In a flash it was all gone. Her big-wig job Her lavish house on the cul-de-sac Her responsible, predictable life She searched her soul for regrets, but her future felt so damn light she only felt delight.

Tell me again, whisper it in my ear. The plan of our escape. The one in which we fly away together. To a tropical island, where winter’s cruel winds can’t reach me, and your strong, hot touch makes me even warmer.

Crawling from the wreckage of my life, I stood and looked over the ashes of the past and my charred dreams.

A butterfly of hope flutter in my chest and a ghost of a smile played on my lips.

I’d burned that fucking bridge and was ready to walk a new path.

Old man winter is back.

My most unwelcome guest.

His icy fingers scrap along my once warm flesh,

Opening wounds and making me bleed despair.

His cold breath reeks, heavy and ugly, chilling me to the bone.

If this uninvited guest is staying, I’m leaving!

As I step outside the snow starts to fall. It covers the frozen ground and dead leaves, making everything appear fresh and innocent. I look up and snowflakes fall on my cheeks and lips as soft as a baby’s kiss, encouraging me to embrace this winter wonderland.

I’m not a trophy you set aside and take down to show off to your friends. I’m more like your all seasons Elf on the Shelf. Restlessly moving around, sometimes being a pain-in-the-ass, causing havoc. Other times laughter and joy. But never forgotten.

Today is her one-year anniversary. It is the day she grabbed a key called courage and unlocked her cage. She’s stepped out of her old life and into her new one. It is a scarier place with few guarantees, but the adventure makes it worth every failure and fear.