Grateful 365 #45 – Love

loveHappy Valentine’s Day! Over the years, this holiday and I have had a strange relationship. I recall one time when I had a Valentine, and it was very nice. The funny thing is that I remember the Valentine’s Day I spent downing monsters in the Plague Wing with my guild on WoW better. Why? Because everyone was far more surprised by the latter and so I wound up discussing, thinking about, and writing on it.

I like Valentine’s Day. I think it’s an awesome time to appreciate your loved ones- romantic, platonic, and familial. I like to take a moment to reflect on all the love that I’ve recieved over the years. The family that raised me. The friends that supported me. The people who believe in me and stand by me day by day.lifelove

If we’re going to get romantic, I’m grateful for every moment I spent in a relationship. I’m glad I had those experiences and got to know those people better. I hope I’ve learned from each attempt so that if and when it’s time to give it a go again, I can do so a wiser, stronger person.

So today I’m grateful for love in all it’s many splendid forms and all the faces it’s worn in my life.

I hope everyone out there has a beautiful day filled with love!

~all the love~

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Grateful 365 #26 – My Family

Family.

famcropNo one would be who they are without them. Some families are big. Some are small. Some are complicated or troubled. I could reflect for hours on how amazing families are as a social institution or how even the worst of families can still have astoundingly positive ramifications…

Today isn’t about all families though. Today is a moment for me to try to put into words what makes my heart swell with pride and warmth when I think about my family.

I was fortunate enough to be born into a happy, well-to-do home with two parents who never made any secret of their love for me. I enjoy saying that I’m the direct result of a musical actress-teacher and a New York ex-hippie English major. I feel that describes a lot, actually.cher and meg in da woods

As it is with most people, the pair that created me have long, fascinating histories of their own and I’ll need to reign myself in here to avoid my usual verbosity. In a nutshell, they were both, at their core teachers. Teachers, in my eyes, are special breed of people. Teachers are people with passion and a generous nature that wants to share that passion with others. My dad loves Shakespeare, old science fiction, civil war history, and all manner of comedies. My mother loved music, performance, and art in general. They both showed me what it was to have firm beliefs, but open minds and hearts. They both showed me all the joy in life and all the wonder of imagination. They taught me strength in every single way the word can be interpreted.Dad2

And that’s in a nutshell.

579689_10150802767576881_1306537912_nI have an older sister and although we grew close at an older age than most, there’s no doubt that we’re blood. We have the same laugh and a scarily (awesome) sense of humor. Simone has a kind heart and more talent in a variety of areas then most would know what to do with! Like most little sisters, I look up to her and hold her as my inspiration. She never gives up, always seems upbeat, and always puts her loved ones first, even when it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Both my mother and father have sisters, and that means that I have aunts, uncles, and nephews.

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The Soderstroms on my mother’s side have always been extremely close. Their oldest son, Henrik, is like a brother to me. We grew up together and share a lot of similar tastes in art and comedy to this day. Aunt Bonnie has been a second mother to me even before mom was lost to us and my Uncle Chris was as wise and kind as his wit was dry. My younger cousins, Didrik and Ulrik, came later and as time has passed, I’ve grown closer to botrh as well. It’s incredible how much talent, optimism, and humor this family has. They suffered an enormous loss when Uncle Chris passed away, but demonstrated to everyone the strength of their faith and the power of their love.

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The Straubs on my father’s side have taught me so much as well. In addition to sharing the “Waddell” humor, they have lived through so many struggles without losing spirit, hope, or optimism. Aunt Anne solidily demonstrates what it means to turn a tough situation into something that’s not only positive, but that benefits others as well. I can’t remember a time when Uncle David or my cousins, Matthew and Andrew, didn’t light the room up with laughter.

When we lost my mother to cancer, the world imploded for a little while. My father led me through loss and showed me how to grieve with hope.

Daddy and MarjoryI will tangent a moment and say that while many friends become family over time, there is a specific feeling of total acceptance, love, warmth, and belonging that I have always associated with my immediate family. It’s the same principal as old friends sharing so much of their memories and history that letting go or walking away isn’t even an option. Family, to me, is binding and immortal.

So when I say that years later my father introduced me to a member of our family that I couldn’t possibly imagine not having in my life, I mean just that. I have often struggled with what to call her in the third person because, to me “stepmother” heralds in awful Cinderallic thoughts and just seems…cold. Instead I’ve resolved within myself to call her my “mother-in-law,” if the need for titles arises– even if I need to give a few extra lines of explaination. Words matter to me, and there is nothing ‘step’ about our relationship or the level of regard I hold her in.

My dad has great taste, what can I say? :)Marjory and Judy

In a nutshell, Marjory is the epitome of compassion, loyalty, and justice. If that sounds like some superhero tag line, it might as well be. In a world where many nod their heads solemnly at the mention of the underprivileged and beleaguered yet do nothing, a great portion of her life has been dedicated to setting such things right. I have learned, laughed, and loved with her in the years we’ve known each other and am always left in awe of her amazing balance of strength and warmth.

I have more family then that as well! Simone brought Sue into the fold; Marjory brought Judy, Mark, and their kids as well as her son’s family; Henrik is bringing Dottie;Didrik is bringing Ashley; and Matthew has gotten engaged~! It’s exciting to gain sisters, brothers, and nephews as the years go by…but going further will have to wait for another day.

HenrikDottieMeAfterall, this is the abridged version of my family and there’s still so much more that I want to say. What words can thank a group of people for a legacy of laughter and optimism and a lifetime of love and support? How do you phrase a gratitude when those you’re thanking are the same ones who gave you the disposition to appreciate everything good in the world?

I love my family. I wouldn’t be me without them. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I wouldn’t be.
More than that, I’m proud of my family and feel blessed to know them. Individually, they are all amazing, inspiring people, and together there is no greater feeling of homecoming, welcome, and joy.

So today, and everyday, I’m grateful for my family.

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #25 – Pictures

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I can’t help but hear “Look at this photograph/ everytime it almost makes me laugh” playing in my head right now.

Thanks for that, Nickleback.

Between yesterday and today, I have done an awful lot of looking at pictures. Old pictures. New pictures. I even combined and altered some pictures.
They’re amazing things though when you think about it. Each one is like a flat solidified memory. A captured fragment of time that you can relive whether you were there or not.PictureWall

I’ve become a regular paparazzi lately, but it’s exactly for this reason that I’ve become so adamant about keeping a record of times shared.
You know how people say that if you smile at someone, they can’t help but smile back? Same thing applies with pictures. Whether it’s me smiling, or us smiling, or someone else entirely smiling, I can’t help but echo that sentiment.

Each picture is a little window to happiness.

So I’m grateful for pictures and all the people they show.

~all the love~

365 Grateful #2 – Home

Today was chemo, and as such involved leaving the house early and returning relatively drained.

However, perhaps there’s no better time to appreciate something like the meaning of “home” then when you yearn for it the most.

Home is many things to many people, and none of them wrong.

daddymarjoryOften home for me is where my family is. Where my parents, aunt, cousins, or sister are.  These people know me on a level where they’ve watched me become what I am. There’s no need to impress or tread lightly. They love me with a generosity and understanding that is worthy of it’s own post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes it’s with my friends, and the feeling is much the same. While 1465764_10102762320354710_496643496_othe time may not extend as far into the past, these are the people that turn the unknown into the present with me. Who hold and support me and laugh and cry with me. These are the family I choose as I go forward in life, and sometimes being in the company of ridiculous jokes, silly smiles, or bizarre banter feels like ointment on a raw wound of solitude.

 

 

 

 

MegCampThose people and work, the humdrum productiveness of feeling like I’m supposed to be where I am and that I’m good at what I do… The laughter of children and the sensation of water against my skin or a clipboard in my hand… I’m already starved for it from the break, and can only imagine how great walking through the doors of the Swim Academy will be once I arrive back next week…

Sometimes it’s a house or an area or nostalgia or freedom or safety. I love crossing the Florida border and seeing the slow take-over of the roadside by palm trees. I feel most peaceful when walking (preferably the shoreline of a beach) at night.

 

 

Yes, that is my bed. Yes, that makes home twice as awesome! :)

Yes, that is my bed. Yes, that makes home twice as awesome! :)

Today, it happens to be my roommates- not necessarily their presence, but the awareness that they’re in the same space. The comfort of knowing that, should something go awry, I have hands to hold and hugs to gather.

Today home happens to be my closed door, my cats, and my bed. Today home is a warm, safe, isolated, furry fortress. Home includes the security that once I get there I get to stop for the day. I get to be done. I get to rest and heal.

Today home is the finish line and I know it’s only time and a car ride away.

 

Home in all it’s facets is a wonderful thing. I can’t wait to arrive. :)

~all the love~