Another Step Forward

Today is the first February 9th that I have worked since 2017. I can vividly remember the details of how that day played out, but to sum it up…. There was a blizzard, I was working from home on my couch (don’t ask me why I wasn’t in the home office) and in the middle of an Employee Engagement meeting I got a call from my sister – a call to tell me it was time to come to the hospital and say goodbye to our mom. The good news about a blizzard is the roads were empty, and fortunately we have a truck. We made it to Long Island and I was able to say goodbye. I took some time off and went back to work on February 20th but at some point I put a permanent recurring meeting on my calendar to block of February 9th as “take today off” and it’s set to show me as out of office.

My mom, sitting on a couch in her parents’ living room

For the last 5 years, I’ve spent February 9th on the same couch I was working from in 2017. I cuddle up with my cats and a blanket and watch movies all day long. It’s my way of coping and as I put it to coworkers, it allows me a day to not deal with people. I don’t have to worry if I’ll get triggered in a meeting and want to be sad. I have built myself a buffer for my own mental health – I allow myself to be sad and I don’t worry about what other people will say or do. Sometimes when I think about this day of reflection, I wonder if it’s something I will always do. For now I have ample time off and can afford to burn the day – plus it forces me to take at least one day off in Q1.

Today I learned that February 9th doesn’t just have to be a day to curl up and watch movies. I had a meeting that I needed to attend as prep for a training I am doing in a couple weeks. I knew signing up for the training that I would have this meeting and decided I could make it work. Then a couple other pressing things came up and I ended up working all morning….and a bit of the afternoon. I knew I could take off. I knew I had logged the time already. But I still decided to work. If for nothing else, knowing I had the excuse that I was “off” so I could log out and be done if I wanted to. I spent the rest of the day with Tom visiting some friends. Today marked the first day in a while that February 9th wasn’t a sad day. Not because I actively kept myself busy to forget what today was – I didn’t, it was on my mind all day – but with time wounds heal. It’s still hard knowing she’s not here. It’s really hard on special occasions. But I hope she’s proud of who I’m becoming as I grow up. I hope she’s up there, smiling down on me.

Day 24 – Grandma’s Tree

IMG_2454.jpgToday I am thankful for my favorite Black Friday tradition – coming to Long Island to put up Grandma’s Christmas tree! While many people are out shopping, I take my day to spend time with my grandmother and help her decorate her house for Christmas, and get the tree up and ready. I’ve been doing this every year since 2002 (with the only exception being 2006 when I was in Ireland) and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. It is a wonderful way to spend time with my grandmother and to start celebrating the holidays.

Day 22 – Traditions

I am thankful for traditions. Growing up we had a number of them, but over the years they changed – Sarah and I outgrew them, or they disappeared when our parents got divorced and now a number are gonna without Mom. But just because most of the traditions from my childhood are gone, doesn’t mean I don’t have new ones. Tom and I started some traditions before moving to our home, but since then even more have come about. We go strawberry and blueberry picking in the summer. And in the fall we go apple picking, and even try to make time to go apple picking upstate where I used to go with my parents – and then go pumpkin picking too. And the tradition I’m most looking forward to is buying our Christmas tree 🎄! We go to Jones Farms on our anniversary every year to buy our tree – this has double meaning. First, we go on our anniversary so we always spend they day together and second, it’s where I used to get a tree as a little kid, before my parents got an artificial one. These traditions may seem simple, but I am thankful for them every year!