2015: My Year of Insanity (And Oddly Enough, My Saturn Return!)

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If you know me, you know that I have lived a life of extreme poverty and all the shit that comes along with that. Foster homes, abuse, hunger… been there, done that. However, there is no doubt that 2015 has been the hardest year yet.

Let’s sum up the year. Right around January 1st, my marriage came to an abrupt end. I watched six seasons of Gilmore girls in one month and cried so hard I was in a constant state of dehydration.  My commitment to run for common council vanished instantly. My engagement in community issues slowed to a crawl. It forced me to nearly shut down and completely restructure Buffalove Development. In February, my father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer, forcing us to put my very sick mother in a nursing home in May as we watched him rapidly decline. This year, I lost a great friend, my grandfather and just this past week – my father.

I’ll spare you the details but know that I am ok….tired and drained… but ok.  When the divorce news hit me, it hit me hard. I immediately retracted – I pulled in what was most important and gave up everything else. I fell to my knees – hard – but refused to give in. I used every ounce of my energy fighting to maintain a life and business built for two while trying to redefine myself and my message – post divorce – and add balancing the daily family struggles that come from having two very sick parents. There were times where I felt like my energy would never return, my excitement for life would be permanently shadowed and that my resilience was not strong enough to withstand everything being thrown at me. Everyday was a new challenge. Everyday was a roller coaster. I kept telling myself this was just “stormy weather”… (thanks Nate!)

I get my determination to move forward from my father and my inner “always positive” attitude from my mother. Regardless of the pain from so much loss, I know that somewhere there is a silver lining in all this – somehow, for some reason, this was meant to happen. I am a firm believer in the universe guiding you. I always have been. Follow the golden rule and ride the wave. Be who you are and do what your heart (and brain!) tells you to do. Where you invest your love, you invest your life… right?

So here is my inner positive. It seems as though the stormy weather has subsided. The divorce is finally done, taxes are done (which was a huge conundrum in itself), my father and grandfather are finally at peace and my business is once again moving forward… all of which seemed to come together in the last few months. Buffalove is all mine. My mom is stable and comfortable… She is well taken care of. I have a great new job at City Dining Cards that I love. I was just appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals by the Mayor, was a keynote speaker for the Restore Omaha conference and in a few weeks – American Rehab Buffalo will debut. My sister and I are closer than ever, too. I now have Drew Brown in my life – a self made man from the east side who climbs the tallest mountains, makes his own pocket squares and loves me incredibly. I’ve never met someone so perfect – humble, confident, passionate and sweet.

So…. I wouldn’t be who I am without sharing wisdom, lessons and positive thoughts. I thrive on advice from others, why not give some? I know everyone goes through things – we all have stories and stressors in our daily lives – and support is critical to a successful outcome. Here are a few positive take aways.

Gain wisdom but don’t be afraid to take risks. Look, we live and we learn, right? But had I known what I know now about divorce – would I look back three years ago and say no instead of yes? NOPE. No Way. I would totally do it all over again! Don’t say no in the future because you’re jaded. It won’t be fair to you or the opportunity in front of you.

Divorce is absolutely the worst. A divorce is like a death. If you’d like a few important pieces of advice… Don’t drive and cry – you’ll nearly kill yourself. Surround yourself by amazing friends. Get a good lawyer. Don’t be afraid to kiss someone else. Do not blame yourself. DO NOT FEEL GUILT OR SHAME. (Which I still deal with!!!) and most importantly, do whatever makes you happy providing it isn’t super heavy drugs or alcohol. My sister gave me that advice and I swear by it. Shop, cry, watch gilmore girls, eat, drink… whatever. Do it. I did all of the above and I bought myself a very beautiful leather bag and a pink kayak.

Don’t be afraid of new love. When I met Drew, it took me some serious time to really let him into my heart. I knew he was worth it from day one but I just needed time. When I finally told myself to let go of the weird invisible barriers that only I could see or feel, I fell in love. I would not have made it through this year without him, there’s no doubt about that.

Take the extra time needed for loved ones. I spent more time with my father this year than I did in 10 years. Kathy Mecca told me that I would never regret the time I spent during the last moments. She encouraged me to embrace them as much as I could. She was totally right – today I find myself looking back on those last moments – taking my dad grocery shopping, bringing cheesecake to him in the hospital, getting Baconators from Wendy’s… at the time, it seemed like a burden but it wasn’t. On the last day of his life, I brought him a sweetness_7 coffee, the public and block club (for reading!) and fresh picked tomatoes from my garden. I didn’t have to do it but I wanted to and I am glad I did.

Random important life lessons: Make up a will, assign yourself a health care proxy and buy life insurance.

LASTLY, GIVING THANKS: To everyone who has been a part of my life this year – thank you. I cannot say that enough!! The words of wisdom and encouragement kept me going through the toughest times. To friends who were at the wedding: If you were at the wedding and I haven’t said much to you about anything this year – know that grief is a strange thing. Don’t take it personally, please. To my favorite people: Lynne, Aunt Joni, Chris, Drew, David, Nate, P, B, Derik & Jess, Sue, Van, Erica, and everyone else who picked up the phone to hear me sobbing on the other end, dropped everything to have a beer with me and did random check ins… thank you.

It is September. I have a lot of catching up to do but I can’t help but think that fall and winter should be pretty awesome.

With Love,

Bernice

P.S. 2015 represents my 28 & 29th year on this planet which oddly enough is my Saturn Return. Coincidence? I think not.