Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Perfectionism is back, ugly as ever!

Hi, My name is Erica and I'm a perfectionist. (hears in a whisper, Hi Erica!) This fact has been a thorn in my side for more years than I could even explain. This little tidbit of my personality has led me to struggle with depression for years. I have always told my clients that the space between perfection and reality is right where depression lives. I have no doubt that I am right because I live it, day in and day out. My struggle with depression has led me to at times be suicidal and more often just really really lost. As a therapist, it's hard to imagine being suicidal and not being able to get a handle on it but I think more people need to recognize that often we go into a field because we are passionate about it. That is exactly why I did. I did not know how to heal myself and I  have always believed the old saying "Knowledge is Power." After years on the proverbial couch, I learned that my perfectionism was causing and facilitating the staying power of my depression. It has also aided in being unhealthy, stagnant in my faith, stagnant in my career, and caused me to hate myself at times. It has always been with me so I'm not sure who I am without it.

Lately, it has come to my awareness that perfectionism is back, heavily. Luckily, this time I'm catching it before it gets to suicidal but I am noticing that I am losing sleep, worrying about things that do not matter, and overly trying to control situations that are beyond my control. This morning, I was reading an article that someone posted on Facebook about procrastination. I read it because I might be the reigning queen of procrastination and I know that it goes hand in hand with my perfectionism. Picture this, there is a 15 page paper due in a class and I have been told months before it is due what the assignment is and what is required of me in order to get the coveted "A." I wait until the weekend before the paper is due and then sit down and crank out all 15 pages in one/two nights and do the least work possible given my time. I get the paper back and there it is, my "A." Why doesn't it feel good? It doesn't feel good because I know that I threw it together last minute and it isn't my best work. What if I had spent the time on it I wanted and got the most out of the assignment I could get? Well, then I may have gotten a "B" instead. What would it have felt like to know that my best wasn't good enough? That is the question I never want to answer...therefore I never give it my best because then, I can always chalk it up to being last minute if I fail. How does that really go with perfection, you may be asking. I'll tell you....

Being perfect has never been something I've achieved. I am a perfectionist which is totally different than being perfect. My health has pretty much always been bad. I have always procrastinated on VERY important things, and even when I have succeeded at life (as with my degrees in Psychology) it was always with the knowledge in me that I could have done better or learned more if I only tried. One area of perfectionism that has seemed to go away over the years was my need for everyone around me to be perfect as well. I used to have a difficult time with people because the minute a friend made an error in judgment or mistreated me in some way, they were thrown away like yesterday's newspaper. Now, I find that I can work through conflicts with people and really still value them as friends. I like that this has been sorted out. I haven't, however, learned to do this with myself.

Something happened a few years ago that tore my belief in myself into bits. It was in an area of my life that is really precious to me and it caused me to be benched. I walked away from something I love very much because in my mind, I wasn't perfect enough for it. I wasn't worthy to do the calling that I believed fit me best because someone disagreed with my methods. Deep down inside of me, I know I'm good at this thing. I know that God gave me abilities and heart for this like nothing else. I know that it is one of the few things that stirs my heart so much that I cry after doing it because it brings me so much joy. It kills me that someone's words of critique and selfish actions were enough to break my spirit. I know that my problem with perfectionism aided in this death of a dream. Now, what do I do about it?!

Like I said, lately I have been inclined to look at this. Mainly because I have a little guy who is watching my every move and learning things from me. I don't want him to rip up every drawing he makes because it isn't perfect. I don't want him to quit things that he could be really great at because he isn't perfect. I don't want him to not recognize his worth to Jesus because he isn't perfect like Jesus. Every day I wonder how I can be better for him and this is the area I feel God is speaking to most today. How do you get to where it is okay to be flawed and take risks? How do I let go of my sense of failure to again do what makes my heart ache with happiness? How do I go forward in my calling knowing that failures are bound to happen? How do I continue to be me and still act like the failures don't matter? How do I stop procrastinating on taking steps forward just to prevent the pain of not being everything to everyone? I am not sure the answer to these questions...but at least I'm finally asking them.

I pray that today you find that you are enough. I pray that I do too!

Thanks for listening,


Friday, January 24, 2014

Quit acting like a baby!

Today has been a long day. Max is only 1 year old so it can sometimes be challenging to know exactly what he needs at any given point. Through the last 12 months of my life, I have become an expert at interpreting cries and whines and even body language. Max has learned a few words but they aren't the more useful words like Tired, Pain, Needy, or Hungry. (although he does have a version of hungry I can translate) Today I was having an especially hard time figuring out what was making my little guy so upset and I started to think about why marriages, friendships, and even family relationships go badly. By the way, in case you were curious...Max just wanted mommy to cuddle him and give kisses and snuggles (I know, precious)

You always hear it said in magazines like Cosmo and self-help books that communication is key and I think we all roll our eyes a little bit but here is what I'm here to tell you, it is! I usually think that they are harping on talking period and maybe even expressing some feelings but I think my point hits a little closer to the nursery. Max is a baby and babies communicate using everything but language. It is incredibly frustrating at first and you learn to just go down the list of possibilities; diaper dirty? hungry? tired? hot? cold? or the many other number of things it could be. As the months go on, you learn which cries mean what and you also realize what time it might be or even the possibility that the baby is sick. My argument is that if we would all stop acting like babies...we might have successful relationships.

There is no possible way for someone to give you an apology(for example) if all you do is give them the cold shoulder or silent treatment. The only way to get a much needed apology is to say "You hurt me" Yes it is primitive but extremely powerful. Have you ever hurt someone's feelings and it took them more than a few months to say so and usually they said it while yelling at you or having a disagreement about something else? I have! It's painful because you just wish they would have said something so that you could have done your best to make it up to them. We all communicate isn't important to start communication. Even Max, with his very limited language skills...communicates with me. He communicates through crying, whining, laughing, smiling, and rubbing his sweet little eyes when he is tired.

If you are in a relationship right now with someone and it's damaged, you are communicating. Maybe you are ignoring them, deleted them from your facebook (gasp!), clearing their calls, answering in one word sentences, avoiding them entirely, snipping back at them every time they talk to you, etc... You are communicating. Unfortunately, you are just communicating like a baby!

Adult communication is so important in relationships. It is important to "Say what you need to say" (John Mayer) To communicate as an adult, you must speak words and they need to include feeling words. Here is an example and I realize it is not always easy to do this but totally necessary:

Martha is hurt because her friend Tina decided to go to a movie instead of attend her birthday party. It is a very important birthday party for Martha because she is in remission after going through a life threatening bout of breast cancer. This birthday is more valuable than any birthday Martha has ever had. Tina RSVP'd that she would be there and then an hour before the party called to say she has been asked on a date to a movie and would not be able to make it.

This is a good situation where someone may just stop talking to another person and therefore get no resolution. If, indeed, Martha wants to continue a relationship with Tina, she has to communicate. Here are a few guidelines of things to remember when communicating like an adult:

  • Sometimes three words are a great start( "I am hurt." ): This can be the jumping off point to just get the feelings out into the air. They are the hardest ones to come up with. After this, there is no doubt that a conversation will be started. If you can begin with "I am (enter feeling) " you are at least beginning the communication cycle. 
  • Allow your needs to be met: If you need an apology, make sure you are ready to accept one. If you need something to be corrected, allow the person to correct it. If you need to be heard, be appreciative to them for listening and help them hear you better by having them repeat what they think you said.
  • Take the time that you need: If you feel that you will be acting like a baby (ex: throwing a tantrum) let the other person know that you need time to process before trying to communicate. This saves a lot of heartache in the long run.
  • Resolve: Make sure that you hold on to adult behaviors until the situation is resolved. None of the other tactics (throwing tantrums, throwing items, ignoring, slamming doors, breaking things, etc...) are at all affective. The only thing you can do that will either heal or resolve a situation is to communicate like an adult.
In Martha's situation she may have started with the simple " I am hurt" or maybe a few of the following:

"I feel unimportant"
"I feel dismissed."
"I feel that you chose a date over me"
"I feel like my life doesn't matter to you."
"I feel like our friendship is not reciprocal"

Maybe Tina was incredibly selfish and dismissive but maybe she didn't see it that way and did not feel that the birthday party was a big deal given that she sat in on every chemotherapy appointment and did not go on a date for the almost year that Martha was fighting the cancer. Maybe there is a misunderstanding...but one thing is for sure; there is no resolution with adult communication!
Stop being a baby!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One Year Parenting Woes

Yesterday marked a year since I've been on this journey called "parenting." I know very little of the game and have really worked my way through accepting that, and knowing that I am a work in progress. Every day of doing it, I learn something new about parenting in general and more importantly, about Max. Today, I read an article about moms being hard on each other and how we are the first ones to guilt another parent about how they do things. The article challenged me to look at the way I treat other parents and how they do their thing in their home. In my parenting, these things are true; I breastfed Max until I no longer could physically because I believed it to be the best thing for him since he was two months early. I also feel that giving your baby formula and nourishing them that way is just as acceptable and just as loving. Max sleeps in his own bed every single night however we have not transitioned him to his own room yet. Again, these decisions had much to do with him being early. I think that co-sleeping is also fine and having your child sleep in their own room right away is fine too. My choice was based on Max being so small and having a much higher chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I wanted to be closer to him to oversee all of his actions while sleeping. Now that he is a year old, we will work on transitioning him to his own bedroom. He now takes naps in his own bedroom.

With eating "real food," I choose to feed my son (at every meal) a serving of protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. This is for a couple of reasons. First, I am a type I diabetic and Anthony is a Type 2 diabetic so nutrition is paramount in making sure that Max has great health. It is unlikely he would get my kind by heredity since they have now decided it is more of an autoimmune disorder but Type 2 is more about family history and health habits. We want to prevent this for Max, if we can, by teaching him good nutrition from the very beginning.  We have also chose to not include as much meat into his diet. We both believe that the more meat in your diet, the more unhealthy you seem to be. We have found ways to give Max great nutrition without bombarding every meal with meat. He does eat meat but it is usually chicken, turkey, or fish. Max may have had something with beef once. It is also completely okay if you feed your child ground beef 4 times a week and let them eat french fries. I'm sure you know how to handle their nutrition and you will do your best for your child. No judgment here, it's just how we choose to handle nutrition in our house.

Toys; Anthony and I only buy educational and developmental toys for Max. Granted, he still finds these fun because you push buttons, they sing or make noises, and they are colorful. He does not know the difference. I do not feel (at this age) he gets anything out of violent toys or action figures. It is just a fact, where he is developmentally. Later when he begins to use imaginative play, action figures can prove useful. I basically buy Max things that he can manipulate using motor skills, learn from, or make music with. However, I have no judgment in allowing your one year old to have action figures. I have no judgement in allowing them to have toys that serve no educational purpose. This is all about my role as a therapist and studying child development for years. I just appreciate learning toys and things that help Max make transitions to new developmental goals easily.

Television: We do not have cable in our home. This was a choice we originally made due to finances and feeling like we could better use those funds. Now, it is more about Max being here. We choose to watch movies, television shows on DVD, or not have the TV on at all. We only allow Max to watch things that are rated G for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I have seen it in my own family that when boys are allowed to watch incredibly violent shows or movies, they act that out very quickly. Boys are naturally more rough and tumble as it is so we are trying to thwart the hitting, kicking, fighting that happens in movies and deal with the more natural way these things begin. Also, language and content of movies and TV at this point are not things that we want to expose our son to. Max watches a few shows like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. As far as movies, he usually watches movies that Anthony and I have already seen and view as appropriate for his age.  Another big value for our family is not being a family who accumulates material things. Commercials are very hard on parents because they bombard children with new things and toys every minute not to mention the endless fast food commercials. We feel that Max not being exposed to this all the time will help him to have less of a sense of entitlement to things and be more appreciated of what he does receive. I will also say that my family members do TV exposure much differently than we do and that is their choice and for them to decide what is best for their children.Another big thing in our house is screen time is limited to two hours a day. I think it can be very easy for me to be a lazy parent when the TV is on. It can captivate Max's attention so that I can check out in the computer, Iphone, or my own stuff instead of reading to him and interacting with him. This can severely hurt his social skills and overall well-being. We also do reading time twice a day with Max. I am a book worm and want Max to love books. I started in the womb with that! :)

Faith: In our house, we practice Christianity. We attend church, pray, read our Bibles, and teach values and rules that coincide with our faith. Everything we do in parenting Max, we try to make a biblical connection for him. We care far more that Max wants to obey God than Max wanting to obey us.We would prefer if he obeys us because God asks him to and not because we ask him to. We hope at the same time we are teaching respect for respect's sake but we will take what we can and focus on Jesus. This looks like; praying when we get up in the morning and praying before bed, having house rules that Anthony and I both obey and model in front of Max so that he can see us obeying what God wants for us, and reading the Bible with and in front of Max in order to show him that it's hard to follow a faith that you don't continually practice and discipline yourself towards. In saying that, it is YOUR choice how you raise YOUR baby. If you choose to not attend church anywhere, not focus on any certain faith, etc... that is your decision and you are still welcome in my life having made that decision. I will not push my agenda on your family.

All of these things felt important to address today but there is one more thing. Lately I have been really kind of annoyed by something that happens a lot and is probably coming from a really innocent place but I feel like addressing it will help me not be so annoyed with it. Here is the situation. I am one of those people that really like to speak positive and good things about my family. I constantly talk about how great my husband is not because he is perfect but because he is great. He is a fabulous husband and father and constantly finds ways to make my life happier or easier. He does his job by the vows and goes above and beyond that. He is not only great at being married but is a fantastic human being to everyone he meets. Max is one of the sweetest boys I have ever known. He is mild mannered, affectionate, and very laid back. I am not under any illusion that he will always be quiet or always obey me. I know he is human and I know he is a boy. In saying all of that, it is not your job to tell me who my husband or my kid are. I'll give you a few examples:

Me: Max is so great. He sleeps through the night and takes two naps a day.

Other parent: That won't last. He will stop doing that when he is (enter age) years old and then you will never sleep.

Me: Max is a sweet little guy. He is very mild mannered and generally obeys me and understands NO when I say it.

Other parent: Just wait, you won't have that be true when he's two. He will not stay sweet I guarantee it.

Me: Anthony is so helpful to me and is a great father. I am very lucky

Other married person: Oh you've only been married for a short time. By the time you guys are married ten years he won't help you at all and will speak to you like you are trash.

Okay, so here goes my thoughts. First of all I am sorry you are miserable because that is how I see you. I'm sorry you do not appreciate the immense blessing of even being a parent and I'm sorry that your marriage is that bleak and depressing but don't hang that on my door. I do believe that Max (and Anthony for that matter) will make mistakes and not be perfect but I choose happiness and to focus on the things that bring me joy. My husband will not start treating me like trash because he cares about what God wants for our marriage and he loves me deeply. I also do not treat him like trash and that makes a difference. If he should ever treat me this way, I am in no way going to live that way. We will be in therapy before the second trashy thing comes out of his mouth and he knows it! :) As for Max, yes he is going to go through rebellious and challenging stages perhaps, but it doesn't change that I am parenting him with a bent in mind. I am choosing to teach him kindness, respect, and compassion. If he doesn't always practice that, it's okay because I don't always practice it either. It is part of life to make bad decisions, mistakes, and disobey sometimes. It is called development. It doesn't change that he is my child who I deeply love and what his character is deep down. P.S. YOU DON'T KNOW HIM anymore than I know your children so think before you speak into his future or his character. I don't tell you who your spouse or children are so please give me the same respect.

I think I'm done ranting now so happy parenting and when people do this to you, shrug it off...YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S PARENT!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is self-care enough?

There was a concept in graduate school that was harped on more than ethics, empathy, or knowing our diagnoses combined. That concept was self-care. It is pretty self-explanatory, however, I am going to explain it because it seems that a lot of people might not get the idea. Self-care is taking your needs into consideration when you do ANYTHING that involves caring for others. This could be parenting, elder care, teaching, therapy, medical practice, or even as simple as being in a customer service position. Today, self care came up in my world because I stumbled upon an article that I had not heard about. I have been out of the loop in terms of blog reading and even non-front page news because of parenting so this really shocked me to find. I'll let you go and read the article first just in case you have not heard of the story.

Kelli Stapleton

I should first of all say that anything I say on this blog is my opinion and certainly does not declare to be a fact since I do not know Kelli or her family. I do not understand her struggles or know her daily life. I am just learning of her existence so there is certainly going to be some unanswered questions for me. I have started to read her blog though which can be found here. From my understanding, Kelli has written a blog called "The Status Woe" where she chronicles every day life being the parent of a special needs child, specifically her daughter Isabelle who is diagnosed with severe autism. Her last post is dated September 3, 2013 and on September 3, 2013 she and her daughter were found in their family vehicle alive but victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. She was arrested for attempted murder of her daughter. She was apparently trying to kill herself and her daughter. Heartbreaking is the first word that came to my mind.

I know it's easy for a lot of people to label her a monster and to just immediately shun her from the parent camp because of  what she did and I can understand that sentiment, I really can. I decided that once I read this article, I would use a different lens to view it through and not judge the actions but look into it. As a mental health professional, I always look further when anyone tries to take their own life and of course the life of their child as well. I think there is more than meets the eye here. I immediately logged on to view her blog first. I also started to think. I started to imagine the life that Mrs. Stapleton lived. She routinely was physically assaulted by her child, overwhelmed with the responsibilities, and it sounds like..not fully supported in her endeavors to get the best care and education for her daughter. I have no knowledge of the challenges of raising a child with special needs or more specifically a child with severe autism. I do not know the first thing about what it must be like to feel like you are in an abusive relationship with the person you brought into the world but I would imagine, it's crushing.

I also started to think about this simple concept of self-care. It is so easy to say that she should have taken better care of herself in order to care for her child but let's be honest, how many of us have lost hours of sleep we desperately needed, "forgotten" to eat, and even disregarded our own illness to care for our ill child and maybe our children don't even have any special needs that we know of. In Mrs. Stapleton's case, she had endured 14 years of being physically abused by her own child and she, her husband, and her other children being in a life threatening and very stressful situation, daily. My heart does not get mad at her but breaks to think of the anguish she must have reached to have endured that for so long and finally just couldn't do it anymore. My heart has been burdened since reading this article and although I am several months behind, I am wondering what my role can be in the world to help parents who get to this point and don't know what to do. Parenting is not easy for anyone. It is constant worrying, sleeplessness, happiness, joy, pain, self-sacrifice, and anxiety. I say that to say this...that is parenting a child with no neural issues or tendencies to beat the crap out of you daily. My post is hoping that first of all I could write my feelings out on this poor mom and her poor family. Secondly, that maybe someone would gain more compassion for her through reading this. Third, that I would be able to reach out to those of you who may be parenting and finding the end of the rope insanely close. If you are parenting a child with special needs, first of all I stand in awe of what you must endure daily. If you are just parenting, I feel the same way. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal feelings are no joke. No one is judging you here, God has a handle on that stuff. It's my job (literally and figuratively) to give compassion and empathy. So stinking heart breaking.


Before I die...

Lately, I have noticed an overall sense of rushed desires and lists of endeavors people wish to act out "before they die." You know what I mean! You've seen the articles about the 20 places you just have to see before you die. The 50 experiences you must have before you knock off. The bucket list app that you downloaded so you could start building your list based on a decent (at best) movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I remember that for about a month after watching that film, I bought into the "bucket list" idea and started to build my list. On my list were the following things I remember; "See Michael Jackson perform live", "Play Black Jack in Vegas and make an obscene bet and let it ride", and the most impressive, run a marathon at least once. Who am I kidding? First, Michael Jackson pulled out of the station before I got a chance, I have no "obscene" money to speak of and marathon....HA!

I made a list of things that sounded pretty fun to do, sounded like I should want to do them (see: Marathon), and things I had wanted to do since I was a little girl. No, I did not want to let it ride as a little girl but I think you get the point. Buying into this idea did a few things to me. 1. It depressed me because the whole concept is about dying, not living. 2. It made me feel like the things that I have already done are inconsequential like receiving two degrees in a field I love, having extremely long and fulfilling friendships,being able to marry a man I not only love but deeply respect, etc... and 3. It made me go outside of the things that matter and focus on things that really aren't worth much, in my opinion. Where were the "goals" that said anything about my spiritual development or relationships with those I love the most. I think that "bucket lists" are an interesting concept and one that can serve us very well to stop and think about what we want to get out of this life but I think it is probably a little skewed of an idea. I think if any one of us were looking down the barrel of our last 6 months of life, the list would probably change drastically and say things like "See my grandchildren every single day and play games with them", make mad passionate love to my husband twice a day until the end", and maybe even "quit my job and just sit home and talk to Jesus in those hours getting ready to meet HIM!"

At the beginning of this year (2014), those thoughts came to mind about what the end really looks like. I think giving birth to my first child in 2013 really made me start to look at life differently and ask questions I had never asked. I started to wonder to myself, "What do I want Max to feel at my funeral?" I started to think about what I wanted Anthony to feel daily in our marriage. I wondered aloud what I wanted to feel about myself every single day when I put my head on my pillow. My life has been a bit uncertain since I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1996. I knew that there was a distinct possibility that my life may not have the span I had always dreamed of. I might not live to be the 100 years that my great great grandmother lived. I might leave at 50 or 60 or even 40 depending on the level of care and turn that my diabetes would get or take. I am still aware of that as someone who has developed renal issues now. I do not sit around and think about the day that I will leave Earth but I probably think more about the journey to the end than most at my age of 33.

I try not to be morbid but there are times I can delve into that. I feel a sense of peace about the day that I do leave this Earth because I know, it will be the right time. However, I also feel a sense of responsibility to those people that I love to have a "bucket list" that matters and is addressed every single day. Anyway, at the beginning of every year I always make a ton of resolutions. I am one of those nerdy people who really like progress and bettering myself. I like being organized, doing projects, reading books, watching movies, learning new things, and getting my life more together. I always love the beginning of a new year. I am also one of those people who loves a new notebook. I love the crisp clean pages of possibility that sit in front of me. My husband will tell you that I only love that newness for the first six or seven pages and then the notebook is tainted and I need a new one. It's true and nerdy! This is probably the reason why my blog gets more of my writing, because they give me a "blank notebook" with each post.

At the start of the year as I pondered what my goals would be in 2014, I realized that I had new sections this year to discover. I was now a parent. Last year at that time, I was still pregnant and thinking I had a few months to go. I was more concerned about getting Max here safely and surviving a diabetic pregnancy. This year, I am today (January 22) a year into parenting. Max was born a year ago at 2:56 pm Eastern Standard Time. I have new perspective and new goals. Also, this year my spirituality has changed so drastically with the introduction of being responsible for another human being and their development of faith. My marriage has changed drastically through our new role as parents into one I really love but one I do not recognize from the last five years with this man. Things this year would look far different on my resolution list. Normally my list includes things like specific books I would like to read, specific health goals I want to achieve, and career moves I feel I need to make. This different.

I thought on my journey back to the blog, I would start by sharing my vision for 2014. My goals for 2014 are separated into categories of Spirituality, Physical Health, Relationships, Mental Health, Parenting, Marriage, Fun, and overall togetherness of day to day tasks. They are varied in their importance to me like wanting to continue to exercise extreme patience in my parenting while being consistent and focusing on Max's adult-hood and not just surviving his childhood. Focusing on helping him became a great adult is a foundational way that I stay unconcerned about things that do not matter at all. Another big goal of mine this year was to clean up my health even more. I have taken care of my diabetes fairly faithfully now for 6 years but there are other things that need work. I decided that eating more based in plants and not animals would be better for my longevity goals for being here for Max. I decided that I better bite the bullet and start to really like exercise and even if I don't, do it anyway. This year, it's time to embrace my adult-hood now that I'm raising a little guy and modeling behaviors. I need to start thinking about what it teaches him when I do not get enough sleep or take on more than I can really do. I am focused this year on treating my husband like I might never see him again. What do I want the words I say to him to be if it's all over. I want them to be how much I love and respect him and think he is the absolute most gorgeous, kind, and generous man I know. What do I want my friends to feel if this is the last day I have to enjoy them. I want my buddy Nick to know it means everything to me to be in he and his family's life and I appreciate him leading me to the only thing that matters, Jesus. I want my friend Carrie to understand that no matter what this year brings, I'll be here to cry on or with. I want my nieces and nephews to hear that they are ENOUGH for Aunt Erica and that every word they say is interesting. I want Max to hear that his mommy wanted him so much that she fasted, prayed, and begged God for a chance to raise him.

"Relationship" is the key word for 2014. Relationship with my husband, son, friends, family, self, and most importantly my relationship with Jesus Christ. This is gonna be a meaningful year and if it is the last and this is indeed my bucket..I will know that I have accomplished my "list." Even though we are 22 days in, Happy New Year to you and Happy First Birthday to the apple of my eye, My Max!