• Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

This is a goodbye letter to my favorite pair of jeans. 5 years ago when we first met I was so amazed at how well you fit my curves. I always dreaded trying on jeans because in the past I had a difficult time finding a pair that would fit me. I tired on eight pairs of jeans in the store before I found you. I almost gave up, but when I slipped you on, you fit perfectly. I didn’t even have to jump to fit into you. Maybe a little but that’s to be expected for a new pair of jeans. It’s like you knew I needed you. You were flexible, not too long, not to short, with a high waist and deep pockets in the right places. I remember standing in the fitting room doing all of my favorite dances to see if you would pass the test and you did. You were the best $60 dollars I have ever spent on an article of clothing in my life. We have experienced so many great adventures together in these 5 years. We have dipped it low together plenty of times. You have consumed my tears through the breakup with my ex and helped me grab the attention of my now husband. Regardless if I was going through PMS or simply gained a little extra weight,you always fit me in any transition my body was going through. I never felt insecure or uncomfortable in my skin when I wore you. Honestly, most of my favorite full body photos have you in them. Unfortunately,it’s for me to let you go. My pregnant belly is more than your flexibility can handle and as mush as I would like to hold on to you for nine months, I don’t want to disappoint myself by thinking I will able to fit into you once the baby is delivered. So I rather part ways now and say goodbye. Thank you for being my loyal friend and helping me snag my man. I hope that you make someone else as happy as you made me. Love your favorite owner

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  • Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

The holidays are here and like most people around the world, I am running around preparing for family and friends to visit and enjoy the holidays. Although the holidays are exciting, it can be very stressful. This year my husband and I decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at our house and now that we are one week away, I’m regretting having made that decision. From the day we sent out the invitation there has been nothing but drama. In most families you have that one person that wants to highjack a specific holiday. This person in our family just so happens to be my wonderful, amazing, kindhearted mother-in-law. For the past 40 years she has been hosting Thanksgiving dinner in her home. “It’s a tradition!” her words not mine.

So, when she received our invitation, the following day she calls my husband all upset and trying to guilt trip him into convincing me to cancel my Dinner plans. For the first time in our three years of marriage, he stood up to his mother by telling her that if she wanted to host Thanksgiving dinner at her home she can. Unfortunately, we won’t be attending because we will be celebrating thanksgiving at our home. Of course she is more than welcome to attend. Shocked by her son’s response she quickly replied, “well I guess we will be having Thanksgiving dinner at your house”. The conversation was going great until he opened his big mouth and said, “you can help Lilly cook, I think she would love that”.

When those words fell out of his mouth my stomach instantly dropped. Me working on Thanksgiving dinner with my mother-in-law was going to be a complete disaster and I was obviously right. From the beginning of the menu planning there were issues. Everything had to go her way from the way we set-up the table, to the way we platted the food. I couldn’t have an opinion or an idea about what was happening in my own home! When I would mention it to my husband, he would passively say, “she’s just trying to help”. I knew for a fact she wasn’t being helpful, she was trying to highjack my thanksgiving dinner. Things took a seriously drastic turn when I came home to find my grandmother’s China in a trash bag by the garbage.

When I was growing up my grandmother would always decorate the table with her beautiful China. It was the first expensive things my grandfather purchased for her. She loved that China and took great care of them. When my husband and I got married my mother passed it down to us. This Thanksgiving I was excited to have the opportunity to set my table with my grandmothers China. She loved Thanksgiving so much and setting my table with her China would make me feel closer to her. So, when I walked into the house and saw the table decorated in a completely different way than I had planned and my grandmothers China sitting on floor in a trash bag next to the trash can, I lost it. I quickly confronted my mother-in-law and I asked her “why is my grandmother’s China in a trash bag?” She quickly responded dismissively and said “those dishes are old, so I got you some new ones”. Next thing I know, I blacked out in a rage and started pushing everything off of the table and screaming for her to get out.

She quickly grabbed her things and left the house slamming the door behind her. In my rage I sent a mass text to everyone invited notifying them that Thanksgiving Dinner was cancelled. I was over competing with my mother-in-law and fighting to have a space in her family. As much as I wanted to host dinner at our home, I was tired of being disrespected. The next morning, I woke up to go downstairs and clean up the mess I made. To my surprise everything was already cleaned up and the table was set with my grandmothers China. When I walked into the kitchen my mother-in-law and my husband were they’re putting away the groceries. When I saw her, I quickly turned around and headed back upstairs to the bedroom. She followed me. When I reached the bottom of the stairs she asked if she could speak with me for a moment. A huge part of me wanted to say no but I knew saying that wouldn’t solve anything. So, I slowly turned around and walked into the living room to sit on the couch. She joined me by sitting in the chair across from me.

She started by apologizing and went on to explain that when her husband passed away, my husband became the person she depended on. When we got together, she knew she wasn’t going to be the only special lady in his life and when I decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at our house, she felt like I was trying to take her place in the family. Instead of looking at it as a bonding moment between the two of us, she looked at it as competition. As I sat there listening to her explain her behavior, my anger began to subside until it went away completely. When she finished speaking, I said, “we are a family, and we might not see eye to eye on everything or agree all the time. Still, we must respect one another. I am not trying to replace you or take your spot. What you do for this family is so important and so valued and I don’t think I would be able to handle it all. So, let’s start fresh”. I went on to say “Mom, would you please help me host Thanksgiving Dinner here at my house?” She quickly responded yes, and we both get up to embrace one another.

Family isn’t perfect and that’s what makes life entertaining. My mother-in-law and I still have some kinks to workout in our relationship, but I am excited for the first step. I hope you guys have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember perfect families are overrated.

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  • Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

I always envisioned my life being super fabulous like the leading characters in The Devil Wears Prada or Sex in The City. Yes, there would be a little struggle but then I would land my dream job as fashion photographer and attend all the hottest parties in town and living out my dreams. But instead, I’m here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin 40 years old married with two children working as an office assistant for a local law firm. A completely different life than I envisioned for myself 15 years ago. I constantly tell my children to follow their dreams and that they can accomplish anything in life they put their mind too.

As I stand here in the office kitchen making my supervisor his fourth cup of coffee. I began to think about when I stopped following my own dreams. The basic answer to that question is life happens, and you get caught up in being a mom, a wife, and a provider for your family. Yes, all of that took place in my life but honestly, I allowed for life twist and turns to stop me from following my dreams. I always told myself that once my children were in school, I would get back into doing photography again. But it never happened and now I’m standing here in this kitchen a week after my 40th Birthday regretting all my life decisions.

When I took this job six years ago I made an oath to myself that I would only be here for a year. But then I got comfortable. I was able to pay off my student loan, we bought a house, we were able to go on family vacations and build a savings. All of the things I wanted at the time were able to take place because I had this job. Even if I hated the job it was allowing for me to provide for my family.

After work I decided it was time to make a change. So I went to a local camera shop take a look at some camera’s and camera equipment. When I walked into the store it like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. Seeing all of the cameras and reading about the features brought forth so many ideas. While I was in the store my husband kept texting asking me was I going to pick-up dinner? I ignored the text. Not because I didn’t want to let him know where I was. I ignored it because I was in a safe space that bought me pure joy, and I didn’t want my reality an all that it comes with to steal joyful moment from me. I spent an hour in the store just looking at cameras.

That night when I arrived home my husband and the kids were in the living room watching TV and eating pizza. Soon as I walked in the door my son yelled mommy your home, daddy got us pizza I saved you some. I responded thanks buddy. I sat my keys and purse on the table in the entryway and joined my family in the living room. Visiting that camera store started a fire inside me that I didn’t want to let go. That day I made an oath to myself that I would start pursing my dreams.

That night after I put the kids to bed I went downstairs to help my husband finish cleaning the kitchen. He asked did you have to work late today? I responded no I stop at the camera store before I came home. He looked at me with excitement in his eyes and said so did you see anything you like? I smiled and said a few things. I finished drying the dishes while he finished packing the kids lunches for tomorrow. He said Kay it’s never too late to follow your dreams. That’s one things I love about my husband he always wanted me to be happy. From the beginning of our relationship he always encouraged me to follow my dreams. When I stopped pursing photography full-time when our daughter was born he came up with the idea for me to create the set and shoot our family photos for our holiday cards. He did whatever it took to keep my hands on a camera and when I didn’t feel like I was good enough he gave me space to figure it out. Life is all about stages and phases and in this moment in my life I am ready to give my all to my dreams.

The next day I went back to the camera store and purchased a camera and all the equipment I needed. I wasn’t going to let myself get comfortable for another six years. Aim I nervous? Yes. Do I have everything mapped out? No. But I do know that I am not meant to be and assistant at a law firm.

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