Things I’d Say to Myself at 15

I’ve been seeing this thing on Facebook (yes, I still Facebook, although I’m on it a lot less–mostly because I’m sick of seeing the same things. How do I get it to where I can see ALL of my friends’ stuff in my news feed?!?! I swear, technology makes me feel much dumber than I’m actually supposed to be) where people write things they’d say to their 15-year old self. I find it fascinating, introspective, and a bit sad…but it made me curious, as to what I’d say to that girl, so long ago….

WALMART ARCHIVE-0017

Look at that kid. Now, I’m not sure if I’m exactly 15 in this picture…but I remember wearing that shirt in England, and I went to England & France when I was 15, so I’m thinking I’m somewhere close. I think the biggest thing I notice in this picture is how much sharper my collarbones are…how much thinner my face is, and how much bigger my glasses are…I don’t know what’s going on with my hair, but okay…..Those high-waisted jeans aren’t doing me any favors, but that’s a great many pounds ago, and I can get lost in the rabbit hole of sadness, where my weight is concerned…oh, for the days of having a working thyroid!

There are no scars on that neck, nor are there any scars on that body that couldn’t be covered with basic makeup. There are freckles, which haven’t gone anywhere, and there is a tremendous lack of self-confidence that I see in that picture, that has only slightly improved with age.

So, what would I say, to that unconventional girl? There’s a lot that comes to mind…

  1.  You’re going to be okay. Yes, you’re nervous about everything–your hair, the sky, whether or not you’re going to get dress coded for whatever today–yes, life is going to hit you without restraint, but You. Will. Be. Okay. It’s going to take a long time, and you may feel okay one day, but wrecked on another. It’s alright–you’ll be okay.
  2. Love is real, and your wait was worth it all. Since you were 3, you’ve wanted to be a wife and a mama. Even though guys are curiosities at this point (oh, Cass, you think you know SO much), you’re not going to fall in love for a long time. And when you do, it’s going to hurt, and he’s going to let you down. And so will the next guy, and he’ll hurt you even more than the first. You’ll cry; you’ll feel broken and unloved. And you’ll watch your friends grow up and get married, and start families; you’ll feel rejected, and then one day, you’ll realize that, per #1, you’re okay. Jesus has taken His time repairing your heart and restoring your faith. One day, a fateful e-mail opens the door for a lifetime of love and insanity, but it couldn’t happen until you were in the right place, spiritually, and you DO get there. He’s worth it all…Your marriage is tough, but fun; amazing, and sometimes awful, but it’s always worth every step you take with each other. He’s going to drive you crazy, but you can’t imagine your life without him…And he may not remember to say it, but he can’t imagine his life without you, either. Hang on, little girl–those dreams of being a wife and a mama come true.
  3. Your mom loves you. You’re sometimes too similar; you’re sometimes too different, and you don’t always speak the same language. She works hard and she’s tired, and she always loves you. She’s not perfect, and you only hurt yourself when you expect her to be. She’s growing up, too, and everyone learns for a lifetime. Don’t project your own feelings of rejection onto her–that’s not where they’re coming from.
  4. You feel like an outcast, everywhere you go. That doesn’t really go away, and you learn to live with it. You challenge yourself with it, you make yourself talk to strangers and be inviting, just to create your own atmosphere where you feel comfortable. Once you’ve made a habit of forcing yourself to push past the chains of self-rejection, you start to find camaraderie with other weirdos, and you eventually have a solid group of weirdo-friends.
  5. The one person that stays with you, from before you were 15, until today, many years later, is Vinita. Cherish that friendship–don’t ever take it for granted, because no matter how much of a jerk you can be, she will always love you enough to keep you real. Keep that best friend (you just can’t know how much she will mean to you as you grow up. She’s the best).
  6. You have some medical garbage to go through. Pay attention to your body, but don’t be paranoid. Also, advocate for yourself. You’re worth it.
  7. Your body. Cass, you’re growing up in an era that celebrates stick-thin women. Society doesn’t stay there, and it’s amazing, but even now, at 41, I feel physically appalling. I can’t celebrate this body, because it doesn’t look the way I want it too…but it never has, has it? At 15, I looked 21 (and that was a huge problem–carry mace). I felt judged by people that didn’t understand how hard it was to dress curves that arrived far too early…I dealt with men who were inappropriate, and had to stand up for myself early on. I was never “thin,” and I never felt like I had a figure worth admiring, but because I had large breasts early on in life,  people felt like they had to comment on them  (both men and women–it was AWFUL). You may feel like you look the worst, and you’ll struggle with that for a lifetime, but know that you don’t. You’re not the kind of pretty that Hollywood tells you to be, but you’re unique, and you have a great sense of style (but not in THAT picture, LOL). You learn to dress what you have, and you’re pretty good at it. 🙂 (Too good–you have shopping issues. Get It Under Control. The sale will wait).
  8. You have huge dreams. That trip to England, those things you felt the Lord say to you? They don’t happen when you thought they would, and you go through a big portion of your life feeling like God was too disappointed in you, to let you do the “big things.” In fact, you still feel like that sometimes, even at 41. But don’t give up….I haven’t forgotten the prayers said on the wooden floor of an old church in Clacton-On-Sea, Essex…and I haven’t forgotten what He told me. God doesn’t lie; He just doesn’t answer on our schedule. But He’s “not a tame Lion,” and He will have His way…
  9. At 15, you have absolutely no career plans (people might think you do. Lies.). You want to be a writer, and it’s such a slow-burning thing. Your college plans go belly-up in your first semester; your career plans go belly-up after a failed internship your senior year. You literally do not care about what you want to be when you grow up, partially because you’re trusting God, partially because you’re not allowed to go the school you want to go to, and to major in what you want to major in (no Webster, no B.A. in English). Your academic plans get derailed time and time again, and you wind up in health care…where once again, your academic plans get derailed, and you start to think that Master’s degree is never going to happen. It might not. Your career in health care, although unexpected, takes care of your family, and you’ll be surprised that you enjoy it. You still want that Master’s degree, but you get to a point where you’re working to fund your child’s education…even if you’re not so sure you see the point of a degree anymore…You wanted to be a wife and a mom–you get those dreams, and they’re hard-earned. You find joy in those things, in ways you never found in a classroom or in an article. You’re published early on, and you do nothing with it. It sits there on a shelf in a library (it’s a boring book, like, for real–non-profits? BORING) and you find a great deal of joy in editing for others, but your dreams of writing that perfect story haven’t come true…yet…Have hope. Make connections. There’s this thing coming called, “blogging.” Maybe you should get into that. 🙂
  10. Finally, the most important thing I’d say to 15-year old me: Jesus. You’re growing up in the middle of the rebirth of the Charismatic Movement in the Church, and the things you’ll see both in the U.S.A. and abroad are going to create permanent milestones in your life. You’re going to go through multiple crises of faith as you grow up. One thing you never do, though, is wonder whether or not God is real–you always know. Your family, your school, and your church poured into you a solid foundation of faith, and even when the tempest rails, you’re grounded. When you’re shaken, God puts people around you that hold you together….even when you’re destroyed, and you will be, in ways you can’t fathom. You never find the words to tell the Lord exactly how you feel, but He knows. You have so much to be thankful for. There’s a song in your heart that the enemy tries to silence in the harshest of ways, but it carries on, even when you lose your voice. You were made to worship, and you’ll do it for eternity; never let that be dimmed. If you feel like your faith is shaking, reach out and talk to the people around you that love you–they will walk you through it. Get in the Word, and rewire your brain to stop looking at the Bible as a textbook. It’s a lifetime lesson that you’ll work on learning, and it’s hard, but that Word is a Love Letter. No one and nothing will love you or carry you like the Lord. He carries you a LOT, and He never fails. Don’t forget that.

Wow. Looking back at 15-year old me is a bigger trip than I thought it would be. I was a hot mess back then, and I’m a different person now….that’s still a hot mess…

I’m grateful for the journey.

And the improvements in Curl Control. 😉

 

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the Blessings of “Boring”

Christmas cards, postage, etc., COST. So, in the interests of saving our budget, we greatly reduced the number of Christmas cards that we physically sent out this year. Besides, everything–EVERYTHING–is online. Also, the only stamps I have left are either Harry Potter or Disney Villains, and NOTHING says “Christmas” like a Cruella De Ville stamp. 🙂 That being said, here’s our OFFICIAL Christmas Card/Letter for the year:

Christmas Card 2017

Christmas, 2017

One of the doctors in the clinic stopped by my office the other day, and commented on how sometimes, people need to learn to be happy with “normal.” I’m a big fan of “normal.” As a society, we’re told we need to “thrive on chaos,” and to “work well under pressure.” That’s all fine, but I think we’ve lost the luster of celebrating every-day life.

Wake up at 4am. Get ready for work. Drive—a lot—and maintain your Christianity in the process. Do your job—and maintain your Christianity in the process. J Drive some more. Pick up your child from school, head home, make something edible for dinner, and crash in front of the television, read a book, play a game, etc., until it’s time to do the whole day over again. There’s a schedule, and the days tend to flow into one another in some kind of monotonous blur…Or do they?

I’m definitely locked into my routine; I know I can hit that snooze button 3 times before I’m at Critical Rush. My closet is organized so I can spend 5 more minutes in bed, and I usually pack my lunch the night before. I’m as streamlined into my routine as I can possibly be, all in the name of a few extra minutes under the blankets. Do I look forward to every single day? Heck, no. There are more days than not where I fight a major battle just to put one foot on the floor. It’s for medical reasons, it’s for mental reasons—My “expectation” for the day is honestly just to get it over with. I know that sounds like absolute drudgery, but I also know it’s more common than some people realize. I think that’s part of why when something exciting happens, it’s so much more dramatic, because HOLY COW, WE HAVE BROKEN OUR ROUTINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you know one thing that breaks any concept of a “routine?”

Love.

Although the first part of my day is routine, as soon as I pick Jericho up from school, it’s really “anything goes.” I know I’m going to get him, maybe talk to his teacher, and we’re going to drive home, have dinner, and talk about his day. I know he’s going to go to bed somewhere around 7:45, and that I’m going to bed at the same time. What I don’t know, is what he’s going to say…what he’s going to do, or what new skill he’s picked up. It seems like he grows every day, and before we know it, he’s going to be starting Kindergarten. Impossible. I know that when he says something sweet, that on the outside, I’m going to remain calm; on the inside, my heart is going to turn into confetti, and my brain is going to replay the memory a thousand times over the course of the next “routine” day. When he stops everything and hugs me, I know my heart is going to go full-on Grinch, and grow 3x in 30 seconds (it does that a lot). It’s a brand of love unlike anything I have ever known or can describe, and it’s mind-blowing. I don’t understand the love I have for my son. I don’t get it—where does it come from? How does it just keep getting bigger? How is every day with him so amazing? I mean, yes—he’s 4.

Four has tested us in ways we never thought we could be tested in. Everything everyone said about the “Terrible 2’s” or “Terrifying 3’s” is a load of garbage, because FOUR?!?!?. Four is insane. Four means we occasionally have a Tiny Tyrant who is dead-set on voicing his own opinions, on doing is own thing, and is NOT dead-set on simply accepting “DO WHAT I TOLD YOU TO DO!!!!” as a viable reason to do what he’s told. Jericho is feisty, opinionated, determined, and incredibly creative. He is also very loving and very sweet, most of the time. There is never a doubt as to what he is thinking, and I can’t help but to think that he comes by that honestly. J

He’s decided he wants to be a foot doctor, a chef, and a police officer. He’s working on his handwriting; he’s able to read lots of words, and his spelling is pretty impressive. He’s in Pre-Kindergarten!?!?! School has been very good for him, and it’s definitely been a year of transition. He’s just a typical 4-year old boy. I celebrate that.

David’s “routine” day is a little different than mine; he gets Jericho ready for school every day and takes him in. Jericho wakes up ready to punch the day in the face! His day starts with YELLING, “I’M READY TO GET UPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!” over and over and over again, until David finally goes into his room and turns the light on. The child is persistent. I’m not sure how David deals with the volume level of the morning, but on the weekend, it makes me a little buzzy. J I’m used to absolute silence in the morning when I leave, because everyone is still asleep. It’s a culture shock on Saturday morning!

David’s still working with MetLife, and if there’s any “routine” to his day, it’s that he’s going to be busy. Between hurricanes, floods, storms, fires, and crazy drivers, he never knows what kinds of claims he’s going to be dealing with (or what kinds of excuses he’s going to hear). We each have to maintain certain amounts of confidentiality with what we do, but when he does tell me a carefully-redacted story, it’s always jaw-dropping. People are hilarious.

I continue to work with the Center for Eye Care at UMSL. My favorite part of my job is working with our Mobile Eye Van to provide vision services in underserved schools. A proper diagnosis of a vision issue can change a child’s life; that’s exciting, to be a part of making that change. I also continue to work with contract negotiations, compliance, and credentialing. The laws change constantly, and my biggest challenges are being made aware of, and of understanding, these changes. I appreciate the “simplicity” of just being “Mom” at the end of the day, and of not having to worry about government regulation enforcements! J I also continue to do freelance editing when I have time, and “officially” launched www.CassidysCommentary.com over the summer.

We’re a completely “normal” family. We’re a Dad, a Mom, and a child, who start each day, work and learn each day, and go to bed each night. But when you look at that sentence, there’s a lifetime of hope and of love in each comma. There is no happier moment of my day then when Jericho crawls up into my lap, and sits with me. I’ve never known a fulfillment like I feel when we sit there, doing nothing. I’m so thankful for that little boy, and so grateful for the love I see in him. He’s such an answer to prayer, and such a daily testimony to David & I…

I remember that feeling of waking up on Christmas morning when I was a kid—the anticipation, and the expectation. I kind of feel like that every day when I pick Jericho up from school. J Even though it’s “routine,” it’s the best time of the day, full of the excitement of seeing his face and of hearing about his day. It’s a beautiful “normal,” and I am so in love with having it in my life. We are both so grateful to God for these “typical” moments…

For this Christmas season, I hope that you & your family find the gratitude and joy in whatever your “routine” may be. My prayer for all of us is that the drama we are so affected by on a regular basis, go back to being out-of-the-ordinary. My prayer is that the “routine” would be calm and joyful, and that as a society, we would learn to appreciate the beauty of the mundane. Celebrate “normal” this holiday season, and enjoy the peace of the Holy Spirit in your families as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Merry Christmas!!!!!

Love,

David, Cassidy, & Jericho Cooley,

And Holly the Boxer, who is very, very old….