Tuesday, March 29, 2011

79 Days of Gratitude & Thanks - Day 9: Lately

I heard this song for the first time yesterday and it really hit more for me. As I make this 79 day journey for gratitude and thanks, I can't help but think that how easy I seem to be making it. Yes, it is easy to be appreciative (and I am) but as I walk this path to become the best possible me, I am still faced with obstacles. There are days that I struggle and days that it's hard for me to put my appreciation front and center. I'm a work in progress. As I continue down this path, not only I am trying to be kinder to myself, I'm working on patience (with myself and others), forgiving those who need forgiveness and working to find happiness everyday (if only in one small thing a day). As I watched the video for this first time day, the reality of my life was placed in front of me. I'm not living in poverty or a war zone. My family is healthy. We live in a nice neighborhood, I don't worry about were my next meal will come from or if I have water & electricity. And, my family loves one another. This is my happiness for today! This song has some pretty powerful lyrics. I wish I was a little more solid A little more grounded Maybe just a little more I wish I was a little less angry A little less selfish Maybe just a little less Lately I feel like crashin' I feel like the whole world is comin' to an end Lately I feel like nothin' really matters I, I wanna feel good again I wish I was a little more patient A little more forgivin' Maybe just a little more I wish I was a little less crazy A little less out there Maybe just a little less Lately I feel like I am crashin' I feel like the whole world is comin' to an end Lately I feel like nothin' really matters I, I wanna feel good again I wanna feel good again Lately I feel like crashin' I feel like I hate rappin' I feel like the world's gonna end And again situations keep goin' tragic I feel like defeats gonna happen In jail, no bail, we're packed in Every day just keeps on lastin' I just wanna keep gettin' past it I wanna waste away I wanna be left alone in hell No one gave a damn When I was sittin' in my cell So every now and then I feel a little bit close to the edge And I feel I'm about to break And I can't take the fact that lately I pay for my actions greatly Lately I feel like crashin' I feel like the whole world is comin' to an end Lately I feel like nothin' really matters I wanna feel good again I wanna feel good again I wish I was a little more solid A little more grounded Maybe just a little more

Monday, March 28, 2011

79 Days of Gratitude & Thanks - Day 8: Thankful for tomorrow

Today has been a tough day emotionally. I'm thankful that I am still here and get at attempt achieving happiness tomorrow. Sometimes that all we can ask for.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

79 Days of Gratitude & Thanks: Day 7 - Miss Tara Ashley

Today one of my dearest friends is celebrating her birthday. I have known Tara since high school though I can't remember exactly how me met or what lead us to become friends - I think it was our friend Jen.

I'm amazed at how our friendship has endured. During high school, we went through moments were our paths traveled down different directions. And while I went away for college, Tara stayed in the StL and, again, there are moments were we drifted.

It is so amazing that we always seem to come back to each other. We can not speak for months and within one phone call it's like no time has ever passed. Our friendship has endured miles of separation, man have come and gone & we have experienced most of life's highs and lows together!

I adore Tara! She is amazing. She is a teacher and works everyday to inspire and educate our youth. And as we all know - teaching is the most thankless job around. Tara is also a super outstanding mother. For most of her son's life, she has raised him single-handily. What she has accomplished for herself and her son is a testament to your desire to achieve.

I am excited, this summer, to share in the start of a new journey with Tara. She is getting married! And she deserves to find all the happiness and love the world has to offer. Her heart is so big (and always has been) and to see her finally get what she so deserves is a prayer being answered.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

79 Days of Gratitude & Thanks - Day 6: Laura Elizabeth Parker & Laura Elizabeth Prescott

As I was driving home today, I heard this song. This is an acoustic version by Shinedown. As I was listening to it my mind went to Sean and his grandmother & mom. Laura Elizabeth Parker (Ms. Laura) and Laura Elizabeth Prescott (Beth). There is not enough words in the dictionary for me to express my gratitude to them for Sean. Ms. Laura & Beth raised him & loved him unconditionally! Even when he didn't love his self and made decisions that caused more problems than solutions - they never gave up on him!

Ms. Laura is an outstandingly awesome woman. After her husband passed away, she pulled herself up and raised four kids on her own. She owned restaurants and had a tremendous work ethic. She also was instrumental in raising Sean. She was tough on him. He was working in the family restaurant as soon as he was tall enough to see over the counter. She is the only person I know that can command an instant respect from him and the only one I know that can put him in his place. I loved her from the first moment we met! She and I spent hours looking through old family photos and I just soaked it up. She's sassy, has lived a long fulfilled life and doesn't take crap from anyone!

Beth raised Sean as a single parent. She was extremely smart and placed a tremendous value on education. She was the first one in her family to get an advanced college degree. Sean was Beth's pride! She certainly had a mother's unchangeable love because she supported him during the most challenging of times in his life. Unfortunately, Beth passed away a year after Sean & I started dating so my experience with her is much less limited. I do know that she is looking down on us and sending us blessings everyday.

Ms. Laura and Beth instilled in Sean a tremendous work ethic, a desire to continuously learn and a tremendous sense of independence. All traits that rate at the top of my wish list in a partner.

Sean is the most important person in my life and to imagine it without him makes me cry (literally, I'm crying right now). It has take Sean a lot to get to this point in his life. The fact that Ms. Laura and Beth never gave up on him (and on more than one occasion, kicked his sorry ass into shape and leaving behind his demons) has allowed my life to be what it is today. Sean introduced me to love - taught me to love myself and loves me unconditionally.

Thank you Ms. Laura and Beth! I was always be eternally grateful...

Friday, March 25, 2011

79 Days of Gratitude & Thanks - Day 5: The Monkey House

Today I had a great day at the Monkey House with Samantha! The Monkey House is essentially this warehouse with a zillion bouncy houses. There were really more like 10 inflatables but to a two year old it was just like a zillion!

The Monkey House is in Fort Smith where my mom lives and it's the first time Samantha has been there. To say she loved it is a total understatement. The number of times she laughed and squelled was priceless. She had a smile on her face for two straight hours. At first she was unsure of the whole thing but a few trips down the inflatable side and she was hooked!

What a great memory! Definitely a keeper for my memory roll-a-deck!

79 Days of Gratitude & Thanks - Day 4: My mom

On March 24, my mom celebrated her 50th birthday (also day 4 of my gratitude and thanks journey). She use to sing this song to me when I was little.

As a teenage, single parent, I know she did the best she could for me always! I am grateful everyday for every sacrifice she made, every tear she wiped away and for loving me unconditionally. Even as I grow older, I continue to appreciate her friendship and support. I know that my success in this world is a testiment to the direction and guidance she has always provided me.

She and I are still growing up (and sometimes we do clash) but at the end of the day - no matter what I know she loves me!

79 Days of Gratitude & Thanks - Day 3: Long drives in the car

Most people normally don't like long car rides but I adore them! I get some of my best thinking and ideas while I'm on long car trips.

It is about a 6 hour drive to my mom's from Maryville and on Wednesday, Samantha & I made the trek down to see her. Samantha has become quite a road warrior herself and between a nap or two & a snack or two, she can keep herself pretty entertained. Though she doesn't always appreciate my off pitch singing, she tolerates me to sing at the top of my lungs and endures my dance moves via my hands and upper body. I give it 3-4 more years before she starts rolling her eyes at me and hiding from embrassment.

I can't even begin to count the number of ideas, programs, events I have dreamed up for work, how many times I have rearranged and reorganized my house or how many trips/adventures I have planned while on a road trip. With the invention of a Blackberry, I can web surf, look up recipes, and google any random thought that crosses my mind. On a previous road trip last week, I googled "foods of Missouri" and shopped for airline tickets for an imaginary vacation. Poor Sean, they number of ideas I have sprung on him as a result of road trips - it's a miracle he still rides in the car with me!

I'm pretty sure it's not the actually ride in the car I appreciate but rather the time to allow my mind to think and be creative. So many of my days are preplanned and structured that I never seem to have time to just sit and let my mind wander. That's what I love the most! I love just letting my mind think about and dream about whatever it wants. It's my gift to myself curiosity of a 2007 KIA Optima.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

79 Days of Gratitude and Thanks - Day 2: The scanner

That's right, people - the computer scanner is my thanks today!

In January 2007, my mom's house caught on fire and she lost everything. Thankful she and my brother were not harmed but they do about 80% of everything they owned. The fire started in the garage so my mom lost everything she had in storage, including all her pics and photo albums.

She often talks about how disappointed she is that she doesn't have any pictures left of me as a child.

Her birthday is Thursday and with the help of my dad and aunt (along with Shutterfly and Walgreen's!), I have been able to reproduce about 400 family pics for her. Pictures of not only me and my brother but of her parent's, her siblings and lots of my cousins. It's been really fun going down my own memory lane as I look through all these photos. I am really excited to give her these pics. I hope she is excited about it too. I'm looking forward to going through the pictures and talking about old times with her later this week.

I won't have been able to do with the help of my user-friendly computer scanner!

Monday, March 21, 2011

79 Days of Gratitude and Thanks - Day 1, Madison Elizabeth Prescott

As I start my 79 day journey of graditude and thanks, I'd be remissed not to start with Madison Elizabeth Prescott as this process is really in rememberance of her.

I am blessed to be a mom and am blessed to have been a mom here on Earth to Madison for 79 days. More than anything, I am amazed at what I have learned in her death. Graditude, appreciation and thanks for the people, adventures and success I have in my life. Losing a child is the worse tradegy any parent can face and it has taken me a long to get to this point. Also know that I am not a saint and sometimes, in the face of anger, disappointment and frustration, I forget to be grateful.

I certainly wish I could go back in time and freeze all the moments I had with Madison. But, I can't. I can, however, think with love and fondness for the moments and adventures we did have together. My favorite moments were of her sleeping on my chest, watching her listen to the campus radio station (alternative rock and top 40 were her favorite) and when she wore her sunglasses!
I am grateful to have spent Mother's Day with her and having her at Sean's college graduation.
After Madison passed away a spent a lot of hours being pissed of at the world and being frustrated with the problems that people were complaining about. One night I was having dinner with a work colleague and said something like "I'm so tired of my students complaining about xyz thing. They should just get over it and be thankful that this is the least of their problems. I know what real problems are!" And my work colleague turned to me and said "Aren't you thankful that this is their only problem? That they haven't faced such tragedy and that their problems are so small." Reality hit me at that moment! I was thankful that they hadn't experience such pain in their life. When you suddenly stop living in a land of pity and anger, you're life changes unimaginably.
Madison's life and death also reminded me that life was way to short and certainly not promised to anyone. It's easy to say those things but to live a life philosophy like that is not always easy. It's easy to get caught up in work, stress and the routine of life but when you suddenly slow down, listen to what really makes you happy and move in a direction to enjoy life (not just survive it) - wow!!
So here it is the start of my gratitude journey. I hope over the next 79 days to not only remind myself of the big thanks in my life but to each day find a simple joy (or moment) that makes me smile and be appreciative. Tonight I painted Samantha's toe nails and afterwards she said "Thank you, mommy! I love you. Give me kiss." She then grabbed my face by the cheeks and kissed me. It's a new snapshot in my memory rolladeck. One that I will carry with me always.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 21, 2001 & March 21, 2007 - love at first sight

Tomorrow is March 21...

On this day in 2001 my brother Alex was born. Until that day, I had lived as an only child. It's still hard to imagine that here I was a month away from turning 24 and here was my brother. For those of you who don't know, my mom had me when she was only 16 so for her to have my brother when she was 40 really isn't all that uncommon. I always wanted to have siblings. I have always loved kids, spent most of my teen years babysitting and would have given anything to have a brother or sister. It was quite an unexpected shock when my mom find out she was pregnant. She actually thought she was going through "the change" early. Well, her life did change and so did mine. I was fortunate enough to be in the delivery room when my brother was born. The moment I saw him for the first time, a feeling of warmth came over me. I remember it so vividly because in that instant, I said to myself "this is what love at first sight feels like." Up until that moment, honest to God, I didn't believe in love at first sight.

Having a brother 23 years younger than me has been quite an adventure. I sometimes worry about him as if he was my own son. I worry about the kind of person he will become, if he will find his own path in life and, above all, be blessed with all the happiness in the world. Though I would never wish anything bad to happen to my mom or his dad, it is there in the back of my mind that if something should ever happen to them - I would become responsible for him. Before Sean and I got married, this is actually something we discussed. Make sure that he knew should anything ever happened, we could be raising my brother. It is sometimes interesting to see the world through the eyes of soon to be 9 year old. He's starting to develop his own way for doing things and starting to find really joy and passion in lots of different things. At the same time, he is a boy through and through. Alex is very smart, loves music, video games and baseball. He also had a girlfriend in the 2nd grade!

On this day in 2007, Madison Elizabeth Prescott was born and my life would never be the same! I actually find out I was pregnant two weeks after I had started my nw job at NW and Sean & I had agreed to have a long distance marriage for 8 months as he finished up undergrad. It was completely unplanned and the timing was really bad. Two weeks after I confirmed the pregnancy, I almost lost her. I had a severe tear in the placenta and experienced a temendous amount of blood lose. Somehow, she and I made it through. The rest of my pregnacy was filled with quite a bit of stress (new job, long distance marriage, & my mom's house caught on fire in Jan 07) and I always worried about it and what it was doing to her. Thankfully, we made it through all nine months. The week before Madison was born, I went in for my last check-up and my doctor scheduled me for induction on March 21. I couldn't believe it - the same day as my brother's birthday!

My induction was filled with several complications resulting in an emergency c-section and needing to be put completely out during the delivery. It all happened so quickly that I remember very few details. I do remember slowly coming to in recovery and the nurses telling me how beautiful and healthy she was. I cried because I was so happy and relieved that she was okay. If you didn't know, it is very dangerous to be out during delivery.

Seeing her for the first time was magical! She was so beautiful. Love at first sight for the second time in my life - how blessed was I! And seeing Sean hold her and love her, made me love him just a little bit more. At the time of her birth, he & I were going through a LOT of life changes and had a LOT of challenges and obstacles we were trying to cross. Somehow with her, though, our life seemed better and provided us with a purpose.
Sean & I had named her Madison because that was the name of the resturant where we first met. Elizabeth is both our mother's middle names. It was all perfect.

As everyone whose reading this knows though, it didn't end perfectly. Earlier this weekend, I had my melt down. I have shed several tears over the course of the last three days (as I have done for the last 3 years during this time of the year). It's really the anticipation that's the worse. March 21 is fine - it's just the waiting and wondering before it that's the most painful. It's also difficult because it's hard for me to focus to my brother's birthday without being sad, hurt and/or pissed off that I'm not celebrating Madison's birthday too. I'm continuing to work on that one. I know has my brother gets older he will come to understand my struggle. He loved Madison so much (and still does). My mom told me a story a few months ago about him introducing Madison to a friend that was staying over for the first time. He was showing his friend around their house and came to some photos of Madison. Alex said "this is my niece Madison. She lives in Heaven now but I can't wait to see her again."
The biggest difficulty comes over the next 79 days - waiting until June 8. I will never be able to think about her birthday and not think about 79 days later. The two will always be connected.
This year, I have a plan though. The next 79 days on my blog will be dedicated to finding and celebrating something each day that I am thankful and/or grateful for. For better or worse, March 21 has given me so much - a brother whom I adore; a daughter who helped show me the way to gratitude; and the ability to believe in love at first sight...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Catching up on the blog...

So it's been almost a month since my last entry. It feels like nothing much was really happened but at the same time oh so much as happened in the last four weeks. Valentine's Day came and went. Sean & I didn't do anything for each other but we had a blast getting ready for Samantha's Valentine's day party at Day Care. Because we have been watching our money so carefully (and the fact that Samantha is two and so are her friends), we went with a homemade Valentine's for your classmates. I had some card stick and foam hearts in my craft bin so we made butterflies for the girls and caterpillar's for the boys. Samantha colored in the back of each card and picked out the foam pieces. I had all the ingredients for short bread cookies so I tired my hand that them. (Picture) They came out so cute and were very tasty. I had a few problems with the dough but eventually after a few hours it came together. I was actually really pleased with myself. Sean and I decorated them on Saturday night once Samantha went to bed. It was randomly a lot of fun. It's one of those moments were I was able to find simple pleasure with my husband. It was really nice. When Samantha woke up on Sunday and saw the cookies, she squealed with delight. It was too cute. When I started making these cookies, I couldn't stop. They were mini hearts and I needed to use up the dough. 14 dozen cookies later - we were done. Samantha loved Valentine's Day. She got to give all of her friends treat bags with cookies in them & a personally designed card. Not too bad for a homemade Valentine's Day. Oh, and she got to wear her new dress - which she LOVED!
The following weekend we headed east on a road trip so I could work on my mom's 50th birthday present. I can't give all the details as she may be following this blog and I want it to be a surprise. I'll post pictures and blog more about it after March 24.
The next weekend, it snowed pretty bad. I was at the Lake of the Ozarks on Friday for a retreat and Sean has at a training in KC on Saturday. We barely saw each other that weekend. I did have a great time at the retreat though. I drive down to the Lake with my co-worker Rose, who's company I'm really starting to enjoy outside of the office. She a lot of fun and she makes me laugh! We think alike about family things and it's nice to have a colleague who can be a friend out of work. The retreat was for a state conference I am chairing. It's actually my second year chairing the conference but last Fall I literally took it over 7-8 weeks before the actually conference. I was blessed with a super great time to pull it off but am I SUPER excited to have 8-9 months to plan it this year. I really enjoy the experience and it helps to fulfill one of my passions - event planning!
Let's see the weekend after that (the first weekend in March), I worked all weekend. Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
And, now...BOOM - it's March 8!
In between the weekends, I have managed to start Zumba classes. Thanks to a gift from my dad, I got a 10 visit pass and have been enjoying every class I can attend. I've been telling everyone about Zumba. I just love it. I have no rhythm and I can't keep up with step but I still love it. I leave each class dripping in sweat and I have a lot of fun doing it. I haven't gotten to as many classes as I would like but I try to get to them on Mondays and Wednesdays. If I can, I try to walk on Tuesdays and Thursday. I've lost a few more pounds. Nothing major but ever few pounds adds up. I am suppose to have a fitting next weekend for a bridesmaid's dress and I was hoping to be at -75 by then. It may not happen 100% but I would certainly be okay with a -70 total weight loss. We'll see...I just keep pushing forward and keep working on the best possible me.