Friday, February 13, 2015
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Today would have been Katie's 35th birthday. I woke up yesterday morning not remembering what today was, but felt this strong push that I really needed to send her mom an email. Very weird coincidence.
I try not to focus on the what-ifs of life too much. To sit and dwell on something that will never be reality seems a little wasteful, when we should be doing something to honor the memory of those we've lost. That's where I'm at today - wondering what I can do to show how grateful I am to have known Katie.
I was trying to describe her to someone today.
Katie was this beautiful, happy girl. I'm not kidding when I say she always had a smile on her face. Her laugh was contagious. Once she started, I had no recourse but to join in. She was goofy and serious all rolled into one. She listened during my worst and best times, and put up with my ridiculous teenage girl attitude. Then my ridiculous college girl attitude.
She was the loudest laugh during sand volleyball, a beer in her hand and her determination to win. She was the voice of reason. She let me cry the night we bumped into a boy at a bar who I hadn't seen since one of the worst days of my life - a day where I'd lost so much of myself in one afternoon that I wondered if I'd ever be whole again. He'd broken me in ways I didn't believe I could be broken and to see him made me physically ill. Just like she had years before, she comforted me and assured me that life was just beginning. That I was more than what had happened. That's who she was - she took care of those she loved with an unwavering heart.
That was so many years ago and today, I try and remind myself of her words again. Life ended far too soon for her, but every day we wake up is a new beginning. Not a chance to wipe the slate clean; we need to remember the lessons we've learned. But a chance to see the world with fresh eyes and be grateful for every moment, every smile, every obstacle we have the opportunity to overcome.
Happy birthday to my friend. I wish we'd found our way back to each other sooner, but I'm glad we found our way back, period. You are, and always will be, a part of my heart. I wish I had the courage to reach out to old friends the way you did to me, but my heart was always the one more scared of that rejection. Today, I will just be grateful again that you were never the scared one ;)
Sunday, November 2, 2014
This was the video done on our experience when we did the 5K a few years ago.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
I spent a great deal of time around the time my mother died in 2005 looking back on the person that I was back five, 10, 15 years ago. When you’re facing someone’s mortality – I think even when it’s not yours – you start to question and ponder all of the decisions you made. In my case, it was because I wanted to change my life into something greater, something that my mother would be proud of. That's how it started at least. I eventually found I wanted to just be proud of myself.
When more than one thousand people attended her wake and funeral, I began to wonder who would even show up to mine. I’d spent a great deal of time the previous 10 years pushing those who cared about me away by suggesting through my actions that the world did, in fact, revolve around me. From being a nightmare to my parents; to a boyfriend I loved and said goodbye to ultimately because he got into the college I didn’t (pretty shallow, huh?); to partying til dawn with everyone I wanted to be friends with (this was always fun for my parents and the friends), my life was a revolving door of poor choices for a few years.
Not all poor choices – I maintained my 3.4 GPA and was president of the television studio, on the school paper editorial staff, and had a weekly radio show. I had three jobs and went to school full time. On the outside, at least academically, I was thriving. It was the inside of me that needed work; the soul part of me. I could make a hundred excuses: some close friends had died when I was younger and I feared losing people; I was trying to be popular; I leaned towards the dramatic because I'm a drama queen. The funny thing is that while these were really what I felt at the time, none of these were truly excuses – they were just attempts at justifying the person I’d let myself become. A person I didn't like. All it did was serve to make myself more miserable.
I hid it well, because I wanted everyone else to think life was perfect. I smiled, received magna cum laude honors at college, went out, laughed and told jokes, had tons of pictures to prove how happy I wanted everyone to think I was. In fact, I was the exact opposite, because I was being who I thought everyone else wanted me to be, and not who I truly wanted to be myself. It wasn’t until after college that I began to relax and just be me; and when my mom got sick, I couldn’t be anyone else. There was no energy left after caring for her and working to be anyone but tired, sad, desperate me. And despite the pain of what we were going through, I found great relief in being able to just be me for the first time in so very long. My mom was my heart and soul, the only person that I could talk to about anything and who really knew me inside and out – and still loved me despite it. When she died, I lost my heart and soul. While sad, it gave me the opportunity to make a fresh start; to start from scratch and try and become the person I knew I could – and wanted – to be. And in the same token, build back a new heart and soul.
So what would I tell the me of 10 years ago?
Make mistakes, and be okay with making mistakes – they are how you learn. It’s going to happen. You’re going to fail a test or be late to work or disappoint people – that’s just the way life is. You cannot please everyone all of the time – and that includes yourself. Just don't make it a habit. A lot of people have a lot of expectations, but the most important ones are the expectations you have for yourself. Just do the very best that you can do at this point in time, and have that be good enough.
Stick to the goals you want in life, and don’t settle for anything less. Don’t let anyone make you feel that what you want to do is anything less than exceptional.
Don’t take a job if it’s not your dream job - or a step on the way to your dream job. Money is just…money. It’s not life. Life is the people you love and surround yourself with. You’ve been rich and you’ve been poor, and you’ve been pretty happy at either time, so you’ll make do. Happiness isn’t dependent on the amount of money you have, but in the time you spend with friends and family smiling.
Travel. Before you know it you’ll have a family and kids and a need to save for retirement, and there won’t be time to do all the things you had wanted to do.
There is not always something better waiting around the corner, so just get rid of that mentality early on. Most times, the best things in life are sitting there right in front of you while you’re too busy looking off in the distance for the next high. If you find yourself constantly chasing those highs, eventually, you begin to feel numb to the things that come along that are, in actuality, really great. So look – really look – at what you have, and appreciate it, and admire it, and respect it.
That applies especially to people. Ten years down the road, you’re going to write a letter to and old friend asking for his forgiveness for how poorly you treated him, thinking you don’t even deserve the time of day in this regards (and that would be a pretty accurate assumption). He’ll respond with how you have played an important role in his life, and that you were and are a great person. Take a moment now and be grateful for having had people like that in your life, who have such kind words for you, and treat them a little better in the here and now. You have friends down the road – Patty, Jackie, Carrie, Nancy – who have seen you at your worst and still love you for your best. Love these people for who they are every day. You won’t stay close to everyone you wish you would, but you’ll find that down the road you’re all living the lives you’re supposed to live, even if it’s not the way you'd wished all those years ago that it would turn out. Life happens as it does for a reason, and while you can’t have some people in your life forever, that doesn’t mean they don’t remain a part of your heart for your whole lifetime. Respect all of your friends while traveling your individual roads, and learn from all of their amazing attributes.
Be content in knowing that life happens the way it does for a reason, and you will always end up exactly where you are supposed to be. When things happen, deal and move on - there's not much else you can do that isn't a waste of time. It's true that when one door closes, another opens. It's simply how life works, and if you go with the flow, you'll do just fine. While there are times you didn't want to be at rock bottom, if you weren't, you wouldn't have an appreciation for all the good things. And you wouldn't have the strength you have for dealing with things. Be grateful for that.
Forgive yourself sooner. You forgive others – so do the same for you. Don’t carry the guilt or anger around day after day, year after year. Life is a series of mistakes and joys. Learn from them both, and make the most of every day. It’s a waste of time to wallow in things you can’t resolve, or to worry about resolving the things you could if you’d just speak up.
For all the bad things you’ve done, you’ve also done things you should be proud of. Remember that and carry it with you. Don’t be ashamed to be proud of the good things. Don’t brag about it, but hold them close to your heart.
Don’t be afraid to live for yourself and not everyone else. Find what makes you happy and go with that. Do not let others dictate what type of life you should lead, and how you should lead it.
There’s a lot I’ve learned over the last ten years – and I know that at 30, I still don’t have my life figured out. I have a tremendous amount of respect for lifelong friends (and am lucky to have a few), for those who overcome obstacles in their lives, and for people who fall in love so young and are still together today. I’m lucky for the friends who have stuck by me while I’ve grown; and I can only know I’m lucky I didn’t marry someone at 19, because I think that we do the most growing in our adult lives from the time we’re 18 until were 30. We change so much, learn so much, build our lives so much. While you may not be proud of everything from your life ten years down the road, know that you wouldn’t change a thing (well, mostly. You definitely would have handled personal relationships better, including avoiding a few). They’ve built you into who you are today. If you hadn’t made those mistakes, you would have made others. It’s not about looking back and wishing you could change things, because wishing doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s about taking the time every moment of your life to make sure that the decision you are making is good for you at that time. But every choice, every decision, and every repercussion makes you into the person you are down the road. We’ve all got baggage and histories; but that’s just what it is – history. Every day is a new day and a new chance – and that’s what you build on.
Oh, one more thing – don’t get that shamrock tattoo for your 19th birthday. You’ll get more down the road that are beautiful and meaningful and you enjoy having. Trust me!