Gucci Loafers, Hurricane Harvey and a Milestone Birthday: And How You Can Help

Like many Americans, I’ve been glued to weather reports since Hurricane Harvey first became a significant threat to Texas. I have family in Texas. I have a small but fierce immediate family and two of them — my sister and my niece — were in the original path of Harvey. My sister isn’t out of woods, living just north of Houston. My niece, in San Antonio, had a soggy weekend but she’s OK. They both have a nice warm place to call home, food on the table, and the comforts of life that many people are accustomed to (a warm bed, clean water, you get it).

I’ll turn 45 in a couple of weeks on September 12. It’s not going to be an easy birthday. My mom’s birthday is September 11. On October 9, we’ll remember my mom one year after she died (milestones are important for the grieving; but we naturally remember her and miss her so much every day). I’m not where I wanted to be in life at 45. I’m curvier than I thought I’d be (granted, that was also back in my eating disorder days). I wanted to be a wife and a mom. I wanted to be taking my kids to soccer practice. I never in a million years thought that wouldn’t happen to me. When my mom was 45 she had four kids. She was also in an incredibly toxic and abusive relationship and we lived paycheck to paycheck. We all have different stories.

My story took me on a wild rollercoaster of a career that has afforded me luxuries I also never dreamed of — no way this could happen to me. My life experiences and extraordinary amount of loss, grief and heartache have made me incredibly accepting of people who struggle. The hate I saw as a child made me realize, as an adult, that you should not settle just to be somewhere you thought you should be. And my career has given me the opportunity to give back and help people in ways I never thought possible. We joke, those of us fortunate enough to enjoy — often in excess — first world luxuries that #thestruggleisreal. You know what? The struggle is so fucking real for so many people… Every. Fucking. Day. I know. That was us.

Wondering where all these crazy disconnected thoughts are going? I’ll get there. Stick with me.  

Last week I treated myself to a pair of ridiculously expensive (by my standards) Gucci loafers for my 45th birthday. It wasn’t an impulse decision. Regardless, I regretted it in the morning. I didn’t return them. I work hard — extremely hard — and it’s OK for me to splurge. I splurge all the time for other people. It’s OK to do nice things for myself, too. This is something I struggle with but am trying to embrace. However, when I woke up and my first thought was “why did I buy those shoes,” I knew then that I have absolutely everything I need and/or want in life. Maybe I’m not where I wanted to be or thought I’d be, but I have a good life. A great life. An incredible life. I’ve had an amazing career that’s still going strong, my annual physical results from last week couldn’t have been better, I have a small but fierce and totally amazing circle of close friends and family, my brother is close to celebrating two years, my first nephew is off to college, my first niece has some fun stuff planned, and my sister can finally relax (shout out to all of my amazing nieces and nephews; I am so very very lucky). I cannot complain.

And now I’ll attempt to tie all of this together.

For my 45th birthday, there is not a single thing I want in life other than to help other people. My original idea was to donate my birthday to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that inspires me and gives me hope. But with all of the devastation in Texas, the closeness I feel to Texas, and my own history of struggles, I’d like to spread the love and also donate my birthday to the good people of Houston. My goal is to raise $4500 and split it between SPLC and the Houston Food Bank. My birthday dream? To be able to donate $4500 to each organization.

So, between Facebook (thanks for making it easy to raise money, Facebook; this one goes to the Houston Food Bank) and this GoFundMe campaign (where I’ll raise money for SPLC), I’m hoping to be able to wake up on my 45th and know that I made a difference. To kick things off, I’ve donated $250 to each fundraising effort. Please join me in giving back to those who need our help. Those who have a different story. Those who have hope, who believe and who love.

Thank you.

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