7.08.2012

Feeling restless.

I started this blog July 31, 2008.

The name, Gathering Dust, came from a beautiful David Gray song that has been one of the themes of my life for a decade. For my twenties.

In less than two weeks, I turn thiry. And suddenly, I'm not okay with any theme of mine including the lyrics, "my soul is hollow as the sorrowful moon".

Beyond that, I've kind of failed at this thing. This is my second post this year. And it's to say that I'm jumping ship.

My first post was titled "feeling restless". I like the symmetry of my final post having the same name. I'm not sure that I'll ever NOT be restless, but I'm starting to feel like I want to be more settled.

In some ways, I feel like I've found a home here in Nashville, and I'm appreciating the slower pace down here. I've spent a lot of time recently just laying out in the sun, next to the water, letting myself just....be. And it's a beautiful thing.

My new blog is here - http://beautyofnothing.wordpress.com/ - It's empty right now, but that'll change soon. In the meantime, update your bookmarks.

I recently read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and there was a phrase that really appealed to me - "Il bel far niente" - "The beauty of doing nothing". This is something I'm learning how to appreciate lately and something I will hopefully continue to enjoy, now that I've let myself slow down and relax.

So, goodbye to feeling like I'm like gathering dust, like I'm on a mission alone. And welcome to feeling like the world is full of beautiful moments, often in unexpected times.

4.18.2012

If I can get through not being able to tie my shoes, I can get through anything.

There's a really long post coming in the near future (unless I get lazy) but I just wanted to share this, since I'm starting to try and recruit people for my team for the Arthritis Walk in June. I found this in my email from someone asking me about what Rheumatoid Arthritis has done for and to me.

"When I was first diagnosed, I went from scared to depressed to scared to pissed off to scared to accepting to scared....Fear is the biggest thing. I don't know how RA is going to end up affecting me in the future. Yes, I can try to control it, and mask the symptoms, but it's always there, and something I'll deal with the rest of my life. There is a lot of uncertainty - will I be able to have kids, will I be able to keep full function of my hands, will I be able to walk thirty years down the line? I don't know, and no doctor can give me a real answer. So it's scary and I can't do anything about it. I'm not someone who is used to being afraid of things, so learning to live with that fear has been a challenge.

But on the positive note - I've learned how strong I am. I've seen how my friends and family pull around me. I have witnessed generosity with donations to charity walks I do, I have been called an inspiration by loved ones and strangers alike. I've grown up. I've learned that I can't hide behind fear and I can't just let life pass me by because of what might happen when I'm forty. Dealing with RA has turned me into a stronger, more independent woman than I could have imagined. And while I wouldn't say that this made developing a chronic illness worth it, it does make it easier to digest."

Since I'm currently dealing with leftover pain from my ankle surgery last October, and wondering how much my RA has influenced the residual aches, and I'm getting frustrated that I haven't fully healed by now, I needed to see this. It reminds me I'm only human. And that I can deal with it. And I'll only be stronger when all is said and done.

I have faith in myself.

And that's pretty freaking awesome.

Oh, and if you'd like to donate (or join the team if you happen to be in Nashville area), feel free! I really don't mind!
Kicking ass and taking names and making RA my b*tch

12.31.2011

Driving Round in Circles (2011, Revisited): A year in music


It was a roller coaster of a year for me. There were a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of changes. I lost friends I thought I'd have forever, and made amazing new ones. I struggled with how to balance my old life and my new life. I fought the thought of relationships and ended up falling into old patterns with people from the past. I decided on a huge life change, and made it happen. I said goodbye to people I love. I started a new life. It was a year of ups and downs, of heartache and hardening, of regret and release, but, for the first time in a long time, it's a year that ends with hope.

Here is my year and the songs that got me through it. I was going to post something about each of them, but there's some that are just a little too personal. I just picked some lyrics that were appropriate.

If you would like to download, here is the link. It's also published on Spotify.

Happy New Year to you all!

 
Lay Me Down – The Wreckers
So shut your mouth
And hold me close
We both know
It's better than being alone

Just Tonight – The Pretty Reckless
Just tonight I will stay
And we'll throw it all away
When the light hits your eyes
It's telling me I'm right

Locked Up – Ingrid Michaelson
Love, love, love is everywhere
But not a drop for me to drink
Tie me up and bind my feet
Drop me in and watch me sink
Like an angry apple tree
I throw my apples if you get too close to me

I Hope that I Don’t Fall in Love With You – Tom Waits
Well the music plays and you display your heart for me to see,
I had a beer and now I hear you calling out for me
And I hope that I don't fall in love with you

Fairytale – Sara Bareilles
So I sing and hold my head down and I break these walls round me
Can't take no more of your fairytale love
cause I don't care for your fairytales
You're so worried about the maiden though you know
She's only waiting on the next best thing

Set Fire to the Rain – Adele
I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
Where I felt something die
Cause I knew that was the last time

Bulletproof – La Roux
Been there, done that, messed around
I'm having fun, don't put me down
I'll never let you sweep me off my feet

Jar of Hearts – Christina Perri
I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed
'Cause you broke all your promises
And now you're back
You don't get to get me back

Her Diamonds – Rob Thomas
Oh what the hell she said
I just can't win for losing
And she lays back down
Man, there's so many times
I don't know what I'm doing
Like I don't know now

Happiness is – Verve Pipe
Have you ever felt so out of place
That the smile on your face
Was to keep from cryin’
I don’t know how we get so out of touch
But I don’t want much
Just to keep on tryin’

Goodbye – Drive By Truckers
We were really great friends and I always thought
that it would be that way
Yet I wonder if I'd know you if the guy that I saw
last walked in here today

Gathering Dust – David Gray
I got no reason
But that I must
Maybe I feel
Like I've been gatherin' dust

Melt My Heart to Stone – Adele
Why do you steal my hand
Whenever I'm standing my own ground
You build me up, then leave me dead

Sway – Heartless Bastards
I looked into the eyes, the eyes of everyone I know
And the days go by wondering where to go
I was searching all, searching all the time

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

Rewind – Stereophonics
'Cause change is okay
What's the point in staying the same
Regrets, forget what's dead and gone
If you could rewind your time
Would you change your life?
               
The House That Built Me – Miranda Lambert
You leave home, you move on
and you do the best you can.
I got lost in this whole world
and forgot who I am.

I’m Movin’ On – Rascal Flatts
I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself
I have been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on

Second Chance – Shinedown
Sometimes goodbye is a second chance

Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go) – Dierks Bentley
Can't take it with you when you go so
Free and easy down the road I go
Someday I know it's gonna take me home so
Free and easy down the road I go

Home – Foo Fighters
Wish I were with you
I couldn't stay
Every direction
Leads me away

Are We There Yet – Ingrid Michaelson
They say that home is where the heart is
I guess I haven't found my home
And we keep driving round in circles
Afraid to call this place our own

On the Road to Find Out – Cat Stevens
Then I found my head one day when I wasn't even trying
And here I have to say, 'cause there is no use in lying, lying
Yes the answer lies within, so why not take a look now?

Again Today/Hiding My Heart – Brandi Carlile
Who's gonna break my fall
When the spinning starts
The colors bleed together and fade
Was it ever there at all
Or have I lost my way
The path of least resistance
Is catching up with me again today/
But like everything I've ever known
You'll disappear one day
So I'll spend my whole life hiding my heart away

Let the Rain – Sara Bareilles
And if I were fearless
Then I'd speak my truth
And the world would hear this
That's what I wish I'd do

Here We Go Again – Justin Townes Earle
Now I like to think that
I’m no fool for love
I can’t help but feel as though
I play one every time

Little Miss – Sugarland
Little miss, brand new start
Little miss, do your part
Little miss, big old heart beats wide open and she's ready now for love
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
Yeah, sometimes you gotta lose 'til you win

Fearless – Colbie Cailat
If it's between love and losing
or to never have known the feeling
I'd still side with love
and if I end up lonely
at least I will be there knowing
I believed in love

Many the Miles – Sara Bareilles
Cause I've had my fair share of take care and goodbyes
I've learned how to cry
And I'm better for that

Turning Tables – Adele
I can't keep up with your turning tables
under your thumb, I can't breathe
So I won't let you close enough to hurt me
No, I won't ask you, you to just desert me
I can't give you, what you think you gave me
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables

Further North – Jets to Brazil
This year took ten years to tell me that I’m alone again…
Everything here's about to break.
I'm one inch from all that I can take,
and it's beautiful and sad, but it's all that I have

Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine
I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn

Life is Beautiful – Vega4
Life is beautiful, but it's complicated.
We barely make it.
We don't need to understand,
There are miracles, miracles.

Skyscraper – Demi Lovato
As the smoke clears, I awaken
And untangle you from me
Would it make you, feel better
To watch me while I bleed?
All my windows still are broken
But I'm standing on my feet

What a Year for a New Year – Dan Wilson
Soon we'll be lying in our beds
And new dreams will fill our heads
And the old ones will be ended
Hope we'll forget about this place
Let it go without a trace
Wipe the teardrops from our faces
What a year for a new year

9.26.2011

in memoriam.

My grandfather was a flawed man. I know that.

He never painted himself a saint, and that might be one of the things I admired most about him. He knew he had made mistakes in his life, and he changed things, and he taught me that no matter what I do, I can always turn myself around.

My grandfather was a teacher. I experienced that.

He used to bring home scrap wood and let my sister and I make the most ridiculous damn creations out of tin cans and two by fours and for some reason, he trusted us to use hammers and nails and not kill each other. Because of him, I am strong, and independent, and can hang pictures and put together furniture and try to figure out to how fix something myself before I get help.

My grandfather was a packrat. I saw that.

He saved EVERYTHING. The garage at my grandparents house was full of empty bottles and stacks of magazines and an airplane propeller. He kept a lot of things that were probably junk, but he also kept the pictures and poems my sister and I did for him and my grandma. I still have some of them. A lot of times, we'd be in the car heading somewhere, and he'd stop on the side of the road and pick up a stool, or a box of books, or a toy he thought my sister and I might like. And then he'd clean it up, and it was as good as new, and when I was younger, when I wanted the 'latest and greatest', I didn't appreciate it as much as I do now.

My grandfather was a clown. I heard that.

The most common phrase I heard him say was 'Do you believe that fib?' He was always telling a joke or making up a funny story or doing anything he could to get my sister and I to laugh. Part of my inherent goofiness definitely comes from him.

My grandfather was a wise man. I listened to that.

From the time I was just starting to notice boys, he always told me, 'Andrea, don't get married young. Maybe not ever. Men are idiots.' As I got older, the advice changed a bit: 'Andrea, you're a smart young lady and don't settle for someone dumber than you like your grandma did.' Most recently, it was, 'This is my beautiful granddaughter. I hope she finds someone worthy of her.' The advice changed, but the love behind it never wavered.

My grandfather was a romantic. I loved that.

He loved his wife. His Jennie. They were together over fifty years. Fifty years. Does that even happen anymore? You can see in the pictures of them when they were young that they were head over heels in love. And through the years, that love stayed with them. They truly were soulmates. When my grandma died almost seven years ago, I thought for sure we'd lose him soon after.

My grandfather was a loving man. I felt that.

One thing I never doubted was my grandpa's love for me. And for my sister. And my father. And my grandma. He did what he could to make sure that our lives would be just a little bit easier. He gave advice and doled out hugs and always had an extra dollar for some cotton candy if I needed it. He cared so much about his family, even when it was sometimes hidden by silly jokes and a little bit of cantankerousness. He loved us so much.

I feel blessed that I had my grandfather in my life for 29 years. That's a gift that so many others don't get. It makes it harder to say goodbye, but it makes it easier to remember. And I don't believe in much anymore, but I believe with every single fiber of my being that when he left this world this morning, he met my grandma on the way to whatever is waiting for us after this life....and just like when they were both here, their hands just naturally found each other's.

I love you always, Big Kid.

April 4, 1919 - September 26, 2011

8.13.2011

it's a long trip alone...

I don't want any more ties here. It's already going to be hard enough to leave. I'm already wondering who of my friends will continue to be a part of my life when I'm 600 miles away. There are some people who I have complete faith in, who I know will come visit me, who I'll make sure I see when I come back up here. There are people I'll keep in touch with through email and Facebook and text. But there are people who after I move will make an effort for a while, but a year from now, will only remember me as the loud, weird, clumsy girl who had way too much crap at her desk and loved to bake. And I know that's just what happens...people change, and grow up, and move away and move on. And the people who are important will stay important. And I'll meet new people and start new friendships and maybe, just maybe, find someone to love.

But that doesn't mean that it's not hurting me to think about. I'm too emotional for my own good, especially lately. One of my coworkers has joked that she's going to make me cry as much as possible before I leave.

It's not hard to do. Lately, it's a song or a quote or a TV show or a memory and all of a sudden I'm just a mess. I'm absolutely terrified that I'll move and cling so hard to the people I love here that I'll never meet anyone down in Nashville to start taking their places.


The thought of anything making this even more difficult just kills to think about.

And so I find myself, with two and a half months left to go, pulling away. Choosing nights at home over spending time with the people I care about. Separating myself, distancing myself....trying to make it easier.

Except now I'm living in this weird transition period of enforced loneliness. And I hate it. It's not the kind of person I am. I'm social. I'm outgoing. I want to surround myself with all these amazing people I know. But I don't want to deal with losing all of them at once. It just feels like it should be easier this way.

But....I'm lonely. Incredibly lonely. And while I sit here, watching The Office and crying to myself, trying to relax with a glass or two of wine, I think....it's going to be so much harder once I move, and when I'm lonely, I'll actually be alone.

Maybe I'm just having one of those nights where the world feels huge and I feel small....and maybe things will seem a bit different in the light of day. But right now, tonight? I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to do this.


4.28.2011

I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name

I'm making plans. Lots and lots of plans.

Career-changing plans. Pick-up-my-life-and-move-600-miles-away plans. Life-changing plans. Terrifying, exhilarating plans.

I've lived my whole life in the Detroit area. It's what I know. It's comfortable. I have family here. God knows I have friends here. My *history* is here.

So why am I skipping out on everything, and moving to Nashville?

Of course, a big part of it is my parents. And my sister. And my grandpa. They live in Tennessee, a little more than an hour east of Nashville. Being so far away from them now is awful. I hate that I don't get to see them more than a few times a year.

Part of it is my job. I like my job. And I'm good at it. But this isn't what I thought I would be doing for the rest of my life. Even when I went back to school with the intent of advancing in the company, I didn't know if I was doing it because I loved my job, or if I loved the company. As much as I enjoy the place I work and the people I work with, I can't see myself staying happy here. It feels like settling for something I never thought I'd do for too long, when there are a million other things I'd rather take a chance at.

And then there's the part of me that just wants the adventure...I've always saw myself moving somewhere else, and I'm at the point in my life where if I don't do it now, I won't do it ever. Better to pack up my life and start it fresh while I'm young, and single, and have nothing tying me down to Michigan.

I'm incredibly excited for this new chapter in my life to start. I can't wait to find new places, meet new people, build a new life from scratch.

But damn if I'm not terrified.

What if I get there and hate it? What if I find a job and can't stand it? What if the new friends I make can't compare to the ones I have now? What if the people I have in my life, the people I love dearly, forget about me when I'm 9 hours away?

What if I fail?

I could make myself crazy with the hundreds of "What ifs?" going through my head.

But I would make myself crazier if I didn't allow myself to take this chance.

There's something magical about a second chance. Of starting over where no one knows me...no one knows my history, my mistakes, my regrets. No one knows the things I've done to hurt people, or the people who have torn me to shreds. It's a chance to become someone completely different...or to improve on the person I already am.

And for all the worries, all the fear...there's so much more hope. And promise.

Not only will I be someone with no history, but all the people I meet? They'll be strangers - not people I've grown up with, not people I've worked with, not people who I have seen through all sorts of phases and pieces of their lives.

When I walk into a room, I won't be the girl who runs into walls all the time and trips over nothing (although god knows they'll see that in time). I won't be the girl who makes bad choice after bad choice. I won't be the girl who is outgoing and happy all the time. I won't have to be what people expect of me anymore, because no one will expect anything.

There's something freeing about a second chance.

I'll miss the people who really know me...The people who I trust, the people who I would call crying at 3am, the people who I could sit and watch movies and drink wine and laugh for hours with. I'll miss the people who know what I'm thinking just by the look in my eyes, the way my mouth twitches, the way my eyebrow raises slightly.

I'll miss getting in my car and driving to a friend's house without having to think about where I'm going. I'll miss the bars where they know my name. I'll miss the restaurant where I don't even have to say my order out loud.

I'll miss being able to drive by my grandparents' old houses, remembering where I came from. I'll miss the late night drives up and down roads I've been down so many times before. I'll miss the section of road I drive down that all at once calms me, and frees me, and gives me peace.

There's something heartbreaking about a second chance.

There's a lot of reasons to stay, but just as many to leave. And I think I owe it to myself to just let myself leap.

It's bittersweet, to be sure, but it's what I have to do. And while I will miss what I'm leaving, I look forward to all the possibilities I'll be gaining.

I'm terrified. I'm exhilarated. I'm nervous. I'm contemplative.

But the one thing I'm not is settling.

And that's all the encouragement I need to know that this is the right choice.

2.17.2011

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree....(Happy birthday, Momma!!)

My mom used to love getting my sister and I to call her "Beautiful Mommie Dearest".

I think that helps explain where my twisted sense of humor comes from.

When I was younger, I didn't see much of my mom in me. I was always shy, and super sensitive. Mom is outgoing, sparkly, a force of nature. I seem to remember being convinced I was adopted at one point, because I felt so different from my family (and also, because I had just read the Babysitter's Club book where Claudia thinks she's adopted...all of you girls of the 80s know what I'm talking about).

But as I grew up and broke out of my shell, I started to see more of her in me. We have the same stubborn streak. We have the same weird sense of humor. We are outgoing and tend to get sucked into whatever it is we are working on. We can both read for hours on end. We have the same smile and the same eyes, although mine have more green in them. And we both enjoy a good margarita and movie night, although it's been a while since we've had one of those.


I am blessed in that my momma is also one of my best friends. I think that happened once I moved out of the house. It's a lot easier to talk about problems and boys and work and the latest boneheaded thing I did when I don't need to worry about being grounded because of it! Also, when there are two people so similar (especially with that stubbornness...), it's better for everyone else if they aren't in close quarters all the time - because when we clash? EVERYONE knows it.

She knows when I'm lying. Whether it's lying about where I was or who I was with or if I am doing okay or if I am trying to choke back tears on the phone, she always can tell. And she will NOT hold back on telling me the business. She knows how to give tough love, and while at times when I was younger I hated it, now I know it's exactly what I needed then, and it's still what I need now. And while I am sure I screamed at her much more than she deserved how much I "hated" her, and how she was "RUINING MY LIFE!", she managed to make it through my teenage years without locking me in a closet, instead displaying infinitely more patience and love than I deserved at the time. Now I can look back on those times and realize that she just wanted what any good parent wants for their child - the best world has to offer. And if she had to push me to get it, that's exactly what she did. I resented it then, but I wouldn't be the independent, strong, and resilient woman I am today without that. And I will always be grateful for that.


The only reason I would ever consider moving to Tennessee is to be close to my parents (and sister!) again. It's hard not being around them. I miss my mom so much sometimes....There's no one who knows how to make me laugh like she does, or who can comfort me in quite the same way. When my best friend moved to California, after I left her house the last time, I went straight to my parents' and cried on my mom's shoulder. When I was nervous about a first date with someone I wasn't quite sure about, she talked me down over email. I always want to share everything with her, from how work is going to my birthday plans to the newest guy I have fallen hard for. She's always on my side, just happy that I am safe and healthy, even if I have done something fairly (or, let's face it, EXTREMELY) stupid.


I have a lot of 'second' mothers, and I have the best aunties in the world, but nothing compares to a mommy. And mine is the best. And while we haven't always seen eye to eye, we have always loved each other, and we will always bring out both the best and the worst in each other, and really? I couldn't ask for more.

I love you, Momma! Happy [redacted] annual 28th birthday!
(You think I'd give her actual age? I'd like to live to see my next birthday myself!)

12.31.2010

And I've always lived like this, keeping a comfortable distance...

Oh, 2010. Sometimes saying goodbye is really rather easy.
It was a mostly good year...the highlights were wonderful - I met some amazing people, a couple of whom have become a couple of my closest friends. It's hard to believe that a year ago I hadn't met them yet, as we easily fell into friendships that seem like they've lasted a lifetime. I got to spend Christmas with my whole immediate family, something that hadn't happened since 2003. I started to really gain some self-confidence, which was something I had been lacking the previous 27 years. I got my own place and in just over two months, have really turned it into a home.
But as always, there were plenty of dark spots on the year. I made some mistakes, and I'm sure I'll make some of them again. I hurt some people. I hurt myself. I wasted time worrying about things that I couldn't change. I wasted time trying to change things I couldn't. I lost myself more times than I care to remember, and I'm still not sure that I'm growing into the woman I want to be.
I've kept myself closed off from so many things. I want so badly to be the happy, successful, independent woman that I maybe turned my back on anything that got in the way...including a couple chances at relationships that, while they may or may not have worked out, could have been something I needed. I never trusted anyone enough to let them in, to believe they wouldn't hurt me. I continued to look at everything with the cold eyes that I've gotten so good at seeing out of.
And that is what disappoints me the most about this year - that I didn't even let myself try. That I didn't take any risks. That I said, "Oh no, I know better - I know that this will never go anywhere. I know that you're just going to make me cry in the end, so let's not call it anything more than it is. And we can go our separate ways, and I can keep being the girl who doesn't care about love."
Well. That was stupid.
Am I really better off not having let myself fall? Am I happier tonight, alone and avoiding people than I would be if I were with someone who may not have been perfect? Did I cry less this year than last? Has my heart broken fewer times? Has it ever even healed from the last time? Don't I owe it to myself to let myself believe in someone other than myself?

So. I don't have any New Year's resolutions. But I do have a new goal in my life - this year and every one after that. Keep my heart open. Let it make some decisions. Stop overthinking everything. Stop assuming the worst out of every situation just because that's all I've had in the past. Believe that the best way to finally heal a broken heart is to let it bleed again. Stop settling for all the moments of the past - all the moments that have just led to regret and tears with no one to help dry them. Let myself take some chances, make some mistakes, but know that they are leading somewhere other than a lifetime of keeping myself apart from any chance of love I'll ever have. Keep dreaming. Let love in.

Welcome, 2011. I can't wait to meet you in a couple hours with open arms and an open heart.

12.09.2010

The most beautiful smile is the one that struggles through the tears (in memoriam)

Six years ago today, the world lost a hero. A quiet, gentle, reluctant hero, but a hero nonetheless. She may have seemed an ordinary woman to the rest of the world, but to me, she was the woman I strove to become (and still do). Six years ago the world got a little bit darker, but to those of us who knew her, we discovered there are some lights that don't go out.

I wrote this on my grandmother's birthday last May, and I can't think of a better tribute to her memory than sharing it again - than letting people know that this amazing woman lived, and loved, and made me who I am. I miss her often - when something big happens and I can't tell her, or when I make spaghetti from her recipe, or when I glance at one of the pictures I have of her and my grandpa when they were young, or in so many quiet moments when I see a little bit of her in me.
************************
May 2, 2010
My next tattoo is going to be 'Que sera, sera' in script on my wrist. And it's going to be in memory of my Grandma K, who said that all the time.

Today would be her 92nd birthday.

It's impossible for me to not think about her most of the time, but today especially. There are some people in your life who shape you, who push you, who make you better, and my grandmother was one of those.

Every struggle I've had in my life...every war I've waged, whether it was against myself or others....every thing I've ever tried and failed at and tried again....The part of me that refuses to give up or give in, that refuses to accept limitations, that refuses to surrender...that comes from my grandma. She was a woman who survived anything that came at her. She battled and beat cancer more than once. She stood by her husband and her child and her grandchildren whatever happened. She did everything she could to make sure that her son and his children would have a good life. She looked for the best in people. She looked for the best in life. She was an optimist and she passed that on.

And she was beautiful! In all the ways that mattered, and in many that didn't. She had the kindest eyes I've ever seen. Full of compassion and caring, but with a glint of humor. She was always ready to laugh. Always ready to humor a child by listening to a stammered knock-knock joke, or bumbling story, and laughing her heart out. She could make you feel like the only person in the world she could possibly want to be listening to. She was selfless and funny and generous and loving and big-hearted and a force of nature. She knew when to make you laugh, or when to take you in her arms and comfort you with soft words and hugs. She displayed a stick figure drawing on her refrigerator with the same care as a straight A report card. She would take the time to do whatever it took to make other people happy, whether it was finding the perfect present, or cutting up watermelon into the kind of slices you preferred. She was a great cook and I wish I had cared more when I was younger so I could have learned more from her. I think of all the times I spent at her house, and wish that I had listened a littler harder, paid a little more attention, asked more questions. There is so much I could have discovered, so many things I wish I knew!

Grandma died 5 years ago this past December. It seems like yesterday, and a thousand years ago, all at once. There's not a day of my life that I don't think about her, feel her, discover another part of the influence she had over my life. I was unbelievably blessed to get to spend so much of my time with such an incredible woman. Some of my happiest memories from childhood are the times I spent at my grandparents' house, my sister and I dressing up in stupid outfits, or 'building' things in the backyard, or just sitting at the table coloring with Grandma. She was content with simple pleasures, and the greatest one of those was seeing her son and his children happy and healthy.

It's been over 5 years. And I'm starting to forget some of these things. I'm starting to forget the smile, and the softness, and the easy way she could turn an entire day around. I'm starting to forget the sly look in her eye when she was teasing my grandpa, and the look of her hands as she worked in the kitchen. And that scares me. How could I possibly forget any part of this amazing woman?

But then I look at my dad. And I look at my sister. And I look at myself. And I imagine the sons or daughters I may someday have.
And I realize that no matter how long she has been gone, her legacy will live on. Her touch on our lives will reach into the next generation, and the one after that, and however many come after.

And I know that she'll be looking down on all of us with love in her eyes and a smile that comes from the heart, giving a little push whenever we need it, and being the quiet voice in our heads, reminding us that whatever will be, will be.

11.25.2010

I'm bound to thank you for it....(A tribute to the best people in the world)

I generally have all these things in my head on a daily basis, but it's Thanksgiving, and what better time to say it (write it?) out loud? Especially for the people in my life - you don't ever get enough credit. So, on this day of thanks and love, I would like to hopefully give you back something for all the amazing things you've given me.

To my family - While we may be a certifiably insane psychotic completely batshit crazy how the HELL aren't you all institutionalized*quirky* bunch, we are all also fiercely loyal to each other, and while we all may give each other all kinds of grief about just about anything, it's only because we care. I have been incredibly blessed to have the extended family I do - it's made my parents and sister moving over five hundred miles away a little easier. And my parents! Never has the world known two more amazing and supportive people - I know I am biased, but I truly do have the best parents ever. And because of them, I have my big sister, who is my hero and protector and partner in crime and confidant and best friend all in one. Of course, I can't not mention my grandfather who is 91 and will probably still have me cracking up at corny jokes when I see him next month. And I can't forget the ones who've passed on: Grandma K and Grammy and Popu. They played a huge role in shaping the woman I am today.

To my friends - Never has a girl been so lucky to have so many wonderful people in her life. The last year or two has had a lot of ups and downs, and I never would have made it through without my friends. Whether it's the people I've known for twenty years, the soul mate I met in middle school, or the person I met six months ago who quickly turned into one of my best friends, every single one of them has changed my life for the better. Some people I am lucky enough to see every day (and lucky enough to have them keep me sane during long work days), and others close to that often. Others I only see every few months - for some of them, it doesn't matter how much time has passed - we pick up right where we left off. I am so grateful for the co-workers who have turned into friends, and the friends that have turned into family.

I love you guys all so much, and honestly? I wouldn't be here without you. You keep me going, keep me breathing, keep me smiling, and definitely keep me laughing. For all of the times you've let me pass out on your sofa, cry on your shoulder, use you for your ability to lift heavy things, join your family for holidays when I didn't have a place to go...thank you. For installing extra locks on my door, for picking me up when my car was out of commission, for picking up the check when you knew I was low on funds, for taking me out dancing when I needed some cheering up, for telling me I would be okay when I was sure I wouldn't....thank you. For pushing me through some of the hardest times I've faced, for picking me up off the floor when I thought I was done, for giving me a hug and a smile and a word of encouragement, for supporting me and challenging me and saving me....I can never thank you enough. I'd be nothing without you, but with you, I have everything.

Lots of love, and wishes for a wonderful and safe holiday season to all you and yours. 
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