It’s tax time again and I’ve just spent a couple of days getting my invoices, payments and receipts all nicely wrapped up so I can swoop into the tax office 100% prepared. I’m all prepped and ready but I can assure you there’s no celebration or victory dance happening in this house. No confetti, no fireworks just a total shit show of confusion and despair. UG!
I’m going to be very transparent here. After seeing 2017’s numbers I’m feeling so many mixed emotions. The words MEGA FAILURE are dancing inside my head as flashing bright neon lights. And here I sit pulling my own private shameful thoughts about myself from the darkest shadows of my bent and twisted psyche and putting them on display for all to see.
My grandma called this, “Airing your dirty laundry.” It was considered unlady like and down right unacceptable. Respectable women just don’t yap about life’s sucky moments, days, weeks or even years. No, we put our big girl panties on, pull our hair back, apply some lip gloss and we roll with it. And while you’re at it punch those mean nasty thoughts deep down inside and whatever you do, don’t ever let them see the light of day. Because if you do there will be hell to pay. And by hell to pay, I mean, people will run from you like wildfire. Then you’ll have yourself a “real” problem. No work, no friends, not a drop of self respect nor the strength to pick yourself back up again.
Sounds like a horrible hellish place. A place you’d never want your GPS to accidentally take you. Yet, I keyed in the address and dropped a pin on that God forsaken spot on the map. I love a good adventure, I’m curious as hell and what sounds like a one-way trip is actually only the beginning and a small portion of my big, wild wonderful journey back to Me.
I know you’re probably wondering what in the world could have happened that would plant seeds of self doubt so strong that they would then sprout and grow into a full blown belief of MEGA FAILURE. Where I went wrong and fell off the tracks was when I allowed money to be the measuring stick of my own self worth. I now realize. Big mistake, I know.
2017 was down right rough. I made under $10,000 last year. Sigh. Yes, you read that right. My ALL-IN MEGA FAILURE number is actually $7,402.28 USD to be exact. So to put that into perspective, If I worked 8 hour days, 5 days a week, out of 260 work days in 2017 I made a mere $28.47 a day. I worked every day. Long days. Early days. Weekends. I literally showed up EVERY SINGLE DAY. I drew every day. And even though I didn’t post all of my work, every - single - day of 2017 found me caring, working and hustling. I'm not going to lie being rewarded with so little when I feel like I have given my all has been crippling.
It took a great friend to remind me to be gentle with myself and remember the hand that 2017 had dealt. (Thank you Diane you're a God send!) We think we see more when we are micro focused however we can completely miss the target when the fuller, bigger picture gets blurred. Much like seeing one grain of sand rather than the entire beach. And it’s down right wild how you can be living it , feeling it , breathing it and blindingly unable to see it.
So you’re probably wondering how I worked all year with full force and passion and have so little to show?
Allow me to explain...
My only job last year wasn’t to illustrate, letter, and share. No. I was deep in the thick of life’s ugly brier patch caring for a wonderful member of our family who was dying with cancer. We moved my husbands parents in with us in July of 2016 and by July 25 of 2017 my father-in-law peacefully let go surrounded by us all.
Throughout this year of care and compassion, I was the getaway driver for the many months of countless doctor appointments, Chemotherapy, brain radiation, chest radiation as well as several emergency room visits for unexpected complications. I know the best routes to get in an out of most of the hospitals in the Greater Orlando area and how much valet will cost you.
As the Captain, I always tried to make the rides fun and laughter filled despite the circumstances. One time I passed out Road Trip Bingo cards and emphasized there would be prizes! I had remembered my father-in-law mentioning he needed a wet rock to sharpen his pocket knife so obviously this was one of the prizes. He was beyond thrilled when I handed it to him before he exited the car.
Another memory that will forever be emblazoned in my mind is when I walked into our living room and quietly watched my father-in-law’s face light up with joy as he shared his passion for photography with my youngest daughter Anna. He was beyond excited to share and talk shop with his grand baby whom he knew loved photography almost as much as he. This later brought clarity to his purchase of a GoPro camera with all the extras one could buy. He knew Anna loved photography and he intended to give his star pupil one last gift to capture the world he was soon leaving.
The late night cookie raids of our kitchen have ceased and the sound of oldies echoing from our back patio have gone silent however his gentle smile and the essence of his caring spirit will forever be a part of me.
It’s mind boggling how I was Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend and Full Time Caregiver and still had the balls to ride myself hard for not making more money. That’s harsh guys. I would never hold others to these standards so it’s beyond me why I would do the unthinkable to myself. But I did and so many others do it and you may be guilty of it as well.
In retrospect, as I look back over this past year and through a very different lens I’ve realized I made way more than seven thousand measly dollars. Instead I walked away with a fortune of life’s little moments that you just don’t get a second chance at nor could you ever buy. And this is payment in full if you ask me.
As for that flashing neon sign in my head that reads MEGA FAILURE. Well, I’ve killed the lights on most of those letters and now feel I need to fashion a crown from the remnants rather than hold those negative vibes inside. This is who I am, right here, right now at this very moment. This is ME guys. More Me than I think I’ve ever been or ever shared for that matter. This won’t break me and feel free to call it a come back if you wish.
So I leave you with this.
If you are feeling down on yourself and think you’re failing at life take some time to sit quietly with yourself, breathe deep, take a step back and survey the situation. Simply try to see the bigger picture. If you need to make a list of everything you are doing so you can see it all, do it. You ‘ll be shocked at the clarity it will bring. Be courageous enough to look inward with tight focus and feel all the feels but also don’t neglect to zoom out to capture the bigger picture as well. That’s the real truth teller. Always ask “What am I missing?” in order to clearly see the whole picture. And when everything comes into focus, be kind enough to cut yourself a break and simply love yourself.
No matter where you are in life’s journey remember, We Are All In This Together. So let’s care for one another, love and support each other. Lift each other up whenever and where ever we can. If you’re in a dark place, I hope this story lifts and warms your spirit with sunshine. If you know someone hurting offer them a hug and a hand up. Share your sunshine.
Much love and warm hugs to you today.