So, after almost a year on hiatus, I randomly got an Etsy sale yesterday. Shocking and exciting since I didn't even realize I still had stuff listed for sale. I vaguely remember relisting some pieces at some point just before or after Christmas, but since I haven't been actively keeping up with it, I totally forgot I even had items to sell. Anyway, the Etsy sale made me think about my little blog, so here I am once again.
This past year has been a doozy. Lots of hard things have happened in my life, but with those difficulties I have learned and grown so much. I'm not going to pretend that I'm completely grateful for all of these hard times, but I do have hope that at some point in the future I will be, and at this juncture I am already learning to be grateful for the experiences that have forced me to grow and think and expand my understanding in ways I never would have otherwise.
You may or may not know that Finau is back in jail and will probably be there for a while. He says it looks like no more than 3 1/2 years...give or take a few months. This means I'm flying solo trying to provide for our five kids on my own without any support from their dad. So, that's been hard. The 4 babies are still so tiny and get sick so easily that putting them in daycare and working outside of the home is not presently a realistic option for me, so I've had the extremely humbling experience of moving back into my mom's home, applying for and receiving government assistance, and also getting some help from my church. To say it's been rough feels like the understatement of the century. It's extremely challenging to go from being self-supporting and really kind of thriving and excelling in your professional life, to being completely dependent on the kindness of family, friends, and the government to help you care for your family. I see my friends post random angry and abrasive memes or comments on Facebook about "freeloaders" and people who live off of the government, and I cringe inside and think to myself, "they're talking about me and they don't even know it." Watching my mom and Bryan (and other family members, friends, acquaintances...the list is really so vast and help has come from so many unexpected people and places that I couldn't even begin to name everyone) throw thousands of dollars my way to bail me out of car payments so that I'll have something to drive my little troop around in, buy diapers for my kids, enroll Ilaiasi in sports programs...I'm overwhelmed with gratitude, but it's so hard and sad and depressing for me to feel like I am unable to provide for my little family. I don't really want to focus on the sadness, though, because, while real and important to my life, it is most certainly not the only, or even the most pervasive, feeling I've experienced throughout this difficult period.
I feel like I've grown more in the last six months than I had in most of the rest of my life combined. I've had to ask some really hard questions and accept some even harder answers. I've been working through some things that I'd really rather not have dealt with, but I'm still alive, I'm still as sane as I've ever been (which, if you've ever been to my house while I'm trying to get four babies to go to sleep at night, you know is actually a pretty impressive accomplishment!), and I'm moving forward. It's been a struggle to get to the point of being ready to move forward, and sometimes I wish I didn't have to go through all of the things I've been through in order to get to this point, but by trudging through this messy part of my life, I feel like I've become a stronger, healthier, happier person than I would have otherwise been. And this experience has given me a new and greater appreciation for bravery and for courageous people.
As I've assessed my relationships, I've come to realize how many truly brave and courageous people I know. I'm so impressed with people who are unafraid and unashamed to be themselves and to show their authentic self to the world. Friends and family, old acquaintances and newfound bosom buddies...so many amazing people in my life have shown me through their example what it means to be brave and strong and honest, even in the face of rejection or disproval or the unknown. The deeper I've looked into myself, the more I realized how scared I've been and how much I had closed myself off to the world. My life was so chaotic that I didn't want to let anyone in, didn't really even want to let my guard down enough to let MYSELF see what a mess I was in, so I hid behind my babies and made excuses for why I couldn't interact with others (ok, being real here, much of it was not an excuse...it's hard and time consuming work taking care of 4 kids that are 2 or younger. Just sayin.) But, I've slowly started doing things that scare me again. I've started, little by little, putting myself out there and I've risked letting people in again. And, guess what? Nothing horrible has happened because of it. In fact, for the first time since before Ovaka was born, I have friends again...the kind that you actually go out and do stuff with and talk to just because you want to chat. I don't feel alone anymore. Even when I'm the only one I know going through the things I'm going through, and even when I know my opinions and ideas set me apart from the rest of the group, I no longer feel like I'm trying to survive this life alone. And, honestly, in my mind I knew I was never alone. There were always people willing to help, willing to listen, willing to lighten the load if I would let them. But, for whatever reason, I didn't feel like I could unload any of what I was carrying without my entire life crashing down around me. Then one day, it all came crashing down anyway, and I realized that "this, too, shall pass" and that really I never was in control to begin with, so I needed to let go and let God do his thing. Once I FINALLY got this concept through my thick skull, I started seeing all of the quiet heroes in my life. So many of you are bravely facing your own giants and are doing so with so much grace and class and serenity. Others of you impress me with the brutally honest way that you go about living your life in spite of everything you struggle with -- and I appreciate the way that you let others into your struggles and allow me to watch you make sense of your own struggles so that I can emulate you in trying to make sense of mine. So, thank you to all the unsung heroes in my life who have shown me how to be brave again. Thank you to those of you who have courageously let your voice be heard, even when you knew your opinions and ideas would be unpopular. Thank you to my friends and family who have shown me how to soldier on in the face of adversity. Your example has not gone unnoticed, and you have been a light to me during a very dark time.
My little post of gratitude wouldn't be complete without acknowledging how grateful I am for my children. These cute little monsters have kept me going when all I really wanted to do was go lay in bed and never get out. I am so, so, SO grateful for the way they save my life every day by giving me something wonderful and hilarious and beautiful to live for. They fill my life with so much LIVING, and I just adore them. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I've had to be their mom.