my why

dreams, inspiration, life, loss, Love, mywhy, parents, passion, Positive Thinking, relationships

mom and dad

Finding your Why. This concept is relatively new to me, it was introduced to me in February 2017 through my current employer. I never had a corporate job until this one, none of my previous employers asked me about my why. Truthfully I didn’t really know what it was right in the beginning, only because I had never thought of it before. Now I see that question everywhere “What is your Why” or “Finding your Why”. I don’t necessarily have just one. It’s the same way I am with picking favorites. Someone says “What’s your favorite song?” I freeze. How do I pick just one? Well I can’t, I’ve never been good at it. My mind immediately starts to weigh the differences. I go to blurt out a song and then my brain says, well wait a minute, what about this one that makes you feel this way, and so on. I used to get frustrated with myself, but then once I accepted that I don’t want to pick a favorite anything I became much happier. Everything is my favorite, and I constantly use that word when I am talking about something I love.

I will tell you though that my number one Why is my parents. I’ve touched on my losing them in some of my prior posts but it was very brief. Honestly I just wasn’t ready to write about them in one entire entry. I lost my dad in August 2015 and my mom in May 2016, their deaths were only 9 months apart. I wish I could say they were my Why for the majority of my life, but I was very selfish, and when I think about it, I was their Why while they were here on this planet, in this realm.

My parents sacrificed so much for their children. My mom and my dad were never married, they separated a few years after I was born and my dad married my step mom not too long after that. I have a brother who is 11 years older than me from my mom’s one and only marriage, and I have 2 younger sisters and 2 younger brothers from my dad’s one and only marriage. I am beyond grateful that my parents set aside their differences and were able to raise me together, yet apart. They were both always there for me no matter what, no matter how many times I screwed up, or treated them poorly, they were always there. They put their children’s lives before their own, time and time again, we were their Why.

And now that they are both gone, they are my ultimate Why. Losing them has taught me how precious life is, how someone’s health can change just like that, how their entire life could change or be gone just like that. I have always stood in my own way, I’ve self sabotaged multiple dreams and passions (I won’t go down that rabbit hole in this post). I have clear memories of me telling my parents about my wild ideas and what I would hope to accomplish. My mom was more fear based and a natural worrier, so her reaction was always “Sarah, I don’t know about that, what if this, this and this happens”. My dad was more encouraging, he would tell me to follow my dreams but that I would have to work hard to achieve them. I knew they always believed in me though, no matter what crazy, creative idea was swirling around in my head, they were in my corner, 100 percent.

There are some days that I don’t want to get out of bed because I miss them so much, but then I think of the disservice that that would be to them. Even though they’re gone, they’re still pushing me, maybe now more than ever. This tragic experience has taught me that I don’t have to settle, for anything, and that I shouldn’t have to. Hell I don’t want to. My dream is to help as many people as I can, touch as many lives as I can, all while being creative. This is when I’m happiest.

I know they’re here with me, guiding me along. I see and feel them, I receive signs from them, sometimes big but most times small. I see their birthdays, my mom’s birthday shows up more often than my dad’s. I talk to them. There are days when I’m not so gracious, days when I get mad because they’re not physically here. Days when I curl up and cry until my eyes are swollen and little red spots pop up all over my face. Days when I just want my mom and dad. But they are few and far between, and sacred. I don’t ever want to stop grieving them, I don’t ever want to stop missing them, and I don’t think I ever will.

They are my Why for wanting to live my best positive life and achieve my wildest dreams. I love you mom and dad.

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guest of the week: anonymous

Guest Blogger, Love, relationships

anonymous

I’m really excited to share my first anonymous guest post. Whenever I approach someone about featuring their story, I give them the option to share anonymously. Honestly, I feel that when we don’t reveal our true identity it’s easier to share our deepest, maybe darkest thoughts with the world. I remember making up aliases back in the day, sharing my words, protected by my anonymity.

I love what I’m about to share with you, someone baring their soul, being honest and real about their feelings. Making a promise that they will change their ways. This is what the guest spot really means to me, people being real and letting us into their lives, even if we don’t know their name.

“I’m bad at being loved – like really bad.  I have pushed away probably any person that has ever attempted to love me outside of my family.  But I hate being hurt, and that’s why I do it.  Sure, some things may be amazing and they may last for a long time, but what about when they end?  Because from my experience all good things come to an end, especially relationships.  So here I am at 25, realizing I’m in love with the world’s most perfect man and he’s not coming back.

We grew up playing soccer together and he was always the shy guy, the quiet nerdy one that found it extremely difficult to strike up a conversation.  And I was always the one in the middle of a conversation – usually the one to start it no matter who it was with.  It wasn’t until high school that Matthew actually told me how he felt about me, and I kind of just laughed it off; I wasn’t interested in a shy soccer player with great grades and a future ahead of him.  Fast forward several years and we still FaceTime and talk regularly, and he’s still telling me that he’s praying for me to be his wife.  He’s still asking God to place me in his life because he loves me – LIKE WHAT?!  What kind of crazy man is this??

Eventually Matt left for medical school and our conversations have become less frequent and less in depth.  I know he’s busy and he’s doing really great things – I’m still his cheerleader when he needs to be reminded why he’s doing what he’s doing.  But I’m also his biggest fan and I want him to know that every single day of his life.  We were talking the other night and I made a joke about our wedding day and he said “You’ll find the right guy but it won’t be me.” And in that moment I was crushed…I pushed a little more to find out why he would say that as I held back the tears, and he told me that he had laid his heart on the line so many times to only be pushed away.  Because that’s what I do, I push you away the moment I know you care.

I’m sure he was right; I’ll find a wonderful man one day.  And I know he will find an amazingly kind and bright person to spend his life with.  But his words hit me like a brick wall and stopped me in my tracks.  I finally realized that I’m bad at being loved and accepting that people may want to be around me, so this is where I stop.  I will stop being so cold and I’ll stop pushing people away because they may end up being the most valuable person in my life.  This is me turning into a more caring and open person – may it lead to something better and brighter.”

Photo cred: http://www.jessicaremus.com/anonymous/

 

friendship: tangled roots

friendship, gratitude, happiness, Love, Positive Thinking, relationships

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This past weekend three of my closest friends and I had the honor of being bridesmaids at our best friend’s wedding. When I think about life and relationships, I feel lucky to have these women by my side after all these years. The bride is one of my oldest friends, we grew up around the corner from each other. If I try to think back to when we first met, I truly can’t remember a time in my life that she wasn’t there.

I’ve had many “best friends” over the years. I used to search for myself in others, this sort of behavior started at an early age. I bonded with girls that I thought I wanted to be. I would go along with everything they did, and I rarely voiced my own thoughts or opinions, just to be accepted. This would become a pattern throughout my young life.

The universe did however, sprinkle some special people in along the way. Friendships where I didn’t feel the need to behave that way. These women always accepted me for who I was and the mask would come off when I was in their presence. What a comforting, peaceful, feeling. I didn’t need to pretend anymore. I am happy to say that I’m still incredibly close with these very same women. These relationships span some 15+ years.

There are 6 of us in this particular group and we’ve all managed to keep our bond going strong. We each have separate lives with friends separate from our group, but that doesn’t change anything. Two of us moved away and yet we’ve never strayed from each other. There are definitely periods of distance and we’ve grown apart some, but at the center of each of our hearts we hold this friendship dear. That is why I picked the image for this post. We are tangled. We grew side by side for many years, we were there for each other when things were the messiest. I am thrilled to see these ladies with their lives [mostly] figured out (because I mean c’mon who really ever has it all figured out?). We’re all building our lives up, the mess is behind us. We can all sit back and watch each other grow and flourish. And if things ever get messy again we’ll be there for one another.

Something amazing happened at the wedding. Our group was originally 7, but she had moved during the earlier part of high school and her and I lost touch. She was at the wedding. The bride brought the original group back together again. It’s been 16 years, I think, my memory is a bit foggy, but roughly 16 years since I’ve seen this person. Her and I were very close for a period of time and wouldn’t you know that nothing has changed in that absence. The first few moments may have been a little awkward, but once the initial shock wore off, we picked right back up where we left off all those years ago.

That’s the magical thing about true friendships. They know no distance, or boundaries of time. I have several of these relationships today, even outside of our group, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the universe for putting each and every special individual in my life. If we haven’t talked lately, or even if we have, know that I love you very much and I am forever thankful that you are in my life.

 

guest of the week: jen williams

Guest Blogger, loss, Love

JenWilliams

This week I am featuring my co-worker and friend, Jen Williams. She is a truly talented writer, she sent over a short novel that she wrote years back about her grandmother passing away. She is great at describing situations, I really felt like I was there going through this experience with her. I challenged her to shorten the story for this post and she rose to the occasion. This is a story about loss, love, grief, acceptance, awareness and much more, in only a few short paragraphs. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us Jen.

“You know, I’ve always been good at accepting death. It was never something that scared me. Plenty of people in my life passed away when I was quite young (both my grandfathers, great aunts/uncles and even my own uncle) I was a person of faith so I believed those people went to heaven and we’re happier. However, when I was 16, I really knew what it meant to lose someone. To make a long story short (which literally it’s a long story. I wrote a short novel about it if you’d like to read the WHOLE thing let me know) I didn’t just lose my grandmother, I lost a place at the table. A friend when no one else was there. A comic relief. A voice, though quiet, spoke volumes.

You see, my junior year of high school was not easy. I had a bad relationship with a boy my grandmother told me wasn’t worth my presence. I struggled in school due to my personal life. My parents just struggled in general with work and money and raising a family while taking care of a sick parent. It was a hard October. To paint a better picture for you, my grandmother came to live with my family when I was 9. Throughout the years she was a caretaker for us. A good bit of my teens my mother worked at night and my father worked in the day and played video games all night. My grandmother was the one who made sure my brother and I were taken care of. She made sure that when we were out of line she’d become Grambo (like gramma and Rambo. Get it??) However, the beginning of senior year my grandmother, who was never healthy to begin with, became even more ill. Now at this point, she had already lost a toe due to neglecting diabetes. Well, she had the flu to begin with but while at the hospital learned she had gangrene from a cut on her foot from when she was cutting her toenails. Now, this kind of thing always irritated me because she seemed to always be sick and never took care of herself and here she is possibly losing a whole leg. I felt that she was always causing my parents extra work to take care of her and now we may have to remodel the house again for her to be in a wheelchair. Well a month went by and everything fell apart, literally. Our refrigerator broke as well as our furnace. I spent time in the emergency room. My boyfriend broke up with me. And my grandmother couldn’t fight her infection any longer and she passed away after telling the nurses she was ready and to stop treatment.

Her funeral came and went and it started to hit me. I felt so guilty. Why was I ever upset by who she was? Yes my parents had to do a lot for her and spend a lot of time with her. But why was I jealous of the attention she got? She needed it. I was selfish. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss her at the dinner table giving us updates on the weather (even when they were wrong) or repeating something someone JUST SAID because she wasn’t all there all the time. My house felt empty, cold. Her room just a hollow shell of the moments that were now memories. Christmas won’t be the same without her there. To think, just six months before that, we threw her a surprise party for her 70th which I’m so glad now we did.

Here I am now, almost 10 years later to the day, writing about her. Do I still feel guilty? Not as much as I did. I was a bratty teenager who had a dose of reality. However, I do still miss her. I no longer live in my parents house but when I go there I think of her. Her room was an addition that was torn down and we don’t have the same kitchen table but the memories remain. We talk very fondly of her and we talk about her often. The only thing I honestly regret, is I wish I would’ve listened to her more about not being with that boy in high school and not having some of the friends I did. She worried about me. I feel I still ended up okay in the end. I just wish she was able to see me now. I graduated college, married a great man and own my own home. I just wish she could see that I’m doing okay. But like I said, I do believe in heaven, so I think she knows I am.

I still love you gramma Betty Jean.
Your Jenny Penny”

guest of the week

gratitude, Guest Blogger, Kindness, Love, Positive Thinking

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I went to my dear friend Annie with an idea for a blog. This idea. Positive Aggressive. She was 110% on-board and supported and cheered me on. I went to her because I value her opinion and I knew that she would give me honest feedback. Not only did she give me that, but she gave me an amazing idea. Guest bloggers. I am the type of person that is interested in anyone’s story. I love to hear about people’s lives, it fascinates me. Yesterday at work I practically hounded this woman who was born and raised in Fiji to tell me about her experience and her family. It was quite incredible. So naturally I approached Annie to be my first guest writer and I couldn’t have chosen better. She is a talented writer and a passionate human being. I loved reading what she had to share and I know you will too! And no, I did not pay her to say these kind things about me. Annie really is the kind of soul that sees the best in everybody and has a huge, loving heart.

Hi y’all!

I’m Annie, a dreamer/doer/lover of all things broken and beautiful. When my sweet friend Sarah asked me to contribute something to her new (and fabulous, if I do say so myself) blog I was honored. I wasn’t sure what I’d write about, so I thought I’d leave it up to the power of prayer and meditation.

I had a crazy work week, which is a constant and re-occurring theme in my life. So,on this lovely fall Saturday, my plan includes a guilt-free relaxing morning on the couch (with no bra or pants on, mind you) with edible cookie dough and season five of Grey’s Anatomy. And in the middle of a Christina and Meredith dance off moment,my “prayer and meditation” paid off: I had my topic.

I thought I’d write about friends: beautiful, loving, compassionate, soul connecting friends and the gratitude I feel when I speak their names. The friends that give you warm and fuzzy feelings when they cross your mind, even after days, months or years since you’ve seen or spoken to them last. Thoughts of my sweet friend Sarah have those effects on me. I knew from the moment I met her that I’d met a woman who would serve a greater purpose in my life. Sarah and I share a pain that only some young adults feel: the pain of losing a parent too young. It’s the club that no one wants to be in, but once you’re in you feel thankful to be among like-minded company. There is large, gaping hole in my soul that aches when I have thoughts of the sweet father who passed six years ago, this part of my soul understands the part of Sarah’s soul that aches, too. We exchange empathy for one another in such a way that God’s fingerprints can only explain. We have a common bond, a connection that only those who have similar experiences can understand. I wonder if you get it, too? I’m sorry if you, as our reader, are a member of our club. But if you are, please know you are not alone and your pain is our pain, too.

Throughout my life, I have been given the privilege to live and love in many different parts of our country. I can list off hundreds of humans that I’ve crossed paths with that have left footprints on my soul. Let me tell you about a few: There’s Amber, we met in Florida in 2009. She is “my person.” I haven’t actually spoken to her in about six months. But, every time our busy lives allow for us to connect, we re-ignite our flame. She’s a wife, a mom of two and a friend who lives by spiritual principles, connecting to other women around her, changing lives. We are both in the business of passionately serving God’s kids. When we first met, at particularly low spots in our own lives, our internal desperation allowed for us to form a bond that holds tight through the years and the miles between us. She’s also apart of the club, another side that reflects our level connectivity. I am eternally grateful that the powers of our universe brought us together almost ten years ago. Amber and I pick up exactly where we left off. She is one of my soul sisters.

And Brent in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he regularly posts to social media about his father who suffers from the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I met Brent at random while attending a philanthropic gathering in August of 2015. When he and I hug, we embrace each other with one of those super tight and meaningful hugs; the good inside of me always has the ability to recognize the good inside of him. We formed an unbreakable bond in our first exchange and I am grateful to the Gods for his presence in my life. Now, when I read his words, I physically feel the love in my heart and the admiration I have for him. I often pray that his pain is softened and I believe that some days he can hear my prayers. I believe that when I speak Brent’s name, God nudges him and he smiles for a reason he may not be able to explain. I wonder sometimes how two people can be so connected internally but yet exist so far apart physically.

And my timeless firecracker, Emma. Emma is my BFF. We met in ninth grade where we fought over a boy in Mr. Langan’s first period history class. Out of all of the people I’ve met in my life, Emma is one that I know I’ll never get rid of. They say if you have a friendship that lasts more than twenty years, it’s likely to remain. I find peace knowing that I get to have Emma until the end of time. Her friendship is like coming home, it’s familiar and comfortable and natural. And, although she lives in Las Vegas and we only see each other once a year, we talk almost every day and she consistently proves to me that she knows me better than I know myself. I suppose that’s what two decades of love and tolerance can do to two people. She’s a mom to two beautiful children, a girlfriend to an amazing man, a daughter, a sister and a Green Bay Packers fan. My confidante. NHFL. Do you have a friend who means so much to you, in such a unique way that there aren’t really words to describe your feelings? That’s how I feel about my Emma.

I hope you find solace in reading about my friends. My people. My loves. And, I hope you find yourself thinking of yours, too. I hope you appreciate the people who bring joy to your life. I hope you feel gratitude in your heart for your people. To shift gears slightly, I want to mention how heavily of a believer I am in the power behind gratitude in action. Gratitude, just like love, should not only be felt but also enacted. Both words, when used correctly, can turn into beautiful actions. When I think of someone I love, or someone who’s presence in my life has meaning, I tell them. There have been many times over the months that I haven’t seen my friend Sarah that I randomly message her to let her know her worth in my life.

My suggestion to you is this: tell people you love them. It is impossible to overuse the words “I love you.” If you feel it, say it! My life has changed with every smile I’ve encountered, every hug I’ve felt and with every exchange of the language of our hearts. Pick up your phone, send the message. Dial the number you’ve been meaning to dial. Meet people, embrace your experiences and exchange love. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Fall in love with people. Find similarities instead of differences. Everything you do, do it with love.

Let Love Rule.

Annie, xo

driving through the weeds.

flowers, gratitude, Love, Positive Thinking

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This past weekend did not start out great. I won’t bore you with the major details but my boyfriend and I were heading out of town. Keith was chosen to be the best man at his best friend Brian’s wedding. I’ve grown to love Brian over these few years and his new bride Jess. They are perfect for each other. They were both there at the beginning of my journey with Keith, and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that positivity does not always come naturally to me. In fact, Friday was a day where my positive attitude was nowhere to be found. Nothing went our way early on and it was very upsetting. The morning started out with Keith leaning on me for support and me crying half way through the day leaning on him for support.

Expectations. They do it to me every single time. Just when I think I have the upper hand and I’m finally over expectations, WHAM! Life hands me another lesson. A lesson that teaches me that I am not done having unrealistic expectations. That I am only human and alas I must continue to learn. When you’re “in it” it’s hard to see the big picture, it’s hard to see past the eye of the storm.

It’s when you’ve made it through, that the magic really happens. The self reflection. On our 4 hour road trip, about half way, I blurted out to Keith “Yes today sucked, and nothing went our way, but Brian and Jess are getting married.” He said “You’re right”. In that moment we both understood the bigger picture. We were on our way to witness a sacred ceremony between two people who love each other. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic, and that is how I view a wedding. At the end of the day it really didn’t matter what went wrong.

We had a great night at the rehearsal dinner catching up with old friends, laughing until our sides hurt. The ceremony was stunning, I teared up as soon as I saw Jess walk out, she was breathtaking. The way Brian looked at her as she walked down the aisle was magical. The speeches were perfect, the music was on point and the food was tasty. Conversation was good and the dancing was much needed. It was a night to remember.

The drive home left room for more self reflection, I started to focus on gratitude. I thought about Friday before we left on our trip. I thought about my vulnerability and how grateful I am to be in a relationship where I can show that side of myself. I felt grateful that the shoe can be on the other foot and that Keith can be vulnerable with me. This wasn’t always the case for either of us in our previous relationships.

While thinking, and driving, I began to notice these yellow plants all over the side of the Pennsylvania highway. I couldn’t tell if they were flowers or weeds. I wondered how many people driving by thought the same thing. Did the majority of people think they were weeds and dismiss their beauty? I did, for a brief moment. Then the sun came out.

There’s something majestic about the sun breaking through the clouds. It lit up these beautiful plants and it made me realize just how much of our lives we think are weeds. For instance, when something doesn’t go the way we want it to. However, it’s when you stop and think about a situation or begin to see things differently, once you start to embrace and learn more about yourself, then you can see the flowers.

past & present collide

Love

Past Present And Future Signpost Showing Evolution Destiny Or Aging

I had something very interesting happen over the weekend. An experience that I’m still thinking about days after it happened.

I was at an NFL game, mainly because my boyfriend loves it, and we support what the other loves. Also, we were spending time with his family, whom I adore.

So, I posted a picture on social media and my ex boyfriend from 13 years ago messaged me, he was at the same game. Sitting in the section next to ours if you could believe it.

We grew up in the same small town and dated when we were 16 and 17. He moved away to Pittsburgh to attend college. Flash forward 13 years later and I am now living in Pittsburgh with the love of my life. I haven’t seen my ex in who knows how many years, if I had to guess I would say maybe 8 or 9. So in the messages we decided to meet at halftime. He is married to the love of his life, and I’m with the man I’m going to marry, so I didn’t think it was weird. But I really wasn’t sure how to tell my current love that we were going to see my first love during halftime. I decided to use the term “friend from highschool”, and off we went.

When I saw my ex I was flooded with these nostalgic memories. He wasn’t just my boyfriend but my best friend when we were dating. Things did not end on good terms, young love rarely does. But seeing him now, all these years later, I had nothing but compassion and genuine happiness in my heart for this human. For years after our break up I held on to resentments against him, resentments which I’ve worked through quite a while ago. Working through those resentments allowed me to trust again and to open my heart to the man I am with now.

Half way through the conversation I blurted out the truth, that he was my first boyfriend, and nothing in the conversation changed. My boyfriend now didn’t react negatively, in fact he kept the conversation going. Just another reason I know I will be with this man forever.

I went through a few heartaches before finding Keith, but after each heartache I always remained open to the possibility of love. I never closed the door on it, sure it was hard to learn to trust again but it happened. I had to face things about myself and see the part that I played in each failed relationship. I’m no walk in the park. I could be needy, and insecure and possessive. I’ve learned to scale these traits back nowadays but they still live inside me. They just don’t show up as often anymore because of the time I took to really look at myself and work on my shortcomings. I’m not perfect and that’s okay, because there really is no such thing as perfect. As a matter of fact it’s great because I’m given the opportunity to continuously work on myself and grow to be the best version of myself, and that’s all I could really ask for.

Isn’t life funny though? If I hadn’t posted a picture, I wouldn’t have met up with my ex. I wouldn’t have had the chance to see Keith gracefully handle a situation that might come across as weird to other people. I wouldn’t have had the chance to finally acknowledge the forgiveness I’ve been carrying around in my heart for this other person.

It truly was my past colliding with my present that ended up having an outcome better than I ever could’ve imagined.