2011, you were a powerful year. You pushed me, encouraged me, surprised me and gave me a sense of self I never thought possible. You tested me for sure--there were a few moments where I wished your days away, cursed your existence and threw my hands up in defeat. I've watched my relationships be majorly tested in you; some survived, grew and flourished...and others didn't. Some I miss very much and others I have found peace in letting go of. You made me question everything under the sun.
But you also cracked my heart wide open and flooded it with love; powerful, beautiful, raw love.
I have felt very, very alive in you.
Thank you for it all. The good, the bad, the silly, the confusing, the humbling, the exciting, the mundane, the nerve racking, the scary, the freaking awesome and the unknown. I am deeply grateful for the lessons learned, bridges crossed, chapters closed and new dreams realized (and even manifested!). I am especially grateful for new and old friendships, including my family. The community of people who fill my days with love and laughter are sources of light I hope to always have the pleasure of watching shine. I have to pinch myself I'm so lucky to know them.
My dear Grateful Lifers- I wish you all peace in 2012. Peace within, peace all around you. Peace with the past, for what's done is done. Peace with the future, for what will be will be. Peace in the present, for it is the only space we are guaranteed and should be embraced wholly.
Be safe, be well.
As my dad always says in his emails to me, Be good.
Happy New Year!
My marm always says "make new friends, but keep the old" and I couldn't agree with her more. I have loved connecting with new people at every phase of my life (I will never get sick of the moment you realize you and another person were totally meant to cross paths..it's so magic!), but I also deeply cherish the connections of years past. It's OK to sometimes let folks go; to recognize they were sent to you for only a certain amount of time for one reason or another. I think it's actually a pretty loving thing to do, releasing someone you can no longer fully commit to as a friend. But I also feel there are other relationships that deserve to be nurtured until the day your souls leave the planet. I'm realizing I need to step up my game in this department.
My friendship with Tori has truly been a sisterhood. Our paths have taken us down very different roads (I still can't believe she is a mommy of 2 precious little guys!) but we have always managed to pick up right where we left off, regardless of time and space between us. This is a love worthy of never taking for granted and I'm afraid I have done just that as of late. It's my biggest New Year's resolution; to make a greater effort towards reconnecting with people who have touched my life in a plethora of positive ways. Without them, I would not be where I am today...and I am SO in love with this space that my heart teeters on the brink of bursting with gratitude and happiness on a daily basis.
I know what you're thinking and I, too, can barely contain my giggles over my 18 year old self below...those overalls! that turtleneck! that BLONDE hair!! What.A.Catch. :)
Almost 10 years later, I still love this chica like a sister...
Make new friends, but keep the old. They are part of your souls journey to it's highest self. Make time for them, commit to exercising gratitude for their presence in your life. Don't get so wrapped up in your own journey that you lose sight of what you can offer to theirs. A purpose filled life is far more rewarding than a pleasured filled one. Besides, finding a purpose is the highest form of pleasure there is anyhow. Be available to offer guidance and support or just a hug and an ear to listen. Actively participate in your friendships. Let the love flow easily between you by taking down walls of "things just got so busy...".
Don't get too busy for your friends. Cherish them now, OK?
1. A loving place to call "home" that I can return to whenever I want. My path may take me to the end of the earth and back again, but I always know I have a support network that knocks my socks off patiently waiting to welcome me home, should I ever need it. 2. Loving people who make time to visit with me upon my return. I know that everyday life continues as normal for all my hometown friends, regardless of what coast I live on or happen to be spending time on. The fact that I left while they stayed does not make me special. I so appreciate people's efforts to see me and catch up; I feel welcomed (and humbled to be so) during each and every visit. I learn so much, feel so fulfilled, by our time together. 3. East coast bagels and pizza. I can't explain why they are better. They just really, really are. 4. A little furball helping me pack:
5. A loving place to call "home" I get to come back to. I made this life for myself. I grew it and tended to it; searched, fought and risked for it. I love settling back into a world that's so *me* in California. Nurture your roots, spread your wings; in this balance I guarantee you'll find much happiness. I know I certainly have :)
My sister's dog Winnie is such a cutie patootie! What a good sport for rockin those antler ears :)
She loves to give you her paw...
Then promptly lick it...
And if your face is available, consider that licked as well...
So many four legged loves in my life...I'm thinking owning a pup of my own may not be too far off. Pretty sure I'd be a rockstar mom :)
Hi Friends :) I hope you're feeling merry and bright, my little lights!
I've thought quite a bit about what I want to post today and tomorrow, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I don't want to take up too much of your time as I hope you are just waaaayyyy too busy feeling the love from friends and family to pop in and visit the lil ol' Grateful Life...but I also want to share a dose of gratitude with you on such a heavily celebrated 2 days.
So, I've decided to simply point you to a December 2010 post that remains very real and very relevant for me. It's a gratitude reminder that will always stick in my memory.
I must also add that my life has been a whirlwind of positive changes since this piece was originally posted. I have become quite the little hokey, life loving, soul searching, gratitude vibing gal! I've pulled my freak flag out of the bag and proudly hoisted it high on the life pole. Looking back at the last year I find myself doing a whole lotta smh-ing (shakin ma head-ing) and "wow" sighing. I have truly come a long way. I have truly been given amazing opportunities. And I have truly seen the ways in which the attitude of gratitude can enhance a life and manifest awesome realities. Last year I spent Christmas oh so far away from my family, sort of making peace with a lot of tough life decisions (though I was and still am so thankful for the generosity and kindness of the France family for hosting me!). This year, as we speak, I am (in the most cliche holiday way possible) sipping a gingerbread latte in front of a gorgeously decorated fireplace while my favorite childhood cat and my mamacita are resting their eyes on the fluffy couches next to me. I mean c'mon. I'm a melty puddle of peace and joy.
I feel more relaxed and calm than ever. I feel rested and refreshed. I feel my relationships continuing to grow with love in all areas. I feel inspired, motivated and excited for what's to come. Forgiveness is a daily, respected practice. Kindness and patience rule the roost in my mind. The unknown is no longer a threat; the unknown is where my greatest adventures lie and wait for me...
And for that, I am extremely grateful.
Love and Light,
I have always loved my parents. Even during my angsty-est of angsty years, I loved them in a way that my rebellious teenaged soul couldn't resist.
But what's been awesome to learn over the past year especially?
I actually like my parents.
I spent so much time running and pushing and aching to grow, be free and fly that I neglected to stop and cherish the quiet moments of pleasant stillness offered by time spent with them. I don't think this is a particularly uncommon path for parent-child relationships. This is not a ground breaking story; girl grows up and relationship with mom and dad evolves to a more mature and peaceful place. I'm just glad I've learned (before 30!) the balance between continuing to push, grow, be free and fly and coming back to cherish and nurture my roots. Both are important sides of life.
I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to sit in front of the fire place at home, watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory with them, munching on brownies and milk and just be...content. And happy. And not wondering what everyone else is doing or itching to go out and adventure on my own. Being with them is fulfilling enough when I choose to see that time as equally as worthy as all the rest; when I change my perspective and practice gratitude for moments I may otherwise take for granted.
It feels great to realize that often times when I felt I wasn't being supported for a certain decision it was because I approached them with said decision already projecting that they wouldn't approve. I made assumptions. I set the energy. I manifested the result. How is anyone supposed to get behind you when you yourself are doubting? Do you feel you are capable of handling this decision? Are worthy of it? Or are there insecurities you are masking and hoping to hide? When you approach others with a degree of confidence--even if that confidence lies in the knowledge that eventually you'll figure out the areas of "unsure"--I think you'll be amazed to see how much faster folks will get on your side.
My parents and I still have varying differences of opinion in many areas of life. But that's OK. We're all adults and can respect these differences; there's no need for a clash when there can be a dialogue instead. I can only control my own actions and must release that desire for control over the rest. Parents are humans, too. This was, admittedly and slightly embarrassingly, a huge revelation for me. They are partners and daughters and coworkers and friends in addition to being your parents. They have their own suffering, too. They have their own insecurities. They approach life just as you do--from their own level of understanding and consciousness. See them through eyes of love and understanding of this humanness, and you will see them in a whole new light.
I know not everyone gets to be around their parents. I also know some child-parent relationships are wrought with a level of true darkness that requires much more than a few good thoughts to heal. This time of year especially is a pretty big reminder of that. So today (and every day I'm back in good ol' NJ) I'm focusing the majority of my gratitude on my mom and dad and the gifts of their support, love and (sometimes slightly eye-roll with a side of "yes ma, I know" enducing) guidance. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I have never doubted that they would go to the end of the earth and back again for me. How fortunate am I?
My parents apparently are pretty rad people.
It feels good to be home, baby. (any excuse to quote Kanye, amIright?)
I'll be popping on and off The Grateful Life for the next week. I don't want to miss you all (have I mentioned how much I cherish our time together?) but I also am working very hard to be super present with my family and friends while I'm blessed with my time here. I know that saying "wow, 10 whole days!" sounds like a long time, but I'm already on day 3 and it feels as if I've been here only a hot minute. Gotta soak it all in while I can, ya know? I have some major snuggling to get done, starting with the little whiskered lady you see above.
My sweet little fur ball friend of 15 years, Sage, has lymphoma...which is a total bummer, to say the least. I am so, so grateful to my parents and sister for taking such amazing care of her; for being diligent in handling her medical needs and also for simply being so loving, affectionate and kind to her. My family has always come from the point of view that it should be about the animals quality of life rather than the quantity--even when our selfish sides want us to keep our four legged pals for longer, we choose to let them go in peace. Suffering, even in the slightest, is simply not our style. While the idea of not having my Sagey girl around for much longer puts a lump in my throat, I know my parents will make the right choice when the time comes. I completely trust their judgement and a happy, healthy Sage is the only life I want her to know.
Weighing in at a whopping 4lbs, her tiny being has touched my life in that unconditional- love way that only an animal's soul can. Anyone who has ever owned and loved a pet can understand this, I'm sure. I can't help myself...I wholly love this lil' nugget. No drama between us, no stress or anger ever, lots of play and affection, complete forgiveness exercised for any offense (a stepped on tail here, an inappropriate place for a kitty pee there)...it's true what they say; If you want to know about love, start with plants and animals.
My girl Jenny loves her some Lucky Charms. One of the first things I remember learning about her as my new friend 2 years ago was her desire to one day have a box of just the marshmallows (let's be serious, they are the best part). So, for Christmas this year I decided to get a little creative with my gift for her and spent 2 hours picking out the marshmallows from 4 boxes of her favorite cereal to create one giant box of just those stars and rainbows and balloons that she loves so much.
Drea then used her dad's sealer to repackage the bag and I popped it into an empty box. I was so excited to give her the gift last night at her family's holiday dinner...her reaction of complete shock (I believe her exact words were "WHAAAT?! Oh my gosh. Is this real...") and impulse to immediately dive in and snack was priceless:
Christmas success! I love you Jenny, enjoy your sugar high :) In Gratitude, Patsy (Jenny's nickname for me...only she gets away with this...)
This is how today is going for me so far:
It's my last few hours in the office for 10 whole glorious days and everything is deciding to be wonky and difficult and arrrrgggh-no!-that's-not-right!-esque.
I LOVE my job, but the idea of heading east to be with my family for an extended period of time with zippo distractions (family = the one I was born into as well as the one I took 20+ years to create) has put major ants in ma pants. Today and it's hiccups are making a valiant effort to put a damper on my excitement level. Sad face.
But this blog isn't about complaining and it's certainly not about giving a tiny word like "stress" any power. Stress only flexes his muscles when we feed him his GNC approved protein shakes in the form of worry, doubt, fear and general lack of confidence. Sometimes shit just gets screwed up; take a deep breath, figure out how to best fix it and move forward. I know from experience that the more I focus on my "WTF" moments the more I allow them to influence the rest of my day...and I do NOT want the rest of my Friday to continue to unravel. Hello, it's Friday. Fridays are awesome.
As Christine Hassler (one of my favorite life coaches) says in this awesomely simple and poignant piece:
"Change is inevitable. Careers, relationships, money, houses, good times and bad times will come and go. But we have the choice in how we respond to all of those things. As Victor Frankl says in Man's Search for Meaning, "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom." And when you are free, you can fly."
OK Friday, you've had your fill of kerfuffle. Now it's my turn to take the reigns.
A great response to my question "What are you most grateful for in 2011":
"I am most grateful for my new home that my husband and I purchased this past May 2011. It may seem materialistic, but in fact is represents a ton of hard work. Five years ago, during my last year of earning my bachelor's degree, I needed to complete a full time internship. My husband I decided to down size from our spacious 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in an amazing town to a small, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, much older/smaller apartment in a not as nice area. This way, we could live off of his salary and I could do my internship without having to work. After 1 year of that, I got my job, we decided to continue living off of 1 salary and pay off all our debts, several college credit cards, 2 cars, we both had over $50,000 in student loans, etc. Although we didnt pay off all of our student loans, we paid off all credit cards, cars, and had money in the bank. Wam! We got engaged and I started grad school. Determined not to go into any more debt because of school, we lived another 2 years off of one salary, the other paying for graduate school, our beautiful wedding and honeymoon. Although we never were poor, we struggled. We spent $50 per week on groceries, every bump in the road (car dies), seemed like a crisis, we never had guests over, got in a few fights about space, and made meals stretch quite a few days. Purchasing our home was such an amazing feeling. We worked so hard for 5 years as a couple, we sacrificed in order to accomplish the things we wanted, to make our dreams come true. At this point, we are thrilled, and the waiting, saving, and sacrifice have made this home taste so sweet!" -Stephanie
Thank you for the reminder that it's possible, Steph. You kept your intention clear and let your actions and sacrifices speak to how deeply you desired this outcome--I am so amazed with how you juggled so much. With patience, trust and hard work you really made your dream come true! And since I do know you personally, I have to add you did so with the love and light and kindness you radiate daily. This is a key element, in my humble opinion; to remain positive and loving even through rougher times.
Incredibly happy for (and proud of!) you both.
So, Grateful Lifers, are you fighting for what you most deeply desire? Forget the specifics of "how". Focus on what you want; set a clear intention. Then work daily, the best that you can in anyway that you can (be prepared to screw up, it's part of the process!), to ensure your actions align with this intention. Put yourself in check both mentally and physically--how can you make simple shifts to further your goals? Shift your thoughts, take small steps. And sometimes, be prepared to sacrifice. Rest assured that in doing so, the Universe has got your back.
Love and Light,