Ask, Listen and Remember

Some friendships we build along the way are ones that are brief; sometimes they arise unexpectedly and these friends become our companions, our advocate and ally; the person we turn to, no matter the situation. Other times, a friendship is lighthearted and exemplifies a person we spend only happy moments with.

Then there are those friendships that endure. Maybe they were built in childhood, or maybe they were built in adulthood, though no matter when they were cultivated, they endure. That’s not say the friendship involves talking everyday or seeing each other regularly, this type of friendship endures because it is solid and built on trust. These are the friends that can go months, maybe even years without speaking, but they know they are always there for each other and when they do connect, it’s as though no time has passed.

The other day, I stumbled upon the quote below and was taken with how true it is. How many times have we walked into a friend’s house and may have seen the “mess” but overlooked it? That supposed “mess” does not define someone. A friend can overlook a supposed imperfection and see their friend for who they are; a caring, respectful and beautiful person, filled with love and talent.

Today, reach out to those you haven’t in awhile, or if you have reached out, reach out again. Like the sign outside of the Hallmark card store always says, “Who needs to hear from you today?”

True Friend

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A New Way to Walk

A couple weeks ago, my mom and I entered a local grocery store just approaching 5pm. The store, as expected, was bustling and filled with people just finishing their work shifts, people running to pick their children up from schools and daycare and others who were running in to pick up a couple essentials, indulgences, or maybe a prepared meal. For my mom and I, our goal in that trip was to shop for a neighbor; essentials to be delivered immediately following this particular trip.

With the list in my hand, we made our way into the store, making great time despite the crowds, checking off the items on the list until we approached the frozen/dairy section. Noticing her from afar, I’d know her from anywhere. A best friend to me through the latter portion of middle school through high school, I’d come to know her as well as some family. Spending hours at her house watching favorite movies, laughing at old pastimes, dancing to music and simply enjoying life, seeing her again was a trip down memory lane, but it wasn’t all so sweet.

Seeing her in the store, unaware I was near, my immediate reaction was to run. On the few times I’d seen her or others through the years, I made it my goal to escape as soon as possible. On those occasions, I’d run as fast as my legs would carry me, feeling as though my presence would “offend” them in some way. That day, as I saw her, a part of me returned to my 17-year-old self, desperately wanting to abandon the groceries I cradled in my arms; groceries not for me, but for a family in need. Though I bravely and reluctantly made a choice at that moment to stay. Summoning as much strength as I could, I resisted the need to run, my tapping my toes as I paced through the store and soon to the register.

When I see her or other former friends, often times sadness and ruminating begins, as I wonder what happened, what I could have done better, if anything and whether they’ve ever thought the same. This occasion reminded me of the poem below, a favorite I’ve mine which has helped me through the years. It emphasizes a realistic pathway to change and overcoming what we sometimes feel we cannot. That day, I chose to walk down another street (or aisle, rather), staying and feeling the fear and apprehension I did, but reminding myself, I am just as deserving to be in that store. It wasn’t about me in that moment – it was about the family I was shopping for; it was about being brave, about utilizing the courage I know I have buried inside and working my way through the pain. Leaving and making myself invisible doesn’t and wouldn’t have made that moment any better. Staying, finishing the shopping trip and bravely making my way out of the store, is a symbol of growth and strength. I’m not 17, I am a 31-year-old adult who saw a former friend in a grocery store, wished her well inside my mind and walked down another aisle.

Today and everyday, we can choose what and who we allow to affect us. In the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

A Mother’s Day of Many Thanks

Thank you to the Mom who is as brave and courageous as she is wise; who is stronger and more talented than she knows.

Thank you to the Mom who held my hand through the storms, cradled me in her arms as I wept.

Thank you to the Mom who stood proud, beaming as I walked across the stage to accept my Bachelor’s Degree.

Thank you to the Mom who helped me apply to college as we sat in the hospital lobby.

Thank you to the Mom who made a choice to change her life for the better in her 50s despite the risk and fears involved.

Thank you to the Mom who let me take her drawings from many years ago out of hiding to produce a coloring book which will help and inspire so many children and families.

Thank you to the Mom who sat beside me in a tattoo shop on my 31st birthday as I was “inked” for the first time with a recovery symbol on my wrist.

Thank you to the Mom who taught me how to diaper, soothe, nurture and care for a baby.

Thank you to the Mom who shows me how to be a loving a Grandmother to my niece.

Thank you to the Mom who gave birth to my other best friend, Hope, who is also a wonderful Mom to my niece, Brielle.

Thank you to the Mom who hears me berate myself, but still encourages me to see the best in me, even when I don’t like what I see in the mirror.

Thank you to the Mom who always likes and comments on my blog and writing.

Most of all, thank you for your love, presence, unwavering support and guidance. No amount of thanks could ever convey my gratitude. Having you as a Mom inspires me to keep going; we can always make a change, no matter what we’ve been through or how many years have passed.

As final note, thank you to my sister, Hope, who celebrates Mother’s Day today. Thank you for being a second Mom to me for much of my life, for being the guiding light, helping hand, and listening ear who always helped me find my way. Thank you for making me an Aunt. Thank you for making me feel loved each and everyday.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own Mom and to my sister, Hope; today and everyday, I celebrate both of you!

0680          Tattoo on Wrist

Happy Mother’s Day to the others who are celebrating and to those who are missing someone today, a Mother or Mother-figure, I keep you close in my thoughts and am sending you strength and healing; you are remembered today, not forgotten.

A Reminder Worthy of Remembering

After a long week, the weekend is here. Maybe your week went the way you hoped it would, or maybe not. This past week for me, posed a series of challenges, but also moments I was proud of. The other day, I noticed the collage posted below and instantly felt heard. Sometimes, it can be easier to isolate and easier to fall down the hole of comparison, especially when noticing the pictures and posts of others.

Though, during these times and in life, in general, it is important to note that at some point or another, everybody struggles, whether it is known or not. To struggle does not mean you are weak, or flawed or damaged. It merely means, you are human; you are allowed to struggle, or be afraid. It’s okay to have a beautiful day one moment and a messy one, the next. This is life; these are moments building us to where we know and accept our abilities to handle whatever life tosses our way.

No one is immune to obstacles faced in life, but we all have a unique ability and ways of managing them. Always remember how far you’ve come; you’re here today and given the chance to make your day however you choose. I hope you feel loved, recognized and appreciated today and if you don’t, remember it’s okay to reach out; someone, somewhere is always listening.

Things to Remember

Questions Worth Asking

These past couple weeks I’ve been more reflective than usual and last night prior to heading to sleep, I started to contemplate two specific questions I was routinely asked for a month at a time at three separate points in my life. At ages 17, 20, and the week leading up to my 26th birthday, I was posed these questions/challenges: What was I thankful/grateful for that day and what was I proud of doing? No matter how poorly the day might have went, even if it seemed to have unraveled to pieces, I still was expected to see the upside. I wonder if those of you who are reading this have ever asked yourselves these questions, or if you were, what would you say?

What we are thankful/grateful for or proud of ourselves for doing does not have to be something so momentous or blockbuster, but rather can be an everyday occurrence. Life is and can be so hard and to me, we owe it to ourselves to celebrate and recognize persevering through the challenges we face and the successes we achieve.

Some days I’m grateful for the chance to enjoy a mug of coffee, its familiar aroma circulating through the air, my hand cradling the warm mug, temporarily erasing my worries. Other times, I’m grateful for the ability to walk freely outside my front door, my legs carrying me from place to place, never knowing who I could meet. Life is unexpected, unpredictable and not promised. I’m painfully reminded sometimes of how easy it is to take the things, people and places in our lives for granted.

An example? Sending a text message to a loved one and receiving a response, knowing they are there, listening, reading my thoughts. When I was in college, in lieu of texting because she was at work and me, in the computer lab on campus, in between classes, sometimes I’d compose emails back and forth with Hope, my sister. Not long ago, I stumbled upon some of those now 11+ year-old emails and I am grateful. In many of those emails, I detailed my struggles, lamenting of how desperately I wanted to withdraw from college and run; not literally, but rather once again abandon my goals, personally and professionally. Through those emails, I weathered through my remaining college years as they became my “saving grace” so to speak. Knowing I could type a message to my sister and receive her empathy and encouragement, is an epitome of my gratefulness.

Similarly, as I struggled in the subsequent years with employment, during the day, my mom and I would text back and forth and given the phone she had, texting wasn’t always the easiest. Still, I would find comfort and in turn, be grateful for text messages reading, “It will b ok.” I still even look at those words, partially written in shorthand/slang and feel reassured.

What I’m trying to say is: to be thankful, grateful and proud is to appreciate and recognize all that makes life bearable and worth living. Again, it does not have to be something as grandiose as winning the lottery, having your dream job or a mansion, but can be celebrating the supposed “small things,” in life, like enjoying a favorite meal, the comfort of holding someone’s hand, taking a walk, breathing in fresh air; all of which when we actually stop to think about it are not so small after all.

So today and each day moving forward, I encourage you to ask yourself and others, if you’d like, what you are thankful/grateful for and proud of doing. From my experience, I think you’ll be surprised of all you can think of.

Grateful People

A Small Screen Reality

This past week was one of the most challenging I’ve encountered in months, filled with a host of one struggle or obstacle after another. Weathering through it as best as I could, I relied on books, writing and reflection to carry me through. One book in particular captured my attention and allowed me to delight in a world completely opposite to mine, but one that is amusing to think about. Titled as “Field Notes on Love,” by Jennifer E. Smith, is a novel filled with adventure, risk-tasking and how sometimes an abrupt decision can lead us to the most fruitful, life-changing experiences. It is tangible proof of sometimes when we overthink or mull over a decision too long, we rationalize ourselves out of it and in turn, end up wishing we’d done what we originally set out to.

Field Notes on Love

This book, in particular, reminds me of two movies I’ve loved since childhood and my teenage years. The movie first springing to mind is one from 1993 (or around that time) by the name of Only You. Not wanting to spoil it for those of you who might want to see and experience it for yourself, it is a movie filled with travel, chances, and whimsical ways of thinking. It’s an adventure that can be experienced from the comfort of your home, or wherever you may be. The other movie this book reminds me of is Chasing Liberty. A movie starring Mandy Moore, her character in the film is curious, adventurous and aspirational, carrying out an adventure of a lifetime overseas. Sometimes, I read and watch these types of movies because they allow me to experience adventures and contemplate my own life and decisions.

With that being said, when I approached page 128 of the book, I stumbled upon a passage I found particularly enamoring and easy to relate to on many levels. The title character, Mae, who is an aspiring filmmaker, talks about her grandmother’s love of romance movies, which though Mae would watch with her, she always groaned and complained about how unreasonable they were and how these “great loves,” would never happen the way they did on the small screen. She went on to say her grandmother’s perspective – “It’s not supposed to reflect reality. Reality is all well and good, but sometimes you just want to pretend the world is a better place than it actually is. That love triumphs over everything.” Hearing Mae’s sentiments about her questioning of the movies reminds me of myself. Many weekends in the past and currently and through the holiday season, my mom and I watch endless amounts of Hallmark Channel movies together. Often times while watching, I’ll comment on how distanced from reality they are, but my mom will watch, dreamily, indulging in these beautiful scenes they often depict, not so much as questioning it, no matter how far from reality it could possibly be. One time, however, my mom said something similar to Mae’s grandmother, about how sometimes it’s simply nice to be able to detach from the often cruelness in the world, or the pain and obstacles, and watch something lighthearted and beautiful unfold on screen. This is true, I’ve realized more than ever, but also, how romantic to think that these stories within the movies COULD actually happen. Anything is possible, isn’t it?

Best Days of Our Lives

Tonight, another Hallmark Channel movie premieres, one where the title characters travel to France, a country with much meaning to me, given the number of years I studied the language and how fond of it I am. From the comfort of my home, I’ll be traveling there and doing my best to not critique what may seem unrealistic, but instead focusing on the wonderful thought of how it could actually happen and even if it doesn’t, how comforting it is to watch something beautiful unfold on screen.

Often times, there is much joy in taking a voyage to somewhere we’ve never been, even if it is simply watching it on screen, or reading about it in a book. “The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.

Life As You Are

Welcome to a new month, the 5th of the year, a new set of 31 days filled with chances, possibilities, opportunities, and dreams. Maybe last month wasn’t the best, or maybe it was; though whichever way it was, today is a new month and a chance to take care of you and those around us.

So often in the sometimes chaotic pace of life, I forget to be grateful for all that is given or shown to me. Some mornings when feeling particularly stressed or uneasy, upon walking out my front door, I’ll be greeted by a neighbor, an energetic and friendly woman with a smile on her face. “Oh, isn’t it such a beautiful day?! Look at this sun and it feels warm, too!” These are observations or acknowledgements she’ll often to say to me and because of how upbeat she sounds, it’s hard to not look around and smile back, nodding in agreement. As hard as it may be to admit, when feeling particularly down, I may not even notice the abundant sunshine she mentions, or the clear blue filling the skies. Though I hope to be more conscious of it, taking time to notice all that is around me, instead of simply fixating on the worries mounting within me.

Last week, on Thursday afternoon, an unseasonably warm, early Spring day with blue skies and sunshine, my mom, sister, niece and I made our way to a small shopping/tourist attraction/village (Peddler’s Village) roughly 25 minutes or so from our hometown. Though it is a site I’ve visited countless times as a lifelong county resident, last week it was almost like being there for the first time. With my niece, she has the ability to transform the most typical, or even mundane moments into something extraordinary. That afternoon, I began to see the village through her 4.5-year-old eyes (as pictured below), taking in the plethora of vibrant tulips adorning the cobblestone walkways, blowing dandelions into the air, giggling as they flew all around us.

Brielle Flowers 2

As we continued to stroll through the village, my niece’s hand safely in mine, I realized THIS is life; this is living. No matter how I felt inside about myself or the worries circulating through my mind, I would enjoy that moment, recognizing it as one of those “snapshot moments.” It was a moment I’d never forget, watching the smiles on my niece’s face as she pointed out the colors of the flowers, acknowledging how beautiful they were after a long, frigid winter.

So today, as we begin the new month, these are my hopes for you and more: I hope you can take time to blow dandelions into the wind watching them create new life; I hope you can take time to notice the flowers blooming after a long Winter, and most importantly, I hope you can acknowledge how important it is to take care of you, allowing yourself the chance to live how you want to, no matter what that looks like.

Live As You Will