What I’m thankful for | Family +friends

I have been blessed with the largest, loudest, craziest, kindest, perfect family.

I am thankful for the fact that my family is so close; that it is not out of the ordinary to “pop in” to an uncle’s house or my grandparent’s house on any given day at any given time. I am thankful that I live exactly 3 minutes away from both sets of grandparents. I am thankful that my family has my back through everything.

I am thankful for my parents, who raised me to be a strong, independent, take-no-shit kinda girl. I am thankful for my brother, who inspires me every single day to be a better person. I am thankful for my grandparents, for loving me unconditionally and supporting everything I do. I am thankful for my aunts, uncles, cousins, and beyond, without whom, my family would not be loud, or crazy, or large. I am thankful for my boyfriend’s family, who has welcomed me into their [even larger] family with open arms and a loving heart.

I am thankful for the friends that have turned into family. The best friend that I cannot live without. A boyfriend who brings out the best in me and supports every single [insane] thing I do. I am thankful for new friends, who are becoming my ride or dies, my go-to’s.

I am thankful for every single person in my life that has come and gone. If you’re still here, thank you for still being here. If you’re not, thank you for helping me to learn important life lessons and figure out what I deserve.

Spend time with the ones you love this holiday season. And be forever grateful. xoxo.

Here’s to a new chapter.

I left my best friend in Ohio.

Is that a dramatic statement? Yes. Are we surprised? No.

It has been five days since we moved my brother into the University of Akron, and this is a family shift that I am still getting used to. Yes, he is only three and a half hours away, but he is not home. When I moved away to college [30 mins away, but still], I didn’t realize how much of an impact this was on the rest of my family, simply because I was not there. I was on my own, busy, walking along this new path of life. But now that the roles are reversed, I see what my Mom was talking about for all those years.

The relationship that my brother and I have is one unlike many I’ve seen. I don’t know if it has to do with how close our family is or how far apart in age we are, but whatever it is, it is something that I am thankful for. Because we are so close, it makes the loss of him not being around 24/7 that much greater. I know it’s only been a few days, but I’ve already caught myself about to text him asking if he would want my leftover lunch, or if he wanted to run with me to the store later.

Although he is states away, he has talked to me every single day since he’s been gone, which makes me feel still so involved in his life when he fills me in on everything going on, and makes me feel like he isn’t out of town. Little things like this have already made the difference.

Today is his first day of college classes, whereas it is the last first day of college I will ever have in my lifetime [shoutout to grad school almost being over!!]. I am so overwhelmingly proud and excited for him.

Unpacking all of his things and setting up his dorm took away any ounce of sadness that I felt. In fact, it made me want to go back to undergrad, moving away, myself, because I remember that feeling. I remember the excitement I felt to be on my own, away from home, ready to start this new chapter in my life. Remembering this makes me feel like a total mom, because I am so excited that he gets to experience all of these things, too.

So, little bro, kick ass. Kill it. Good luck. Can’t wait to hear about your new adventure. xoxo.

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To my brother, the high school graduate.


To my “baby” brother:

As I sit here writing this post, I wonder how this is even possible. Six years ago, it was me. I was graduating from high school and about to go to college. Three years later, I was graduating college and you were about to go to high school. Well, here we are, four years later, and you’ve walked across the stage as a high school graduate.

In three months, you will be packing your belongings into boxes and moving to a brand new city in a brand new state, in a entirely new environment. You will be surrounded by strangers who will soon become your closest friends. You will have freedom to learn and grow. You will face challenges. You will be homesick. But you will never be alone.

The amount of love I have for you cannot be described, but if I had to pick a word to describe it, I would pick unconditional. I couldn’t possibly think of a better person to have shared the entirety of my life with. Soon, you and I will not have the ease or convenience of being a hop, skip, and jump away. It will be tough, even though we both don’t want to admit it.

You are my best friend – a friend I have had both the honor and privilege of watching grow up from a crazy, curly-headed toddler to a well-rounded, respectable young man. You are the most intelligent, focused, driven, talented, kind person. You are a team player. You are perfect.

I am so unbelievably proud of you and everything you have accomplished. Countless championships, awards, honors, scholarships – more pieces of paper and plaques than I ever knew exited. I have great faith in you and what your future has in store. I hope you continue to be intelligent, focused, driven, talented, and kind, and that you stay true to yourself and who you are. I cannot wait to see how your life plays out from here. Take the world by storm, kid. It’s yours to have.

I love you, bro. xoxo.

Love in the face of loss.

This is a post I’ve been trying to avoid writing for the past two days. I’ve had time to ponder words to even write and things to even say, and I am still struggling. But there is nothing more you can do other than try.

In 2011, I graduated from a very small Catholic school with an even smaller graduating class of 36 students. Coming from a school of 125ish students and a graduating class of 36, you are friends with everyone. You are all close. You are all a family.

About a year after graduation, our graduating class of 36 shrunk to 35 following the loss of one of our peers after her courageous fight with brain cancer. That loss was one that I couldn’t even understand. Truthfully, I still don’t. I couldn’t understand why God gave her the suffering she went through, why she had to deal with all she had to deal with. I sat in my college dorm room freshman year when I got the news, alone, wondering what to do or say from there. Who did I turn to first? My boyfriend of the time was on a cruise outside of the country. I was not home. I found it hard to explain the ‘family’ aspect of our school to people whose graduating class was one of 700+ students. 5ish years later, the numbing pain has somewhat gone away, but not completely.

I asked you guys a couple weeks ago to look out for one of my friends, one of the core 36, that had quite literally completely dropped off the face of the Earth. There were no answers to his whereabouts. No clues. No leads. Nothing. The case went on for 20 days, everyone’s minds reeling over where he could be and how or why this was even happening in the first place. Two days ago, on Friday, April 28th, exactly 20 days since the missing persons report was filed, the case came to a close.

This time, I was at work. On my lunch break to be exact. With three minutes to spare before having to clock back in. Again, what was I supposed to do? Who was I to turn to? How was I supposed to hold my composure and go back and teach my class in a mere three minutes. Being strong is an option. And sometimes, its the only option you have.

The class of 36 is now down to 34. At only 24 years old, this is not something you can mentally prepare yourself for. You expect to see all your peers, your friends, 5, 10, 15, 40 years down the line at class reunions. You expect to see their accomplishments in life. Who is married. Who has kids. Who is a CEO of their own company. Now, there are two I will never see again.

The good part about graduating with a class of 36 from a school of 125ish is the endless outpouring of love and support during times of need. We all stand together as one. While it might not be at the same level, we all experience the hurt. We all experience the pain. This is something I will be grateful for throughout my years here on this little planet. I know that while sometimes I may feel as if I am alone, I am never alone. There will always be someone there supporting me.

I want to extend a sincere thank you to every single person who has reached out to any person involved in this case. I want to thank every person who tried hard to bring Kurt home. Who looked for his whereabouts. Who tried to put two ends together. Who prayed every single day for him and his family. Who hoped and wished for good news to follow. Who continues to extend love and prayers during this time of tragedy.

Today, I ask one thing of you. I ask that you hug those you love a little tighter. Remind everyone how much they mean to you. Remind everyone how their existence is great and sacred. Remind those you love that they are not alone, that you will always be by their side.

And to Kurt, thank you for the memories, brother. You were one of a kind. I am already counting down the days until I can see you again. xoxo.

kurttttttt

 

Another item checked off the list.

Tonight, my brother is at his senior prom. Also tonight, life is getting more real.

I remember my prom like it was all of two weeks ago. Reality check, it’s been 6 years. My brother seemed so small and young at my prom, and all of a sudden, I blinked, and today is his prom day. Like, what?! And here I am, wondering why. Why life moves so fast while also simultaneously wondering how to slow it down.

prom

I didn’t necessarily love prom, but I didn’t hate it either. It’s just something that happens when you’re a senior [or junior for some schools, too] in high school. Potentially, it’s one of the last times you will be in the exact same room with all of your friends at the exact same time. My brother is one of the ones going states away for college, whereas I was not. So chances are, for him, this might be a bigger deal than it was for me. He is starting a brand new life from scratch, whereas mine re-started while also somewhat remaining the same.

So, to my baby bro: Enjoy prom. Live in the moment. Life moves on and changes so fast, that it will be here and gone in what seems like the blink of an eye. And suddenly, it is 6 years later and you are wondering how you ever got to be so old. xoxo.

 

Farewell, President Obama.

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In 2008, President Obama became the first African American man ever elected President. The Obamas were a top-notch family. No scandals, no turmoil. Not everybody had to like him, but I did. [DISCLAIMER: I will never tell anybody who to like vs. who not to like – this is solely my own opinion!]. To me, he was not some figure that I couldn’t relate to. He just seemed like a normal, everyday man with a normal, everyday family. Heck, Michelle often rocked these killer outfits that were affordable from stores that even I shopped at!

With the end of his Presidency near, here are some of my favorite things that President Obama has said over the last 8 years.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Obama, on change.

“Tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a better place.” – President Obama, on the potential of America

“If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values, then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all.” – President Obama, on the importance of values

“We still believe that this should be a place where you can make it if you try.” – President Obama, on making it

“We have an obligation and responsibility to be investing in our students and our schools. We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will, but not the money, can still get the best education possible.” – President Obama, on the importance of higher education

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” – President Obama, on marriage equality

“We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter.” – President Obama, on glass ceilings and achieving dreams

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”  – President Obama, on change

“Sometimes, when we’re lying together, I look at her and I feel dizzy with the realization that here is another distinct person from me, who has memories, origins, thoughts, feelings that are different from my own. That tension between familiarity and mystery meshes something song between us. Even if one builds a life together based on trust, attentiveness and mutual support, I think that it’s important that a partner continues to surprise.” – President Obama, on Michelle

And, how could we forget his love for children! [Warning: your heart will melt]

Thank you for the last 8 years, Mr. President. On to the next chapter. xoxo.