.

I have learned to dance in this life without my partner. I had to learn the steps by myself. Even as I wrote that sentence I know it isn’t true. I had and still have so many people who have taught me and continue to teach me new steps to this dance. There are many days that I dance alone, though, because sometimes you have to be your own teacher and your own dance partner.

With all of that said, this post isn’t about me and my dance, today it’s about teaching the steps to others.

The last few months and even days of 2016 were gut wrenchingly difficult for some of my friends. They have lost the ones they love. Words have been said to them that, at this time, are hollow and meaningless. I know, I heard those words six years ago and I have said them in the last several months and days to my friends.  They have also heard the words “I’m here if you need anything” and “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you”. These words are worse than the “I’m sorry for your loss” phrase. We say them because we don’t know what else to say, but the truth is the person or people grieving don’t know what they need. Scratch that, they do know what they need, they just can’t have it and there is no way you can give it to them. What they need is their loved one back, but that can’t happen, not in the way that they desire at this very moment.

The words have been said, the services have been completed and now life flows forward. Now you have to find a new way of living this life, you must learn a new dance. The first year is the worst because you have to celebrate all the holidays and surprising life moments without the ones you love. You don’t know how to dance without them because it has been so long since you’ve had to, so you stumble and fall your way through it and the whole time the music keeps playing as if nothing has happened. Remember this, it may feel like you are all alone and that nobody cares that you are hurting, but that is not true, you just cannot see them clearly through the fog that covers the dance floor. They are there and they are helping you when you stumble, listening to your sobs and offering comforting hands and words and they pick you up when you fall. You may not remember them later as the fog begins to clear, but they were there, teaching the new steps that your heart refuses to accept at this moment.

The coming years will be difficult and you will fall many, many times. The steps to this new dance, this new way of living, are difficult to learn. As you learn to dance alone I want you to remember,  you will smile again, laugh again, and even enjoy life again. There is no shame in that, but do it on your own terms. Do not let someone else tell you that you have grieved enough. Do not let you hold yourself in the fog of grief, either. Remember too, that when you feel like you are falling down reach out, because there are people who will hold you up until you can stand again. You are not alone.

The coming years will be difficult and you will have to learn how to dance once more. Until then, just see to your basic needs, these are the primary steps to this new dance. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, eat, breathe and put one foot in front of the other. I love you all!

Don’t Eat My Cereal

If I have invited you into my home for more than a 5-minute conversation I consider you my friend. If you have spent the night in my house you are, more than likely, considered family. I only have one hard and fast rule in my house, do not eat my cereal.

I am a generous person for the most part. We are all a little selfish from time to time and I am no exception. I will let you read my books, use my shampoo, make your dinner, I will even sleep on the couch and let you have my bed. You can borrow my clothes and use my computer. DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

See? I am generous. I am loyal to a fault and I usually share everything I have. However, if I am eating please do not stand over me and say, “I want some!” and then expect me to hand over my bowl or give you a bite. Have I not already given you everything else? Do not take another mile if I have already given you 2. In other words, DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

You want something from my garden? Ok, it’s yours. Want me to bake you some cupcakes? No Problem! Just DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

Welcome to my house, where the only hard and fast rule is: DON’T EAT MY CEREAL!

 

 

This a work of fiction, maybe ;), for all those generous people out there who would give you the shirt off their backs. Also for parents because we all know that if we were eating a shit sandwich our children would want a bite simply because we were eating it :).

P.S. If you like my writing check out my children’s book, Stuck by Valerie Prather, on amazon.com

Parenting is Rough!!!

Hello, everyone! A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my daughter’s escapades with in-app purchasing and her resulting consequences, I would like to update you on that situation and lay out some thoughts I have on punishments.

A couple of weeks ago my beautiful daughter bought $122.36 worth of in-app purchases for a game called Builder Buddies. She was promptly grounded from her iPad, video games and Youtube for a week, all seven days of the week, much to her great displeasure. I came up with a way for her to work off the money she “stole”. Yes, stole, she did not find it laying around, she did not earn it or ask for it, therefore, she stole the money. I put together a list of chores and designated a minute value to each chore. My daughter earned $8.50 for every hour of work completed. Let me tell you she worked her little behind off to pay that money back before her Spring Break started! She now has her iPad back but no longer has access to the iTunes password, in case she did not learn her lesson. All is right again in our peacefully chaotic home.

For the last five years, I have been a single parent. I have run through the gambit of parenting styles. I have yelled, negotiated, screamed, gave the silent treatment, grounded, spanked, bribed and so on. I wouldn’t say that I was a bad parent, just as I wouldn’t say I am a parent of the year. I am just trying to figure out what works with my head strong nine year old. I make tons of mistakes, but I make a lot of good decisions as well. That being said there is one trend in parenting that I do not understand. Public humiliation, I just don’t agree.

The last several years there have been many Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagram pics where parents have their child on the street holding a sign describing their misdeeds. I have even watched some reposted videos where the parent has punished the child and is following them filming his or her reaction to the punishment and making the child tell about what they did wrong. I don’t understand this and here’s why. If I make a mistake at work and my boss decides that everyone in the office should be present while she yells at me I would be pissed! I certainly wouldn’t want to try to do better, I would start looking for another job. Unfortunately, kids can’t just go looking for a new family, so what do you think they will do instead? If it were me, I would hide in my room and speak as little as possible to my parents, I would withdraw from them. I would do this because I would feel like if I make the littlest mistake I might be humiliated again. I would think that the people who were supposed to be my guides in this crazy life have now become my enemy. My parents would cease to be my champions and teachers and now become my humiliators, my punishers. The people who I thought were supposed to love me unconditionally, just showed me that there are conditions to their love. That’s just me, I don’t know how you all feel.

Before any of you go berserk on me let me explain something. I know that children need to have punishments or consequences for their misdeeds. This is how they learn right from wrong. I am a believer that an occasional spanking, usually as a last resort, is ok. I believe in grounding and taking things away from children. I think that sometimes raising your voice lets them know how much you dislike their behavior, but a simple look and shake of the head can do the same thing in certain situations. I do not believe that public humiliation is the answer. I think our children get humiliated enough at school by their peers, by the teachers, and the bullies. Home is supposed to be the safe haven, not a place for more knocks to their self-esteem.

Parenting is hard! We all know this and finding ways to parent effectively in both good times and rough times is no picnic. Parents are deemed awful if they say that corporal punishment is okay. Then the same people who glare at them for that are giving out disgusted looks and nasty comments in the grocery store when a kid is throwing a tantrum because they can’t have the gummy bears they demanded. Bribing children into good behavior is seen as weak parenting, ignoring bad behavior is seen as non-parenting and spanking is seen as abusive. What do we do when everything we try is criticized? the answer to that seems to be public humiliation. Here’s what I say, my fellow parents, let people talk, let them judge you because they don’t matter. Whether you spank your kids or ground them, whether you ignore the bad behavior or yell instead is up to you and what you know works for your child. Raising a kid is a lot like a science experiment, trial and error. We try one thing and if doesn’t work we move on to the next. The one thing that we should never forget, our children depend on us to offer them a safe place where they won’t be embarrassed to make mistakes or be themselves, for this reason, any punishment for mistakes or misdeeds should not humiliate them. Punishments should help them understand and learn from their mistakes, not alienate them or cause a rift between parent and child. Remember, there is always someone out there who is going to say “if that were my kid…”, but she’s not their kid, she’s yours, so do the best you can, and when in doubt ask for advice. There are others going through all of this parenting stuff too and they might be able to help ;).

Well, that’s my two cents! What do you think? Is public humiliation ok? Any thoughts are welcome but please keep it civil, we are all adults and it’s ok to disagree but it’s not ok to be a jerk. Thanks all!

Good Wine, Good Food, Good Friend

Five years ago I felt like my world collapsed. I honestly thought I was only surviving so that my daughter wouldn’t have to lose both parents. I didn’t want her to feel any more pain than she had to feel. Then in April, I was slapped by death again as I lost my grandma. I kept going because I couldn’t do anything else. In June of that year, death beat me down again as my Dad lost his battle with cancer. Keep moving, wall up the heart and close the gates of emotion. Ha! Not easily done. Honestly? It was probably the worst thing I could have done. But let’s fast forward five years, I think I have dwelt enough in the past.

This weekend I spent some time with friends. It was great! It usually is, I have pretty good friends :). We went to the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard in Mackinaw, Illinois. It was the second time I had been there and it was just as nice as the first. The first time I went with a group of friends to a wine and chocolate tasting, this time, we went and saw a murder mystery. It was so much fun! Dinner was tasty and the company was great! The little murder mystery play was put on by a small company of 2 people, a married couple, with the assistance from audience members. All of this with dinner and dessert in between. The wine you could purchase by the glass or by the bottle from the vineyard. I am partial to the sweet wines and really enjoyed their Edelweiss and Diane’s Desire.

All of that was great, but the nicest and scariest part of the night was when a person that I had gotten to know during the horrible year of pain came up to me and said hi! I haven’t really seen much of anyone from that year in person for quite some time. I was a mess that year and not my best me, so when I run into someone from that year in person I have to stop a second and try to remember through the fog. I remembered her right away of course and was happy to see her. I’ll call her K for the purpose of this post. K looked happy and was with her husband. It was really great to see her happy and to get to spend time with her. The scary part, for me, is the question. The question that everyone who hasn’t seen me since that time asks, “How are you?”. My standard answer is I’m good. I found that this time it’s true. I really am doing good. I mean my life isn’t cake or anything, but it’s good :). I have a great daughter, a wonderful family, awesome friends and a life that I didn’t think would be possible 5 years ago.

The second question I hate getting when I meet someone after a long absence is “What are you doing now?”. I hate this question because when I explain my current life to people I get mixed reactions. I was not able to secure a teaching position after I finished my Master’s in Education degree. I know why and it stings horribly. I have been told by several that I would make a good teacher, so why don’t I have a teaching job? Well several reasons possibly, lots of people looking and few jobs in my area are at the top of the list. But I know the real reason and it bothers me tremendously. That, however, is a story for another day. The main reason I hate this question is because there are those who see my lifestyle as lazy or irresponsible. My choices are my own, for the most part, and I weigh each one heavily. Some do not agree and others just nod as if this all they expected of me. While I don’t always like the path that I have been forced to forge on my own, I am ok with my decisions. Yes, even the ones that I later regret.Why? Because I know that life isn’t easy and it so frequently lobs rocks and digs pitfalls and tries to drown a person at every turn. I have a choice, I can constantly bemoan those rocks, pitfalls, and tons of water, or I can see past all of that to the rainbows, the helping hands, the green trees and the blue skies. I can choose to see the smile on my daughters face or hear the laughter of my friends rather than the tears I have cried and the pain that I endure. Life is about choices and I accept the responsibility of all of my choices, the good and the bad.

My lost acquaintance/friend asked this very question and I asked it of her in return. K seems to be doing well and really likes her job. I am so happy for her! When I told her what I am doing now there was no judgment in her face and for once I didn’t feel worried that this knowledge would cost me a potential relationship. This was also the first time that I called myself a writer, so that was a little scary. I am so glad that I ran into K and her husband! It was nice to see someone from that year of hell and not feel awkward or like an utter failure. K is just as nice as I remember her and I look forward to getting to know her again.

As for the other stuff. I think too much! Here is me, my friends, down and dirty! I am a mother, semi-hoarder(I’m getting better at that), an artist, a teacher, a writer, a gym goer, a pescatarian, an art lover, a B-movie watcher, wine drinking, cussing, animal loving, goofy, middle-aged, young at heart, emotional,  thinks too much about herself and not enough about the world around her(working on this too) person. This is me, unapologetically me!

This weekend taught me a little bit more about myself and I am good with what I learned. Also, this weekend rocked! I had good friends surrounding me, good food to eat, good wine to drink and it was amazing!

So here is to you, my friends! May you always have enough of everything! Love to all!

Love

It’s been awhile since I have written on youmakeyourown I’ve been over at my findidngbalanceinacrazyworld.wordpress.com blog. I apologize for that. This blog is what started it all, I began here because I needed an outlet for my emotions when I went through the year of death and fog. Many of you have read other posts here but for those of you who have not, I will give a brief recap of the year of 2011. January, 12th my husband died, April 16th(I think) my grandmother died and on June 25th my Dad died. The first month of that new year was awful, the next five added more grief and I was lost. The only thing that kept me focused was my student teaching though I fear I did not do that well.

Anyway, that is 2011 in a recap, death, fog, depression, determination, anger and fear. Fast forward to 2016 and those have been replaced with more positive emotions. The first 12 days of January still tend to be a bit rough. I love this blog because of what it allowed me to do, so my goal for this year is to write on here a minimum of once a month. I will share all sorts of things that open the emotional floodgates. Some may be light hearted and fun and some may be a bit sad. I am also thinking of adding a page for creative inspiration :). For now here is something I wrote a few days ago. It expresses what I’ve been feeling of late. I need to remember that moving forward with my life does not mean forgetting my life with Justin, it simply means I am ready to open my heart to the possibility of more love.

Love

Broken

Scared

Maimed

The heart that beats in my chest

Thump, bump, thump

Full of love

Courage

Strength

The heart that beats in my chest

Bump, thump, thump

Scared

Unsure

Guilty

The heart that beats in my chest

Thump, thump, bump

It stutters at the loss it has felt

It staggers at the possibility of more love

It feels guilt

It feels happiness

Broken

Unsure

It feels Love

Thanks for reading! Love to all!

Odd Holiday Thoughts

I was sitting here thinking about Christmas and everything that goes with it, when all of a sudden a crazy thought popped into my head. “I should get baptized” I thought. Then came the thought “What!? Why!?” If you read this blog and you know me then you will understand why this was a crazy thought, if you don’t know me then the following may help you decipher why I believe this to be such a weird thing.

Most baptisms that I have witnessed require the person getting baptized to state why he/she is doing so, to affirm faith or what not. When I thought about what I might write this what came to mind.

Dear Congregation and Minster,

I only come to your church on Christmas Eve as a guest and after today that probably won’t change. I do believe in God, I may not believe everything that the Bible says, because it was written down by men a very long time ago in a language that people are having trouble translating. I love God! I think She’s great! I am here today to get baptized, not for God, but for my family who believes that this will bring me closer to Him. God knows me, knows what is in my heart, much like Santa knows when kids have been naughty or nice(it’s a joke people lighten up!) Because God knows me so well She doesn’t care what I call my belief in Him, names do not matter. If the name and ways I choose to express my belief in God do not matter to Him then why should dousing myself in water matter to Him?

I do not live my life to please God. That would be like living my life to please my mother. It would make her greatly happy but chances are I would be miserable. If my mother bases her happiness on whether or not I do what she thinks I should then she will be continually disappointed. I do not ask myself everyday “What would God do? or What would Jesus do?” Instead I ask myself “What can I do to be the best person I can be? Will my actions be selfless or selfish?” And sometimes I am selfish and sometimes I am selfless, other times I fall in between. If I lived my life to please God then I would be completely miserable all the time worrying and wondering if I have done enough, been enough. God loves me and does not want me to be miserable. So I live with God in my heart and I am true to myself and so I am happy. I do not feel that I will be shut out of Heaven simply because I do not live to please God, I do not believe that I will be sentenced to a fiery pit in Hell because I do not get baptized. God loves me and accepts me for who I am. So I do this for family and friends who do believe that we won’t be together in Heaven if I am not baptized, to ease their minds, so they will have physical confirmation of a truth I already know .

Sincerely,

Me

This is the letter that I would write for my baptism, if I ever decide to do it. Of course they would probably throw the Bible at my head and tell me to vacate the baptismal area…..but hey! it’s my truth and I haven’t been struck down by lightning. What’s your truth? Are brave enough to share it?