love

For that One Person

It’s easy to want to be famous. To get a lot of attention. A lot of views. A lot of love from a lot of people you don’t know. It would make you feel important. Valuable. Loved. At least that’s what it seems like it would be.

I’ll admit, I struggle with both wanting that fame, and wanting to not want that fame, but I don’t fault myself for it. I love writing. And to gain fame, and thus gain value in the writing field, would give me the chance to make writing my one and only job.

But when I think about “fame” and all that it entails, I know I don’t really want it. I want to write, yes. I want it to be my job, yes. But I don’t want to write because it’s my job, because that’s not why I started writing in the first place.

I started writing because someone else started writing, or singing or making movies or simply smiling or laughing or just feeling honestly and openly for me to see. I started writing because I wanted to be as open and free as the people I saw doing the same thing. I wanted to feel and I wanted to make other people feel.

When I write, I try to spill out whatever I’m thinking, be it a serious thought, a goofy one, or somewhere in between. I try my best to say, “hey, this is where I’m at today, care to join me?” And it is my hope that somewhere someone is sitting or standing or lying down, reading that blog and saying, “yes.”

I write for that one person, hoping I can do for them what someone else did for me, even if it was just being honest. And when I think about doing that—or even better: accomplishing that, I realize that in no life would I ever need “fame,” because I imagine I have something far greater.

The way I see it, I’ve been given love, and I share that love (or at least I try to) in my writing. And if someone somewhere receives that love and then passes it on, I’ve already done the most important thing I could ever do.

For you, the person reading this, I hope that someday I can do that for you. And I also hope that whatever you do, you try your best to spread love with it. I hope you’re out there, living your life, living your love, feeling open and honestly, because you never know who’s going to need you. As you go about your day, there very well may be someone in your path who needs you to be exactly who you are, because it will inspire them to do the same. I for one am happy you’re you and I hope you know how much it encourages me to be me.

30 Good Things that Happened in June

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in!

.

1) This sheep had a great day

.

2) This dad jumped in to dance with his daughter after she had a meltdown on stage

.

3) This woman answered honestly when a friend asked her what it was like to be a mom

.

4) After the Washington Capital’s won their first ever Stanley Cup, this father and son shared a special moment

.

5) Also after the win, Washington Capital, TJ Oshie, shared this sweet sentiment about his dad suffering from Alzheimer’s

.

6) This teacher didn’t wake his student who had fallen asleep

.

7) This woman caught a foul ball in her beer

.

8) This boy took the school picture for both him and his twin brother

TwinFeature1

.

9) Two years after being badly burned, this runner made her way to the NCAA National Track Championship

.

10) This raccoon made an inspiring climb

img-9743_wide-2633f66f422279660c375f5f391b98ab5804687c-s1100-c15

.

11) This high school pitcher consoled his childhood friend after striking him out

.

12) This woman received a wedding gift from her father…nine years after he passed away

Untitled-design-92

.

13) Jimmy Fallon and Lin Manuel-Miranda wrote an ode to goatees

.

14) This woman’s friends came to her side without her having to ask.

.

15) These cats cuddled

.

16) This girl met her bone marrow donor

Donor-05e988f6353df4392e4e007dbeee6e94

.

17) These teachers finally got to be a little honest

.

18) This high school graduate made creative use of her cap and gown

.

19) This dog stayed with its family’s three year old daughter for 12 hours while she was missing

a114662e8903653a00d1fa805addd57b

.

20) Minnie Mouse used sign language to make sure this little fan could feel special

.

21) And this girl used sign language to help out her fellow airplane passenger

35628537_2089627187972398_2579646087706968064_n

.

22) This grandma got a new pet

.

23) This boy ensured his girlfriend’s skin care routine was completed

.

24) This pup learned CPR

.

25) Singer Andy Grammar was reminded that we’re all connected

.

26) This mom wrote a letter to other mom’s of boys

.

27) This dad made it to his son’s graduation

.

28) After hoping for 100 cards on his 100th birthday, this war veteran received 50,000

694940094001_5786058413001_5786028808001-vs

.

29) This boy gave a powerful speech

.

30) And finally, this dog played the piano

.

Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what July brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

tree

I Love Me

A couple weeks ago my friend and fellow blogger, Allison A, posted a blog all about self love. She brought up the frustratingly common tendency we have as a population, especially as women, to not only talk down about ourselves, but to make a point not to brag about ourselves. To counter this, she asked some friends to purposefully list things they love about themselves, both to inspire self-confidence in them and empower other women (and men!) to do the same. Enter me, stage right, LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

So, in the spirit of that blog, I come to you today with a my own. But instead of asking a handful of friends, I decided to ask my mom and three aunts, four women I have long considered role models. Over the years, I’ve seen them turn a blind eye to compliments, always deflecting, always putting others first, and I wanted this to be a way that they could finally sit down and realize how wonderful they are.

.

My Aunt Jacque

IMG_3686

(She’s the lovely lady on the left)

I love that family will always come first for me, no matter what the circumstances.

I love that I have two long term polar opposite friends, in personality, that round out parts of my personality.

I love that I have planned my financial life, so that God willing, I will always feel “secure”

I love that my very favorite thing to do is laugh.

I love that I recently realized that I don’t have to be busy all of the time. That I have earned some quiet time

.

My Aunt Candee

IMG_3420

I love that I have made a difference in the lives of so many children. (She’s been a kindergarten teacher for 19 years!)

I love that I have a responsibility gene, gifted to me by Mary Poppins, AKA grandma…. I always give my all at work and in life in general.

I love that I am a loyal friend and confidant.

I love that I genuinely and passionately love and care about my family and would do anything for them at a moment’s notice.

.

My Aunt Tracy

IMG_4472

I love that I belong to a fantastic family and that I am an essential part of making it fantastic! (Both my immediate family and extended family)

I love that I can get ready to go just about anywhere in a short period of time.  Doesn’t matter if I just rolled out of bed and we are going out to breakfast….or if we have a big event to go to and we get home from a volleyball tournament with 30 minutes prep time.  I can quickly pull myself together and it doesn’t take forever!

I love that I have created so many family scrapbooks (and I am sad that I haven’t continued!).  We can be sitting at home on a Friday night and one of the kids will grab a book and we can all look through it and remember the days.

I love that I am able to maintain long distance/long duration friendships and that we can get together and pick up right where we left off.

I love that at the ripe old age of 53, I still play beach volleyball two days a week….although I am hurt right now…but I plan to be back out there soon!

.

My Mom, Gina

IMG_4453

I love that I am patient, looking for the good instead of the negative.

I love my stubborn streak.

I love that I don’t mind being alone at times, not needy for constant motion or activity.

And I love that I can be forgiving of people and past experiences.

.

And finally, me!

IMG_4159

(That’s me on the right, alongside my mom and sister.)

I love that I’m creative, and have become brave enough over the years to fully express that.

I love my sense of humor and constant curiosity.

I love that when I put my mind to something, I can truly accomplish anything. (Like run 1000 miles in one year and hike Mt. Whitney

I love that when I get to know someone, I fully dive in and look for even the littlest quirks about them. I also love that in doing so I can often find ways to make them feel special or known.

I love that I’m constantly learning, willing to grow from mistakes, and that at the end of the day, I always try to find the positive.

.

I have to say, not only was it not too hard to find things that I loved about myself when I sat down and thought about it, it was even easier after my aunts and my mom did it. (Not to mention reading Alison’s post, which started this whole movement.)

On that note, if, after reading this, you (anyone, man or woman!) are feeling inspired and empowered to make your own list, please do! And if you feel comfortable, please share! Sit down and have some “me” time and rather than criticize, compliment! Love. Own.

Let’s keep this wave going forever and ever.

I’ll Always Remember the Good Parts

A couple weeks ago my mom, sister and I took a trip to Arkansas to visit both my cousin Brittney and her family, as well as my great great Aunt Evelyn who just recently turned 97 years old.

Usually when I go on a trip, I like to blog about it (check out some examples here and here) but when it comes to Arkansas, I tend to just let it lie. Not because the trip is boring or not worth sharing, but because it always seems to feel different than any other trip, making it hard—if not impossible—to find a way to write about it. In a way it feels like it’s not so much a trip as it is a step into another world, one that I couldn’t explain to someone as well as I could show them.

Our past couple trips to Arkansas, while fun and the exact breath of fresh air I needed, have had a bit of sadness attached to them. With my Aunt Evelyn’s health declining first slowly, and then quicker than we could keep up with, we saw our trips change from spending afternoons reading on her porch, to sitting at her bedside in a nursing home. For these trips, rather than staying at my Aunt Evelyn’s house, we’ve stayed with June, a childhood friend of my mom’s mom, and her husband, Jim. This alone has balanced the scales of the trips, filling them with as much laughter as they had gloom.

This past trip, after being warned by June that Aunt Evelyn had fallen not once, but twice in the last few days, and that her cancer had spread to nearly every part of her body, we took a few extra breaths on our drive from Brittney’s to June and Jim’s, knowing that this trip would be somewhat of a goodbye.

Upon arriving at June and Jim’s, we all exhaled, because at least for the moment, we were home. In an instant we were laughing, almost too hard to walk. They greeted us at the door and we dropped our things, unable to peel the smiles off our faces. It was almost 6 o’clock when we got there, so it wasn’t long before we were back on the road, headed out to dinner at one of June and Jim’s favorite restaurants. June sat next to me in the backseat, cracking jokes and nudging my elbow whenever she made a snarky comment just out of Jim’s earshot.

At dinner, we talked about our trip to Brittney’s. About her husband Scott, their five year old son, Landon, and their two and a half year old daughter, Nora. We talked about the three days we spent with them; about the slow mornings filled with Nora’s singing and Landon’s giggling and dancing and soccer ball dribbling; we talked about the day at the waterpark and the evening at the comedy club; and we talked about the afternoons on the couch talking or napping or laughing or just simply being.

The next morning, as we slowly got ourselves out of bed to the breakfast table and then out of our pajamas and into real clothes, we took another collective breath. My mom, my sister, June and I loaded up in the car to go see Aunt Evelyn, all of us the slightest bit nervous, even if we didn’t say so. When we got there, we found Aunt Evelyn asleep in her bed, so asleep it took two nurses to finally coax her awake to eat, even though she didn’t want to. I sat in a chair in the corner of the room, watching her slowly bring the world into focus, my mind flickering from the woman I saw in front of me, to the woman I’d sat beside in her living room watching reruns of Judge Judy.

As an adult, I’d never seen Aunt Evelyn without pain. She was always moving slow, her back keeping her slightly hunched and most content in her chair in the living room. But there were moments when it seemed to dull. Like when my sister made her favorite cookies in the kitchen and she giggled in her chair, excited to have three too many. Or when a story we told reminded her of a memory she carried. The three of us could never get enough of her stories. Both the good ones and the bad, the happy and the sad. Aunt Evelyn had lived a long, oftentimes hard life, and had spent many years living on her own, ruminating, reminiscing, and understandably burying a lot of memories.

As I sat in the corner chair, watching my Aunt Evelyn’s eyes squint and her brow furrow, I saw fear and confusion, pain and exhaustion. Then, for a moment, it passed. June cooed at her and Aunt Evelyn smiled in recognition, saying, “Hello June,” almost sarcastically, before softening her eyes and smiling at the sight of my mother, “Gina.”

But just as soon as peace settled in her eyes, the pain was back. The nurse sitting at her side offered her a bite of each helping of food on her tray, and Aunt Evelyn begged her to stop, hating every bit of it. Then, her eyes shifted again, this time into anger. She looked up at June and my mom, perhaps embarrassed, perhaps ashamed, perhaps longing for that woman I pictured sitting by my side in the living room watching reruns of Judge Judy.

“Get out,” she said. It was stern, but calm.

At first.

Then it was meaner. Louder. Fiercer.

“Get out of here!”

On the drive back to June’s we were all quiet, all bearing wounds that we didn’t want to talk about. Knowing what we knew about her health, we knew that could very well be the last time we would see her, and it was hard to swallow that as the last time. But just as I was able to picture her how I knew her, how I’ve known her, not in that bed but in her chair, in her house, in the hundreds of old pictures—some from stories I knew, others from those I might never know—I made a promise to remember her that way too.

On our flight home, my mind flashed with memories of trips we taken to see her. And even though there were hard parts, sad parts, bad parts strewn in, I clutched desperately to the good. To the funny and beautiful and indescribable. I hoped she knew I’d remember those parts most. And I’d visit them as easy as we did our weekend at Brittney’s as we sat across the dinner table from Jim and June. No matter what, I would always hold on to the good parts. Both today, tomorrow, and (if I’m lucky enough) seventy years from now, when I have my own chair in my own living room with a pair of great great nieces sitting by my side watching reruns and making me cookies.

31 Good Things that Happened in May

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in!

.

1) Brooklyn Beckham surprised his dad on his birthday

.

2) These goats wore pajamas

.

3) Taylor Swift invited foster families to view a full dress rehearsal of her upcoming tour

.

4) This bride gave a speech

.

5) These parents shared before and after photos of them “getting toddlered”

.

6) This girl continued her fight for change with her charity, Lemon:AID Warriors

45901-501d9fb5a7502d7681d5c62a94735a71

.

7) This little guy put in the work to be a future soccer star

.

8) Kristen Bell gave an important message to her younger self

.

9) This professor enforced his unique punishment for tardiness

.

10) This dog adopted some ducklings

.

11) This teacher did his part to help his students succeed

.

12) This woman surprised her husband with a baby announcement a few weeks before he was deployed

B25A0428-1600x1200

.

13) Mother’s Day b1923d25f9b3a9e78692230f1935b976

.

14) This baseball player got the ovation he deserved in his return to the field after his mother died

.

15) This man asked a good question

.

16) This guy managed to make Shaun White’s gold medal run even more entertaining

This is so amazing!!! 😭⭐️😭 @dylan_tate you’re a legend

A post shared by Shaun White (@shaunwhite) on

.

17) This inspiring grandmother was the flower girl at her granddaughter’s wedding

McGareyLeapoldt_Ceremony-247-5b0da394b265a-900x599

.

18) Michael Keaton ended his commencement speech with two important words

.

19) Golfer Justin Thomas helped this fan propose

.

20) This man didn’t hesitate to risk his own life to save another

HeroFeature1-1-860x536 (1)

 

.

21) This soldier had an entire airport cheering for him as he watched the birth of his daughter via Facetime while on route to the hospital to meet her

SoldierFeature

.

22) Chris Pratt gave an important reminder

.

23) This company offered a great service

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 11.59.15 PM

.

24) This flight attendant rescued a nursing mom’s breast milk after she left it on a plane

.

25) This man learned to do his wife’s hair after she had a stroke

.

26) This radio host and his celebrity friends gifted a boy a car after he was seen taking the bus to his high school graduation

.

27) Memorial Day honored all the brave men and women who died serving in the armed forces flag-for-united-states_1f1fa-1f1f8

.

28) This important reminder was posted

.

29) As was this one

.

30) An anonymous donor gave $10,000 to this school to pay down the student lunch debt

.

31) And finally, these dogs hugged

.

Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what June brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

tree

 

31 Good Things That Happened in October

I have good news and good news. I have only good news!

As mentioned in this blog post, at the end of every month I’m going to highlight all the good things that happened in that 30-day (or so) span, to give ourselves a break from the well known bad.

You can find last month’s here.

Happy October to you!

.

1) Ellen kicked off October with her own list of good things

.

2) The cast of Mean Girls turned the attention to those who need it

.

3) Eric Church wrote a song in light of the Vegas shooting

.

4) As did Maren Morris & Vince Gil

.

5) This little girl started reading Harry Potter for the first time

.

6) This high school runner gave up his race to carry his teammate across the finish line

.

7) Everything went pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

12203157_G

.

8) This football team continued an amazing tradition

.

9) We finally found out what Nickelodeon slime was made out of

.

10) This dog was recsued from a well

.

11) This little guy got to be a pilot for a day

.

12) This girl sang her new rescue dog a lullaby

.

13) Burger King released a creative anti-bullying ad

.

14) This woman got pulled over for “suspected DUI” but quickly found out it was part of something much bigger

.

15) Contestants on Miss Peru, took a stand against gender violence. 

.

16) This therapy dog contined bringing joy to veterans

5NDBZ6UFJIZCFELBYQXYH6CN7Y

.

17) The #MeToo campaign on social media brought light to millions of victims of sexual assault and formed a united front determined to finally put an end to it.

.

18) This dad helped his son get through his first round of shots (and vice versa)

.

19) This man took makeup lessons so he can help his wife who is going blind

45A278F600000578-5017015-Couple_goals_This_couple_has_frequented_this_make_up_store_so_hu-m-22_1508953885440

.

20) This dad turned his son’s wheelchair into a Game of Thrones dragon

59f8c8021800003400d5a5a2

.

21) This high school football player with cerebral palsy scored an 80 yard touchdown

 

.

22) Hailey, a girl from a previous good things post, threw out the first pitch at the World Series

.

23) This boy met his little brother for the first time

.

24) This police officer helped an 8 year old boy celebrate his birthday after no one picked him up from school.

screen-shot-2017-10-25-at-5-45-36-pm

.

25) The man behind “Haircuts for the Homeless” was gifted a barbershop by a stranger

.

26) This 82 year old man hiked the entire (2,190 mile) Appalachian Trail

IMG_5643-1024x768

.

27) This nurse sang to her dying patient

.

28) This little girl laid down the law

.

29) Season 2 of Stranger Things was released!

stranger-things-poster

.

30) This couple brainstormed their Halloween costumes…

.

31) …And then this weatherman won Halloween

.

Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what November brings!

tree

 

A Handful of Pictures & One Thousand Thank You’s

With the sound of ocean waves lapping against the shore below us, and the sun doing its best to poke through the clouds, we moved closer and closer together. It was hot, but not too hot, especially when you don’t mind each other’s company.

I was standing in a striped dress and a hat made of palm leaves, next to my uncle and in between two amazing women named Tracy; my brother stood behind me, holding up a small dog we’d all made the day’s mascot; my sister was sitting on the floor, in a line of cousins, three by birth, one by marriage; and my mom and dad stood in the back corner, surrounded by siblings, nieces and nephews, some requiring an –in law suffix if you wanted to get technical. Directly behind me were our gracious hosts and directly in front of me was my grandpa and my great aunt, the two who started it all.

The camera snapped three times and Leslie, a second cousin of mine, and co-owner of the beautiful house we’d gathered at that day, ran around from behind the group and stood next to the tripod we’d macgyvered out of an ice chest and an empty cardboard wine carrier.

“I’d like to make a toast without a toast,” she said.

We all remained at our posts, none of us holding a wine glass or bottle of beer to cheers, so instead we offered her our sole attention and silence, a rarity for our big group.

“I just want to say thank you,” she said, this time focusing on my grandpa and my great aunt Shatzi. “Thank you for this.” With the last word she gestured to us, everyone who stood in a united, giggly circle around them. “Because of you, we are here. Surrounded by love, made of love.” The air fell silent, heightening the sound of waves crashing below us. We all stood still, quiet, teary, humbled by the truth.

“We have this,” she said, gesturing again to the group of us, but referring not only to our collected presence, but also our shared love of each other’s company. “Not everyone has this.”

Suddenly the air was loud, powerful, as if we were all talking at once, even though no one was talking at all. Thoughts and memories ran through our minds, recalling laughs and tears, good times and bad. We thought of all the ways we were similar and all the ways we were different and how all of these things added up into a group of people that loved each other unconditionally. These words raced through the air, from ear to ear, hand to hand, and we smiled a thank you for every single one of them.

“Thank you,” Leslie said again to my grandpa and great aunt Shatzi. “Thank you for all of this.”

For a few more seconds we stood silent, basking in the love brought into the light. Some wiped tears from underneath their sunglasses, others bit down on their lips to stop them from quivering.

As we moved apart, making our way back to patio chairs or poolside pavement or kitchen bar stools, to continue conversations about the distant future or recent past, we all walked with a lighter step. We had love. We were surrounded by it, we were made of it, and with that, any problem or worry we might have walked in with suddenly seemed very small.

“Okay, NOW is it time for cake?” someone yelled from the kitchen. We’d all been told that Porto’s cheesecake and my grandma’s famous angel food cake would be our reward for taking a group picture. “Yes,” someone else said, be it an authority figure, or just a hungry someone who pretended to be. Suddenly the room was full, loud. Conversations took off in every direction, and laughter echoed off every wall. Plates were filled and then refilled and after a while we all found our way back outside, listening to the ocean waves below us and watching the sun set out in the distance.

“Thank you,” we said to the sun as it made its way behind a mountain, “and thank you,” we all said silently, both to each other, to my grandpa and aunt Shatzi, and to all the years past, present and future. Because even though we’d always known it, today it had been brought to the tip of our tongues. We are lucky. We are grateful. We are love.

IMG_2426