This is not meant to be organized. 

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The song “Praying” by Kesha…. Oh, does that song hit me right in my feels! I get goosebumps when I hear it. The emotion, the truth – her truth, the freedom, the astounding courage. Everything about that song is praise worthy. Kesha, now I know this will never reach your dazzling face, but girl, you are a hero to so many women. I for one was inspired to write after listening to “Praying” at least 100 times.

This blog post might be unorganized when it is read because I am going to try something different. I am going to write and it is going to be raw. Purely from what I feel as I listen to the words in that song. So I apologize in advance if this gets crazy.

There are days that I don’t want think about any of this, but here recently it seems like more days than not are filled with the haunting memories from this. Regardless of where I am or who I’m with, I could be reminded of this in the blink of an eye, and that in itself is frightening. I want to set this burden free by getting it off my chest but I don’t want to be judged for talking about it. I don’t want to be asked questions, because honestly I don’t want to give the answers. I don’t want to be labeled as a victim and I don’t know if I even want to be labeled as a survivor because honestly, it’s still a label. Some days I just want to be a normal person not a rape survivor. I realize though that I will never not be a rape survivor. That is something that I will be labeled with for the rest of my life. Whether it be a label I give myself or a label that the world gives me. Even though I might have a label, I refuse to let it define me.

Its hard for me to come to terms with the fact that something I don’t want to think about, still controls a lot of aspects of my life. From the way I think about dating again, trusting again, loving again. Like, honestly, why would I want to date? For one, who wants to be with someone who has been through something as terrible as what I have been through? For two, if I get close to someone, it is going to be something that I have to talk to them about because let’s face it. This was not something small that happened to me that I can just shrug off. No, This was something that changed my entire life. It has changed who I am as a person. It has changed the way I trust. It has changed the way I love. It has changed every aspect of who Shay is. It is going to take a special person to find it in their heart to love me. Not because I was raped, but because of the effect that the rape had on me, like Complex PTSD, Anxiety, or Depression. Someone who chooses to love me will have to understand that a something seemingly harmless can send my mind into a whirlwind. Trauma is a weird thing and to try to put into words how it impacts your daily life is extremely difficult. Like I said, it is going to take someone special to step up to the plate and take on this battle with me.

I never in my life imagined that this would be my reality. I didn’t choose this. This was something that I had no control over actually. It  was something that a selfish person chose to do to me. The only choice I had in this was how I reacted. I couldn’t control his actions but I could and can control mine. Instead of letting this destroy me, I used it as a motivator to succeed in life and touch those around me. I have had to dig deep within my soul and find a strength that I never knew I had, not only to survive but to rebuild my life completely.

It is important to me for the man who did this to me to know that he was not successful in his attempt to destroy me. His sad attempt to maintain control over my life was shot down when I found the voice that had been silenced for too long. There is so much power in knowing that my voice has been heard and the truth has been set free, like a wildfire ready to expose the dark secrets that were hidden for so long. As much as I hate the fact that this is part of my story, I know that I can’t change it, I can’t erase the memories, and I can’t pretend it never happened. I have to embrace it and start moving forward.

I have been through some seriously dark shit. Some of the stuff that I experienced has the potential to bring a person to their breaking point. There were many times that I thought I reached that breaking point. Times when I didn’t know how to get out of bed. Times when I didn’t want to get out of bed. Times when I would recluse from friends and family. These were times where those close to me knew that I wasn’t being rude or hateful when I wouldn’t return their texts or phone calls. They didn’t ask me to be social, they didn’t get mad at me for going days without messaging them. They simply asked me to let them know that I was breathing. These are the people that became my guiding lights, the people who helped me walk through some of the darkest days that I have been through.

I try to look back on everything that happened to me and try to find purpose in it. Like, why did all of this happen to me? Why did my life take this turn? What was the purpose for it? Maybe the purpose is because I am STRONG enough to survive it. I am STRONG enough to talk about it. I am STRONG enough to help other women that have been sexually assaulted or raped. I know there are women or men out there that have been through a hell of a lot worse than I have. I’m not trying to sound like I have had a horrible life. My life has been fairly great. I am extremely grateful for the life that I have had. Regardless of how good my life has been, there have still been some unthinkable things that I have encountered.

I hope that one day I am able to talk to other women and men about my story. I hope to inspire women and men to speak up about sexual assault and rape. Now, I know that I’m just one small person in a world full of billions of people and I don’t think I can start a change or anything, but all it takes is one voice to be heard to touch that man or woman who is hurting. So here I am, inspired by Kesha and her amazing song “Praying” to write a little about my story, showing people that they are not alone.
So there it is, my latest blog post, all unorganized and shit.

Are you going to jump off the train?

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What do you think would happen if today we made a conscious decision to take control of our lives and decided to start over?  What if, instead of living in our past mistakes, we simply said today, I am starting over. Today I start doing things differently, I won’t make the same mistakes twice, I will learn from my mistakes and grow from them. I won’t let people dictate how I live. I won’t stay stuck on a train leading me nowhere but in circles. Life is beautiful and the beauty that comes with life is that sometimes, at any point in our lives, we can choose to start over. We can choose to jump off that train headed nowhere.

When we choose to start over, we get to let go of what held us back in the past. The burdens that weighed us down. The fears that held us captive. The people who broke our hearts and stole our sanity. When we choose to start over, we take control of our lives again and we take charge of our Destiny. If we are constantly living in the past, letting that control us now, then we are choosing to stay stuck on the same train that is leading us nowhere.

When we choose to start over, we silence the fears that have held us captive, then we boldly and bravely jump off that train and decide to take a path of our own. We say goodbye to our comfort zone and embrace this new journey to a magical life.

When we choose to start over, we get to decide how our story is written. We don’t have another person giving us rules or telling us how we need to live our life. We take control of the ink pen and write the pages of our story on our time and in the exact order in which we feel necessary.

When we choose to start over, it means we walk away from that person who held us down. That person who dimmed the fire in our soul. That person who silenced our roar. We choose to cut these people out of our lives because we are choosing for us this time, not them. No matter how much it scares us, no matter how much it hurts us, we will still walk away. Sometimes though, these people will try to come back into our lives. In an attempt to pull us back down, but we will choose to fly higher. For they had the chance to fly with us, but they chose to stay on the ground and attempt to hold us down with them.

When we choose to start over, we become proud in our own lives. We live for the next adventure instead of fearing what comes next. We stop looking at our past failures and start looking to our future accomplishments. We no longer take our time for granted living in despair over things we can not change. We take pride in living in the now and setting goals for our future.

When we choose to start over, we learn how to not settle for anything less than spectacular. Personally, if it doesn’t make me feel the same way as watching Tinkerbell fly over Cinderella’s Castle during Wishes Nighttime Spectacular firework show at Disney World, then I don’t want it. I have settled for less than spectacular before, and let me tell you, I don’t like it. I was left to feel worthless, betrayed, bitter, and angry. I will never settle for anyone or anything that makes me feel that way again. My time on this Earth is precious and valuable so I will not waste it on mediocre or average. For far too long, I lived in fear to jump off the train that was headed nowhere. I was afraid of being alone so I stayed with men or held onto friendships that held me down when I was destined to fly. I was afraid of falling so I stayed places where the ground was soft. I let my past failures dictate how I felt about my future so I didn’t set high standards for myself. I lived this way until one day I got an itch to change. To stop living this mediocre, average, and boring life. I decided to start over. To jump off that train, to cut ties with the people who were holding me down, to move to higher places where the ground wasn’t soft, and to not let my past dictate my future. I decided to make a new life for myself and start living now. From the moment I made that decision, I became free. Free to soar to new heights and accomplish so many more of my dreams. Heck, maybe one day I will be the one dressed as Tinkerbell flying over Cinderella’s castle. A girl can dream right 😉 

So I ask you today, are you going to stay where you are or are you going to jump off the train?

~Shay

Because of you, I believe that love does exist.

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Yesterday was a huge day for me, and to be honest, I thought I was ready to write about it. As I started writing though, the words wouldn’t come to me. As I sat and stared at the empty blog post waiting to be filled with words, I gave up. I realized that I’m not quite ready to go there yet. I’m not ready to open that door or to be vulnerable. Honestly, this was disappointing to me because I thought I would be to that point by now. I suppose it will come with time though.

I do however want to make a blog post today. So here I am! I want to blog about something that has been on my heart lately and I hope someone can appreciate it.

Tonight I want to write to those of you who have stood by my side as I sat at rock bottom feeling like my world was crashing down. Those of you who gave me your hand to guide me back to the path that was heading toward a beautiful life.

I want to say thank you for refusing to abandon me during the darkest hours of my life. Thank you for all the times you listened to me as I unloaded my emotions on you. Thank you for truly understanding that my pain was real and not just something I could brush off. Thank you for loving me unconditionally when I refused to love myself. Thank you for not holding back the truth even if you were afraid I was going to get mad at you for saying it. Thank you for realizing I wasn’t being hateful when I didn’t answer the phone or return your calls and texts. Thank you for continuing to remind me that there is a beautiful life in front of me, just waiting for me to embrace it.

I can’t count how many times you could have simply walked out of my life. Hell, it probably would have saved you a lot of frustration had you walked out. You could have walked out after you spent hours giving me heart felt advice but I was too stubborn to listen to it.  You could have walked out after the many times I cancelled plans at the last minute because my depression and anxiety were in full swing. You could have walked out when I took my frustration out on you. You know what you did though, you refused to abandon me. You refused to walk out on me. Instead, you patiently stood by my side with your hand held out, waiting for the moment I would put my hand in yours and start walking toward that beautiful life.

You have never once given up on me, even after I had given up on myself. When the darkness was pulling me down, when death was so tempting. You pulled me up and whispered to me “You are stronger and better than this, your boys need you, I need you, you need you. You can and will survive this.” 

You saw the weight crushing down and took it upon yourself to come lift a little of that weight off my shoulders. You stood there with me holding the weight up, reminding me that I am not alone.

I can not say thank you enough. I can not put into words how beyond grateful I am for each of you. Please just know that you have opened my eyes again and made me see that I am loveable, I am not broken, and I am important. I was finally able to see this after I was made to believe that I was unloveable, broken, and worthless. Because of you, I believe that love does exist. You helped light the fire in my soul again after it was dimmed out by those who were unworthy. Most importantly though, you helped bring back to life the Unicorn that I was born to be.

Love,

Shay

If you have found this woman.

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I am writing to the men today. Men! If you have found a woman that possesses the qualities I am going to write about below, please stop acting like a boy and start being a man for this woman. I am not saying that a woman who possesses these qualities will be a perfect woman, as I know nobody is perfect, but 9 times out of 10, the qualities I am going to describe are the qualities of an amazing woman. So please, hold onto this woman and appreciate her as she appreciates you.

1. She has a genuine heart. 

She is the woman that rarely says anything negative about others, yet she always tries to say something positive. She always tries to look for the good in people rather than the bad. She appreciates what you do for her and honestly says thank you too much. She puts her heart out there for others even if it might sting her own heart. This woman genuinely cares about others more than herself. This woman is going to love you unconditionally, and she is going to appreciate every aspect of you, flaws included.

2. She lives fearlessly yet cautiously. 

You could tell this woman that you want to go whitewater rafting and even if it may scare the socks off of her, she will try it at least once. She is all about pushing her limits, facing her fears and going on adventures. She loves to test her own boundaries without feeling like the world or others are testing her boundaries. She lives fearlessly but also cautiously as she knows the world can be a harsh place, but she doesn’t want to miss out on the many adventures life can offer by living in fear. So when you ask her to go on some crazy adventure with you, you can expect her to say let’s do it.

3. She will make sacrifices. 

She is the type of woman that if and when you need her, she will be right there by your side. She will do just about anything under the sun for you, and she is okay with it because she knows you will do the same for her. She enjoys being your rock and your go to person. She will be your best friend. You know that you will always be able to count on her.

4. She has been through some stuff and is still positive about life.

This woman has walked through hell while carrying burdens on her back, yet she wakes up every day and counts her blessings. She has been low, she has been knocked down, and there was even a point in her life where she was not positive about life. But she is more positive about life today than she was yesterday. She didn’t give up when the weight was too much to carry. She kept fighting when she didn’t want to get out of bed. When she went through dark days, she found something bright every day until her days were overcome by light instead of dark. She is both mentally and physically strong. She has a willpower like no other and she refuses to give up on life. She takes the bad things in her life and tries to see the positive in them. Even if the only positive that comes from something bad is helping others out of her situation. This woman will be strong for you when you can’t be.

5. She is funny. 

You know that person who tells a joke but nobody laughs at it except the person that told the joke? That is her. She is not afraid to laugh at her own jokes. You will even laugh when she laughs at her own jokes simply from hearing her laugh. She is that person who will do something just to get a smile or giggle out of you. She will be that woman when yall are 50 years old that throws flour on you while you take a shower.

6. She is motivated to succeed. 

She has goals for herself and she is doing everything within her ability to achieve those goals. She doesn’t let anything stand in her way from accomplishing what she has set her mind to. She doesn’t need you, but she does want you. She won’t be one of those women who become dependent on you and your success because she has her own success.

7. She supports your goals. 

She stands behind you 100 percent especially when you have a goal in mind. She will be your biggest cheerleader and motivate you to succeed. She might even attempt to help you achieve your goals. She understands that some of your time will need to go into accomplishing this goal and that will be okay because she has her own goals too. You will be able to make time for these goals without feeling like you are letting her down by not spending every second with her. She will be happy watching you succeed.

8. She is not afraid to be real, even if that means being different. 

In a room full of beige crayons, she will be the bright neon crayon. She doesn’t let society tell her what beat to walk to, because she makes her own beat. She isn’t afraid to be herself, even if it makes her look bad, because being herself means she is real. She is unique and takes ownership in her uniqueness, even when people raise their eyebrows in distaste. She makes beautiful masterpieces by coloring outside the lines instead of conforming to the lines on the page. You will look at her and be in awe of her unique personality and it will make you wonder what in the world you would do without her. Oh and believe me when I tell you that she will rub off on you. There will be times when she is not with you and you will see something completely random then instantly think of her.

9. You love her.

She is going to be the woman that you didn’t see coming. She will come straight out of left field and knock you right off your feet. She will be the unexpected one that you fall in love with at a time when you weren’t looking for love. She will be the one you think about 95% of the day. She will be the one that you want apart of your future. She will be the one that makes you smile simply by her walking into the same room as you. She will be the one that scares you to love, because she is so different than anyone you have ever loved before. She will be the one that you want to call your person.

If you are lucky enough to find a woman like this, whether she be your first love, second love, or fiftieth love. Make her your last love because this woman is special. Hold onto her and don’t let her go. Be a man for her and she will be a woman for you. 

-Shay

Written in stone

Tuesday it became real. On that day, your fate became written in stone. All the lies you told, all the hate you spewed, all the pain you inflicted. It all caught up to you. Yesterday you were sentenced to 15 months in Federal prison, Which by the way is nothing compared to what you deserve. Followed by 6 months of house arrest, then 1 year of probation. And in a matter of time, the truth of your conviction will be public knowledge, gotta love goooooogle.

The wall of lies you hid behind shattered at the sound of my truth. You don’t have the protection of your lies anymore. You played the game good, I’ll give you that. I mean for all the times that you assaulted me, You were convicted on the least devastating charge and that is somewhat comical to me. But you know what, I will sleep better at night knowing that I exposed you for the monster you are. I exposed your hidden secrets. I exposed the rapist walking amongst the community hidden behind a cloud of smoke. You can’t hide anymore. This will follow you wherever you go. Just like the nightmares that haunt me from what you did to me, this will haunt you just the same. You are a convicted felon. A sex offender. You will never be the same. Which, if you think about is somewhat fair, the fact that you’ll never be the same that is. Because I will never be the same after what you put me through for so long. I do promise that I will be better though. If you thought that this was going to destroy me, bring me to my knees, or make me crumble, please understand that you were wrong. Nothing you can do to me will ever destroy me. You nor your family have that much power. My soul is too unbreakable. You can take me back to court for slander, you can keep taking me to court to try and take my kids from me, you can keep the vendetta you have for me, but I promise you this, I will never surrender. There has been no slander as I’ve just spoken the truth, everything is documented through the legal system. You can’t take my kids away from me because I am a damn amazing mother. I provide for our children. I support our children financially and emotionally. I make sure they dont go without. I make sure that their grades are honor roll status. I do everything for our children while you are desperately trying to prove that I am an unfit mother. I don’t drugs. I don’t have negative influence around them. I support their wants and needs then go above and beyond in giving them the best life possible in the midst of the mess you created. All while battling you in the court system both criminal and civil. You want to take our children away from me??? I smell retaliation…. What have you done?When is the last time you paid for their childcare, extra curricular activities, school supplies, glasses, contacts, or provided health insurance for them? When is the last time you paid child support? When is the last time you passed a nail follicle or hair follicle drug test? Oh, I forgot, you’re a professional swimmer now…… hysterical. I’ve stood by my truth since day one and I will continue to stand by it til the day I die.

For the past two years, at minimum, I have been living a life that was overcome by anxiety, depression, and fear. I have had a shadow following me everywhere I go. I have had the weight of the world sitting on my shoulders. I have been in survival mode for as long as I can physically remember. But now, with the sentencing behind me and knowing that my voice has been heard, all of that is gone. I finally feel peace and I finally feel free from your grasp. I am now able to see the future that God has planned for me and my future is so bright.

My voice has been heard, loud and clear by a federal judge. The line out of my victim impact statement “You were my husband, you were supposed to protect me from the monsters, not become the monster that haunts my nightmares.” Was quoted by a federal prosecutor, then quoted by a federal judge. If, by now, you don’t believe that you’ve done wrong, then you need all the help that they’re gonna give you while you sit in prison for 15 months. “What makes this hard to process is that you did this to the MOTHER of your children.” Sleep on that statement from the judge for a few days while you are jn prison. Let that soak in, then maybe it will hit you about how wrong your actions were.

Now, I know I’m not perfect, I’ve made my mistakes, I’ve done my wrong doings, but I’ve found peace in those. I’ve come to terms with my actions that caused pain. I have no problem admitting my short comings or where I went wrong. I accept the responsibility for my actions. No matter the action though, it will never, ever be enough for me to accept what you did to me. You made that choice, again and again, until I decided it was enough, until I decided to put a stop to it.

When I got on my flight heading back to Nashville this morning, I had an overwhelming sense of anxiety, because I don’t know what to expect when I get back. My first instinct is to expect some bull crap in the form of retaliation because you’re going to prison. But you know what….. I’m not afraid, because I am unstoppable and I have the truth on my side. Lies eventually get too deep to untangle. Lies eventually get exposed for what they are and the truth always prevails, especially when the truth is held by a person with undying determination.

Linked below is the Victim Impact Statement that I submitted to the judge. Read at your discretion, some parts can be rather graphic in nature and triggering for those who have suffered through similar trauma.

Signed Victim Impact Statement

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.

Shay

Magic of Disney

I will never forget going to Disney as a child and to this day I have some of the most vivid memories from those trips. My love for Disney didn’t really hit its peak until I was on a girls trip with my mom, aunt, cousins, and grandma in Disney Land. We were sitting on main street watching the firework show and I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of magic. I remember watching the fireworks with Disney music playing through the speakers on main street and falling in love with that magical feeling. It’s a feeling of pure joy, one that will never leave you.

My boys have a bit of an age gap with the oldest being 9 and the youngest being 4. This is important for what’s said below.

There were moments when I saw my youngest sons face light up so bright from the magic of Disney and it was clear as day that he was experiencing everything around him. Magic was when he found the Baymax plushie in the resort gift shop, or when he got a bubble maker wand and was able to run around creating a trail of bubbles behind him. Magic was meeting all his favorite characters, getting to hug them, interact with them, take pictures with them. Magic was riding Dumbo in fantasyland; Magic was when he rode on his first “big kid” ride Kali Rapids, he was “the captain” of our raft because he got to sit in the chair that was designed for smaller riders. You could see the nerves ALL over his face as we approached the waterfall but the magic was at the bottom of the waterfall when he yelled “THAT WAS GREAT!” As I watched my youngest soak up all the magic, I also watched my oldest son, quietly taking everything in, expressing joy but not nearly as animated as his brother. I thought to myself maybe he isn’t having as much fun or maybe because he is older he won’t feel the magic like his younger brother does…….. I was so wrong, I just didn’t know that yet.

What I didn’t realize was that the magic was present for my oldest son from the second we arrived at Disney. He felt just as much magic as his younger brother did, they just expressed it differently. His brother immediately took it all in and spit it back out, while he took everything in and soaked it up.

Magic for him was going through out Animal Kingdom getting his wilderness explorer badges; magic was walking through the park with a GIANT soft serve ice cream cone eating it while it melted all over his hands. Magic was running to our secret firework watching spot in Magic Kingdom while the crowd flocked to main street to view the fireworks. Magic was designing a race car with mommy then getting to test drive it on test track; Magic was finally being tall enough to drive his own go kart on the Tomorrowland Speedway. Magic was dancing with his mommy, brother, and uncle at the Magic Kingdom dance party. Magic was riding training to be a Jedi. Magic was building his very own light saber; Magic was having a light saber battle with his mommy and brother next to Rock n Roller coaster while we waited for his uncle to ride the roller coaster.

The Magic in Disney is a Magic unlike any other and I could go on and on about all the experiences that these boys experienced, but I would be here forever. Those were just a few and even though just a few, thinking about them brought tears to my eyes as I remembered all these little moments. So when people ask me “Why go back?” or when they say “It’s too expensive.” I will explain to them that the Magic of Disney is worth it and I will keep going back as long as I can to keep the tradition going for not only myself but for my two precious small humans. Every family has their own tradition, mine with my boys is Disney and until we can go back, we will watch an abundance of Disney movies!
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Forgiveness 

Today, I’ve decided to forgive you. Not because you apologized, or because you acknowledged the pain that you caused me, but because my soul deserves peace. 

Please don’t take my forgiveness as a sign of weakness. As forgiving you takes more strength than you could imagine. Please don’t take my forgiveness as me not wanting justice to prevail. As I deserve justice for what you did to me. Forgiving you, it has absolutely nothing to do with you, but it has everything to do with me. I will not continue to let your actions destroy my heart. I refuse to walk in the darkness that you tried to condemn me to. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse your behavior but forgiveness prevents your behavior from further destroying my heart.   I truly pity you, for your heart is so dark and sad, yet instead of trying to find healing in your own heart, you keep trying to destroy mine. I won’t give you that power anymore. It is time to remove the daggers that you threw into my heart and time for healing to begin. 

To the sweet souls that have been wronged, betrayed, or hurt. I invite you, in your own time, to forgive the person who shattered your heart. Set yourself free from the animosity and hate that comes along with the memories from that pain. Take time for yourself and take care of yourself. Stop empowering the person who tried to condemn you. Take the shattered pieces of your heart and put them back together with the purest of golds, because you are worth it. Forgive but don’t stop seeking justice. Find your peace in knowing that you are beautiful, you are undoubtedly strong, you are fearless, and you are NOT broken just because someone tried to break you. Please remember my dear sweet friend that forgiveness is not for the weak, for only the strong can forgive a person who does not deserve forgiveness. 

It is My Time

I never thought I would be as excited as I am now to not be tied down in a relationship. For as long as I can remember, I have been tied down to a man. It is an amazing feeling to just be free for once. I have realized that now I can take advantage of this time on my own. I can learn who I truly am. I can focus on pursuing my dreams and accomplishing my goals. I can focus on raising my boys into successful young men. I can learn to really indulge in the things that I love. I can focus on making memories with my friends and family. I will take amazing adventures with either my boys, friends, family, or by myself. I can and will be selfish (well as selfish as a mother can be). I will learn to love myself and this life I have.

I don’t know if I truly know who I am. Throughout my adult life, it has always been Shay, party of two. I have been focusing all of my left over energy into fulfilling a relationship instead of focusing that energy into finding out who I am. I put so much effort into creating this happiness within the relationship and making sure that my partner was happy that I forgot what made me happy. Eventually, my happiness depended on my partner’s happiness and I lost sight of what needed to make me happy within myself. Now, I can take time and truly find out who I am and what makes me happy. I can find joy within myself, instead of looking for joy through a man or a relationship.

I can now focus on pursuing my dreams. For the past ten years of my life, I have been so focused on the relationships that I have been in and making sure that they are pursuing their dreams, that I lost sight of my dreams and goals. I finally have time to focus on my dreams and where I want to be in five years. I don’t have to rely on a man to accomplish his dreams or goals in order for us to be where we need to be in five years. If I set my mind to getting my degree, owning a home, and starting my career in five years then I make that happen. My success is dependent on my effort and my time, not anyone else.

I can focus on raising my boys into successful young men and not have to worry about a man telling them what they believe is right or wrong. These are the children that I gave birth to, they are my babies so I can be selfish when it comes to who I choose as an influence in their lives. The last thing that I want to worry about is a man telling me how to raise my children. Right now, my boys need me. They need me to be a positive role model for them, they need me to raise them and show them what is right from wrong. My boys are my top priority so believe me when I say that I am beyond excited to have this time with them without any distractions.

You know what I love to do? I love going to a bookstore and sitting in one of the aisles reading different book titles until one catches my eye. I love going to thrift stores and finding old run down furniture then taking it home and restoring it. I love going to sit by a lake and relax by myself. I love to paint and write. I love to do yoga, and to meditate. I love to go to the gym. I love to go to Target, and boy do my children know this, any time we are heading somewhere my youngest asks me, “mommy are we going to Target?” Those children are either going really appreciate Target when they get older or they are going to absolutely despise it.

This summer alone is going to be full of adventures. I am doing a Warrior Dash in Nashville with an amazing lady, Tough Mudder in Virginia with an amazing group of friends, and another group of amazing friends are driving to Nashville so we can all do a Tough Mudder together. That’s not including the other adventures that I want to go on this summer. I want this to be the summer where I face my fears and go zip lining, skydiving, and whitewater rafting. I am going to take my boys places, I am going to take them on adventures, we are going to travel and have fun. If we want to go on a getaway to Six Flags for the weekend, then we are going to go. I can’t wait to create these memories with all these amazing people in my life. For the first time since I can remember, I am going to do things on my time. I am going to become closer to my family, and build relationships with friends through all the adventures we go on together.

I am going to be selfish, and no I don’t mean selfish in a way that would ever take away from what my kids need. I mean that I am going to be selfish and do things for me, things that make me happy and not care what anyone else thinks. Like for instance, working out. If I hear one more time that I am going to look like a man because I lift weights, I am going to scream. If I want to lift weights, I don’t need your opinion of how you think it is going to make me look like a man. Educate yourself before you spew your unwanted opinion at me. I am doing this for me, Not you. I am going to make myself a better person by taking care of my wants and needs. I am at a point in my life where I know what is best for myself and my children so I really don’t need anyone’s judgement about the choices I make. I have every right to be selfish.

This life that I have; the life of a 26 year old single mother of two, is not where I saw my life ten years ago. Ten years ago I pictured my future self settled down, happily married, with kids, a pretty house, and a dog. Yet here I am, divorced, pretty much raising these boys on my own, living in a beautiful apartment, and possibly buying a fish next weekend. It is nowhere near the perfect life that I had pictured, and to be completely honest, it has taken me about two years to be okay with that. Two years to accept that the image I had of a perfect life or family is only just a faded image that I once dreamed of. The beautiful thing though, is that now I know that my life is so perfect, even beyond the perfect image that I had. My life is beautiful. I have two amazing, healthy, and strong little gentlemen that I am raising, I have accomplished so much on my own, and I have proven my strength when life tries to throw struggles my way. I have faced all of these struggles with dignity and I have not let them destroy me, they may have set me back a bit, but I have always come out a better person. Those who hurt me have said that they will be there to watch me when I fall, but I am going to let them sit back and watch me while I rise to the top. Tell me I can’t do something and I am going to do it bigger and better than you thought possible.

It is my time to cut the toxic people out of my life. It is my time to chase after my dreams, accomplish my goals, and achieve success. It is my time to enjoy this beautiful life that I was given and make every second of it count. I am running after life and there is no stopping me.

Shay