Day 16

What are your five greatest accomplishments?

I’ve been staring at this page for a good 20 minutes, wondering how I’ll answer this question. It’s been the toughest question of the 30-day writing challenge thus far. Maybe it’s because I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything yet in my life that deems worthy of a top-five list. Maybe there are too many things that I feel have been great accomplishments for myself that I can’t pick my five greatest. Either way, this one has me stumped. Thus, the essence of a 30-day writing challenge.

  1. I would say my greatest accomplishment so far is my relationship with my mother. She and I, in our mother-daughter relationship, have been through hell and back. Growing up as a small fry, I felt somewhat distant from my mother as she worked a lot and I always seemed to be at my babysitter’s home during the day and being put into the hands of my brothers or other babysitters at night. I had to rely on books, writing, and my own imagination a fair amount of the time because I didn’t really have a mom to play with. You cannot get me wrong, my mother loves all three of us children, but there came a time where she made many changes in her career back to back, and she suffered a great and powerful depression that consumed her. My brothers were old enough to understand what she was going through and had already developed their own relationships outside of our family, but I was still young. I didn’t understand. I was consumed by the fact that my mommy didn’t want to spend time or play with me when we were both home at the same time. And as time went on, I began to grow, and as school began, I began to drift from my mother. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I was sent to the University of Minnesota’s Hospital due to acute kidney failure and I think that is when our relationship began to grow into something more. She was finally there when I needed her. We would spend hours in my hospital room playing games and watching TV. This was when we first cried together. This was when our bond between mother and daughter became evident to me. AND THEN I BECAME A TEENAGER. And everything changed again. I resented my mother for whatever god-forsaken reasons I came up as a 15-year-old brat and we fought constantly. I pushed both my own boundaries and hers as well. It was emotionally abusive. It was physically abusive. It was angsty teen versus mother figure to a fine T. Then, in late high school, my mother and I began reconnecting. As I moved off to college, I learned even more how important her friendship became to me. Once she got cancer, it was my turn to be scared, and I spent every waking moment with her when I was able. Now, 5 years since she’s been in remission, our relationship is that much stronger. Granted we still have our little issues, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve been through everything and became even stronger because of it.
  2. My second greatest accomplishment is my college education. My father only made it to 10th grade. Both my mother and both brothers made it to college, but were unable to obtain degrees. I made it through all four years of college. I have a degree in creative writing. I surpassed my family on education, and continue to do so. It sounds like I’m gloating, but I’m not. I have always had a passion for learning, for understanding new perspectives, and learning who I am and where I matter in the world. I feel like my family gave up on their educations due to their stubbornness. My dad left high school to spite his parents so he could work and earn money, and he’s been living all his life working blue-collar jobs, and he hates it; and wonders why he can’t retire at 65. My mother has done her utmost to obtain an education. She went back to school to receive a specified degree in registered health information technology. Basically, it proves she can do medical transcription. My oldest brother Jon was one semester (or one year, I can’t remember) from graduating. I don’t know why he suddenly gave up, and maybe he doesn’t either, as he just started going back to school this week. My older brother, Ben? My parents like to say he got an A in partying. He flunked out his first semester and has been struggling with his poor choices ever since. But me? I got an education. I’ve applied it, and now I’m working at a newspaper. I followedΒ  through and though it hasn’t gotten me riches beyond my wildest dreams (yet), it’s gotten me job security, and I’ve never had a problem getting a job on any level. I’m smart. YAY!
  3. My third greatest accomplishment is my own self care. I’ve been trying my hardest to work on my mental and physical health, especially this year. I’ve been on (and have been consistent with) my anti-depressants and my anti-anxiety medications, and there is improvement in those areas, but I have felt I needed more tools to learn how to get out of my anxiety, especially when it comes to lack of control in situations. So, I’m in therapy for it! Yay! I’ve quit smoking cigarettes, I’ve watched what I’ve been eating, and I am doing more exercising. So far, I’ve lost 11 pounds and am under 250 pounds, which is huge for me. I’ve been trying to use mindfulness more often. I’ve been trying to journal (and blog!) more and do tasks that require more thinking rather than just zoning out to the TV or my phone. I’ve even decided to teach a community ed class to stretch my own learning and my passion for sharing writing with others. I have so much further to go in my mental and physical health, but I’m continually working on it and not giving up on myself anymore. I realized a while ago that I love myself for who I am and I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me how to live/what to eat or wear or say/who to be, but then as I went on that journey of self-love and self-acceptance, I realized I was doing things to myself that were harmful to myself. Activity gets the blood pumping and the endorphins going (bye high blood pressure and depression), quitting smoking helped me to smell better, to walk further without being out of breath and to walk upstairs without being out of breath!, eating healthier means my diabetes are in check and fills me up more than garbage so less calories, and drinking more water and less caffeine has also helped me to get rid of my headaches and keep hydrated, which makes my kidneys happy! It’s a win-win-win.
  4. Number four would have to be my job. I am in a career where I am doing what I have always wanted to do: writing. Granted I’m still learning every single day (and I hope that never stops), and have so much room to grow as a writer and a journalist. But, the fact still remains is that I’ve achieved one of the goals I’ve had since I was a little girl; since I could put pen to paper in a small little 4×3 inch pink notebook. I eventually graduated to a composition notebook that looked just like Harriet M. Welsch’s notebook from the book “Harriet the Spy,” who was my idol. Many, many, many notebooks later, I’ve filled my share of reporter’s notebooks and continue to do my best to write factual, credible information for our area’s paper. The ultimate goal is to have my name on a book – a book that I created, that I love, and that I can share with thousands and thousands of people. One step at a time!
  5. Β (P.S. I will have you know it has taken me HOURS to write this one. But to be fair, I’ve been sneaking it in between assignments at work) Lastly, I’d say my greatest accomplishment is surviving. Surviving bullying, surviving an abusive past, surviving kidney failure, surviving rape, surviving college, surviving poverty, surviving anxiety, surviving depression, surviving every day one at a time. That’s my greatest accomplishment.
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