Five Things I’m Leaving in 2016

I don’t do New Year resolutions for a bunch of reasons. My life is in constant flux and change doesn’t wait until the new year, it just happens.

Still, I like neat endings with all my loose ends tied and every to-do list checked off and completed in full! HA! I’m just kidding, that’s not how anything in my life works.

I want to be more organized. I even tried to start, keep, and maintain a bullet journal but kept forgetting to take time to actually update it. My bedroom looks like a closet exploded over everything.

I still have boxes in the garage I’ve yet to unpack since we moved in….6 years ago.

I’m not a type A. I’m more like a type Z. If I’m being perfectly honest with myself…I probably have adult ADD. I only complete projects I’m absolutely passionate about and even then…it’s a push.

That is neither here nor there however…all this is to say, the end of the year compels me to assess. I’m thinking about what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and naturally where I would like to go.

I am of course limited by economic hardships and lack of resources but, personal growth isn’t so much about having and more about being. I can’t really say what I might want in the year to come. Who the hell knows what is waiting down the road. I do, however, know exactly what I don’t want/need in the year to come.

Here’s my list of shit to leave behind in 2016….

Picking the wrong battles.

In a world lit up with all kinds of distractions, I’ve had a hard time staying focused. For someone who claims to want no drama, I find myself embroiled in it quite a bit. I could say, “I don’t look for drama, it just finds me,” and while that is technically true, when it comes I’m choosing to engage. This isn’t to say I should stop fighting. Hell no! Rather, I am choosing to be more selective about where and when and to what end I engage. I don’t need all of that stress.

My energy is more powerful when I focus it, instead of spreading myself so very thin.

Working for free

When I first began my writing career, I was eager to get my name out there. I had no issue writing for exposure or writing just for the byline. While, I still want to get my name and work out there, I am no longer inclined to do it for free. I deserve to be paid and I deserve it to be a livable wage. I deserve to make an income off of my intellectual property. Chasing money doesn’t make me greedy, it makes me smart. Demanding I be valued doesn’t make me selfish, it makes me savvy and if I were a man everyone would be much more willing to agree.

Well, I have come to realize my value and I wont be short-changing myself anymore.

Apologizing for my boundaries

Over the past year I made strong efforts to communicate my limits and set appropriate boundaries. Even with my children. It wasn’t easy. Some literally cussed and villainized me for standing my ground. This was upsetting but, it was important for me to end unhealthy patterns of behavior in certain relationships. I found myself apologizing often for this, “No, I’m sorry, I just can’t allow/handle/manage that.” followed by lengthy explanations about why this is. Having 6 kids, a disabled husband, no money etc.

“No.” really is a complete sentence and if you know me and love me, you don’t need an explanation or an apology.

Denying or delaying my own feelings 

Beyond mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, writer, I am a whole entire person with an identity completely separate from the roles I take on in my life. The way my life is set up, exploring who I am as an entire person, sometimes, feels impossible. There are needs that must be met before mine. I am ok with that, I love my children, I love my responsibilities and the love that oozes from my life is real and wonderful.

However, taking care of 7 people is exhausting. Sometimes I can even resent it and when I do I know it is because I am not being honest about my own needs. While it may feel impossible to take the time I need to connect with my own feelings, it isn’t actually impossible.

Impostor Syndrome

I have a voice. I have influence. I am a great writer and I plan on doing so much more in the years to come. In the past I would have laughed after each of those sentences in more than just self-deprecating humor. I would have mocked myself bitterly, regretful that I didn’t know this before deciding not to go to college. Really though, the only regret I have is treating myself and my talents so poorly.

I may not be everyone’s cup of tea and I may have come into my own by unconventional methods but, I belong.

Letting go of the things that no longer serve me is good. Letting go of things that hurt me is even better. I am committed to doing both, owning my greatness, and leaving the bullshit behind! Happy New Year!

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My Identity: A Journey – Part Two

I finally got my Ancestry DNA results! Scroll down to jump into a video where I talk about it. I began this journey a long time ago but I only just started documenting my process. The first part of this series is here for your reading pleasure.

Ok…so first, my sincerest thanks are in order. Activists for Ancestry gifted me this kit. The organization raises funds to purchase DNA kits for activists engaged in social justice work. I am humbled by the prize and excited to share my results.

Ancestry DNA is nothing new but for those curious about the process…

The kit included a collection cup for my sample, a mixing solution, and the return shipping packaging. You spit into the cup, mix it with the solution, put it into the envelope and box and send it to the lab. There was email communication throughout, I was notified when my sample was received and when it was sent to the lab for processing. Once complete, I received an email notification with a link to my results. All and all it took about a month to receive my “Ethnicity Estimate.”

Which is a breakdown of your DNA by region.

My breakdown was as follows:ee

ee_reg

I expected there to be more Spain/Portugal but surprisingly, Italy/Greece is most prominent. I also anticipated much more West African and much less native American DNA. So while there was nothing very shocking about my results, there are a few surprises!

My mix is interesting and I’m still trying to figure out what it means and how I can use this to connect some dots. While this has certainly given me some answers, it leaves me with many questions too.

Ireland? Where does that even come from?

I don’t know my biological father and I never cared or needed him. I have always had a beautiful foundation and safe place to land in my parents. My journey toward self discovery was never a journey to finding or knowing him or “that side” of myself. What I am looking for he could never provide anyway.

I am looking for wholeness. I am searching for the stolen pieces. Language, traditions, undiscovered spirituality and an ancestral home.

Where did I come from? What am I made of?

With a little spit and some solid science, I have actual answers…my bits of DNA tell me my personal history. This has given me something I’ve searched for always, a place to start with plenty of breadcrumbs to follow.

Ok! My video…My thoughts were rushed and scattered and I’m overly excited. I don’t apologize but, if you have any questions ask away in the comments!