Category Archives: Matters of the Heart

Something old

2018 was one of the more ‘solid’ years i’ve had in awhile. It of course had its ups and downs, but it was a year that had me feeling like, well, me. I felt in my own skin more than not, and that was a feeling I want to continue to nourish.

I started a new job at my old company, Creative Circle, and am on a great path with my career. I’m surrounded by people who are creative, smart, kind, and who make me want to do better work each day.

This year I also continued to have the privilege of coaching my old high school cheerleading team. It’s the most challenging job i’ve ever had, but it is easily the most rewarding. I love those girls to pieces and I love watching them grow, both as athletes and as people.

In the past year, a fire has started to burn inside of them. They know they can compete against other incredible teams and hold their own. They know they can go out there and show people how talented and capable they are.

And even though working with a group of teenagers can be tough, it’s pushed me to continue to develop myself as a coach and as a person. I’ve certainly had my own ups and downs, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a better person because of my experience as a coach. It pushes me to my brink and challenges me to my core, but it brings out so much passion in me that each day i’m overwhelmingly grateful to have this specific opportunity with the old program that raised me.

Most important of all, I spent a lot of time this year with the same friends and family who i’ve had in my corner for too many years to count. My boyfriend and I have now been together for a solid three years, and the foundation we’ve built in that time is more fulfilling than anything i’ve ever known.

I’ve been proactive in spending quality “gal pal” time with some of the most genuine friends I could have ever asked for. My family continues to find ways to be grateful for one another and the life we’ve been given no matter what the circumstances are. We have each others backs and always say “I love you” to one another… what more could I ask for?

So at a time where many are focused on being a “new” version of themselves, or adding “new” goals onto their plates, perhaps it’s just as important that we focus on the old… the familiar.

Let’s be honest about our expectations for ourself, stay close to what already feels good, get rid of what doesn’t serve us, and remember that sometimes finding the best version of yourself doesn’t require you to add on “new” things, it just requires you to look deep inside at what’s been there all along.

xo

 

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What else?

Tomorrow marks four years since my brother passed away by suicide. And as I write that first sentence, I can’t help but feel like I’ve written it before.

And quite honestly, it’s probably because I have. Well, sort of.

You see, each year on the anniversary of his passing, I’ve had this gut-wrenching push to use the cathartic outlet of writing to find a lesson amidst the mess.

I’ve talked about the traumatizing grieving process and the message he always said that is still stuck with me, how we must push ourselves to keep going, remind ourselves that life is truly of the essence, and to lean into our feelings, even when it’s challenging.

But this year, i’m frustrated. Because after four years, it’s exhausting to have this be “my story”.

Maybe it’s my own fault, but I don’t want to just be the girl whose brother passed away by suicide. I don’t want to be the one who has triggers that bring me to tears. I don’t want to be the one who’s hyper-aware of mental health issues in today’s society and how they impact every single person. Yes – every. single. person. But I am.

But here’s what else I am…

I’m a daughter to parents who still get up every single day, make the most of the crap hand that’s been dealt to them, and who still give their heart and soul to three daughters and countless others. They are warriors and I am in awe of their ability to continually push forward, no matter how small the steps can sometimes feel.

I’m a sister to my twin sister Emily and my older sister Mary, who have gotten me through more rough days than I can count. They remind me to be kind to others, not to be scared to discuss the “stigma’, and to fight for a cause that’s so much bigger than ourselves and our family. They are the glue that often holds me together and the light at the end of what can often be a very dark tunnel.

I’m a girlfriend to a hilarious, hardworking, dream of a man. We have goals for our lives individually, and exciting plans for the life that we’re building together. We prioritize our happiness, laugh often, and bond over the sting of losing someone too soon. He makes the good days great and the bad days bearable, and I truly feel he’s the counterpart I’ve always hoped to have by my side.

I’m a coach to a team of goofy, driven, potential-filled cheerleaders who time and time again lift me up without even realizing it. They’ve helped me share my passion for not only the sport, but for everything it stands for: teamwork, confidence building, and achieving a common goal that you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into.

I’m also a friend, a coworker, a writer, a book worm, a wanderer, a loyal sports fan, a college graduate, a former Buffalo and Chicago resident, a heartfelt fan of Friendsgiving, and most importantly, a family girl.

So while I am certainly someone who constantly misses her brother to tears, I am also much more than that.

I tell you this to make you realize that you can be defined by more than one circumstance.

You can miss people and still live with proud moments and a full heart.

You can fall on your face and still stand back up.

You can make terrible mistakes and still put the pieces back together.

Yes, there are some circumstances that will partially shape and define your story. We all have them.

But I urge you, push you, beg you to try and think beyond those circumstances and ask yourself, “what else makes me who I am?”

Think long and think hard. Put your heart into the reflection of it all. Lose the guilt. Be honest with yourself.

What else?

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