Family

Beam of Light – Katie M.

My sweet, sweet friend submitted this year’s first entry to the Give Light Giveaway.  Boom.

Katie M. 

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Hi again friends! If you don’t know me, I’m Katie. I’m a late twenty-something trying to take daily steps towards something beautiful, both in myself and in life. I’ll never say no to sushi, chocolate, hugs, or a trip to a coffee shop. Make me laugh or laugh at my jokes, and we’ll be fast friends.

I am very excited to participate again in this life-giving idea of giving light. I decided to take a different approach from my last submission and draw out a few of the things that have given me light recently. You may need to zoom in 🙂

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You can follow Katie on her blog Live Step By Step. She’s also previously contributed to 52 Beautiful Things here  & here.

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions until December 31st. 

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Giving Light – Alice M.

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Hi!  My name is Alice. When we were a family of 2, 5 years ago, we moved to Colorado so my husband could attend school at CSU. And I was lucky enough to meet Katie!  While in Colorado we grew to a family of 3, and have since moved to Rhode Island and become a family of 4!

Here are 5 things that bring light to my life…

1. My Family!

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My family is my heart and my soul; my guts my breath, my everything. There really are just no words…

2. The Time We Spent in Colorado 

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I had previously only lived in Virginia and living in Fort Collins opened my life up to how wonderful it can be to explore and live in a new place. Our time there was beautiful and forever changed me.

3. Down time!  Who knew!? 

Few things rejuvenate me more than just having down time…either sitting on my couch in my cozy clothes watching something or relaxing with a book in a coffee shop.  It doesn’t happen much, but when it does, it’s a beautiful thing!

4. Making new friends, and my beautiful friends I have known forever and met along the way. 

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I’ve been very lucky to have great friends;  I am beyond fortunate for the friends we have made as the result of our moves who I know are now life long friends.  Also for the wonderful people who love my children.

5. Christmas Lights!

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Okay, maybe I’m being influenced by the time of year, but nonetheless, Christmas lights make me silly happy!  And so far no where we have lived does Christmas lights like Richmond VA!

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway.

52 Thankfuls

52 Things to Be Thankful For This Year (in no particular order)

1. My Husband

2. My Mom, My Brother, My In-laws

3. The Legacy My Dad Created

4. Kleenex Tissues

5. Travel

6.  Soft Slippers

7.  Friends who wipe your snot, pick up the phone, rub your back

8.  Writing

9. Lawn Furniture

10. Access to Resources

11. Mentors

12. God’s Grace

13. Photographs

14. My Puppy

15. The Mountains

16. Traditions

17. My Tribe

18.  Learning How to Make Pie Crust

19. Fancy Shampoo

20. Flannel Sheets

21. Wineries

22. Sunday Night Dinner

23. Sunday Football

24. Floral Arrangements

25. Tapas

26. Starbucks

27. Time to Grieve

28. Time to Laugh

29. The SNL Election Skits

30. Snail Mail

31. Oatmeal for Breakfast

32. Text Messages

33. Second Chances

34. Riding Bikes

35. Bitmoji

36. Self-Care Days

37. Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show

38. Treats – Cheese Danishes, Chocolate Covered Almonds, Peanut Butter Cups

39. Natural Hot Springs

40. Massages

41. Coupons

42. God’s Provision

43. Fires in the Backyard

44. Tea Before Bed

45. Essie Nail Polish

46. My Cousins

47.  Worship Songs – Particularly This One

48.  Clean Water

49. Our Caretakers

50. All the People who Brought Lasagna – Every Single One of You.

51. Being Brave Enough to Start Over

52. Patience

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. What are you thankful for this year?

52 Thankfuls

 

52 Beautiful Things to Be Thankful For (in no particular order)

  1. My husband
  2. It’s snowing!
  3. My mom, my dad, my brother
  4. My in-laws
  5. The big front window in our living room that lets in light while we watch the world go by
  6. I was taught to cook
  7. I have a job
  8. Coloring books and Prismacolor Pencils
  9. Coffee – always, always coffee
  10. Slippers
  11. Growing Opportunities – even when they are so uncomfortable you think you might burst
  12. Our new house
  13. Old friends – the ones you’ve known since braces and pimples and your future was predicted in a game of MASH
  14. New friends – the people ushering you in to the next stage of who you are meant to be in the world.
  15. White wine
  16. I live in Colorado
  17. I have a college degree – Go Buffs!
  18. Essie Nail Polish
  19. Rest Days
  20. Yoga
  21. Sunshine
  22. Do-Overs
  23. Biscotti
  24. The Mountains
  25. Fireplaces
  26. Heat
  27. People who write books
  28. Books
  29. People who read my blog
  30. I was born in America
  31. Fancy breakfast – Eggs Benedict Please
  32. I can still hang out in the house I grew up in
  33. Bicycles
  34. Hard Work – it means our efforts matter
  35. Mentors
  36. Craft Beer
  37. The Internet
  38. Family Traditions
  39. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  40. Clean, running water
  41. Fresh Flowers
  42. Prayer
  43. Creatives
  44. Roots & Wings
  45. Crock Pots
  46. Modern Medicine
  47. Writing
  48. Pens – fine point, black ink
  49. Dylan’s handyman skills
  50. Happy Hour
  51. Lifelong Learning
  52. New Beginnings

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. I hope you find something to be thankful for today!

All the Tricky Things

I’m a quote gal, what can I say? I came across this one this week, and thought dang Sylvia, you are spot on. “…Doing all the little tricky things it takes to grow up, step by step, into an anxious and unsettling world.” – Sylvia Plath

That is the process, isn’t it, of step-by-step explorations into who you want to be each day. You have to be brave enough to stand in the unsettledness, and accept with an open heart, maybe all this unsettledness is the only thing we can count on. One never is really arriving, but instead is dancing, prancing, grieving, smiling, aching, laughing, loving through each phase. I was talking to Dylan this week about that myth of arrival. I thought you would just, ya know, find a job, meet your co-workers, settle into your role for the next few years, and never imagined that maybe life would throw curve balls, or your friends would move, or your parents would sell your childhood home. That there would be beauty in loss, and the shedding of skin and the ability to stand as you are, letting go of what used to be.  You go through the natural transitions of growing up, coaxed through the programs and the academics, and are launched into the believing in yourself environment. That phase takes a hell of a lot of courage – especially in the fog of all of the fears that our society invites us to participate in.

I never imagined this process of blogging to be so vulnerable. There is something risky, I know, of being myself in cyber space. Of admitting challenges, or insecurities, or tiny victories along the way – oh my heart, you have been kind when you lay it all out there. To those I make uncomfortable, skip ahead to this blog post – “The One Where I Talk About “Friends” To those who can relate, thanks for reading. Let’s connect over coffee for I long to hear “me too.”

This week beauty surrounded me in the celebration of my dad. He had his birthday and invited us to play pool and ping pong and eat snacky junk food in a bar. Pub chips and nachos – yes, please. My brother came along and taught my 82 year old grandmother how to play pool. Both my brother and I were shocked she had never learned how to hit the cue ball across that felted green surface. Growing up, my brother and I spent countless hours playing pool in their muggy basement in Chicago while being “supervised” from my grandfather in the t.v. room above. How could she never have chalked up a stick in all those years?

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Nevertheless, we got to teach her how to play and avoid the eight ball, and break the “ladylike” paradigm to once again be blessed by the beauty of sharing life with the ones you love. Laughter too, so much laughter, as we held my dad across our laps for a photograph. These moments go by quickly, brief, little glimpses across the spectrum of life. Thanks for supporting me as I continue to do all of the little, tricky things.

Essie Nail Polish: Turquoise and Caicos

Biscotti: None

You know what I like? How when you try to load a new post on Word Press it makes robot words… beep booop beep

Here’s to You

Sometimes, I worry about development – about our houses and our gyms and our stupid super stores taking over the planet. Yes, this trend is concerning and I want to rip developer’s “FOR SALE” signs out of those open fields. But then, I take a road trip to the Mid-West. It is when I drive through parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin with miles and miles of corn, and I think “Ok, we’ve still got plenty of open space.” I am so snobby that I fail to remember that lack of things to look at on I-90 means food on the table, corn in my belly, orange soda in my hand. I’ll admit it, I’ve got some Colorado elitism in me and I carry some opinions about our neighbors to the east. I am, after all, a Colorado Buffalo. Sorry Husker fans. Did you know there isn’t a Starbucks within 200 miles between cities in Nebraska? I looked.

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This road trip helped me to identify a few growth areas within my personality – say some acceptance for slower ways of living, a respect for those who don’t sport my same coffee addiction, and a questioning look into my privilege of honestly craving carrots and hummus on the road rather than fast food. This trip, too, gave me an appreciation for roots, and for tradition, for open spaces, and for love that families create.

Dylan’s grandfather passed away last week. It wasn’t expected, and he was fairly healthy at 84 years old. It was less than 48 hours between finding out he fell, to finding out he had passed on. News like that is never easy to absorb. It is easy, however, to mobilize, and within a few days we packed up a car and ordered snacks, and loaded our Kindles to make the 15 hour drive to Wisconsin because nothing else in that situation would make sense.  Seven adults in a Ford Excursion is a lot different than a road trip with the cousins when you are ten or eleven. We still had fun, still made the most of it.

It can be, at times, hard to find beauty in tragedy or peace in the midst of suffering. My experience participating in Dylan’s family as they began to grieve was very different than that of when my own grandfather passed away. We all handle emotions differently and my family is known to be, well, “over processors” when it comes to emotion, so I wasn’t sure how to act or what to expect.

Tears were shed, and stories were told, and laughter was more common than silence or weeping. I was exposed to a Catholic funeral, a viewing, a rosary – cultural experiences I had never had before. We ate a lot of cheese curds, our sandwiches had butter on them, comfort food was shared.

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This is Grandpa as a kid – an original Cheesehead I suppose

 

What I found to be most beautiful in this experience, however, was pausing to reflect upon all the lives this man created and influenced and impacted. Gerald had six children, and a few married or committed to someone, and a few of those six had their own children. As the grand kids grow new additions get added on – me included. He has three great-grandchildren. Gerald served in the Army and the Navy so many men from the VA, or VFW or Knights of Columbus came and shared their respects. What a powerful thing it is to honor someone who has served our country.

I feel so blessed to be a part of their story – that I could hold some tissues, and hold Dylan’s hand, and give support to a family that has long ago accepted me as one of their own. It is never easy to lose someone you love, and even harder to think about what they will miss in your own lives. A part of me is really sad that the wedding did not come sooner – had we not postponed, both of our grandfathers would have been able to attend.

While I did not know this man very well, I have been blessed to be exposed to the beauty of what he created. A family of expansive love that gives freely, and ask questions, and has fun. So here is to you, Gerald Sullivan. Thank you for what you have given this world, and by extension, what has been given to me. Please know that you are loved.

That Rickety Kitchen Table

I have a bruise. A really glamorous purply, blue bruise. It’s on my left wrist, and it’s just about the size of a softball. That makes sense, because its from playing on a rec softball league, and I stopped a ball at second base and it hit my hand instead of my glove. ” Trust the glove,” a friend said. Well I tried, but it still hit me in the hand. I’ve got some learning to do when it comes to softball. “Room for improvement,” they might say.

My bruise, however, is nothing compared to what my brother has got going on. This week he had an accident on his scooter, where he got cut off by a truck, and slid on some gravel and turned the thing over on its side. Luckily he escaped with just some scrapes and bruises. Some serious bruises. Boy are those colors beautiful – yellow to red to purple – there is a rainbow in there. That’s got to hurt when he lays on his side. We are all thankful that he wasn’t hurt more seriously, and that his injuries resulted in some pain, inconvenience, and time off from work to heal. We got lucky with this one.

What was more beautiful, in fact, was what came from his injury, and I am thankful for it. Because Sam got in an accident he was staying at home; my parents taking care of him. Dylan was with friends, so I asked to come over for a free meal. This week, for the first time in many, many years we had a family dinner with just me, my brother, my mom and my dad. Now we have quite frequently sat down to share a meal recently, but there was always a welcomed addition – a grandmother, a friend, a fiancé. On Friday night, for whatever reasons, it was just us original four. We all sat at our customary places from when we were growing up – I had my back to the big glass door, Sam sits across from me next to the counter. My parents hold strong at opposite ends of the creaky kitchen table with the chairs my dad built himself and we sit on itchy cushions my mom knit years ago. It wasn’t a fancy meal, and the conversation wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but this ordinary moment felt incredibly beautiful to me.

 

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We’ve been through a lot over the past few years, and to be honest, being all together did not always feel good. It is hard to watch those you love suffer, and we’ve all been working on so much personal growth. At times, this growth pulls us in different directions, to perhaps separate corners of the house, or separate towns or school or work while we figure out who we are going to be as individuals in the world.

We used to make fun of my mom because while I was in college she used to get teary when we could all sit down together for dinner. This time, it was me. So much of family life happens around that square little table. It’s a routine I treasure, and I am so thankful my parents made an effort to gather us each night for a meal. Even if that meal was popcorn, and cheese, and apples on Sunday evenings (Grocery day was Monday don’t ya know). It is a tradition and a value I hope to instill with my own family some day. And as I continue to grow and change and prepare to leave my family in the traditional sense, and my brother starts out his own life on his own terms, and my parents embrace that term “empty nesters” I know that I can always return to sit at that table. New memories will be made, and maybe other additions brought in, but the power of the “original four” melts my heart. I’m thankful we keep fighting for each other, and that we keep returning to our spots at the table. I hope they continue to sit by me, and bless the food, and bless each other in ways we never could have imagined.