A few months ago the Facebook biz was the ‘how have you aged’ challenge where you post a picture of yourself in your first FB post ever and another of yourself currently to show how well you’ve aged. Everyone has been doing this challenge with little alterations to it. It’s been fun to look back at my schoolmates, family, friends and my own old pictures.

So in suit, I decided to post some of my pictures from the past in a collage on my IG. But as I gathered them I noticed something very sad. In each photo, the look in my eyes was that of complete misery. At the young age of 19, 20 and 22 years old, when your pictures are supposed to reflect a happy, fun, and beautiful life, mine only showed sheer exhaustion and the disparage of pain. I remember it well.

Even then, I was taking care of everyone but me. Boo hoo woe is me, right? But I’ve come to even bigger realizations. One, if only I had stopped to take care of myself, my life may have turned out differently. Then two, and more importantly, it’s time to stop complaining and do something about it! I need to be able to say SO WHAT my life wasn’t what I planned it to be. But it’s everything I’ve ever wanted now. What difference does my past make? I can’t change a thing except for my present and hopefully my future.

I have the power to finally do something different, to get a different result. I CAN’T CHANGE that I became sick! But I will do whatever necessary to feel better. I did nothing to change how poorly I coped with my situation back then because honestly, sometimes ignorance leads us. But I have the rest of my life to be better and do better.

Most importantly had things not happened exactly the way it did, I would not feel the freedom I feel right now writing this tonight. I would not be the strong, kind, loving, respected, and determined woman I am today. I would not have realized that this is life. A sweet journey, my journey; the road I had to take with its twists and turns, storms and obstacles, bridges and burned bridges, good and bad, failures and victories. It was made, set up, ordained and destined for no one but me, Valerie Marie Furr-Collins.

Everybody has a past, but I choose not to look at life like that anymore. Saying the words, ‘a past’, can add a negative connotation to what simply was a part of your personal journey. The path was given to you the day you were born leading you to where you are now. Of course, we all have choices to make along the way. That’s what life is all about.

I’ve made plenty of bad choices. But God! I will never allow myself to be as unhappy as I was in those photos; nor my son. No longer will misery live within me. I am overjoyed with the journey God has blessed me with. This is why I love to write. It opens me up until I am completely vulnerable not only to my readers but to myself as well. By the way, I am not fooling myself about the lack of readers I have gained since beginning my blog last July. I know my audience will grow. Right now, I am simply speaking my readers into existence.

Back to these pictures. There’s freedom in seeing yourself from the outside in or as others see you, but you really have to look. Some don’t want to see their own faults but there’s no other way to grow. So they’ll never see what they need to correct in order to change. We can hear a thousand times what are doing wrong or being done wrong, but until we decide enough is enough, we will not change!

Growth is the key to changing the path of your journey toward happiness and living a beautiful and fulfilled life. My daddy always told me when you talk to someone always look them in the eye. I never understood that more than I do right now. Thanks, Daddy for that advice. It’s proven for the most part that who a person chooses to be is always in the eyes.

Me then ⬆︎

Me now! ⬆︎

It’s all in the eyes!


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Valerie Collins
Valerie Collins was born in Tucson, Az, the last of six children. She has loved writing since a child but decided to pursue a career in Orthopedic nursing. Shortly after her marriage and birth of her first child at the age of 22, she was diagnosed with the chronic pain disease, Fibromyalgia, its subsequent conditions, illnesses, and syndromes. Once the disease disabled her in 2001, she revisited her passion for writing poetry and short stories and has accumulated over 100 poems and spoken word pieces over the years. She became a member of the International Society of poets in 2002 and The International Who's Who in Poetry in 2006. She currently is a member of Realistic Poetry International, Who's Who Among American Business Women, and Women of Facebook Create. Her accolades include 2005 Poet of the Year. She was awarded both the Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry and the Official Commemorative Poetry Ambassador Medal while serving as a Poetry Ambassador associate in 2007. She wrote a play entitled “Fix Me Jesus” in 2012 for Alabama 1st COGIC State AIM Youth Convention Competition drama category which was awarded second place. Currently, she is in rehearsals for her second stage play for the local playwright, Shawna D. Moore which will be on stage in August 2019. She is in the process of compiling a two-volume poetry book entitled My Poetic Life: A Memoir of Love and a book detailing her life with Fibromyalgia, entitled Behind the Walls of Silence. In July 2018, she created her first blog site My Poetic Life (The Book) as @vfurrmstheblogger to act as a launch for both books and it has taken on a life of its own. She also owns a small crochet business, Val's Gifts of Warmth, where she sells her handmade crochet items.
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Larry Tyler

Love this my friend. You found the beauty within and unleashed it. Strong Ink with a mix of Joy and sadness. Well done VALERIE COLLINS