Nothing Is Guaranteed

Nothing is Guaranteed

I saw my life flash before my eyes. I now look at life completely differently.

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Lucky is an understatement. Lucky does not describe how I feel.

I never share personal things about my life and I have a hard time opening up to people, however, this is an exception. I feel like I need to share this with everyone.

I was driving back to Tallahassee on Highway 19, a highway I drive all the time. About 60 miles outside of Tallahassee it started pouring rain, nothing out of the usual, nothing I'm not used to. I was driving 20 miles under the speed limit in the inside lane of the Northbound side of the highway. I hit a huge puddle in the road and immediately hydroplaned. I slid across the median, two more lanes of traffic and then my car nose-dived into the ditch. (The picture is terrible and doesn't truly show what happened.)

Everything was a blur. I remember trying to hit my brakes and trying to steer my car away from the ditch. I remember my car jerking from side to side and me screaming. I knew I was going to die. No one goes across a median and two lanes of traffic and into a ditch on the opposite side of the road and walks away unharmed. I remember throwing my hands up to just let it happen. But, it didn't.

After my tires stopped spinning, I got out of the car to assess the damage and call my dad. I was shaking uncontrollably and could barely dial my dad's phone number. I didn't know what to do. It was pouring rain and I was sure my car was totaled. I got out in the pouring rain, unable to feel the cold and walked in the mud all around my car. My car was completely unharmed, just stuck in the mud in the steep ditch. The same rain that caused the wreck created the mud that played a part in possibly saving my life.

After I called my dad I sat in my car waiting on the tow truck to pull me out of the ditch. All I kept saying to myself was that I should have died, how it was a miracle that I'm fine and how grateful I was to still be here.

The accident happened Tuesday afternoon and I've spent the past 24+ hours reflecting on it. I still don't know how I got so incredibly lucky. It just so happens that the median I went across was flat and paved, unlike the steep ditch that acts as a median that was not 10 feet from where I flung across the highway. It just so happens that this was the only time where no one else was on the highway when my car went across two lanes of traffic. It just so happens that the ditch was muddy and my tires got stuck in the mud before hitting a tree.

After thinking about everything, I have a completely different outlook on life and happiness. We seriously cannot take anything for granted -- happiness, friendship, health, our lives. All of these things can be snatched away in an instant. I am going to live my life pursuing what makes me happy and what makes me feel successful. I have spent my life trying to please other people and making sure that all my actions are dedicated to other people's happiness. While I believe it is still important to value your friends and value other people, I am going to start taking more time for myself and the things that make me happy. I have set goals for myself that include finding a fun new hobby and to designate one day out of each month to spend the entire day doing things that make me happy. It is important to be able to take a step back and realize how lucky we all are and to be grateful for everything we have. We cannot let our time here on earth be wasted or not meaningful.

We are here to love and to be loved.

Spread love and spread peace.

I know I am here to do more than just survive and go through the motions of life.

And so are you.

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Your Feelings Are Not Invalid, It's OK To Not Be OK

I know that life can get really hard, but I promise it'll be okay.

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Recently, I have had an extremely hard time with my level of happiness that I have in my life. I go through my days feeling overly exhausted by the drama and hardship around me. I have gone through the past few weeks really struggling with this stint of depression and anxiety that I have been fighting with through the course of my life. These past few weeks, I have had large issues with this feeling of not being good enough and feeling like the world around me is falling apart because of stress and drama and self-image issues happening around me. I was at a point where I found myself not being able to have a positive thought in my mind and it was feeling like the whole world was against me.

I hate feeling like this. I feel like my world is crashing down and I truly just want to feel better. I have come to the conclusion in my life that the world I find myself living in makes us feel like if you feel depressed or upset, you have an issue and you are not alright. Numerous times I have been told that I need to get over it or that my issues are just "first world issues" that do not matter. This has shown me that there is communication in our world that is not being discussed. Depression has become this thing that society looks at so commonly and we have become accustomed to the idea of people around us being depressed that it makes us numb to it. This has made people think of depression as something not as horrible as it truly is because "everyone" has it. Depression is something that is extremely detrimental to the person being affected by it.

My journey with depression and anxiety started at a young age. I would have anxiety attacks at random times because of untold issues that I was having with my father or issues with bullying. From that young age, I learned very quickly to put up an act when I was around people because I didn't want them to tell me that I needed to get over it or tell me that it was not an actual issue and I was just being dramatic. I kept my mouth shut and pretended that this black mass wasn't engulfing me into is and pulling me deeper and deeper into this whole that was full of self-deprecating thoughts and images. People in school with me and that went dancing with me couldn't tell at all. They thought that I was this nice, happy little girl and honestly, I couldn't be mean to anyone else because all of my efforts were being put into being mean to myself. But, as I said, I couldn't express this to anyone because I felt like this issue I was having was one that I shouldn't be having and that there was something wrong with me for feeling this way.

Here's the thing: it has taken me so long to realize it, but I have come to understand that it is okay not to be okay.

Going through my life with this overall and underlying sadness and self-image trouble does prevent me from doing some things, but it does not mean that I need to stop doing what I am. I do have this issue but it is alright for me to talk about it and there is nothing wrong with me for feeling the way I do because at this point in my life and in history, there are a lot of things I have to deal with that are not the greatest mentally. Understanding the issue and talking about it is the only way to improve my metal standing, however, and I feel like this right to talk about it should not feel like it is too taboo to actually have conversations about. The world around us though needs to listen and stop blowing off these issues like they are not important. I have experienced many times this idea of someone telling me that I complain too much after I talk to them about the struggles I have in my life and I am sick and tired of feeling as though my problems do not matter. Big or small, people react to hardships differently and this needs to be something that the world understands and listens to.

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