2016, My Year of Life Lessons
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2016, My Year of Life Lessons

The Hardest year of my life has become the most memorable

2016, My Year of Life Lessons
toni lafauci

In December of 2015, my father, whom we all lovingly called Pops, spent Christmas and New Years in the hospital fighting an aggressive bacterial infection that would render him weak and exhausted. With my father being in the hospital to bring the new year in, I had high hopes that things would begin to look up since that seemed like the worst possible thing that could happen to me at that time. Little did I know that my life would just become a downward spiral of despair, loss, anxiety, and downright feelings of being lost; but throughout it all, I gained valuable life lessons and grew as a person, and it is with much pride that I share these life lessons with you.

Things can, and will get worse.

In the beginning of 2016, I genuinely thought my life couldn't get any worse. I was in a program of education I no longer had a passion for, my father was in the hospital for the holidays, and I was slowly losing a sense of who I was or wanted to be. But five months later, my life came to a screeching halt when I lost Pops, and my life truly began to fall apart when I was thrust into becoming the head of my household and the sole caregiver of my mother. I was also faced with my poor mother's immediate and drastic decline in health. What once seemed like a mountain was now a molehill, and while I was stressed, and still am, I learned how to take everything as it comes and to never stop moving. The world does not stop turning simply because my world felt like it did.

My Support Team is GOLD.

My motto is "I am the strongest girl I know." I stand by that, and do everything I can to uphold that standard. Growing up, I was taught to handle things within the family and by myself. While my parents had always been there for me, I was and still am a very private person. I fight my anxiety alone, I fight my depression alone, and I rarely tell anyone my problems. This tactic was slowly killing me, and I knew that I would have to lean on the amazing support team that I have. Once I did, my problems became so much easier to manage because I was no longer shouldering the weight alone.

Life is too short....eat the cake.

Losing pops at 60 really made me realize just how short life truly is, and put my own life into perspective. I had spent most of my life taking care of my parents, and while I would never change a thing, in a way, I felt like my life was begging again after losing Pops. I didn't want this new leaf to go to waste. I did the things I told myself I couldn't do. I changed majors, I got numerous tattoos, I got a piercing that scared me, and I got to surprise my oldest goddaughter in Texas for her 18th birthday. A trip that meant the world to me because I not only got to surprise my goddaughters and nephew, but I got to spend much needed time with my best friend who is like a sister to me. At 32, I know that I still have a lot of life ahead of me, and every day is a gift. Some days, it's gym socks, and some days, it's diamonds, but no matter what the day brings, I cherish it all.

The story isn't over....

I remind myself every day that even though Pops is no longer with me and I miss him more than anything, I know that he is and will always be with me. I have a semi colon tattoo to remind me that no matter what, the story isn't over, and it continues with me. I want my story to be EPIC. From the sadness of losing Pops, I needed something to focus on, and had a need to help others. With that sadness, I created the Humbled and Hungry, a nonprofit that gives those battling cancers the opportunity to afford the peg tube feedings they need, the opportunity to feed themselves and their families in general, and to remind them that their story isn't over yet either. I want everyone I meet in the process to know that they are not alone; they can do this, and what better way to give hope and share the love from a Sicilian girl then with food.


Every week, I come into your guys' lives and bare my soul to you all. Whether it's through personal stories, my passions, or the woes of being a plus-sized girl you all read, share, tweet, and comment on my articles.

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