I read a meme yesterday that read, “She was a girl who knew how to be happy even when she was sad.”This is true to my existence. I have always been a happy person who knew how to disguise her emotions well. Don’t get me wrong, emotions have a place and I feel they are very necessary. As I walk in this “new normal” daily I have made a conscious decision to live life and to live it fully. I wake up every morning thanking God and being grateful for another day. Losing my husband, I know you can all relate, was the hardest thing I had ever been through in life. As much as I wanted to crawl into a ball and never leave the house again I knew that was not an option. That was not an option for many reasons. The main reason was my faith in God and knowing that he doesn’t make mistakes, and everything has a purpose. I will be the first to admit that I don’t know what that purpose is, but I know that I trust Him and His Word. My second reason was my daughter. She struggled with the loss of her dad, the number one man in her life. I thought, how could I motivate her if I was living a lie? If I was trying to motivate and encourage her but I was unable to carry out what I was suggesting her to do. I never tried to disguise my hurt but instead I reminded her how he would want us to live, be happy and keep his memory alive. I told her it was nothing wrong with expressing her feelings or grieving but I didn’t want either one of us to get stuck there. I had made it a priority to try and be the person he fell in love with. He always loved my smile, he loved when I laughed, my genuine heart, my outgoing personality, he loved my style of dress, my ambition and my ability to hold a conversation with anyone. Some minutes, hours or even days I may fail but the great thing about it, God willing, I always have another opportunity to try again. As important as it is to me to be the person he loved it has been more important to learn self-love. I had always lived my life making sure the people around me were “good”. I often neglected myself for others to be happy. During the most difficult time of my life I was forced to learn the importance of loving yourself, making yourself a priority and living life to the fullest without regret. Self-care became very important to me because I realized if I wasn’t good how could I be good to someone else. On this journey of self-care, I first attended therapy to help cope with the major loss in my life and to get to know myself. I looked forward to these sessions and It gave me an opportunity to share my deepest secrets with someone, knowing they would never leave the room, would never be judged and allowed me to get sound advice from someone who would keep it real. My therapist released me from her care over a year ago. I can recall hearing her words, “Shawna, you are doing well. You will have high and low points all your life due to missing your soulmate, but you are handling this better than expected. I am going to release you but feel free to return if there is a need”. Those words bombarded me with two different emotions. I was happy because I was doing well but I was saddened thinking I was moving further away from my late husband. I returned to my therapist once since the release just to get some insight and advice regarding dating. I also began exercising 5-6 days a week. Not only did this help my emotional state, it also improved my physical appearance. The stronger I become and the more I see curves moving in the right direction the more I commit to it. It has created a boost of my self-esteem. It is now a stress reliever for me and has began a healthy habit. I journal on a regular basis to have documentation of my journey. As I go back and read my feelings from four years ago it gives me so much to be thankful for. I never thought I could accept the fact of my husband being gone. Today, as much as I would have wanted things to turn out differently, my trust is in God’s plan for my life. I am blessed and grateful to have had Tim in my life for 26 years and raising an amazingly beautiful daughter. Our daughter, on March 15th of this year, blessed us with a healthy baby boy by the name of Timothy in remembrance of his Paw Paw. His life on earth had ended but his love for us and memories will last a lifetime. I understand that grief will forever be apart of my life. All days will not be good days, but I will fight with all I have to live the best life possible. I would love to be an encouragement and inspiration to other women who are struggling with any issue that’s stopping them from being their best possible selves.