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Posted in 30 Days of Thanks, Dear Mom

Day 21 – 💚Mom💚

Today I am thankful for my mom. Over the past nine months I have realized how much I truly relied on her in my day-to-day life. When I couldn’t find the recipe to chicken supreme last week, I wanted to pick up the phone and call mom for it – fortunately, I was able to call my grandmother to get it. But mom didn’t just give me my favorite recipes on demand; I used mom as my own personal google too. When I need to know how to get a new stain out of clothing, or get burnt off food off the bottom of a pan, mom always had some good tips – did you know that the granular Cascade dishwasher detergent can get almost any stain out of anything? I didn’t until mom suggested I use that to get grease out of a shirt. I am thankful that mom would always be there, any hour of the day, to answer the most ridiculous and obscure questions I might have.

Mom was more than my own personal google too; she was the woman who taught me how to be an independent woman. She taught me to hold my head high, to feel secure as a female in a male dominated field and to stand up for myself. She taught me to be respectful, to listen and not speak out, to learn and to love. She taught me that it was OK to not be perfect but also taught me to strive for perfection. She taught me to never give up and to always fight for myself, my loved ones and my beliefs. She taught me that family is important.

I am thankful that I celebrated her birthday with her last year. Two years ago, we celebrated Mom’s 60th at Gramercy Tavern in NYC with most of her family. She wanted a smaller brunch in the Rainbow Room, but we weren’t able to get reservations, but thanks to a suggestion from an aunt, we found an even better place that could handle a larger crowd too! I cannot speak highly enough of the people at Gramercy Tavern for the service we got that day. While we rang in her 60th in style, it is actually her 61st birthday that left a bigger impact on me. Last year I was unemployed when her birthday came around; while it was the end of my unemployment and I knew I would be starting a new job soon, I didn’t have much money to spend on going out for mom’s birthday. Tom and I invited her over for dinner, but she told me she didn’t feel comfortable driving home from our house in the dark, so instead we went to her. What she didn’t tell me was that she wasn’t feeling well and that was the real reason she didn’t want to drive to our house, on roads she’s uncomfortable with, where she didn’t know where she could stop on her way home. So we had her birthday dinner at her house a couple weeks early (eating our beloved chicken supreme), but at that time I didn’t know she wasn’t feeling well. A few days after the early birthday dinner, my Mom texted my sister and I to let us know that her sister and her mother (and possibly my cousin) were going to the Botanical Gardens for the Holiday Train Show and then out for dinner. I called my mom to talk about it, I wasn’t opposed to going, but didn’t think I could afford to go (and to be honest, wasn’t super excited to go) – I was on a tight budget, the holidays were coming up and I still had a number of presents to purchase, I didn’t have money in the budget to go out for a nice dinner, pay for parking, pay for admission, etc. Mom told me that since she was a member, she had guest passes, I didn’t have to pay to go to the gardens, and she’d cover my dinner, she didn’t want me to miss it. Even though I didn’t have a strong desire to go, I agreed and met my mom, aunt, grandma and cousin there on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to go see the train show. I am very thankful that my mom told me how much it meant to her that I come and be there, because if I’m being honest, that is the only reason I was going. I really enjoyed the train show – so much so that Tom and I are headed back there today, on what would have been Mom’s 62nd birthday to celebrate her!

After the train show. We went out for dinner in City Island. It was after dinner, while we waited for dessert, when Mom finally told me she wasn’t feeling well. We didn’t know at that time what exactly was the problem, but we would soon find out. In hindsight, I see how important it was that I went to celebrate her birthday that day. I am thankful I gave in and that she was persistent that I come. I am thankful that I had that day of fun with her. I am thankful I was there on her last big outing. I am thankful she enjoyed her birthday.

Every day I hope that I am making her proud. I hope that I am using the lessons she taught me. I am forever thankful for the time I spent with her, even if it was not nearly enough time to do everything we wanted to do.

Posted in 30 Days of Thanks

Day 20 – Yoga

Today I am thankful for yoga. And not just any yoga, but specifically Blue Lotus Yoga here in Monroe. A little over a year ago, my amazing friend Elaina told me she was going to open her own yoga studio. Since I was unemployed and she was a bit unfamiliar with some technology, like building her website, she asked me for some help. We met a couple of times and I helped her launch her website and social media accounts. About 3 1/2 months later, her studio opened and I stayed on helping with social media and the website. And along the way, I decided to start taking yoga classes myself. Yoga gave me peace of mind during what was the most turbulent period of my life. It brought me peace and comfort and allowed me a way to take a break from reality and focus on me for a short bit of time. But the whole thing also turned an acquaintance into a real friend and seeing her grow with her studio has been a joy to witness. 🙏🏻💙🙏🏻

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Day 19 – Wanderlust

I am thankful for my sense of wanderlust. One of the many lessons I have learned over the past year is that it really is the life in your years that matter. Taking new adventures and seeing new places. I’ve got my bucket list (which needs some updating) and I have been blessed this year to have gone on a number of trips – Portland, DC, Cape Cod, Cleveland and a number of day trips plus Canada and Atlanta for work (not to mention going to Frankfurt and Torino next week)! In addition to trips I love trying new things, like my new hobbies of calligraphy and dirt biking. So here’s to more adventures with friends and family in the coming years!!

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Day 18 – Bible Study

I am thankful that I am doing a Psalm 119 Bible Study 🙏🏻 with my friend Jenna who is living clear across the world in Cambodia! Doing a bible study allows me to not only be closer to Christ, but gives Jenna and I a way to stay close and encourages us to communicate almost daily 😊 And as an added bonus, it’s letting me work out some of my lingering questions and anger regarding my mom’s passing.

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Day 17 – Calligraphy

Today I am thankful for my new hobby, calligraphy. Back at the beginning of October, I took a calligraphy class at a local stationary store, Joyful Noise. Since the class, I have been practicing my skill and it sure makes giving presents and writing Christmas cards a little more exciting and festive! Plus, having a new hobby is fun; it gives me the opportunity to mentally check out from everything else and focus on something that is solely for me every couple of days.

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Day 14 – Time Off

I am thankful that I had three and a half months off last year between jobs. Don’t get me wrong, it was oh so stressful when it was happening and I didn’t know how we’d pay all our bills, but in hindsight I learned a lot of lessons during that time. It gave me time to relax, rest and focus on myself. I was able to realize that I am worth more than I give myself credit for. I learned the true value of friends and family. But most of all, I was able to clear my head and get back to being me. Now that I’m at a new job, I’ve got a work-life balance, and a separation of the two 😊

And while it isn’t realistic that you’ll always be able to take that type of time off, I’m quite looking forward to having 19 days off for the holidays this year!

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Day 13 – Friends

I am thankful for my friends. While family loves you, friends who love you unconditionally are even more valuable – they make a choice to have you in your life. My friends support me, pick me up and are always there for me. I especially learned this much I rely on friends this pay year. Whether it be through hoping on a plane to fly up for 36 hours just to keep me company, opening up their homes to welcome me and my state of wanderlust this year (or joining me in an adventure) or simply being there 24/7 for me to call when I just needed someone to listen, or to distract me and just occupy my time so I couldn’t think of sad things.

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Day 12 – Family

I am thankful for my family, their unconditional love and support. I am also thankful I was born into two very large families! With 16 aunts/uncles, 17 1st cousins (plus their significant others and kids) and more 2nd cousins than I can count, family is not hard to come by. With such a large family, there is always someone there for any given situation – blood really is thicker than water and family comes together for good times, and to hold you up in the not so good times. God blesses each of us with the families we are born into and from the very beginning our families are there for us. Having such a large family certainly makes the holidays festive and allows you to celebrate over and over with different groups of family. This year I have been blessed with spending a good amount of time with some family members I don’t get to see as often, but even though we may live far apart and our lives don’t give us time to see each other frequently, we pick up as if nothing has been missed (and can thank technology for keeping us close even when there are many miles between us).