Tag Archives: gratitude

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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The slow down bug

I fell victim to it. Just like we’ve all fallen victim to it before. And I can guarantee that I hated it just as intensely as the rest of us.

Yup. I fell victim to the stomach bug. On the morning of Easter Sunday, nonetheless.

Uh. Excuse me while I shiver away the nightmares of this past week.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t just the illness that threw me for a loop, it was the anxiety that came with it. Because it threw off my plans, took me out of work for a few days, and made me wonder if I was even born with an immune system to begin with (it’s been a rough year in the sickness department for me).

While I cannot express how grateful I am for a supportive boyfriend who took care of me every day, a twin sister who hand-delivered an ice pack for my aching muscles, and my “Mama Saint” for bringing me bread to make toast, it was still a long few days.

Today, however, was the first day that I went back into work (and the first day I went outside for that matter). But even running one errand in the morning and then walking into work was enough to make me ready for a nap.

I was exhausted. Correction: I am exhausted.

My body has been in shambles for four days and it felt like I was just learning how to use my legs again.

But as I made it through the day, a pretty little lesson slapped me upside the head: slow down.

And not just today, but across the board. I really need to take a step back and slow down. We all need to every once in awhile.

I need to slow down so I can boost my energy and my immune system back up.

I need to slow down so I can re-prioritize my overall well-being and reduce my anxiety (aka, get my butt back to yoga and meditation).

I need to slow down so I can swap my cell phone for a book (damn you, iPhone).

Heck, I need to slow down so I can write more frequently! I hate when I look at my blog and realize a few months have gone by since my last post. Although i’m doing more journaling and freelance writing now (which I love!), this is an important outlet for me, too.

Honestly, I just need to slow down so I can be happier, healthier and make more time for the things that truly fulfill me.

And if it took being sick on Easter Sunday to teach me that, then so be it.

Lesson learned, stomach bug. Lesson learned.




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