Three strikes, you’re out

After my last post, things took a drastic turn for the worse. I won’t lie, I was totally smitten with this Doctor moving to Boston. I am not sure if it was Harvard, or all the punny jokes, but he swept me off my feet. Unfortunately, as I was developing feelings for someone who was about to move away from me, he turned into a 14 year old over night. All of a sudden, his mom wouldn’t let him out of the house (I could see why he was moving away lol). I tried to see him, but all of the excuses came up and it made me realize I was not as important to him as he was to me.

Moral of the story: don’t fall for a guy who’s moving away and knows he’s moving away and doesn’t tell you right away. Ugh, Boston, you got me!

I literally paused my dating apps, but once he refused to hang out with me again I went back. I met the third guy, who was cool until he told me he was legally married. Three years separated and supposedly hasn’t talked to his wife in three years, but I couldn’t see past the word married. See, I dated a married guy before and you know how that ended. In total utter heartbreak. I told him there was no way I could see past this. Also what the hell was he waiting for? Aaron Burr, if you stand for nothing, what will you fall for? Like if 3 years of no communication didn’t warrant a divorce, what would? AND why the FUCK are you on a dating app if you’re married?

To be a little nice, I agreed to be friends with him. But even that is iffy. He supposedly is calling a lawyer tomorrow, but I am still confused as to why he didn’t call them yesterday, or better yet three years ago.

Amidst all of this, another guy started talking to me. His profile stuck out because he used foreign words such as: He is dedicated, loyal, and loving. He was really cute and worked in a hospital. It was almost too perfect. He video called me and I agreed to meet him three days later. Right before we meet, I look up his dating profile and I realize he deactivated it. I’ve never seen this before, and it sticks out to me. We meet, and we talk, and I realize we have a lot in common. We have been through similar situations, and we have similar goals in life. He’s a year away from his PhD about to be a doctor/director of a hospital. To say he’s smart is an understatement. I won’t lie, this guy seems foreign to me. He legit wants to be with me after two dates. I deactivated my dating accounts and I’m giving him a shot. So I guess, wish us luck. I’m weary after Bright to be honest.

And the craziest part is I have two guys from a dating app who slipped through the cracks right before I met new guy who are quite upset I didn’t even give them a chance. But I am not able to date around. I am a girl who gives each guy a fair and even shot. So to the new guy and to us. Hopefully we survive Covid (I told him I want him to meet my church fam but obviously that’s not possible). I’ve been praying daily as I really do want what God wants for me. Whether it’s this guy or someone else, I am looking towards Him to guide my footsteps.

Stay tuned for more adventures in my dating life and beyond.

My adventures in dating and how I found a unicorn

Due to popular demand, I am writing this blog post late on a Sunday night in regards to my adventures in dating. This is an ongoing narrative, but thought I’d give an update in the dating life of Jen.

Some background: I have been in full-time school since June 8th, and I have a 1 year old who keeps me busy when she’s not with her sitter (about 2-3 days a week) or her dad (every other weekend). To put it simply, I don’t really have time to date. I am looking for something very specific, I actually made a list. Ideally, I want to meet and be pursued by the man God has for me. I have a very specific plan that includes marriage in the future. I will list below what I want out of the man in my life, which has guided me in my decisions towards who I date and who I say bye to.

*He’s ambitious
*He’s open-minded
*He’s intelligent
*He’s passionate
*He’s family oriented
*He’s kind and sweet to me
*He accepts me for who I am
*I must be able to learn from him
*He wants to be my closest friend
*He enjoys learning
*He loves trying new things
*He knows who he is
*He’s on his journey of finding his purpose
*His heart is pure
*His soul is raw and real

Through my experience, I tend to have very specific preferences. Ever since February of this year, I’ve been very interested and honed in on black men in the medical field. I dated a pharmacist from March to June, and I went back to the dating apps about two weeks ago. That’s when the adventure started. I was striking out on the app until last week Saturday I was inspired, drank some wine, and started swiping away. I started talking to some interesting people, video chatted with one in particular and we agreed to meet the next morning for coffee. We met, and he was super cute and really tall (6’4″) but after thinking further, I determined he wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I also, indubitably, got distracted by someone more engaging. This guy just kept texting me these awful and hilarious jokes. At first I thought he was yet another guy trying to get in my pants, but he turned out to be so much more.

After texting all day Sunday and Monday, we decide to last minute meet on Monday night. We go out for food and the connection is undeniable. I literally can’t stop laughing all night long, the next day my face hurts as I teach my lesson in my internship. He is one of the two guys I’ve ever met and felt this instant connection with. So much, I start thinking there’s something not right about the situation. My fears are confirmed on Wednesday afternoon when he texts me that he’s moving to Boston in August for the job of a lifetime: to be a doctor at Harvard University Teaching Hospital. He basically asks me if I want to move forward and try a long distance relationship (insert gasp here). Day 4. LDR. Understandably, I start thinking about the pros and cons. I actually take the next 24 hours to process things, ask others their opinions, and make a pros and cons list. The pros outweigh the cons, and I agree to continue to see him until he moves on August 3rd.

We spend Thursday night, and Saturday night together. I meet his friends Saturday night and have a great night with him and them in the city (both downtown and in Lakeview). We both are currently in the same mindset that we will take things one day at a time. I won’t lie, I already looked at flights to Boston and texted my bestie Joyce who lives in Boston to tell her I want to come (pending covid status).

Someone tell me to wake up. This guy is too great but is it only because he’s moving away? Has anyone been in a long distance relationship? Did it work out? Or no?

Picture of me attached. I refuse to take a picture of us because there is no us unless we somehow weather the storm of the impending distance between us.

On to the next! To be continued…

Reality of Teaching

“I ain’t writin’ nuttin’”

Says my student to her blank paper

If I don’t end up pushing

She will be set up for failure

It’s up to me to have the right mindset

I have to demand success

It may seem like a threat

But without, there will only be unrest

It’s up to us teachers to be the reform

We have the power to rewrite history

Producing academic success and equity isn’t an art form

It isn’t a magical mystery

We need to change our reality

My students’ success is in my hands

We are one big family

I am their biggest fan

Picking students from different demographics

To create cogenerative dialogues

Representing multiple geographics

Moving beyond the typical monologues

Redefining the term co-teaching

Letting our youth teach their classmates

Proving to them that we’re believing

Creating a community of team-mates

Going way beyond just the content

Generating a safe space to grow

Giving the learning environment context

Letting thoughts and ideas flow

Growth comes from discomfort

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely aware of the many protests occurring in order to bring about changes in regards to how people of color (POC) are treated. This is not a new fight, it’s actually been going on for hundreds of years. The hate crimes/ police brutality are not new either, they are just being video taped more regularly thanks to technology. Through everything though, we as a people know that change won’t come from us just sitting at home. We must unite, protest and march together to bring about change. White people along with people of color must come together to bring about the needed changes. We must not remain silent.

It’s easy to see discomfort is a necessary thing to endure in order to grow as a nation, as a community, and as humans. A lot of people get stuck. A lot of people get comfortable. Many people are so comfortable, they’re miserable. Actually I personally know several people who are comfortably broke. So broke they can’t even feed their own children, and yet won’t step out of their comfort zone to relieve some of their expenses or make more money.

Breaking a habit, trying something new, taking a risk, making new connections, or putting yourself in a totally new situation won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Calvin Coolidge says “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”

I, for one, know that I am not happy with my current financial situation. I also know that I have the power to change it. I want to grow not only financially, but also spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I want to help students learn and better their lives through science and beyond. I know I have to face some discomfort, I actually get really nervous giving presentations/speeches. Especially on video. And here I am jumping into teaching (likely virtually) starting in July. So I know it will be uncomfortable. I know it’ll be hard. I also know it’ll be worth it. I will be exhausted but also full of joy.

What area of your life are you trying to grow or change? Are you sitting idle hoping for things to just magically get better, or are you putting yourself out there to get uncomfortable and force yourself to change?

Growing in emotional maturity

For the longest time, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. In college, I was holding my breath waiting for my boyfriend to trust me. Once he didn’t trust me, there was no relationship. I just kept pressing forward only to make things even harder and more painful when I finally walked away. After college, I pursued a married man. He ended up doing to me exactly what he did to his first wife, but you could say I had it coming since I was the reason he left her. After our divorce, I started pursuing just the physical aspects of relations. I was literally too scared to get hurt to even consider a committed romantic relationship. Once this life caught up to me and I started considering seeking a healthy relationship, I found out I was pregnant.

With the pregnancy came all the feels. Looking back, I had a very physically healthy pregnancy, but my emotional well-being was very low. I was facing an uncertain future with a baby and her dad who wasn’t capable of loving me. Here I was, once again, looking for love in the wrong place. I yearned for him to even try and make it work with me. But it wasn’t in the cards. I had to finally stop being emotionally immature and move on from the things that weren’t helping me grow. Once I let him go, I felt my heart finally healing. Healing from the college guy who never trusted me. Healing from my husband who left me for someone(s) else. Healing from my baby’s dad who likely really wishes we had been more careful. (I refuse to use the word he did on here, but that part was definitely the most painful).

I started and have been reading the bible daily. I’ve been listening to certain podcasts and reading books. I’ve really taken the time to be selfish, if you will. And focus on myself. And I agreed with myself to take time to be single and heal with one exception. If someone were to enter my life and help me to grow then I’d allow it. I met someone unexpectedly about two months ago and it’s been an interesting ride. Shortly after we met, the city where we live entered a shelter-in-place that’s still occurring. Through this time, it hasn’t been easy to get to know each other. At first, things seemed great. But as time goes on, it appears to me that while his words are great and helpful, his actions seem to be misleading. I’m not quite sure if he sees me as his girlfriend or just a friend with benefits.

I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt since things aren’t normal due to Covid-19, but I also have to be true to myself. I keep praying to God to show me what He wants for my life. And I will continue to pursue His word. I just felt like I had to share, since because of the growth I see and feel inside of me, I will no longer settle for anything less.

I hope everyone’s doing well despite the craziness. 🙂

Positive mindset and manifestations

Please note: I am 100 percent aware that things could be worse. I am not here to say anything negative about anyone, as I do not know everything they’re going through and so trying my best to see things with grace and love despite the hardships I am experiencing.

Three months ago I finally woke up and decided to trust God completely and walk away from the toxic environment I had let take over my life. After nearly 9 months of praying and trying to make things work with the father of my child, I had to finally let him go. He made it clear he had no intention to try and make it work with me. He actually told me I had to change in order for him to even make an effort. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, my ex husband. I knew if I kept lying to myself and moving forward with this man I would end up slowly dying inside.

Sorry, that may seem extreme, but I know I am more than enough. And I don’t have to change for anyone who’s unwilling to change for me. Think of it this way: I was willing to look past his flaws to try and make it work. He wasn’t. And that’s okay, better to know now and move on before having it hurt even more.

What was holding me back was fear. Mostly, financial fear. See, I was already working three jobs and barely making it. Asking for a room-mate to move out meant losing the small amount he was helping towards my mortgage and bills. It meant waiting on the state of Illinois to process my child support claim, which I expected to take a few months even before covid-19.

But in January, I started readjusting my mindset to focus on the positive. I started writing down manifestations to change the negative things going on in my life into positive. To be completely honest, I never planned on sharing these but have felt called to since we’re all going through hard times these days. So, enjoy.

Instead of I’ll watch our child so you can work three jobs,
Manifest
I’ll take care of you and our children so you no longer have to work three jobs.

Instead of I’ll split your mortgage with you but not contribute towards anything else,
Manifest
I’ll make sure you’re financially comfortable and content.

Instead of my other child is worth more than the one I have with you,
Manifest
Every child is priceless.

Instead of outgrowing a two bedroom condo,
Manifest
I will own a beautiful and spacious house in the Oak Park area.

Instead of you’re not worth fighting for
Instead of I don’t want to help you heal and take down your walls
Manifest
I’ll support you and be patient with you during your healing process

Instead of unless you’re struggling financially, I don’t see why I have to help contribute towards our child’s life
Manifest
I will do everything I can to ensure our child is healthy and happy

Have a great Sunday everyone! And I hope some of this has touched you/helped you in some way!

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Moving on from disappointment

If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ve likely noticed a trend of me writing about heartbreak and hard situations that have shaped me into the person I am today. Ever since going through my divorce, I have been on the defense with every person I meet. I settled just for the wrong attention after my divorce just to justify things in all the wrong ways. Because of this, I met a slew of disappointing people. I told myself the physical attention was enough for me, but in reality I was dying inside. My expectations lowered to a point where I expected to be disappointed. I lost my way from God’s plan for my life. I lost sight of Mr. Better, the person I heard God tell me about. I started believing the lies people were saying about me. That I wasn’t good enough to be loved, to be taken care of, to be put first. That somehow I had to just settle into being last in someone else’s life.

Due to all this heartbreak and pain, I started closing up. My astrology sign is a crab, and I took no time to harden my shell. I started self-sabotaging anything that seemed good. I didn’t trust anyone at all. I started telling myself it was too good to be true, or there were hidden red flags. I would start creating excuses to not meet someone, or not go on a second date, or just plain not even talk to someone smiling at me. I have a three year history of running away from everyone and everything, good and bad. The only people I haven’t pushed away are my church and running friends. They’re the only ones I really keep around. For everyone else, there was a very tall wall to climb.

More recently, I’ve been taking time daily to focus on God’s word and what He wants for me. I have been seeking His voice lately and have heard him through a few avenues. He is still saying there’s someone better for me. He’s telling me there’s someone worth letting my guard down for. Someone God’s been preparing for me as much as He’s been preparing me for him.

After about 4 weeks on a dating app, I decided to delete it and try a different one. An app I had never really tried before but I know two people who found their spouses through it. I had never tried it before because I wasn’t ready to date with intention until recently. I was too scared of getting my heart hurt once again to actually consider a boyfriend.

Also, it’s important to note, I haven’t had a boyfriend in 8 years. I have completely forgotten how to be a girlfriend. How to let someone in. How to just be myself with no fear and no regrets. Last week this guy messaged me as I was about to delete all dating apps, then he called me. I freaked out, I can’t remember the last time a guy called me to talk. Then the craziest thing happened, he called me daily after that. And we made plans to meet. It all felt natural. I’ve known him not even a week, but feels like I’ve known him longer. But in the midst of it all, I’m still fighting my battles of self-sabotage and wall building.

Last night he sang this song to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqIxCtEveG8

And it was like the song was written about me. And him. See, he’s been single for 5 years. I’ve been single for three. We were just not finding the right person for us. I was trying to fit square pegs in the circle God created for my life. I was holding my breath in hopes for someone to wake up and realize my worth. I was wasting my time with all the wrong people. But it helped me realize exactly what I don’t want. Exactly what will make me run away.

While my walls are still high and strong, I have started on my healing journey to let God guide my steps.

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My testimony (warning: TLDR)

Today I’m going to share my story. A lot of you may know my story, but most of you likely have only heard the highlights. The truth is not pretty and very real. I’ve joked a few times that my life could be a soap opera, or a tele nueva if you will. I’ve been listening to and reading some Trent Shelton lately and he’s inspired me to begin this new chapter by sharing my story.

When telling your life story, it’s hard to know where to begin. My life began as a happy accident. My parents found out they were expecting, and got married on February 14, 1986. Exactly 5 months before my debut. Everyday I thank them for choosing me. I grew up Catholic, attended a few Catholic schools and then switched to public schools and lots of CCD (Catholic Education). I went through all the normal Catholic rites, baptism, first communion, and confirmation. I knew Jesus and Mary and all the saints, but kind of took it for granted. When I moved away for undergrad, I stopped attending church. The guy I was dating told me he wanted me to know Jesus, so I dumped him. Thanks, but no thanks. After a scare with the police and being taken to the ER after what was mistakenly taken as a suicidal threat, I was shook. And lost. I was invited to a bible study by my dorm neighbor, and I tried it out mostly to just make some new friends. This became the beginning of my journey to truly find Jesus.

It didn’t happen overnight. I started dating a new guy who had a similar religious upbringing as me. He also didn’t really take it seriously, and we became comfortable with each other. But as I continued going to bible study and joining my new friends at Cru weekly, I started reading and learning more about this Jesus guy. He actually wasn’t all that bad. Spring break of my Sophomore year I attended a retreat in Panama City Beach where for the first time in my life everything came together for me. That week I accepted Jesus as my savior for the first (real) time. As an adult choosing to follow Him. I sent a really long and really hard email to my boyfriend at the time explaining what I had learned and inviting him to join me on my journey. I fully expected him to leave, but instead he signed up to try his best. Despite us growing in our faith together, we had too many holes in our relationship. There was a lack of trust on his end, and he never fully forgave my mother and me for events that occurred in the past. Our relationship was not a healthy one, so I ended it after 2 years and a few months.

Because I had invested and opened up fully to him, it took me just about a year to fully recover from the heart ache that ensued. It also didn’t help that his mother suddenly died about two months after we broke up. Her death threw us back together before either of us were ready. The pain, grief and sorrow surrounding that time in our lives made me just want to be there for him, despite all the unhealthiness that surrounded us. Thankfully, I was able to move on and thought I had finally found a healthy dating relationship about 9 to 10 months later.

I made the mistake of thinking the ex boyfriend and I could be friends. Y’all, this is not always possible and because of this, he grew jealous. A year after we broke up, he basically made fun of the guy I was seeing. Maybe the new guy felt threatened. Maybe he thought I wasn’t over the ex. Whatever it was, he basically told me to go fly a kite. So I went into my next dating relationship out of a mixture of desperation and revenge. I dated my ex’s best friend, and when I broke up with him I destroyed any and all friendship with my ex and his friends. I jumped right into another relationship that felt too soon and too fast. This guy kept pressuring me to have sex, which by the way I hadn’t done yet. I was waiting for marriage, which was reinforced by my relationship with Jesus. Even though at this point, I was falling away from church and reading the bible regularly. That was when Vince came into my life.

We had been acquaintances for about two years, we had met at a job I had in 2007 when I was still with my ex. He posted on Facebook in 2009 that his new company was hiring and I needed a job so I applied. I got the job and he became my boss. It wasn’t long before I was once again single (2009 was the year of the flings, I burned through about 3 or 4 guys within 9 months) and we started flirting. The only issue was, Vince was married. He was married when I had met him and he was still very much married. Actually, his wife worked at the same company as us. Needless to say, at this point in my life I was very far from my relationship with Jesus, and I used every excuse I could think of to accept Vince and tell myself his marriage was over anyways.

Long ass story short, we went to hell and back. He moved in way too soon. I broke my promise to myself and God. A year later he was divorced and we were officially a couple. I fought every sign God was throwing at me to stay with him. We had been dating for almost 3 years when he proposed to me. Since I was hell bent on making us work, I said yes. I really wanted to at least do the right thing, even if I didn’t wait for marriage I really wanted to just have on partner for life. I wanted to be married, have kids, and live happily ever after. We went through pre-marital bible study with our pastor, and Vince lit up for Jesus. It actually gave me hope that perhaps we could get back to faith and grow together with God.

This was, unfortunately, short-lived. It wasn’t long before no matter what church we tried, Vince was just not interested. Shortly after my mom, who was my best friend, passed away, I remember crying in the passenger seat of his car when he flat out told me if I wanted to attend church, I could go alone. Not long after, I discover he’s cheating on me with more than one person. He moves out and files for divorce. Despite me offering to go to couple’s therapy and make it work. Despite me telling him I love him and signed up for the long haul. See, I didn’t believe in divorce. I still don’t. But he didn’t choose me. He chose someone else. Just like he chose me over his first wife, he chose his third wife over me. In the midst of all the pain, I found myself having a panic attack. And after hyperventilating and nearly calling an ambulance, I heard God tell me He had someone better for me. He revealed to me His plan, and yet I still fought it.

It took me a year to get over my first unhealthy dating relationship. This time instead of just working on myself, I made poor choices to find redemption in all the wrong places. I dated around. I found a friend with benefits situation, a guy who would come over most nights just to keep me company. While I finally found my church home while going through my divorce, I still didn’t allow Jesus to be enough. I still wanted more. I still wanted to pave my own path. I “dated” the wrong guy for almost 8 months. I let him be my crutch until I was fed up and left him. And once again, instead of turning my ears and heart towards Jesus, I turned to all the wrong places. I started dating again, and sold myself short. Before I knew it, I was in a situation I never imagined happening.

I was pregnant with someone’s baby who didn’t care about me at all. I was facing the scary and all too real situation of single motherhood. I was scared and alone. I had tried my hardest to create my own life plan, and here I was messing everything up. A beautiful mess. A happy accident. My beautiful and life-changing daughter was born in April 2019. And if you read my last post, you know what happened next. I found myself falling for someone who didn’t love me. I was once again, stubbornly trying to pave my own path. I kept telling myself that he will wake up one day and see how amazing I am.

What I didn’t realize was that I was wasting my time and breath. I was delaying the inevitable. He can’t see me. He doesn’t want to see me. I can’t make anyone love me. I couldn’t make my ex-boyfriend love me in a healthy way. I couldn’t make my ex-husband love me in a health way. I can’t make the father of my baby love me. I had chosen to put myself in unhealthy relationships my entire adult life. I had chosen to be miserable and not listen to what God has for me.

I knew what I had to do. And that’s where I am now. I am making time daily to spend time reading God’s words. I am making time daily to pray and worship. I’m writing so much (this is literally the shortest thing I’ve written in weeks, YIKES!) and setting my eyes and sight towards Him and what He has for me. I am willing to be single for the rest of my life, for the love of God is enough for me. No longer am I looking to these puny humans to fulfill my needs. Instead, I find everything I need in Jesus and my relationship with him.

I’m still writing my testimony. I’m still on the path towards recovery. I’m still writing out and imagining what a healthy dating relationship even looks like. Thanks for reading this, if you made it this far I am forever grateful.

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Motherhood has broken my heart

I’m forever changed and always grateful for it. This is a growth opportunity, but one I didn’t see coming when I found out I was pregnant in September of 2018. See, I had lost my way. I was trying to pave my own path, only to be shown once again that my plan wasn’t written by me.

Once I became a mother, some things changed in my heart. One, I fell in love with my child. She was and still is my miracle baby. The baby that I was told would be very hard to have. The baby I will never take for granted after seeing so many others struggle through fertility and beyond. I can safely say I’ve never felt this type of love before and can’t imagine being able to replicate it ever again (unless there’s another child in my future). Two, I started feeling differently towards her father. This was the thing I didn’t see coming. I started imagining things differently from what was the harsh reality around me. I started dreaming and hoping. I fell in love with him. No, the idea of us working out. Of Aria having parents who loved each other and who could show her what love looks like.

I found myself yearning for the perfect family. The family that loved each other and loved others. The blended family that actually got along. The unusual story of it actually working out. My heart turned into a mother wanting to actually not be that stereotypical struggling single mom. My thought patterns changed and I started having massive anxiety. Sleepless nights, explosive moments, huge mood swings. I just wanted to have it all.

I got so wrapped up in my alternative reality that I didn’t see I was dying on the outside. Things weren’t working out. I was miserable, and I was trying to be someone I hated. Someone I didn’t recognize came out. I started drinking heavily, and using other coping mechanisms. It got so bad that the person I wanted so badly to want me was triggering memories of my ex husband and my failed marriage.

Thankfully, I was able to take a step back and make the healthiest decision. I chose to stop living in my fake world and finally wake up. I realized that being a struggling single mother isn’t half as bad as what I was doing to myself. And actually a lot healthier. Not just for me, but also for my daughter. She needs me to be happy and healthy, not destroying myself. She needs to see what wholesome, unconditional love is. Because she deserves it. And I deserve it. I am enough. I am purpose. I am love.

October = Change

For most of my adult life, the month of October (and the season of Fall in general) has brought change for most years than I can remember. In this post, I’m going to go over some of the biggest changes I went through and how they’ve shaped me into the person I am today.

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The year was 2007. This was the year I dumped my first long-term boyfriend. The actual break up didn’t happen until mid-November (right before Thanksgiving) but I initiated a break during the month of October in hopes that maybe we could mend things. But really, things were beyond repair. To be completely honest, I was in major denial since my ex never fully trusted me. Reading my emails, searching through old chat histories. He was on the hunt for any hint that I was unfaithful. Even when he found nothing, he just kept looking. And I just kept telling myself things would get better. I’m very thankful for the Fall of 2007 when I finally took a stand for myself and walked away from a toxic relationship.

The year was 2008. It took me a year to finally build up the guts to consider dating again. And I went in swinging. Asked a guy for his number that I met at a Young Adults (20s) Ministry, then called him 2 days later and asked him out. We went on several dates over the next few weeks. But after about a month or so, he took me to get coffee and basically dumped me. This was the year that I learned that I couldn’t always get my way.

The year was 2009. I told my close friends and my parents that I was dating a married man. Needless to say, no one took this well. My good friend went so far as to take away my phone until I promised her I’d end things. My mom yelled at me for what felt like weeks, maybe months. I had to even face HIS mom, who was somehow even worse. This was the year I decided to break all the rules.

The year was 2010. The married guy I was still dating was now divorced. This was the year I learned that divorces take a long time and a lot of money, especially when there’s an angry spouse involved.

The year was 2013. I married who I thought was my soulmate. This was his second marriage, but he told me everything was different. He said we were meant to be. He had never felt so sure, and I was right there with him. I loved him unconditionally and saw myself spending the rest of my life with him. This was the year that I learned that I loved planning weddings. After planning my own, I briefly considered becoming a wedding planner. Still wouldn’t mind this job one day, so it’s still on the table haha.

The year was 2014. My parents announce they’re moving to Pryor, Oklahoma. My dad got a job at Google and my mom will benefit with the amazing health benefits offered by Google. My dad recommends my husband to take his job that he’s leaving in Chicago. I start a new job as well, and finally make closer to what I’m worth (actually using my Master’s degree for the first time). Finally, my husband and I aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. This was the year I learned prayers do get answered, even if some of them aren’t exactly what you imagine.

The year was 2015. I ran my first half-marathon. My parents announce they’re moving back to Chicago. My mom’s health turns for the worst once they move back and she’s gone faster than anyone could’ve guessed. This was the year I learned that life is too short.

The year was 2016. My husband decides to fight for me for most of October, cancels our anniversary trip to Hawaii and moves out of our house the week of his birthday. My entire world comes crashing down. Soon enough I figure out everything that happened, especially since he refuses to meet with me in person due to guilt and shame. This was the year I learned that no person on Earth is worth losing your shit over. I even graciously didn’t destroy any of his things he left behind (which was everything). I’m very thankful I had an amazing therapist who helped me through the divorce.

The year was 2017. I ran the Chicago Marathon, my first full marathon. I trained hard and I raised enough money to provide clean water to 26.2 kids in Africa. Ok, actually 27 since it’s hard to cut kids into little pieces. This was the year I learned the most about myself. I invested in myself and my spiritual life. I’m very grateful for the change in 2017.

The year was 2018. I recently found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. While I wasn’t officially dating the father of my baby, I had let myself have deep feelings for him. Despite all the things going on, I was still too scared of rejection to really talk to him about how I felt. Lucky me, he decided to move on without really talking to me. I also decided to get baptized. I felt like it was extra-special since I was pregnant with Aria. This was the year I learned that while not everything is in my control, God is still on my side helping me be strong to face every challenge. This was the year I learned that I had to be strong and independent because now a baby was going to need me. I’m very humbled by the experience of being pregnant and single.

The year is 2019. And while I have a baby now, I am wondering what this October will bring. Hopefully good changes. Some things really aren’t much different from last fall, but definitely not pregnant this time.

What types of changes have you seen in your life? Do you see them in the fall like I do?