The year 2022 significantly altered my life. I will never and can never be the same. Some events just scar you for life. In my case, I am literally scarred. The base of my throat has a puckered scar, my stomach has an inch long puffy scar, and the inside of my upper arm has a dot of a scar smaller than the size of a dime which I regularly find myself rubbing with my finger in a circle. There is also an indentation that has the look of an old bruise on my left cheek that is possibly permanent. All are courtesy of my first round of covid 2022.

I’ll take my scars, I mean I really have no other option, they are my badges of honor. The marks of a warrior who fought body and soul and won. The rest of the things that I simply accepted up until 2022 though, those are going in my rear view.

I am the same, but also a new person. One cannot experience a trauma and not be different in some respect. I mourn my losses and almost in the same breath embrace the loss as motivation to evolve.

Until 2022, I accepted what I was given, and if it wasn’t given I accepted that also. I accepted what I believed was adequate from others or what I thought I deserved. Whether it was time, support, friendship, love, acceptance, feeling I was contributing to or worthy of my friendships and family relationships being reciprocated. I simply accepted this is how they were meant to look in my life, whether I liked it or not. It was just how it was.

I awoke feeling different in March. By April I knew I was different. I no longer felt constricted and weighted down by imagining everyone else’s view of me. I freed myself to be true to who I wanted to be.


I stopped pretending to be happy with how things were and went about changing them. I stopped doing things I didn’t want to do just to make others happy if it made me miserable. I stopped worrying about how things might look to others and just did the things. I stopped caring about all the things that in the grand scheme of life just don’t matter. All the things I’d held back on, I lunged forward into.

The woman I was before,


I examined myself and peeled back the layers. Taking a true hard look at yourself and pulling apart your motivations, beliefs, and flaws isn’t easy. When your body essentially traps you though, you tend to get introspective with all that spare time.

My inner voice has always told me to do what was expected, not to bring attention to myself, and not to half do things, which in my mind translated to don’t do them at all if you might not be good at them. My inner voice is that of my grandfather, who for the most part raised me. I was brought up strictly and can still even over a decade later after his death hear his disapproving “Dani Marie!” when I do something he probably would have said something about.

All this is to say that my life has been about holding back both out of expectation and fear. It’s been worrying about what people might think if they saw me do something out of the ordinary. It’s been about putting things off, because they can be done later.


Once the moment slips by, it’s gone never to return.

The longer I’ve been awake, the more often I find myself saying screw that! Why worry about those things when I can just try them and be happy whether I’m any good at them or not? Try something new! Embrace the joy in the moment of the experience. Don’t let fears, expectations, or others hold you back from learning to live your life.

I wanted to be able to defend myself and my kids. Instead of worrying that I was too old or overweight, I asked the instructors if they could still teach me with my disability. Come to find out they work with disabilities all the time and modify the class to you where needed. Myself and two oldest sons joined and are learning Tae Kwon Do. They are wonderful about working with my oldest who is on the autism spectrum and with me when I need breaks to catch my breath or if my leg won’t allow me to do certain maneuvers.

First Tae Kwon Do class! I was so proud of myself for taking that trial class. Team Chip Martial Arts, Abilene, Texas.

Instead of saying maybe later, we’re busy right now, and probably never actually doing the asked for activity we stopped what we were doing. Kids in pajamas and us fully clothed we set up the water slide in the back yard and spent our time making memories instead of cleaning out the garage.

Summer fun! Dyess AFB, Texas.

Instead of letting my fears of past history repeating itself continue to make me paranoid, the day after Thanksgiving, while others were shopping, I was learning to shoot a gun. While I’m not a fan of the 22 I rented and the 9mm of my Dad’s had a little too much oomph for me just yet, I found that I wasn’t too terrible of a shot. I’ll try a different gun next time I go back to the shooting range.

First time shooting a gun. Abilene Indoor Gun Range, Abilene, Texas.

I’ve sang (terribly and off key but not too loudly) and maybe even danced a little behind my cart as I’ve pushed it through the store. Hey, if the music is good you might as well fully appreciate it.

I’m exploring my creative side outside of writing. I’ve dabbled with alcohol inks, painted at one of those we help you do the project places, just general craftiness, and a friend and I tried our hand at making clay jewelry. All things I usually avoid because I might not be good enough at it.

Birthday celebration at Board and Brush in Abilene, Texas.

So as we enter the year 2023, here is my New Year’s wish for you…

May even on your hardest day you smile when you remember all your blessings.

That you wake with joy in your heart as your feet touch the floor.

Enjoy the moments before they pass you by.

Even when you shed tears of grief you cherish your memories.

That you step bravely and boldly into your unknown and try something new.

Don’t limit yourself or force yourself to do something due to the expectations of others.

Let your loved ones know that they are loved and appreciated.

See the positive even when skies are gray.

Above all else, treasure your life and be happy.

Learn from my story. Don’t make my mistakes believing you have tomorrow. Live and live fully. Growing and changing should always be a part of your journey. Never be ashamed to leave your old self behind. Just be happy! Life is too short to be anything less.

Happy New Year!

Love to all,


  1. I think I need to bookmark this to read over and over. Do you get tired of hearing you’re an inspiration? Because you are! You also encourage me to reach, not for more, but for the best. Thank you, Dani!

  2. Thank you so much Jen! My MMC team members, past and present, have shown me so much love and encouragement the past year through this whole ordeal. Thank you for being one of my cheerleaders.


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