Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Being thankful is a way of life. Not just a day in November.

People have been writing daily what they are thankful for and posting it on Facebook lately.  It's been making me think.

Why is it that there is one day in which we are allowed to be thankful?  One day in November in which people state what it is that they are thankful for and grateful for in their life.

It's kind of ridiculous right?

Gratitude, being thankful and appreciative of everything that you have is a way of life.  It's not just a day in November called Thanksgiving.

I heard someone ask a question the other day... What would happen if you woke up tomorrow and only had what it is that you thanked God for the day before?

Be thankful. Be grateful. Be appreciative.

But make it a way of life. Give thanks. Tell people what you feel.  Say thank you.  Do something nice for another person, not just the people you love.

Celebrate daily.

But again... make it a way of life. Don't let the only time that you give thanks be the 4th Thursday in November.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

25: The Year of Rebuilding

New Year's Resolutions are such a waste.  People make them, they never keep them. And they don't always remember what it is that they did the year before that actually got them to think that they need to change something.

Birthday recaps and resolutions are different.  There's a new (ugh) higher number.  There's memories and changes and updates. So, on this day of my birth, I give you: 25. The Year of Rebuilding.

25 was...
A year to rebuild.
I found myself again after not knowing or feeling lost for a long time.
I spent time with friends and family that were important to me. People who I had neglected for a long time.
I spent time in Texas with my bestest friend! In fact, she and her wonderful husband helped me ring in 25.
I went on vacation. (A couple of times).
I cooked great meals. And some not so great.
I worked.
I left a job.
I found a new one.
I survived my internship.
I went to school. And then I graduated. And then I moved.

And then I moved again.
I met and made new friends. And rediscovered some oldies but goodies.
I got mad.
I got in fights (not physical ones, silly!).
I healed a broken heart. And throughout? I cried. A lot.
I planned a fundraiser, and raised a ton of money for a foundation and cause I am passionate about.
I shaved my head.
I rediscovered my passions (or some of them).
I lost someone.
I look for signs.
I bought myself flowers.
I had someone else buy me flowers.
I built a bed.
I got tan lines.
I made a quilt.
I spent time with my brother, in the same town, in the same house (which we haven't done since I left for college).
I moved a grandparent into a nursing home.
I remembered that being happy is important. And that keeping something because it's comfortable isn't always the best move.

I've had change, hard conversations, tears, laughter, days and weeks and months of not knowing what is coming next. I've had moments when I didn't care what was coming next. I had moments that the only thing that got me through was dreaming of what was coming next. I've adjusted, re-adjusted, and adjusted again. I struggled. It was the time to rebuild and re-find what I had felt like was lost for so long. I found my sass (again). And my humor.

25 was the year I lived.  And 26? Well 26 will be another year in which I live too. But maybe I won't have to struggle so much to find what it is that I thought was lost. I'm sure it will have struggles. And fights and tears and change and moments. But whatever it brings, I think I'm ready for it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Halfway to New Years!

So today is the first day of the 2nd half of 2012.  Kind of crazy, right?  This year is flying by, and I feel like having a little recap is going to be important.  After all, it's important to reflect (self-care 101).

It's amazing to me every time I look at the book that I am calling "my life" to see how the chapters are turning out, whether beginning, ending, or in the process of being written.  They are crazy, they are challenging, but they make me smile every day.

In the past 6 months of 2012, I have:

  • Lost AND made new friends who have brought so much to my life, it's impossible to count.
  • Planned and organized an amazing event, raising over $50,000 for a cause that I am passionate about.
  • Shaved off all my hair for said above stated event. #StBaldricks2012
  • Lost a cousin, completely unexpectedly, and was reminded that when stuff hits the fan, your family is always there, no matter what.  It's a corner that I am lucky to have filled with so many wonderful people.
  • Rocked the hats, and then realized that rocking the bald head was so much cooler. (Both in temperature and awesome points)
  • Written countless papers, and FINALLY graduated with my Masters degree in Social Work
  • Moved.
  • Applied for countless jobs and gone on interviews.
  • Gotten offered a job I never thought I would get, and have to re-pack all of my stuff to move.  Again. Right back to where I just was. (Oh, 518, you apparently have my heart)
  • Helped a friend move to NC
  • Helped friends through relationship ups and downs, and still be here to talk about.
  • Finally closed chapters in my life, and started new ones.  And these new ones? They're looking good <3 
It's amazing. I never thought I would be moving back to Albany.  To a life, and to a town that I thought I was pretty much done with.  And yet, when I got back to Rochester, I realized quickly that while my family has my heart, and always will, I am not quite done on the journey that Albany gives me.  

So, here's to the 2nd half of 2012 being just as great, trying, happy, challenging, tear, growth and hope filled as the first.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A coffee transition

So, it has been 4 days since I have been back full time in Rochester.

And this morning? I was reminded that this is an adjustment that will take some time.

Background information: I drink coffee. Like it's going out of business.  Especially when I'm applying for jobs.  It's what gets me through my day.  I have a cup of coffee close to me, or at least sort of close to me, all morning.  So, there is always coffee in my house (or my old apt, or whatever).

As I have a slight coffee problem, the first thing I bought at Wegmans, was coffee.  I grind my coffee at the store, because well... I've never had a coffee grinder at my house to buy the beans and not grind them at the store.

My dad? He has a coffee grinder.  I should know. I bought it for him.  So when he buys coffee at the store and brings it home? It looks like this:

These are coffee beans.  They are not ground yet.

When I buy coffee? It looks like this:

Already ground. Ready to be brewed.

And so, imagine my surprise, when this morning, I woke up, took some time coming downstairs (because hey, the only thing on my schedule was to hang at the pool and increase my tan lines), and the bag of coffee that I had bought and ground at the store on Sunday, looked more like this:

Yes. That's right. My dad had combined my ground coffee, with his coffee beans.  To save space or who knows. But now I need a sifter. 

Jokes on him though, I don't buy the same kind he does. 

Just a little taste of adjustment. 

But seriously.  Don't mess with my coffee. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An all day brunch affair

This past weekend I had the wonderful pleasure of spending Sunday with two of my favorite Albany ladies.

We had brunch scheduled for 1 PM.

Yes. Those are waffles. Stuffed with bacon.  Jealousy? Totally normal.

By 5 PM, we decided dinner must be included.

((Don't get me wrong, I've had many a long day full of brunch.  MANY. But this one? Epic))

 And then? We would be the 3 girls going to see The Avengers at 8:30 PM. Please take note that this made brunch an all day, all night, multi-part affair. (side note: the movie? WAS AWESOME. Even if you haven't seen all the others to lead up to who the superheroes are.  Random thought: Why did Scar-Jo's semi automatic handgun never. ever. ever. ever. run out of ammo?!)

These ladies, we'll call them LJ and CW (because hey, we're pulling the initials back for this one. Get off me.) made me not only laugh my way through almost 12 hours, but reminded me of all the wonderful people that I have met and become friends with along the way on this crazy 518 journey.

They have reminded me that not only am I going to rock this transition back to the 585, but that if people aren't ok with who I have become, it's a "you problem." (Ok, maybe that was JD, but still).

I believe this sums it up best.  "I guess some people don't like me... I just don't really get it."

So, to my favorite Sunday brunchers, whether it was brunch part 1, 2, 2a, or 3.  You ladies are wonders.  For my heart, my soul, and my laughter. And don't worry. I like all of us.

Actually? It's more of a love.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Week of Waterproof Mascara

SO, it's Friday. And I move in 8 days.

And I have procrastinated in saying goodbyes to people quite effectively over the past couple of days.  However, tomorrow that all changes.

Welcome to the week of Waterproof Mascara!

Thank heavens I have plenty... because I'm obviously procrastinating in packing too.

Yea. Moving and goodbyes.  I've always been good at them.


Here.  Goes.  Nothing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Because it's Friday. And because job searching can be frustrating.

Because it's Friday, and because it's just craziness to always be searching for jobs, I give to you... a fabulous picture for how I feel about job searching.

Class of 2012.  You're welcome.  

I got some good advice this week.  Advice that if I hadn't asked for it from someone who wasn't my supervisor, I would be totally freaking out.  

Go into an interview knowing and being ok with not knowing everything.  Ask good questions.  Be interested and present.  School won't teach you everything, but it has given you a good base.  Be willing to learn, and willing to engage.  Tone yourself down (maybe that's just for me, ha!), but bring your personality.  

Trust your gut, and you'll be fine.  

Here's hoping!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Love forever, family always, strength together.

The unexpected phone calls.

You know, the ones that change life that you knew?

The changes that grip your heart and soul.  The grief, the tears, the longing, the aches.

A little more than one month ago, my cousin, Jaime, passed away unexpectedly.  She was 33.  She had a family, and a little boy, a loving fiance, and a system and collection of friends, and friends that were family, as far as anyone could ever wish to have.

In a world that doesn't seem fair, she was taken too soon.  There are no words that anyone has been able to come up with that seem to comfort those that are left behind.  There is nothing that can make this make sense.  It is shocking.  Jarring.  And unfair.

I had to write a paper this semester about a memorial service for a grief and loss class that I am taking.  I wrote about you, Jaime.  And it was hard.  But I shared it with the class, and now, I am going to share it here.  Or at least, the parts that make sense to share.  Because while it doesn't seem "fair" or "right" that we are all still here, left to go on without you, it is the task we are faced with and given.

"....Due to the unexpected nature of Jaime’s death, it doesn’t feel as though my personal grief has truly begun.  While it was great to have our entire family, including many family members from out of town able to be present for the services, the common theme and the common sentiment was that everyone was still primarily in shock.  It didn’t feel real.  It didn’t seem as though it was truly Jaime laying in the casket that was before me.

       ...As a person who is also actively participating in the grief and loss process currently, it seems as though these services provided a way for me to begin the grieving process.  However, now that it is almost 2 weeks later, the 3 days of calling hours and funeral services, seem to be a blur.  I remember them, but it feels as though it was a dissociative moment, as though I was going through the motions, but that it wasn’t truly happening.  The act of going through the motions truly presented a grasp on the concepts of traumatic grief, as there were no opportunities to say goodbye, no closure on a relationship other than that the person whom you shared a relationship with, is no longer present.
Traumatic grief services provide a chance to come together.  But I feel like it is, at least for myself, such a beginning point in the grieving process that it is more customary than healing.  No one wants to be there, because it is unexpected.  The real work and the real grief comes later.  The breakdown.  The longing.  The deep feelings of loss.  The emptiness.  The sadness.  The day to day living with grief.  The day to day actions of moving forward, with an emptiness inside. The lack of closure.  And I am not sure there is a ceremony or service, no matter the readings, the involvement, that can change that. "

We are all missing you, Jaime.  Every day.  But we will continue on for you, because we have to.  Because we are strong, and that is what you would want.  Love forever, family always, strength together. <3 Love.

The importance of being where you are. The moment.

Being a social work student has taught me plenty.  What interventions to use with specific clients. How to evaluate them. How to research. How to be unconditionally present.  How to meet clients where they are, instead of where I (as a clinician) may want them to be.

But this semester? In a class around the topic of grief and loss? I learned how to sit with my own feelings.  To be ok (or begin to be ok) with them.

Because it is not just being able to be ok sitting with clients and their feelings, it's important to be able to as an individual, be able to sit with our own.

It is so often that I think that because I have been trained in specific skills that I should have all the answers.  That I should be able to handle every situation thrown in my direction with perfection and the "right" ways.  It's a lie.

Learning to be ok with where I am as an individual, social worker or not, has been a great new way to be able to look at my life, and look at the decisions that I am very quickly going to be needing to make.

It's ok to be sad.  It's ok to grieve the end of something that I thought I was ready for.  It's ok to be happy, to continue living.  To continue growing.  To continue to make choices and decisions because without them, you are stagnant. Unchanging. Because without making a decision, you are, in fact, choosing.

And what fun is a world in which you are unable to change?

It is the lesson I am most thankful for.  Learning to be OK with where I am.  To accept it.  And to keep plugging along, whether the days are smooth like a lake in the morning, or challenging and scary... a day in which your footing just isn't always sure.

It's life.  And if I can't accept and be OK with where I am, how can I expect others to be just as OK with where I am?  Being where you are. In the present. In the moment.  Living.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The true warriors.

It has been almost 3 weeks since I have decided to not only be the event organizer, but to be a shavee this year for St. Baldrick's Albany 2012.

This decision did not come lightly. For too long, there has always been an excuse. Always been a ready reason to not participate in such a way that is the basis of this amazing event. A wedding. A vacation. A job. A request. This is the year for me to get rid of them all. To answer only to myself the question of "Why not?"

There have been some people have asked me whether or not I have really "thought it through."

My answer to them has and will always, remain the same. "Hair grows back. It's for the kids. I'm only shaving my head. THEY are the true warriors."

But then?

I get emails. And Facebook posts. And texts. And messages. And blog posts by cousins, or best friends from far away who are helping me to spread the word of this foundation.

And their words are inspiring. They are uplifting. They are encouraging. They are supportive.

They often make me cry as I sit and read them, as I smile and ask myself how it is that I got to be as lucky as I am to have the supportive friends and family around me that I do.

I have parents who love and support me. I have friends and family members who are Facebook blasting my fundraising page in order to continue to spread the word. And for them? There are not enough words to say thank you over the past 3 weeks.

And I have the honor of being able to spread the stories of those children whom I know, or have known, who have fought or are fighting the beast that is pediatric cancers. It is these stories of the families who have allowed me to shave my head in honor of their children that truly are uplifting and amazing.

And it is these families and children that I am so thankful to have known for even just a moment throughout their battle.

When you think about that, their battles?

Hair doesn't seem like much to give at all.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Decisions, decisions

The first full week of 2012 has brought a lot of decisions.

Or changes.

Not changes in me, but changes in the way that I am approaching my life.

You could say that well.... I have hit the point of making choices because I have not much left to lose, and therefore, everything to gain.

It's been a week of firsts, easy and the most difficult.

Let's just cut to the chase, shall we?

I decided to shave my head.

Yes. You read that correctly.

The action that I have been talking about for 4 years is finally happening. I'm shaving my head for St. Baldrick's this year. I announced it on Thursday and have been given nothing but support from friends that surprised me. From friends that I knew would be there, and from people who have come out of the woodwork. I am shocked. I am surprised. I am thrilled.

And I am exhilirated.

I cannot wait until the day will come that I will become a shavee for this great organization. I have organized for years. I have participated as an event organizer. I have cheered, raised money, spread the word, and supported others.

And now it's my turn. To face the clippers. To support the kids and families who have changed my life. To become part of the team and community that I love so much.

People have said that they are proud of me. That I should not be ashamed of being bald. That they are impressed. And to that, I ask and say, it's not me that you should be proud or impressed of (but I'm excited you are, because well, that means you should donate to this awesome cause!!). This is not something that I am ashamed of.

It is something that I am excited to do. It is something that I have talked about for so long, but have had an excuse each year. The excuses, my friends? Are over.

So when the details keep coming, I hope you will support this great cause. I have meetings this week, and should have the website up by Wednesday.

I am so excited, and I hope that my journey will excite you all as well.

Something to live for. Something to breathe for. Something to care for. A cause and a group to love. And an event that has invigorated me each year that I have participated. I can only imagine what the Albany St. Baldrick's 2012 event has in store.

And? I am so, so excited!!
^^^^ The curly hair. Pre-shave.^^^^
Or, well, a couple weeks ago!