Freedom Day.

Something about this day makes me stop in my tracks; makes my heart beat fast with excitement, and my knees bend in gratitude. Overwhelmed by emotions and memories. Somewhere in the middle of good, bad, happy, sad, remorse and gratitude, I sit here in awe.

Reflecting back I can’t believe I have survived. Looking back I can’t believe how f’ing strong I am! That goes to show the complexity of the emotions of this day.

Today I celebrate 7 years of freedom. Lucky 7! If you have known me for any amount of time, you know how much I love this day. It’s a National Holiday in this house! We all celebrate. Because it took all of us! I would have never made it out, and I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far without my family. Including the family who doesn’t live under our roof. My older kids have been just as inspirational as the younger ones. I’m sure the older ones have also helped the younger ones in ways I don’t know about.

Thanks to Facebook, I am reminded of the triumphs and trials of each year. Every year “on this day appears,” and every year I read them. Line for line and word for word. I relive the heartache, the trials, the victories, and the happiness. Because ultimately, regardless of the vicissitude, I am absorbed in joy.

Year 7 has definitely been one of the most challenging. Our family has endured hardship, setbacks, and more moments of despair than ever before. But! We have also come together like never before. We have proven to one another that regardless of how we act towards one another, we are family and we love one another.

For me personally, it has been a tough year. I have never felt such moments of guilt and shame. I have been confused, let down, angry,  and scared. I have been defeated, setback and seen more of my old ways then I’d like to admit. The struggle has been real as they say in prison!

But once again. I have taken the lemons and made lemonade. Even though most of the time I spiked the juice! lol

The hardship brought me to my knees and eventually to the couch of a therapist. I have learned through the loss of a dear friend that I have a new friend. Her name is Michelle. Yes, I am my new BFF. We are just beginning this journey, but I am confident this relationship will grow to be something powerful and meaningful. Right now we are just working on being kind to one another. Treating each other like we treat others. I talk to her as if I am talking to one of the ladies inside, tenderly and with kindness. I hold her when the road gets bumpy and we cheer to the small victories.

If there is one thing that this year has shown me it’s that freedom in itself is a gift. Freedom gave me the gift of holding my first grandchild, the gift of being able to hold the hand of my husband during one of the scariest moments of our life, and the joy of my daughters voice telling me she was getting married, and not having to read it in a letter or hear about it after everyone else. You see, being home as things happen is a joy after being gone for so long. Even though there was the hardship, I was just so grateful to be here for them instead of locked up trying to help through a phone call, or wondering how everyone is doing.

During this last year, I have been stretched too thin, and I have walked on new ground. Both have taken the breath out of me and both have exhausted me. I realize now, I have some serious soul searching ahead of me. But I have also learned that mistakes are part of life and not all mistakes hurt people.  I am so used to hurting people in my mistakes that I forgot there was such a thing as “learning mistakes,” and that these mistakes can actually help mold me into becoming the person I long to be.

So with that, I am once again reminded of the challenges from #lifeafter and encouraged by the fact that this too shall pass. Good or bad, all things pass. Life can change in a moment, for better or worse. Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready! (more prison talk)

I will spend the day celebrating the victories, with the people I love! I will thank God for another year of Grace, and make a list of goals for year 8! I have many things I want to do, and bearers I want to break. Most of all I want to embrace my passion, enjoy this new gift of self-compassion, and remember to take it slow. I want to show love while I can, take time to heal, steps to grow, and embrace everything in between. After all, life can change in a New York minute!




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