This time last year I was stressed about how the hell I was going to afford presents for the kids. I was barely keeping the power on. I was literally one month away from having to block off rooms with blankets to conserve heat and only three months away from foreclosure on my home. We hardly had food. I was a blink away from a crying meltdown at any moment. Life was miserable.

This time two years ago I was stressed about how the hell I was going to afford presents for the kids. I had a new-to-me best friend who was going thru HELL on earth, we were planning the great escape from her shittier-than-cow-shit boyfriend (Hi Cory, I still hate you too), there were lots of extra people around my house, plus stray teenagers. The weather was causing me panic attacks because of my treacherous hill. Life was miserable.

This time three years ago I was stressed about the how the hell I was going to afford presents for the kids. I was terrified in my old and scary house. I felt alone and miserable. I was so broke I was actually getting the kids to “borrow” food from their dad’s house without him knowing. Talk about mom guilt. Wow. Life was miserable.

See a theme year? Broke, anxious and sad. Yes. But you know what else? Free, empowered, loved. Content, at peace, simplified. I always thought yoga kind of began the journey of the new me, but man, this last four years has defined me.

I was forced to not buy stuff. I was forced to rethink most “major” purchases. I began to realize that quality over quantity is a legit thing. I had a few moments where I sold stuff out of desperation but that slowly turned to selling stuff for pure satisfaction of not having junk laying around. Life wasn’t about dinners out with friends. It was all about Wednesday wine nights with friends that mattered. It was about pushing past anxieties to make sure life appeared mostly normal for the kids. It was about finally, finally, finally realizing after all these years of struggling to be on top that I would rather be on the bottom and happy that at the top and miserable beyond belief. I realized that I would rather be cold and hungry than with guy I literally despised looking at. I was better off (more) broke and able to be myself.

The last four years of my life have been the hardest. But also the best. I learned to be very independent. This reduced some of my anxiety. Because of that I actually let my guard down enough to meet my soul mate Lisa. With her I learned to laugh and have fun. In my ability to have fun I found myself a guy to have fun with. My guy taught me fast and furiously that I could be a better person than I ever thought I could be. The last four years have been rough but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

There have been art nights and Jenga parties. Sleepovers and roommates. Breakups and makeups. Challenges and growth. I mean, seriously folks, I met my BEST FRIEND because my battery died. I found soul-hugging comfort in my tiny apartment because I know what it’s like to be freezing in a large, two story house. I appreciate small gestures because I know how false some large gestures can appear. I know the difference now between wants and needs.

I think of these things all the time . I would never ever change anything in my life. It’s all brought me to where I am now.

This year I am not stressed about being able to afford presents for the kids. I still make the same amount of money. But I live in an apartment instead of an oversized house. I walk to work so I sold my oil-eating car. I don’t pay for heat, I don’t pay for house/car insurance. I don’t buy crap I don’t need (most of the time anyway). I even stopped shopping at Chapters and go to the library instead. I don’t have credit cards. I don’t have overdraft. I quit smoking 6 months ago. I haven’t eaten fast food since August. I gave up the crap to live a simpler life. Giving all that up has left me calmer, happier, more content life. I am the happiest I’ve ever been. Right now, in this moment.

I miss the rowdy nights of laughing til we cried. I miss the nights where we would solve all the world’s problems over multiple bottles of wine. I miss the coffee dates and I miss doing her job every second Friday. I miss donating blood together, I miss yelling at each other’s kids. I look back on what we went through, the highs and lows, and I realize I wouldn’t go backwards to have those moments again. It’s all about moving forward these days.

This year, I have paid cash for all the presents. I have bought what I deem to be non-wasteful gifts. I didn’t buy fillers or fluff to add volume to the number of gifts.
I don’t get to see my BFF as much as I want because she’s not down the street from me. But she’s happier than she’s ever been too. I’d rather text every day and be content than see her every day in misery. I wander to the grocery store every few days with my clothe bags, I hang out for hours at the beautiful library. I have so much free time that’s not consumed with my old house trying to kill me.

Life is good. Not despite the past, but because of it.