Strength

I often get asked the question, “Talin, how do you do it? How do you raise three kids all by yourself?” I wish I could tell you that I have some magical power and I wave a wand and poof things get done. The answer to that question really has become, “Jesus takes the wheel.” This is because, as much as I may physically do, none of this is possible if I didn’t have the God-given strength that I have. And I didn’t just wake up one day and this strength was just sitting there like a coat on a hanger and all I had to do was wear it. I pray for this strength daily. To be honest, it’s always the first thing I pray for. For myself, for my kids, for anyone who needs it. I pray for their strength. 

Strength…what is this word? What does is mean? To the one who lifts weights at the gym, it’s the ability to lift more than the day before. To the cancer patient, it’s the ability to lift their head up off the pillow after an intense chemo session. To the parent who lost their child to senseless violence, it’s the ability to ever be able to find happiness in the world again. And to those with anxiety, it may merely mean being able to step out of their house and be in a public place. 

Strength is that gut-wrenching, uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s the uneasiness and hesitation to complete a task. It’s the moment when you consider quitting and you don’t. It’s when you feel your worst and you push through anyway. It’s when the unthinkable in your life happens and you have to go about your business like it never happened. It’s the difficult choice you have to make even though you know it’s right. The reason strength exists is because each and every one of us feels weakness at one point. It’s the synergy of every emotion you have coming together to push you through to the next level, the next day, the next obstacle. Strength doesn’t just show up. So remember that whenever you see someone being strong, that in reality, they are at their weakest. The strongest are the ones who need your prayers, your love, your compassion. Don’t turn your back on the ones you consider strong. Instead, go to them and allow them to be weak. 

2 Corinthians 12:9

Ambitions

woman in the middle of forest
I’m Photo by Dương Nhân on Pexels.com

We are at the last few days of Winter Break. The holidays, the trips, and the family get -togethers are all behind us. We just have a new year to take on. And as much as I want to sound like the positive, upbeat, optimistic version of myself, I’d rather just be honest and real. The last couple of weeks have been rough. Emotionally, I’m not where I want to be. I’ve taken a lot of time to myself (and to myself, I mean with the kids around me) to reflect, read, write and focus on why I have been struggling. 

And in this quest, I realized it’s because I have too many ambitions. You’re probably thinking, well that’s not a bad thing, why does that depress you? It’s simple. My ambitions and my current life circumstances don’t match up. The last thing I ever want to do is use being a single mother as my crutch. I have three beautiful, respectful, intelligent and mostly well-behaved children. I did that all by myself. I did that working two jobs, running from practice to homework and somehow even managed to maintain a semblance of a social life. So now we get to the point where my ambitions come in…the projects I want to dive into, the seminars I want to attend, the training I want to do. Are they impossible to conquer? Absolutely not…all the reason why I am so frustrated. Each of my goals are completely attainable with hard work and the time dedicated to them. Except for a single mother, time is costly. Time means daycare costs, babysitting fees, an absent mother.  So I am left with thoughts of how to proceed. 

The one thing I can assure everyone is that I don’t allow myself to wallow in my own misery for very long. Some call this tenacity. Others call it strength. But for me, it’s just my inability to allow myself to stay stagnant for too long. Ambition, perhaps? 

So after some important conversations with myself, inspiring mentors, and those friends who make you laugh until your stomach hurts, I’m getting up. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. But I’m going to get up and walk into 2019 with my head held high ready to take it on. If it’s mundane, then I’ll figure out how to spice it up along the way. If it’s too spicy, then I’m sure we’ll be able to tone it down. But the important part is: I’m up and I’m walking. Anyone need a walking partner??? 

Champion

Four. The number of years since I’ve been free. I can sit here and write about every detail of that night I left and describe it like it just happened yesterday. But I won that battle already. There’s no need to live it again. 

I’m the champion. That’s right. I’m victorious over evilness, despair, hardship, reluctance and persecution. Each day I wake is another gold medal around my neck. 

I’m raising my kids alone. Alone. Away from bitterness and a wretched life. They are happy. The biggest worry in their life is if their I-pads are charged and if their Elf on the Shelf will return in the morning. I did that. They’re kind. They’re smart. They’re naive. They’re innocent. They are just as they should be. And I gave them that. Simply because I left. 

My life isn’t always easy. But theirs is. My bank account isn’t always as full as I’d like it to be. But they have everything they need and most things they want. I feel lonely at times. But they know with certainty they will never be alone. 

And as I sit back today, thinking about the trials and tribulations of the past few years, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be where I am. There are many of you, mothers who are beaten up daily, whose worth is questioned by an abusive husband. You see no hope. You feel like you are stuck. I hope to be a testament to you. I did it. I won and you can win too. Every hardship of single motherhood today is minuscule compared to the loneliness and fear of an abusive marriage. Your trophy is waiting…

Foundations

Nothing ever made sense. It all depended on his mood at that very moment. There was no logic, no rationale, no routine. As I walk through my journey, I come across situations that trigger memories of these types of moments. 

Yesterday, I picked up some trash that had flown out of my neighbor’s trashcan and landed in my front lawn. And for a second, I was hit with a flashback from about 7 years ago. 

It was a sunny, bright, beautiful, Southern California day. We were getting ready to leave our tiny apartment to run some errands. We had some trash to take out. I grabbed the grocery bag full of trash and walked across the parking lot to throw it out in the dumpster. We got in the car and left. A few hours later, we returned home and I noticed a burrito wrapper on the grass in the walkway as we were walking inside. It was a familiar wrapper. He ate one of those frozen burritos daily. Being a conscientious neighbor, I picked it up to throw away inside. I was 100% certain it had flown out of the trash bag I carried out earlier. His reaction was astounding. He probably yelled and screamed for about 45 minutes about how I was a peasant, a nobody, a scoundrel for picking up the piece of trash. His reasoning (which in reality is no reasoning at all) was that there was no way to prove that the piece of trash belonged to us and so I should have let it sit there. He also accused me of picking up the trash so that I would bend over and show my butt off to the neighbors. This is hilarious, especially since , I have one of the flattest butts God ever created. After about a 45 minute rant and rave and an uncomfortable, tension-filled evening, I made a mental note to never pick up trash I saw when I was with him. 

Fast-forward about 2 years when we lived in our apartment in Downtown L.A. We took a walk around the hallway of the building. We were on the 7th floor and trash was thrown down a long trash chute. Someone else’s trash had fallen near the trash chute.  But I knew better than to pick it up. However, this time, HE picked up the trash and threw it down the chute. He muttered some obscenities at the person who left their trash behind. But to my surprise, I was now a lazy, no-good, filthy person for not even attempting to pick up this trash. How could I call this place my home and be ok with it being dirty? Another tantrum about someone else’s trash. I never even brought up the incident from the earlier years. I just made a mental note and laughed at the incongruence of his moral compass. I know he thought he had won that day. I let him think he did. But in reality, I felt victorious. It was that moment and others like it when I knew he would never win at life. 

You can’t go through life with no foundation of your true self. He thought he had a foundation. But in reality it was made out of quick sand. And with every random outburst, he just sank himself deeper.

I, on the other hand, never actually swayed from what I knew was right. It just took me a while to gather the strength to fight against what wasn’t for me. It was that sturdy foundation upon which I am building the empire of me. And it will remain intact because I now carefully choose what and how to build. 

Gratitude

It’s been a little while since I have written. I apologize, as the beginning of the school year is upon us, and so much of my attention has been diverted. But as I sit here and reflect upon the past few weeks, the thoughts that circle around my mind have one common theme: gratitude. I’m am truly humbled and grateful for the life I have. I feel blessed in every sense of the word for the multitude of opportunities and people that surround us. 

First and foremost, I am grateful for my three children. As much as each day of raising them can be stressful and overwhelming, the fact that I get to even be called “Mommy” makes my heart overflow with thanks. I teach them right and wrong, manners, facts about the world and my interpretation of what being a good human embodies. But the reality remains that each and every day, they teach me more about the world than anyone ever can. They represent love in its purest form and for that reason alone, I am grateful.

As summer vacation came to a close, I have had several people ask me if I’m sad to go back to work. The answer without question is “no.” What do I have to be sad about? I get to spend each day working with children, helping families, loving the kids who need it the most. And I do this while being able to be home with my children when they are off of school. I have a career that allows me to have every weekend and holiday off. School is out a week for Thanksgiving, three weeks around Christmas, a week in the spring and a whole two months in the summer. And honestly, the amount I make is enough to sustain a decent quality of life for me and my kids. So what else do I need? I love everything there is about my job, even on the difficult days, and for that I’m grateful.

Years ago when I was in an abusive marriage, the blessings in my life were obscured. The everyday routine was full of so much darkness that nothing seemed beautiful. Recently, as Southern California has been engulfed in flames, the ash and smoke from the fires tainted the beauty of the day. The air was gray, the ground seemed orange and it was difficult to see the landmarks ahead of us. It reminded me of the emotions I felt when I was married. At that point in my life, it felt like there was an inferno around me daily. It wasn’t until I stood on my own two feet, put out the flames and washed away the soot, did I finally reveal all the blessings that I never realized I had. I’m grateful for my strength.

I no longer live with the idea that my life’s lessons belongs to me. They don’t. I have made a vow that I will proceed in all aspects of my life with the intention to share my blessings with those around me. I am convinced that sharing what I have learned and gained over the years, will not only help increase my blessings, but also for those of others. My prayer for the world is that each person be able to reach the level of gratitude that I live in and surpass it. For maybe that is the key for peace and happiness for all.

Daniel 2:23

Bye-Bye Summer

And just like that my summer vacation comes to an end. Tomorrow is the first day of my 2018-2019 school year (Kids start on August 8.). This was the first summer in 6 years I actually had a break. And it was just what I needed. I got to check a lot off of my To-Do list; started eating healthier, spent lots of time with the kids and even got to go on a vacation. 

Years ago, before I even had kids, I knew I wanted to work in education. Initially, I thought the only way I could do that was to become a teacher. As I ended my teaching credential program, I realized that wasn’t enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think teachers have the hardest job out there. I value each and every one of them. There is a selflessness in teaching that cannot be compared to any job out there. But for me, I knew my impact on education needed to go beyond the classroom. School psychology was the route I chose. 

Today, I’m grateful and proud of the work that I do. Not only do I get to work with students who struggle the most, but I also get to work with teachers, administrators and so many other professionals who make education for students possible. And a major perk of this is that I also get to enjoy two months of time at home with my kids. 

I knew education was the “industry” for me because it would allow me to use my brain and skills, be around children, yet still be able to be home with my kids during their time off. This summer was the first time I was able to reap the benefit of this. 

Our family grew so much together this summer. We spent time learning, playing and making our house feel like a home. There were so many projects that had been left untouched due to various reasons. However, this year, I focused on us growing to love our home. We furnished it more (thanks to some friends). We picked out decorative items together and spent lots of time enjoying the peace and tranquility of home. There’s a lot to be done still, but overall, we really have been able to finally feel like this place is ours.

Spiritually, I have grown tremendously in the past two months. My vision for myself and the purpose that God has for me has been revealed. I’m working on putting in the work and tying the loose ends of making that purpose and dream become reality. Writing this blog has allowed me to share stories and break chains of bitterness and  unforgiveness  that were weighing heavily upon my heart. Thank you all for your support through the process and continuing to encourage me to share my story with you. 

It was so appropriate that as the end of summer comes about and the new school year begins, the message at church today was about escaping our limitations. This powerful message leads my heart to continue to not only live with kindness and compassion towards others, but to remember the same for myself. I am worthy of all the greatness I desire. I am worthy of achieving the goals I have put on the back-burner. I am worthy of living the life that brings me true happiness. And so are you. Let’s grow together. 

Grocery Shopping

booth branding business buy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For most of us, whether we are single or married, motherhood has its challenges. One of the biggest ones is a simple one: grocery shopping. Often we make a list to remember all the things we need and also to try our best to stay focused on buying only the things we have on our list. Recently, due to the delivery services and apps available, some of us don’t even need to venture out of our home to do our family’s shopping. The extra money we spend on the fees is worth the convenience.

Today, I decided to use grocery shopping as an outing. We got back from our vacation yesterday and we were low on food. As always, I reminded the kids to use the restroom, get changed and be ready to leave the house.

Off to the grocery store we went. We went a little bit further out of our way since I had another errand to run at the other side of town. As I was driving down the freeway, I looked back and realized Baron had failed to buckle himself in. For a split second, I contemplated just continuing to drive, but my mommy conscience got a hold of me, so we had to pull off the freeway so I could buckle him in properly. 

We finally got to the grocery store. Wilhelmina was in charge of the list. But of course as we walked in, she started to scream because she had left the list in the car. Again, I was overtaken by mom guilt, and back to the car we walked for the list that contained about 10 items. 

Please keep in mind that crossing a busy grocery store parking lot is quite a chore. Making sure each child is secure, not running, and keeping an eye out for cars is so stressful. I think we have it down to a science, but still it’s not something I want to do any more than I need to. 

Finally, we had our cart. And the bickering began. “I wanna push the cart.” “No, you pushed it the last time. It’s my turn.” And then the tears. Why must there always be tears? After a scolding and a “Only Mommy is going to push the cart,” our shopping began. 

We were almost done in the produce section, when Cortland muttered those words that no parent wants to hear in public: “Mommy, I have to go poop.” Oh dear! First, we had to ask an employee where the restrooms were located. Thankfully, it’s a newer grocery store and we didn’t have to go to the back through the swinging doors and the stock room. For some reason, that always creeped me out. 

We left the cart outside and walked into the restroom. I probably said, “Don’t touch that,” about 75 times. Cortland used the restroom, we all had to wash our hands and out we went. Where was our cart? Our cart was missing! Are you kidding me? I asked one of the cashiers and no one knew. Someone took our cart. 

Back to the produce aisle we went with a new cart. We were almost done shopping. Our cart definitely had way more than the 10 items on the list. It didn’t matter, we just needed to be done. As we walked through the freezer section, Baron started screaming and crying. “I peed in my pants!!” Seriously??? What in the world is going on today? At this point, there was no more Mom guilt left. I told him he had to wait until we were done. 

We threw in the last couple of items and checked out. We all went to the restroom again. But of course, since I had packed the car for our vacation recently, I had taken out our emergency clothes bag. Luckily, I had an extra pair of underwear for Baron in my purse. He rode home Flintstone style. 

The second errand was never completed. Grocery delivery services, you have my 10% service fee forever!