My canvas isn’t flat… It isn’t pulled, tightly wrapped around a wooden frame with perfect 90-degree angles. Perhaps most of us are like this… I don’t know. While I’ve stressed mercilessly over every stroke I am definitely not a color-inside-the-lines or paint-by-number kind of person.

I am the little girl that danced down the isles at the grocery store in a ballet costume my mother made and I am the girl who’d shrink in her chair hoping no one would call her out in class and then blurt the answer without raising my hand cause I had no restraint.

I am a collide-scope. Always moving, never resting, full of color and hiding under a thick coat of plastic that you’d most certainly have to be intentional to even see. My favorite animal growing up was a turtle… I think it’s because they could fully enclose themselves for safety.

I constantly built fortresses of self-preservation while simultaneously throwing myself out there because I felt a deep need to not be bound. When I was afraid I would be judged for something… I’d work hard to hide it and then I’d just tell everyone what I was hiding just to get over it.

All that to say… I’ve always been my own roadblock. I’ve avoided things that are scary. I’ve cut down trees and laid them across the road just to say there’s something in my way. I’ve seen people around me do the same. They make promises. They talk about their future plans when they feel positive about it and then they withdraw from everyone when they’re “doing it again” and ignore everyone that loves them. “It” could be popping pills, dating another unhealthy person and throwing their whole self into the relationship, drinking heavily or partying to the point their next day is like penance for their evening. Some are work-a-holics… Some bounce from one distraction to another, even constantly serving others, hoping to never look themselves in the mirror. 

Not me. I stare in the mirror. I collapse under the pressure of what I know needs to be done because I’m sometimes lost on how to do it. I’ve lived in guilt over how to meet all of my over commitments. It was only the last several years that I started even saying “no” to things for my own personal health and life balance.

So the question is how do we turn our own roadblocks into mile markers? How do we go from saying “this keeps holding me back” to “I remember when that held me back?” Everything I’ve ever overcome started with acceptance. I had to come to a place where I could matter-a-factly say “this is my problem.” Denial is nothing but a heavy chain binding you to the problem.

Acceptance is the very first power tool you have to pick up in order to overcome. Period.

I don’t think you can really overcome anything or redefine anything without saying what it is, to begin with. Acceptance looks like “yes, that happened to me,” “he’s gone and he isn’t coming back,” “now my life is going to have to take a different path,” “I don’t have the skills but I can learn them,” “I’m actually gifted at this,” ”I lost that dream entirely, I either get another dream or I give up.” Embracing reality. Not always loving it… but acknowledging the facts.

Acceptance can launch you into grief. So grieve. Grieve the loss, disappointment or whatever it is that you must. Then take up your power tool, take in a deep breath and take control of your future.

When I had my first kid my, husband and I were in a really difficult time in our marriage. I was contemplating divorce but I knew in my heart-of-hearts I should stay and work it out. Instead of hyper-focusing on HIS issues, I decided to focus on my own. My big problem (believe me there were many problems) at the time was anger. I was raging. Although I never had, I was the kind of wife that would chuck a plate at my husband’s head. I had triggers out the wazoo. He could say something trying to compliment me and my translation was that he was being condescending and I’d blow a gasket.

When I had my first baby though, I knew I needed to fix it. I didn’t want him growing up in a home with an angry mom. I had to acknowledge (accept) my own issues.

I did a twelve step program. Let me tell you… I was WAY angrier than I realized. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a right to be angry. I did. In fact, I had lots of great reasons to be angry. I had been abused, rejected, neglected, violated, ignored, unsupported and never taught my value as a person. However, there was no way I was going to overcome any of it unless I accepted that my state was now my own choice and no longer a product of my past. I was put in the boat but now I had to learn to swim in order to get out and move on.

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