Wednesday, May 20, 2015

To My Sister On Her Last Day of High School

Lilly,

It's crazy to think that tomorrow morning you will walk out the door to go to high school one last time. It may sound cliche, but it seems like just yesterday we were wearing our dad's big t-shirts as pajamas and making farm animal noises together in the living room. Even though that was 15 years ago, it actually sounds like it could have happened yesterday. I guess we're weird like that.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about how you're graduating from high school, and what that means. For me it meant a chance to finally escape a place I wasn't too crazy about. I was ready to go find whatever was out there for me. I'm not entirely sure what your intentions are after high school, but I know that whatever you do, you'll do it well, and you'll do it with your entire heart. That's how you've always done things.

In high school you tried different sports and managed to enjoy and be successful at every one. That's something to be proud of. You've made many friendships; some of those friendships won't last past graduation Sunday. Others may surprise you and go all the way. Either way, know that every relationship and friendship you've had thus far has impacted your life in some way, good or bad. Each and every one will always be a part of you -- whoever you want to be.

That's the beautiful thing about graduating high school. It's your time. You get to call the shots and make decisions that will have a huge impact on your life. I know that sounds scary, but just take each one a day at a time, one at a time, and it won't be so scary after all.

Being almost seven years apart in age has made for a interesting dynamic between the two of us. And I know how you are, the last thing you probably want is advice from your big sister. But you've made this far into the letter, and whether or not you want to hear it, here's some things I wish someone would have told me seven years ago.

No single mistake will define you as a person. I've made plenty of mistakes. Some are obvious, some you don't even know about. But I truly believe that each one has happened for a reason and has gotten me to where I am. And I'm happy where I am. Which leads me to...

Everything is temporary. If you're not happy where you are, change it! If you can't change it right now, try to change your perspective and give it time. 


If you work hard and treat people with respect, life will do good on you. I can't stress this enough. Now is the time to put all your effort in yourself, whatever you want to work on. Whether that's finding a new hobby, devoting yourself to school, or looking deeper and really trying to figure out what you want out of your life, work hard at it. Treat others only with kindness, and it will all come back to you.

Finally, if you ever need anything, know that you can count on your big sister. I know you've got a lot of pride and you're not usually one to reach out for help, but I'm telling you it's OK. Take mom and dad's advice seriously, too. They've been there, and they only want what's best for you. Same goes for me. If you ever need to vent, scream, cry, anything, I've got your back. Why? Because I love you and I have to do those same damn things myself. Sometimes all of them in a single day. It's part of being human, and it's OK.

There are a million other pieces of advice I could give you, but I have to leave some things for you to figure out on your own. And you will. You'll learn it the hard way, the easy way, and sometimes you won't know you learned it until much later down the line. And that's OK. Everyone moves at their own pace, and everything happens to people at different times. Never compare your life or your happiness to what someone else appears to have. They don't show the whole story, and your story is just as important. Be true to yourself always.

I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished in your life. I am so eager to see what life has in store for you. I am eager to watch you go out and claim a life of your own. Always know how much I love you and that I'm always here for you.

Go get 'em, kid.

Love,
Big Missy

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Power of an Animal's Love

5/14/15

I had a panic attack just the other day.

I've had them before, so it didn't really come as a surprise. However, I struggled to wrangle this one in and calm down for a couple of reasons. It was the first one I had had in a long time, and it was incredibly frustrating to deal with for that reason.

As I sat alone in my bedroom trying to breathe and stop the tears, my little anxious friend, my cat, came running into the room. He made a deep noise in his throat, as if to warn me he was entering the room, then jumped up onto the bed with me. He sat there for a moment, scanning me, as if to see what was going on. When our eyes met, he moved forward and sat in my lap. He instantly started purring and pushing his head against my hand. I soon realized he wanted me to pet him.

As I stroked his body, his purrs became more and more pronounced. But I found that each time I pet him, my breathing was slowing down. My heart rate was decreasing. My cat, who gets skittish and anxious whenever there's a small commotion in the house, was helping me through my own anxieties. I continued to pet him as his purrs continued and my worries subsided.

After a few minutes I started to feel better and I started to walk out of the room to pace around the house for a bit. That's something that always makes me feel better. He was quickly on my tail, and he even let me scoop him up and hold him. He continued to purr and look at me with concerned eyes. For the rest of the evening he stayed close to me. I'd even occasionally catch him watching me. He slept particularly close to me that night. I couldn't believe that he was really looking out for me like this in my time of need. It was incredible. The relationship you can have with a pet is truly incredible.

On paper it may look like I rescued my cat by adopting him from a shelter a year ago. But in reality, he's really been saving me.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

For Momma

I love my momma.

Some of my earliest memories involve my momma. When I was young she had long, brown hair that cascaded down the length of her back. I remember riding in the backseat of her car and passing cassette tapes, like Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell," up to her. I think fondly on all the time she spent as a room mom, a Girl Scout volunteer, a wise parent and an overall tough lady. My mom has been there for me every second of my life since the day I was born.

I consider myself to be very lucky for that.

Now that I've been moved out on my own, I think my relationship with my mother is stronger than ever. I find myself emulating her (intentionally or not) and I'm not embarrassed to admit it. I'm proud. Although I may have questioned things about my mother when I was younger, I know that taking after her now is be the smart thing to do.

When I was a child I could never understand why we hardly spent time with extended family. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that all of my cousins were together on the holidays, but my family spent time alone. As I got older I began to understand that decision, and I now know it was the right choice for her family. She's always been a fierce protector of us.

If I were to pinpoint the biggest lesson my mother taught me, it would have to be love. My mother taught me how to love through her love of family and animals. And by being at every event, congratulating me on every award, and supporting every decision I have made, she has showed me unconditional love. And she still does that every day to this day. 

She has taught me the importance of family and working hard. I think of lessons I've learned from my mother along the way and they definitely shape my decisions and my life. I wouldn't be half the woman I am today if I didn't have such a strong, independent, smart and beautiful woman as my role model for the past 24 years. I don't know who I'd be.

Thank you for everything, momma. Thank you for being able to make the tough choices. Thank you for putting every ounce of you into the love you have for your children and husband. The way you love your family makes me want one of my own even more. I hope that someday I can be half the wife and mother you are. I know I've learned so much just by watching you.

I love you so much, Mom. I hope you always know that.

Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Livin' on Love

5/6/15

Sometimes I only have a few dollars to my name.

It's frightening. I see my bank account dwindling and dwindling as each bill gets paid, and I wonder how it's possible to always break even. The anxiety that forms from this situation actually keeps me up at night sometimes. But I'm only 24 years old, so I have this hope inside that things will work out. Maybe just not today.

My fiance just started a good job, which should help. Between the two of us we manage to pay bills, keep food in our bellies and take care of our cats. But when you're trying to do more, like save for a wedding, it's downright depressing. It's hard to have hopes and goals when every few weeks you figuratively take out a hammer and break the jar where you've been storing your savings. Car trouble? Smash. Paycheck showed up late? Smash.

Luckily, I live with someone who I consider my rock. He is the one who keeps me sane; I wonder what corner I'd be sitting in, crying, if it wasn't for him. He reminds me that this, like most things, is only temporary. We'll get back on our feet. We are young and there is still so much more in store for us. That means a lot. That glimmer of hope keeps us moving on: working hard, cashing paychecks and sitting tight until we're in a better spot.

In the meantime I look at wedding ideas but the concept is bittersweet. It's difficult when someone asks how wedding planning is going when you can't even realistically tell which year you'll be able to afford it, let alone which date. And it's not as if we want anything extravagant; it's just that things add up.

But once again, it all comes back to my rock. I am lucky to wait it out by his side. We may have tough times now, but he's the one I'd want to have them with. We may have not always had things handed to us and we may not have the best of luck, but we are appreciate people and hard workers. That's something that will never change and that's why this relationship will thrive and survive. I hold him a little tighter knowing that it'll all work out somehow. I truly believe that if you work hard and treat people right, life will do good on you. So for now we just keep pushing on and we'll see what happens.