Looking to the New Year Ahead!

The day has arrived.  A shiny new year has begun and people awoke with a buzz of excitement, nursing hangovers, and dreaming of accomplishing newly crafted resolutions.  I started my day like any other, but ideas, plans, goals, and dreams have been carried with me in my thoughts through the day.  I know I have an exciting year ahead, and a challenging one.

I will be graduating this May with my two bachelor’s degrees, and I will begin my journey into a career.  It is hard to describe the feelings that come to a soon-to-be-graduate because there are too many.  I have an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, knowing I have worked hard to achieve this goal.  In fact, it has been a six year process.  I also feel as though I have been provided invaluable skills and knowledge that will lead to an ability to move into a career.  I know the first half of the year will be full of classes, craziness, and sadly, the last semester of my undergraduate career.  I will maintain my expectations of myself, and I will graduate summa cum laude.  I will walk across the stage at graduation with a mix of pride and sadness.  A lump will fill my throat as I realize I am leaving behind the sights, sounds, and familiarity that has become a second home to me.

I will embark on a journey into the the world of job searching, learning the lingo, prepping resumes, and preparing for interviews.  I will carry the confidence I have gained with me into the workforce, knowing I am smart, strong, and capable.  I will perhaps consider graduate school, and finish my novel.  I have so many things that will fill my year with joy and achievement.  My educational and career goals will be a main focus for me this year, but there is something that must be considered in all things.  My family.

I love my family, and my son has had a challenging year with school and his behavior.  His mental illnesses have spun out of control, and it has been very difficult to work with him.  I will continue to get him the help he needs, but I will also work to help him to see his worth and potential because that will hopefully give him the strength he needs to change the path he is on.  The challenges I have faced as a mother with special needs children has been overwhelming at times, and I plan to continue to write and blog about advocacy issues because there are so many people who struggle with this problem.

I am truly excited to make this an incredible year, and I would love to hear the plans of others.  Please post any goals you may have or what you are most excited about in the coming year!

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Home for the Holidays: The True Meaning of Home!

Every year, the winter holidays approach and people focus on the central themes of home and family.  Over the years, when asked about my “hometown” or where I grew up, I never quite knew how to reply.  Having been a military brat with a father who switched to management positions that required moving as well, I did not have a hometown.  I never quite know what to call home.  So, this year, as I tried to answer this question, I really thought about what home means to me.  This is the answer I came up with:

Home for me has never been a place. My family moved regularly, and my home life was unstable due to mental illness. Despite the odds my family faced, we made a life together, we learned to talk, we played family games, and we shared holidays. My home is in the memories of powdered sugar dust rising in the air as the iced frosting was made for Christmas cookies. My home lives in the beaded Christmas tree ornament my mom saved and I watch my children place lovingly on the tree. My home lives in the recipes that I have adopted from my mother as the smell of spices waft through the rooms of our house. My home is in the love that has been shared from each generation and is now passed on as I support my own children. My home is the life that my children lead as I watch my son struggle with mental illness and my daughter thrive after heart surgeries. In their eyes, I see my home because it is rooted in the family. It is the devotion, the smile, the twinkle in the eyes, and it was in the salty tears that fell as I handed my children over to the care of specialists. My home is not a place, it is intangible and comprises a feeling of absolute love and belonging that can only be found in the dusty corners of memories past and in each fleeting moment with my family today. It is always evolving, and I carry it in each cell of my being. My home is both tragic and beautiful, and I am truly grateful.

This expresses what cannot be said in just one word.  I do not have a city as a home because I have lived in so many.  I challenge everyone to look a little deeper at what they consider their home to be because it may surprise you.  I will be taking a break from WordPress for the next few days to spend quality time with my family, and plan to come back with a strong approach to advocacy, caregiving, and leadership.  I wish you all a wonderful holiday, and hope you have a chance to spend time with your loved ones.