#MeToo – Dear Zoey – 10.16.2017

Dear Zoey,

There’s an online campaign, if you will, happening right now where women who have been victims of sexual harassment, assault, and even rape put “Me too” as their status, to give a glimpse into the epidemic of this behavior.

And well, me too. I’ve had many unwanted advances, unwelcome comments about my body and sexuality. I’ve felt fear, rage, helplessness, and awkward. I’ve filed a sexual harassment against a man who spoke incredibly unprofessional things to me while in the workplace (such as, “Man, she’s a sexy little thing, isn’t she? I’d take her home, but I don’t know if my wife would be okay with that.”) This man was a professor, and he said more than just that. I was simply making copies for him for one of his classes. When meeting with HR, I felt a constant need, no matter how understanding and welcoming the individual I was speaking to was, to justify myself with, “I’m really not trying to be dramatic.” Or “I don’t want to stir up any trouble.”

But dammit, he was using his power and his seniority to put me in an incredibly uncomfortable situation. One that actually made me feel unsafe and dehumanized.

I have also witnessed a sexual assault firsthand. I woke up to two people having sex, and at first, that would be funny or awkward. Until you hear a girl sobbing, and whispering stop.

I didn’t move at first. All those times I said that I would never let something like that happen to anyone. All those times I claimed to be a badass — and I was frozen in the bed next to them. Me and another person finally got up, hoping to make them stop and they did.

I witnessed the assault firsthand, and yet, I still felt a need to try and justify his behavior.

“There were drugs involved.”

“She was flirting with him the entire week.”

And while I knew, what she went through was not deserved by anyone, it is so ingrained in us to question victims of sexual brutality. It comes natural. A girl sobbed in my lap, asking me if I protected you. She cried and cried, and all I could do was hold her.

In my mind, I sucker punched the dude in the kidneys, called the cops, and had him arrested. But in real life, I did not live up to the type of bystander I would ever want to be, or want for me, or you.

I am nowhere near as brave as I would hope to be, but ever since that experience, I’ve taken it upon myself to slowly pull away layers of misogyny around me. And sometimes, it’s out of rage, and sometimes it’s in whispers. Sometimes, it comes out of people simply saying, “Me too.” And while I commend the effort and thought behind the idea of “me too.” My next task is to ask, “Now what?”


3.5 Ways to Plan a Disney World Vacation

I have total Disney fever. Ever since we went on Z’s first trip to Disney World for her birthday, I have been planning to go back. I have gained a ton of knowledge about different ins and outs of planning a DW vacation, and figured it was time to share it! Planning a DW vacation can be extremely overwhelming, but it is not impossible. Here’s a few ways you can plan:

3.5 Ways to Plan a Disney World Vacation

  • Plan the conventional way. You can go through a a Disney travel planner (Small World Vacations is fantastic! We had Beth as our planner) or through Disney World’s website. This way you will stay on Disney property, be able to choose to have a dining plan (or not), and have access to things like Extra Magic Hours, Advance Dining Reservations (you can make them 6 months in advance), and Disney transportation. I really like going this route because I love for my vacations to feel all-inclusive. However, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to build up a savings for it (which is what I had to do), this won’t be the most cost-effective way to do it. However, you can put a $200 deposit down on it (the minimum required) and then just pay throughout the year up to 45 days before your vacation, which is when it must be paid in full.
  • Rent through a DVC rental site. This is a great way to get villas and high-priced rooms on Disney property at nearly half the price (sometimes even more). DVC stands for Disney Vacation Club. It’s basically a time-share type opportunity for members who can afford that sort of thing. DVC members will then rent their rooms out during the year at various rates (depending on season). They use a point system, and the DVC Rental Store offers a great point calculator which helps see how much it will cost for the time you’re wanting to visit. Another awesome part is you can still get all the benefits of staying on Disney property: Extra Magic Hours, ADRs, Dining Plan, and Disney transportation. If you decide to go this route, I suggest you go through the aforementioned DVC Rental Store. They are the only site I’ve found that doesn’t charge you for checking availability. Every other site I’ve seen charges up to $98 just to check availability (Crazy, I know…) Once they check availability, they have a representative contact you with cost, deposit requirements, and availability. The deposit is higher for these rentals (usually 50% of the total cost of the room), but again, you can usually get into great hotels like the Contemporary, Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Villas, and The Grand Floridian for HALF the price you would pay if booking the “conventional” way.
  • Rent a hotel/vacation rental off property. So, I’ve gotten to Disney World 3 times in my life. Twice I stayed on property, and once I stayed off in a rented condo. And it was great. The perks of staying off property are price (of course), you usually get a full kitchen so you can prepare your own food, and they are more spacious. You can also find Disney/Universal themed vacation rentals, which is the best of both worlds! Not having to pay the Disney price tag, but still getting some of the magic. This also gives you the opportunity to split costs with vacation buddies or another family, making it even cheaper. And while you don’t have access to the perks of staying on property, the amount of money you can save could be well worth it. Here’s a few links to get you started: Story Time Orlando RentalAll Star Vacation HomesVRBOMagical MemoriesLuxury Disney Vacation Homes.
  • And here’s .5, Shades of GreenThe reason I consider this a “.5” is because Shades of Green is only available to Active Duty Military, Military Retirees, and some DoD employees. They offer standard rooms and suites at very reasonable rates, and even can get you discounted theme park tickets. I’m still unsure if you can get the dining plan when staying here, Anyone know the answer to that? I’ll update when I confirm. Also, here’s the eligibility requirements. You will have to provide proof of your (or your spouses/relatives) service.

There are a TON of resources out there to help you plan your vacation. Even if you save change for 6 years before you go, it’s something that, for my family at least, was so worth it. Anyone have any other ways to planning a great Disney vacation?

How to Finish a Degree as a Parent – Part 1

How to Finish a Degree as a Parent 1

As the school year is looming in my not-so-distant future, I’m overwhelmed, nervous, nauseas, and so f’ing excited. That’s right friends, this girl is finally in her last year of undergrad. My journey to this point has been all over the place. I graduated high school 12 -gulp- years ago. And I am just now getting finishing my undergraduate degree. I had 6 years before Z was born to finish that degree, and I made a lot of missteps, mistakes, and all out bad choices in those years. I’ll save the specifics of that for another post, but for this one, I’m going to hone in on finishing a degree as a parent. Being a student is difficult at any degree, but parenting through it all definitely adds different pressures. This is part 1 of a 3 part series on the ins and outs of finishing a degree as a parent. Part 1 is all about what you SHOULD do.


  •  Take your time! One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made (a few times) on the road to a degree is changing degree programs, schools, and formats too many times. I’d reach a point where I wanted to finish my degree in a more condensed time-frame, so I’d settle for something I wasn’t nearly as interested in, or in a way that didn’t inspire me. As a parent, you can feel the pressure of hurrying through a program for financial reasons or wanting to hurry into the workforce with your new degree. And those are legitimate, however, going to school is an investment. Invest in a degree that means something to you and for you. Don’t just settle for the fastest way to get through it.
  • Stay organized! Google calendar has saved my life more than once. I would have never been able to stay on top of Z’s events, practices, my schoolwork, appointments, etc, if I didn’t stay on top of my calendar. Google calendar works for me, but you might have a different method. Whatever your organizational method is…stay on top of it. Your life will already be stressful enough balancing parenthood and work and school…the last thing you need is another battle to fight.
  • Keep yourself inspired. There will be numerous times that you will think, “What the hell am I thinking?” Self-doubt will creep in all the time. Find things that will inspire you to keep going. I’m a words person, so I have quotes posted all over. Write down your goals at the beginning of each semester, and the reasons (and people) you’re doing this for…keep it somewhere visible to remind you why this matters, when you need it most.
  • Find financial flexibility where you can. Depending on your degree program, format of schooling, work schedules, school/daycare/preschool schedules, it can feel impossible to finish something as expensive as an education. If you need to tap into your savings (Hahahahaha, who has a savings?!), take out student loans, reach out to your job about education assistance…etc. I took out the max amount I could for student loans. I know, a lot of financial planners would flip after hearing that, but I am attending a brick and mortar school, during the day while my daughter is in school, and am mostly single parenting. That meant I needed something that could fill in the gaps from missing a regular 9-5 job through the week. I also have my military education benefits which provides a monthly housing allowance. So, with my weekend part-time job, financial aid, and my housing allowance, I make it by and have the flexibility in my schedule to invest in school and my daughter.
  • Know and be kind to yourself. I’ve learned that I do not operate well in late afternoon/evening classes. I hit a mental block and lack focus. I’ve learned that I study best in the early-to-mid morning, and that late night cram sessions are not beneficial for me. I’ve learned that I need to start writing essays early, and write a little bit each day instead of procrastinating to the last minute. I need calm music when I study, and I retain more when I sit at my desk than on my bed. This is probably my best piece of advice: Be aware of yourself. That sounds a bit hokey, but seriously, the more aware you are of what does and doesn’t work for you, the more successful you will be. Every school and professor will try to give you study/academic tips, and they can be helpful, but knowing yourself and how you function at your best, is the easiest way to set yourself up for success.

It is not impossible to finish your degree as a parent. It takes some creativity, but it is 100% possible.

When You’re a Mom That Doesn’t Fit…

I wear Batman t-shirts.

I curse (sometimes too much).

I’m a weird mixture of both type-B and type-A personalities.

I’m a veteran.

I’m a student.

I’m a girlfriend.

And I’ve been a mom for 6 incredible, eventful, agonizing years. The ways parenting has changed my life can’t possibly be cut down to one blog post, but there’s been a recurring theme in my life of parenthood.

Never quite fitting.


This used to weigh heavily on me. I felt like I needed to rush my life. Hurry up and get married, buy a house, get a career because every other parent around me seemed to have it so much more together than me. I was a single mom, living with my parents, and struggling to figure out how to finish my degree (and what to finish it in) while trying to support a growing girl. Then, I met E, and I had one more piece of the puzzle, but again…I wanted to hurry up and be a “normal” family. It put a lot of pressure on me, and a lot of pressure on him.

When Z started attending preschool, it was a whole new world for me too. Figuring out how to fit in with mom’s that were mostly older than me, with a history I didn’t know how to explain or what I should (or shouldn’t) explain, and the constant struggle of never feeling like I could afford everything I wanted for Z. I saw mom’s planning play dates, driving minivans (not jealous of the minivans, let’s make that clear), taking their kiddos to dance and gymnastics and swimming and this and that. All while I’m driving an on-it’s-last-leg ’03 Ford Taurus, with no house, no ring, no money, no degree.

Plus, as a side note, my degree (that I’m still working toward–only 2 more semesters!) is in Creative Writing with a minor in Theatre. Not exactly a money making machine of a degree, let’s be honest.

But I survived. I survived those pre-school years, but didn’t gain any more confidence from before.

Then, it was time for kindergarten. The summer leading up to it, I struggled with these same demons in the back of my head, but I tried a different technique. I’d compare myself to other moms but would say to myself, “They have no edge.” or “Those mom’s are so typical.” Or the best one, “I’ll be the cool mom.” But all of those supposed reasons of why I was a better mom got me nowhere either. Comparison, whether inflating or deflating yourself, is truly the thief of joy.

But a couple of months into kindergarten, and suddenly tides started changing for me. I watched how Z interacted with the adults and other kids at her school, I watched how enthusiastic she was, I watched how strong and brave she was. I saw myself step up and defend her when she had an issue with another kid in her class, after exhausting her other options. I saw myself succeeding in school (for myself), finding more financial independence, and enjoying other moms instead of competing with them. And I suddenly found my worth. I was no better or worse than these other moms. We were just different. They lived a life that was the best for them and their families, and I lived one that was best for me and mine.

And that seems simple, but these were issues I agonized over for years.

It can be easy to define ourselves by those around us. It can be easy to offer ourselves harsh judgment (and even easier to offer others that sort of judgment), but it leads nowhere. And I’m realizing more and more that no one fits. We’re all just out there, trying to figure it out along the way.

So, for all you moms who feel like you don’t fit, you do. You fit in this wonderful spectrum of love and growing up and the unknown. You fit perfectly for that kid (or those kiddos) that look to you for comfort and guidance and fun. You fit in this crazy life because it’s yours and you define it.

Building a Blog from the Bottom Up!

If you all haven’t noticed, I’m really focused on building my blog. I have gained so much knowledge from blogs that share their income reports every month such as: Retired By 40!Pinch of YumYour Modern Family, and byRegina. And while all of these blog numbers seem so far away from me, I am determined to build this blog over this next year (well, and after that…of course). I wanted to start sharing my journey and goals for a few different reasons.


First off, I think it’s incredibly important to be able to reflect on your goals and which ones you’ve reached, what you’ve struggled with..etc. I’m an INFJ, so self-reflection is a big deal for me. I also think tracking progress from day one allows you to be proud of the baby steps you take. I’m an extremely ambitious dreamer of a person. I also struggle with anxiety. So the meeting of the two worlds can lead to a big, overwhelming mess in which I’m crying and screaming to myself, “What the hell are you thinking?! This will never work out for you.” Because of this, I’ve learned over the last couple of years how to itemize my goals. About two years ago, I became really sick of standing in my own way. I talked myself out of dozens of opportunities or chances that could’ve led to something great. So, after working with a therapist for a few months, I started to really work on making tiny goals that could build up to my bigger goals. And suddenly my tiny goals weren’t so overwhelming and huge.

Another reason I want to share this on the blog is for accountability. Making my goals public, regardless of how many (or few..) people see it, there’s certain pressure I put on myself to uphold what I write about. Follow through has become a big deal to me because talk doesn’t mean anything, if actions aren’t backing it up.

And lastly, I hope that my blog can eventually help someone else who wants to build a blog without any idea of where to start. I like the idea of someone reading this and saying, “She had no clue what she was doing, but she made something out of her goals.” And if I fail miserably, I hope I can at least give a few laughs or a few pieces of inspiration.

So, I am truly starting at ground zero. I have had 627 views TOTAL. That means, not 627 views in the month of August, but 627 views for the life of my blog. So, when I say I’m starting at the bottom, I mean it. All that being said, here are my goals for August:

– Buy my domain & host (I still haven’t figured out if I need to buy my domain thru wordpress and then be hosted by BlueHost — which is praised by every single blogger when they first start out or if I can do all of it through BlueHost…advice anyone?)

– Figure out and setup Google Analytics.

– Find/create a custom theme.

– Start planning out mine and Zoey’s big project (coming in September…could very well have something to do with YouTube…yeah, Zo is chomping at the bit to get started)

– Start tracking my hours (when blogging, researching, planning, etc).

– Work on connecting with other bloggers.

Each month, I’ll cross off the goals I’ve met (or exceeded). I’ll also mention anything else I add to the list, and dish on the good, bad, and ugly. Since I only have about 3 weeks left in the month (yeesh!) and school will be starting for both Z and me, these few goals are going to be a feat in and of itself, so I’m excited to tackle them and share the ups and downs with you all.

July Playlist – Feeling Alive


So, this month’s playlist is a modge podge of styles. July is always a rough month for me. Not really what the source is, but I can guess it has to do with how flippin’ hot it is, how uninspiring I find the summer, how much I miss my fall/winter clothing…yep, not a big fan of hot summers over here. So, to keep me feeling inspired and productive, I made this playlist. Each one of these things gives me that feeling of weightlessness or power or that I can conquer the mother-f’ing world. I hope you enjoy! Feel free to follow me on Spotify, follow the playlist here, or click the links below to support some of these great artists!

Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface (Special Packaging)

MisterWives – Our Own House

Sucre – Loner

Stars – The Five Ghosts

Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves

The Lighthouse and the Whale – The Lighthouse and the Whaler
Of Monsters and Men – Beneath The Skin

Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were

Hembree – Walk Alone

Max Richter – Luminous

Walk the Moon – Talking Is Hard

Ruelle – Until We Go Down

Foals – What Went Down

CHVRCHES – Leave A Trace

Lily Kershaw – Midnight In The Garden

Surviving a Quarter-Life Crisis from Someone Who Has

As I was wasting time perusing Facebook yesterday, one of my close friends posted a status that said “I think a woman’s midlife crisis happens when she’s 25.” And I couldn’t agree more. In fact, from 2 years ago, I have a blog post in my drafts titled, “Quarter…er…life crisis,” and the only thing typed is, “Confusion, confusion, confusion.”


In recent years, I’ve noticed a rise in this quarter-life crisis phenomenon. I think it happens for a lot of reasons. We think we should have everything together, we’re not where we thought we’d be when we were 18, some people have faded from our lives. There’s a lot that happens in our twenties–a lot of mistakes, a lot of wandering around, a lot of “what the hell am I gonna do?” And most of the time. we just feel stuck. Or at least I did. I felt like I was capable of doing something great, but always felt like I was a victim to my circumstances (money being the most common inhibitor). These are all still struggles I have, so I’m certainly not going to tell you that once you turn 30 you’ll suddenly feel like you have your shit together. You won’t. I titled this “Surviving a Quarter-life Crisis” because that’s what it feels like most of the time–survival. And it still lingers in the air for me, but it doesn’t feel so close or real anymore.

There comes a point–for me it was around 28 or so–that you just realize what will be will be. And this doesn’t mean you just let life do what it will without any choice or consequence. You make your choices, some good, some bad, but you do what you can with what you have, and suddenly you find more peace.

This is why I adopted a mindfulness practice into my every day life. It helps make life not feel so big and overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with anxiety and worry and depression. I still have major fears for seemingly simple tasks (Talking on the phone being one of them…) but these small mindfulness techniques that I’ve been learning, I use at those moments when I’m feeling most anxious or upset. Whether it’s a breathing technique, visualization, any of those things. It doesn’t take all of my problems away, but it reminds that the only thing I have is the current moment and that no amount of worry or regret will change that.

Looking back 5 years ago, when I was 25…I’m different, but very much the same. The best I can say is stop living where you’ve been or where you want to be, and just live now. It’s easy to believe that the grass will always be greener, but it won’t be. There will be hang-ups and mishaps anyway you turn, but you have a choice. You can choose how you react. You can choose your own destiny. I truly believe that.

All too often we try to carry the burden of where we’ve been. We hold on to questions like, “Why didn’t I just say something?” or “Why didn’t I shut the f up?” or “If I would’ve done this differently, I wouldn’t be in pain/confusion right now.” That burden is useless. You cannot hold yourself accountable now for what you didn’t know then. Your energy can be so much more productive somewhere else.

More than anything though…remind yourself that it’s really f’ing hard to do that sometimes, so be kind to yourself. More than anything, just be kind to yourself–you’re doing the best you can.

Do not go gentle, friends.

P.S. As a side note: If you’re looking for something that helps build a more mindful life, check out this book: Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day. Or this FREE app: Headspace.com – meditation & mindfulness. I plan on writing a review on Headspace soon, so keep a look out for that one.

*This post may contain affiliate links.

The Case for the Only Child

I recently saw a post on Facebook titled, “Reasons to Have a Second Child” or something like that. And I get it. I get how great it is to have another kid around, and that siblings can form bonds that last through the ins and outs and ups and downs. As of right now, Zoey is an only child, and she might end up being that for good. I’m not really sure what the future holds, but what I do know is that only children get a bad wrap a lot. Here’s the top 10 list of reasons to have a second child, and my response…to each of them:


1. They learn to be selfless. Sorry, I wasn’t aware that I needed another child around to teach my kid not to be a selfish asshole. I understand the whole “I feel protective of this little being now,” however, I’m not sure that’s an innate sense of selflessness, I think it’s interest and curiosity (depending on how old the eldest kiddo is). It may develop into selflessness, but I certainly don’t think having a sibling is what forms that. I think it’s being surrounded by family and friends that promote that sense of compassion and loyalty to people who matter.

2. They learn how to share. Very few things irritate me more than the stigma that an only child doesn’t learn how to share. Z is 6 now, and I remember very few (actually I don’t remember any) instances where I had to remind her to share. This is, again, something you teach as a parent. You teach them by example, by showing what sharing looks like. You don’t need another kid to somehow cement that idea in their head. Also, do people just keep their only children in isolation so they never interact with other kids or something? I certainly didn’t, and I would venture to say that most parents of only children don’t either.

3. They learn how to resolve problems. Again, up to the parents.

4. They learn about teamwork. Hello, organized sports, preschool, and school?! And I actually find it quite fun to “work as a team” with Z.

5. They will have a built-in playmate. Okay, I can’t argue with this one. Not sure if this is a necessary reason to give your kid a sibling though.

6. They have someone to learn from or teach.  I will say, Z has older cousins that she spends a lot of time with, and that aspect of their relationship helps a lot. Again, this is also something that parents can (and should) do.

7. They have someone to talk to. Sure, but again, are they in isolation if they don’t have a sibling? Can they not talk to their parents or friends from school/playdates or other family members or neighbors? It seems like there’s a lot of “all or nothing” when it comes to teaching social skills to only children, according to this list.

8. They have someone to celebrate with when things go great. I love celebrating with Z. Nothing is better than celebrating occasions, milestones, and accomplishments with her. And sure, it could be fun with another, but there is something to be said for being able to fully invest all my energy and excitement into one kiddo.

9. And lean on when times get tough. See #7.

10. They have someone to grow old with. The article also says, “Friends come and go, but family is forever.” It’s nice in sentiment, but in reality, you never know is going to come and who is going to go. Friends can become your family, crazy things can happen.

Don’t misinterpret me, I think having more than one kiddo is more than okay. It’s just not right for every family, and frankly, I’m a bit jaded with these “10 Reasons You Should…blah, blah, blah…” Part of me really loves that these lists can be succinct and specific, however…life isn’t always that way. And it’s time to break the silly stigmas attached to people who decide to go against the norm. I could write a million reasons why I like my one-child family, however, those are reasons that work for me and aren’t necessarily someone else’s ideal. It’s time to stop judging and labeling the choices individual families make for themselves.

Why We Shame Online and How to Stop It

I recently read this article on Huff Post. She wrote about two separate instances of online “mom-shaming” via posting a photo online. And I was driven to a whole new level of anger. I haven’t had either of the two stories she mentions run across my newsfeed,  but in recent years I’ve thought about how voyeuristic we’ve become, as a society. I’ve thought about the rights we’ve taken over someone else’s life and how empathy seems to continue to fall. We feel as if we have some right to be able to document whatever we want of whomever (who? or whom? I’m an English major and I still get confused) we want. And then we can create a small gang of people through our various social media outlets to become self-righteous with us as we laugh at someone else’s unknowing expense.


I’m as guilty as the next person…wanting to snap a picture of something I find absurd and posting it on Facebook or Twitter, however, usually (99% of the time) I talk myself out of it based on this one simple question I ask myself, “Would I want someone to take a picture of me if I were in that position?” And sure, I could go the self-righteous route and say, “Oh, well I would never do that.” But the thing about life is that shit happens, and as a passerby, you are never getting the full story. Don’t get me wrong, I still get self-righteous (how many more times do you think I can fit “self-righteous” into this post?) I can judge to my heart’s content, in my own head, and I might even share it with a friend or two. However, the thing that I should probably remember is this wonderful thing called empathy. How many times have I looked like hell or been in a compromising position or had a kiddo not behaving? And the thing about this online mom-shaming, neither of the mom’s mentioned in these stories were doing anything really compromising. One was a mother child-wearing her 5 year old and the other was a mom breastfeeding in public. Sure, had I seen a 5 year old being “worn” I might have questioned it in my head, but reading the story, the mother was a mom to a 5 and 1 year old and her 5 year old was under the weather. She needed to run into a store real quick and with her daughter not feeling great, she decided to wear her on her back. The other mom was breastfeeding. And let me be honest, public breastfeeding makes me really uncomfortable. I know it’s natural, I know it shouldn’t make me uncomfortable. However, just because it makes me uncomfortable, doesn’t mean the woman shouldn’t feed her child. A parent should never feel wrong about doing what he/she needs to in order to take care of his/her kids. And I know my discomfort is my own bullshit, not theirs, so don’t starve your child for my sake, that’s ridiculous. Just like some passerby taking your picture while nourishing your child and then shaming you for it online should be ridiculous.

But this epidemic isn’t just for moms, it is everywhere. How often do we see the word, “shaming” nowadays? We are all plugged in more than we ever have been before, and for some reason, we’ve taken license with other people’s lives. Judging first and thinking later. Even news organizations post news stories before knowing all the facts. How often do we see corrections at the end of news stories, or see a news anchor making assumptions before having any real evidence to back themselves up? We all have a platform now to spew whatever we want, whenever we want (coming from a blogger, I know this might seem trite and a bit contradicting, but hear me out), but what I think would be lovely is to cultivate a community of empathy. To not judge or jump to conclusions, to not join in mockery behind a computer screen, but to offer just a little understanding. If you’ve never been in the person you are judging’s shoes, maybe just remember that we are all humans, making our way through this life the best we can. And if we all posted photos of each other in our hard moments, our “life” moments, our f-up’s, we’d all look like a big bunch of losers, frankly.

So, what I’m asking for, I guess, is don’t be an asshole.

A letter to my 20s self

My last post in this series. You can check out my other 2 letters here: To My Adolescent Self & To My Child Self. These are letters I wrote to my daughter, giving her some insight of what I would’ve done back then had I known what I know now. As you’ll see, the letter was written on the last day of my twenties (which was a couple of months ago now).


Dear Zoey,

It’s the last day of twenties, so along with my letters to my former child and teenage self, I figured I’d end this era with a letter to my “20s” self, and a bit of what I’ve learned along the way.

In a matter of 10 years, I have managed to get married, divorced, birth two babies, raise one as a (mostly) single mother, join the military, discharge from the military, and am on the cusp of getting my degree (FINALLY!) Talk about a whirlwind. Zo, so much happens in your 20s, regardless of what you choose to do with those 10 years. Who I am at 29 is so incredibly different from who I was at 20, but in so many ways, so much the same. If I could talk to my “early 20s” self (this is pre-Zoey, we’re talking). I’d tell her to stop planning everything! Yes, it is good to have goals. It’s good to have clear visions of where you want to be, but don’t get so wrapped up in trying to make life happen that you forget that life is right now. I would tell her to stop spending money on stuff and spend it on traveling or experiences instead. Life is meant to be experienced, not just merely observed. I would tell her to stop being so damn regretful about everything. I lived so much of my early 20s in shame and fear, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that regrets are bullshit. You can’t change the past, so stop beating yourself up about it. Holding onto shame only stunts your growth. Inhale all the pain and bitterness, and exhale all the goodness and positivity.

Around 26, I started to feel like a failure. I didn’t have a husband or a degree. I wasn’t a homeowner, and money was a constant struggle. I kept thinking, “I have nothing to show for success.” And then around 28, I realized what my definition of success was…and it was different from other people. From that point on, I’ve become more and more comfortable in my own skin, comfortable with my choices. I still have self-doubt sometimes, but it doesn’t seem to invade me like it used to. I’ve learned that like everything else, it will come and go. You get to choose what your success is — that is powerful.

Which leads me to one of the best lessons I’ve learned. It’s from a simple quote that a former technical director at JCCC had posted on his door, “No excuses, only choices.” It seems like a simple idea, but it really was revolutionary for me. The minute that you can hold yourself accountable for your own actions, you are unstoppable. By not allowing yourself to make excuses, you are suddenly in control of your life. Sure, you won’t always make the best choice, but when you own your choices, and stop blaming outside people or circumstances, you find a whole version of yourself. You are no longer a victim to your circumstances, and that is so incredibly pivotal.

Your 20s will be some of your hardest, most rewarding, weirdest, most fun years of your life…no matter what you choose to do. Don’t pressure yourself to have everything figured out….because love, you will never have it all figured out. I think that’s one of the biggest indicators of “growing up.” You will never get all the answers, but keep striving to learn and grow. Invest in people that invest in you. Love and friendship involve a great amount of choice — You choose who to give your energy to, so believe in those choices. Don’t allow people to influence your decision making, if they won’t be affected by the outcome. Trust that life is a constant ebb and flow. Bad things will happen. Life will blind side you, just live it. Don’t be a spectator of your life. Engage in it with no regrets. Breathe in this moment because it’s gone before you know it.

Love you,