Everyday Happenings

I know you didn’t ask, but this is my blog & this is how I’m feeling about COVID-19

I am concerned.
I am sad.
I am angry.
And I have a lot of questions.

It’s an unprecedented time for our world. No one I know has ever been through a pandemic of this magnitude. 2020 will be an interesting year for people to discuss in the future. The year the world literally shut down. The year of the pandemic.

The best-case scenario projections we are getting from the White House are saying 100,000 – 240,000 Americans are going to die from COVID-19.

One hundred thousand to two hundred and forty thousand Americans.

BEST. CASE. SCENARIO.

My brain doesn’t even have the capacity to understand that many people dying over the course of six months. Logistically, where will they go? What will happen with their bodies? Will we have to have mass graves? There is no way that undertakers can keep up with that kind of demand. So many people will become a number and a statistic, rather than a person.

And how many people will die alone? How many loved ones will be left without closure forever because they didn’t get to say goodbye? How many people will live with unbearable sadness every day because their grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, brother, sister, child, spouse, or friend had to die alone and scared?

It’s really just too much for me to think about it. My heart breaks trying to picture that for one person, but to know it will likely happen to thousands of people is uncomprehendable.

So I try to scale it down and make it applicable to my life to try make it manageable for my heart. But that does not help.

Because my mom is one of those most at risk to contract the virus and die. My funny, kind, brave mom who’s been battling stage four colon cancer could contract COVID-19 and likely would not survive because of her chemo-weakened immune system. And if America goes the way of Italy, she won’t even be offered a hospital bed. Her ventilator would go to someone younger and healthier, someone who has the best chance of continuing to live a quality life after this is over. Essentially my mom would be sacrificed for the “greater good”.

So I try not to think about my mom. She’s on strict home lockdown. Not leaving the house unless she has a doctor’s appointment. And I know the cancer center is going above and beyond to keep their patients safe.  Let’s pretend my mom is safe.

What about my fiancé who is a paramedic and works on the ambulance almost every day and will inevitably, eventually come in contact with a COVID-19 patient? He’s 24-years-old and in theory unlikely to have life threatening complications, but no one knows for sure how each individual’s body will react. Should I worry about him instead? Our small town as of today hasn’t seen any confirmed COVID-19 patients, but it’s just a matter of time. No where is immune to it. And just because it’s taking longer to get here, because we live in the rural Midwest, doesn’t mean it’s not going to make it. And hospitals are under prepared. He can’t be safe while having to wear the same PPE all day for days at a time.

These are my biggest concerns. But I feel so much sadness in (by comparison) insignificant things as well.

My oldest niece is a senior in high school and has had all those special rights of passage taken away from her. No senior trip, no prom, likely to culminate in no graduation ceremony. It’s so unfair. All these things she’s looked forward to for four years, just ripped away.

Annnnnnnnd guess who’s getting married this year? That’s right. Me. Of course. I waited thirty years to get married only to have a PANDEMIC come in and screw with everything.

The wedding is set for later this year. Late enough that I’m hoping the worst of this will be passed and we can have some semblance of normal life back (optimistically). But who knows? Will we be allowed to have gatherings of over 100 people by the end of summer? Even if the wedding happens without any interference, a lot of the pre-wedding shenanigans will likely have to be altered. Bachelor/bachelorette parties will probably have to be changed, and bridal showers might have to be scaled down or be cancelled altogether. Because no one really knows how long this will be going on. Some experts think we’ll be able to go back to normalcy in June, other projections are saying August.

And the honeymoon? Let’s just look at that real quick. How many countries do you think are going to be allowing leisurely international travel in the next six months? My guess is not many. Especially not to Americans if we don’t get our testing issues fixed. For those other countries, allowing American’s in is probably going to be viewed as a liability. There goes Greece. And (obviously) Italy.  And probably Spain.

Can you see where planning is getting really difficult at this point? Literally everything is subject to change right now. Because there are so many unknowns.

Not to mention my annual May North Carolina Beach House vacation is all but cancelled at this point. So that’s a bummer. (#firstworldproblems)

Thought there are OBVIOUSLY bigger things to be concerned about, but it is okay to mourn these “insignificant” losses. It’s okay to be sad about a cancelled prom, or a postponed bachelorette party. It’s okay to be upset that that vacation you’ve been looking forward to isn’t going to happen, or that concert you’ve been counting down to is now rescheduled to a TBA date. It’s okay to feel sad about those things.

What’s not okay, is getting hateful about it, or going on with your life as usual because you don’t think you’re at risk and you think all the restrictions are a joke. That’s not okay. Even if you don’t have a care in the world about contracting COVID-19, by staying home, you are keeping people like my mom safe, and keeping people on the front lines, like my fiancé, safe. And if you can’t take this seriously because it doesn’t affect you, then our friendship has likely run its course. That has been one of the most discouraging things about this pandemic, is the lack of compassion I see at play in the world. Trust me, I, too am annoyed about the regulations and restrictions and want to go back to life as normal ASAP. I want to go on vacation, and have a bachelorette party. Trust me, I get it. But I also get that this is a worldwide pandemic and we all have to do our part to help save lives.

How many of those 100,000 to 240,000 lives could we have saved if we had taken this seriously from the beginning? How many could still be saved if we make the necessary sacrifices moving forward?

Do your part: stay home. Watch Netflix. Play with your dog. Write a book.
Learn to paint. Knit a scarf. Take a nap.
Just stay home.

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Not today.

Today is the one year anniversary of my freedom from a corrupt environment. Today, one year ago I called my mom at approximately 10:30am crying hysterically because I thought something really bad had happened to me. But as it turns out, it was really one of those things they call a blessing in disguise.

Starting February 23, 2017 I was no longer ridiculed and made to feel ashamed of the way I choose to present myself, or that my physical appearance made me a target.

Starting February 23, 2017 I was no longer made to feel like my age was a driving force in the way I deserved to be treated, or that my age determined the worth of my contributions.

Starting February 23, 2017 I was no longer forced to take responsibility for the missteps of other people, or blamed for someone else’s poor choices.

Starting February 23, 2017 I no longer had to keep the confidentialities of people with no integrity, or participate in cover-ups to perpetuate a “good ‘ole boys” system.

Starting February 23, 2017 I no longer had to walk on eggshells while doing my job so as not to upset anyone at home, or be guilted into believing it was my fault people’s home-lives were bad.

Starting February 23, 2017 people in leadership stopped talking to me condescendingly. Those people in leadership stopped expecting me compensate for the laziness of others.

Starting February 23, 2017 I no longer had to put up with unequal and unfair treatment day in and day out, or stifle my opinions and thoughts because I was “too emotional.”

I loved my old job. For a while. Until it became clear to me that my age, gender, and physical appearance were going to be used against me at every opportunity by people with no conscience.

But I am happy to report that it looks like my replacement is not being put though the same mess I was. She’s been given all kind of liberties that were never afforded to me. Which, to be honest, really makes me mad because it’s not fair. And I just want things in life to be fair, though they rarely are. I’m 28-years old and still coming to terms with that fact.

I am also happy to report that I am happy now, too. And I find myself now really grateful for that push out the door, because otherwise I might still be there, making excuses for their behavior and my mistreatment. And I stayed quiet on a public front for a long time (a whole year to be exact), because it’s a small community and I was trying to be careful to not tarnish my long-standing good reputation (how silly is that, to worry about being punished for the transgressions of others?), but I can’t do it today.

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When the night’s the darkest, you can see the stars

To say my life has been dark lately would be a gross understatement. It’s literally just been one thing after another after another after another. Like seriously, give. me. a. break. 

And I’m not going to lie to you, I haven’t always dealt with life’s blows gracefully. I sulk, and I lash out, and I recoil. Mostly I sleep and ignore people. That’s my coping mechanism. Say what you will, but it’s healthier (and cheaper) than heroin, right?

In my last blog I tried to describe what it feels like to be “more than just sad” during the holidays. It was hard then, and then things got worse. It’s one thing to lose one person you care about, it’s infinitely worse to be blindsided by the loss of several people.

Without going into a lot of detail (if you’re here to read the latest gossip in the on-going saga of my life, then you’ve come to the wrong place), I got pretty badly hurt. But, it was not by the person who I thought would deliver the most painful blow. Honestly, it was the way everyone else reacted that hurt the most.

The fallout was worse than the initial impact. 
My friends, or people who I thought were my friends, turned their backs on me.
When I needed them the most they were nowhere to be found.

Under the guise of not wanting to get involved, or trying to stay neutral, they all left me high and dry. And that was when I learn a valuable lesson first hand: your boyfriend’s friends are not your friends. I thought due to the fact that my circumstances were different that my outcome would be different. I knew most of them outside of Lucas*. Even if Lucas had never been in the picture, I still would have known these people, and we still would have been friends. So I thought it was different.

It was not different.
When the dust settled, they were not my friends.
They were his.

That’s when I learned a second lesson: when the night is the darkest, you can see thedark2 stars. This works both on a scientific level, with actual stars, but also on a metaphorical level. Right now, while my night is the darkest, the stars in my life are all the more clear. And it’s not always the people who you would expect. There were people who I believed in, who let me down, and there were people that I didn’t really give a second thought to, who have stuck by my side. Life is funny like that. Constantly reminding you that you have no idea what’s going on.

Right now, it’s easy to see the people who really care about me. Because when you care about someone, you don’t skirt around the hard topics, you face them head on. When you care about someone, you don’t avoid them when you think something might be awkward, you walk through that awkwardness with them. When you care about someone you are not just there when it’s easy, you hang around when life gets messy.

These people, my metaphorical stars, have the knack for knowing when to be exactly what I need. They know when to give me tough love, and when to offer gentler advice; when to offer me a distraction, and when to let me wallow a little; when to encourage me to run a 5K, and when to feed me and tell me I’m pretty. They’ve all been incredibly thoughtful and kind to me, even when sometimes I was less than kind and thoughtful in return (read: when I was the worst person to be around).

So in a really strange way, I can already see the bright side of this situation. If nothing else comes from this, at least now I know who is in my corner. It was brought to my attention recently that I had been “burning bridges” with people, which I didn’t for a minute think was true. What had I done to burn any bridges? I wasn’t hateful to anyone, I didn’t even really talk to anyone about what was going on. How could I be burning bridges with people I wasn’t even talking to? But it looks like I was just blissfully unaware. I’ll just say this, if a rumor, or a little awkwardness is enough for you to cut ties with me, then honestly, I’m probably better off without you. I am not currently in a position to be able to tolerate having to question the intentions of everyone around me.

Feel free to divide yourselves up into the categories of STARS and BRIDGES and then react accordinglyI don’t think it will be hard, you know who you are on both sides of the fence. Thank you for continuing to help me figure life out, because you all play your part, some just do it better than others.

*name changed for obvious reasons

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A that’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.

It’s okay to feel sad.pain
It’s okay to feel sad.
It’s okay to feel sad.

I have to keep telling myself this.

It’s okay to feel damaged.
When you care you take that risk of getting bruised.

It doesn’t make you weak to feel insecure and broken.
It doesn’t make you crazy to struggle with reacting to pain.
It doesn’t make you a bad Christian to feel sad. 

It makes you human. To feel these things makes you human. God gave us the full-spectrum of feelings for a reason. Yes, choose joy, but you can also be sad.

I think, for me, I spend so much time worrying about how I’m going to appear to others. Am I too this, or too that? What will people think about me?? This much worse thing happened to so-and-so, do I even have the right to be sad about a problem so inferior in the grand scheme of things?

I had a couple bad experiences this year. Yes, one of them involved a toxic relationship with someone who lied to me and treated me like I  was disposable, but I also had a job I absolutely loved that I tried to resign from because it got tainted and ruined but some bouts of poor leadership and bad decision making. But in comparison to some of the other things my friends went through this year, those two things, even combined, seem so insignificant.

So I try to squash my feelings and distract myself, only for the pain in my heart to intensify.

When it does finally emerge, it’s that much worse.
It’s full-blown depression, instead of sadness.

Depression isn’t always what you see in movies.
It’s not just blue filter to indicate the sad montage of your life.
Usually it’s not even really blue, it’s grey. Blue has too much feeling.

It’s feeling empty.
It’s crying for hours.
It’s not properly eating for weeks.
It’s sleeping for days, or not sleeping at all.
It’s when the things you loved, you don’t love anymore.
It’s making plans you have no intention of following through with and canceling at the last minute. 
It’s telling people you’re fine because you are embarrassed to talk about it.
It’s when nothing is wrong, but really everything is wrong.
It’s a numbness that is hard to explain if you’ve never felt it.

How do you begin to talk about having feelings of depression during the “most wonderful time of the year?” How do you bring it up in the midst of twinkling lights and emotionally charged family dinners without making it sound like you are just an attention seeker? How do you begin to be vulnerable in a world where all people want to do is judge you and make you feel insignificant and roll their eyes at you when you say you’re more than just sad? I can picture people doing it now as they read this. People who I consider my friends, I can vividly see them rolling their eyes at my words. And yeah, it hurts my feelings, but it’s not the end of the world. Some people just won’t understand, and you can’t make them. What seems so insignificant to someone else, could literally be the biggest thing in your world. And you can’t make people get that.

I don’t even get it really, how this happened to me. How can I be mad when someone else, who isn’t feeling what I’m feeling, doesn’t get it?

Why is it easier to share how I’m feeling here in writing available for the whole world to read than it is to talk to my best friends, or my sister, or my mom about it? I think it probably has to do with the veil of protection the internet provides, and absolutely zero to do with those people. I like having the ability to hide when I need to, instead of laying it all out in person. The ability to ignore texts and phone calls (which I will do), and respond in my own time frame and after I’ve had the time to formulate exactly how I want to respond, instead of the required instant response of face-to-face interaction. I also think the backspace key helps. There’s no backspace key in verbal communication, I’ve learned this the hard way.

The truth is I don’t know.
I don’t know why it’s easier to write a blog than have a conversation.
I don’t know how you bring up depression while everyone is singing Christmas carols.
I don’t know how to shut the numb out and just be happy again.

I’ve noticed that my house looks a lot like a college dorm room. Littered with pictures of people and places, instead of real home decor. That’s because I need those picture to remind that there are people who love me. I need those pictures to remind me of those happy moments. Frame after frame serves as a touchstone for me, and right now, that is what I need.

Until I figure it out…until I figure out how to move forward, I guess I’ll just keep being. I know to whom I belong, and I know that I can be restored, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. I’ll keep fighting to be myself, when the darkness threatens to overwhelm me. I’ll keep doing the everyday things that make me me. Trivia nights, Friendsgivings, Clark cuddles and Netflix, Sunday afternoon football, nerdy conversations about Harry Potter and Myers-Briggs, bonfires and s’mores, sarcasm, beach vacations, over-sharing on my blog, and Taylor Swift sing-alongs in my car and shower.

I’ll keep doing it all until the darkness has retreated, and the light is back for good.

***** If you are struggling with depression, you don’t have to struggle alone or stay broken, here are some quick resources, just in case:

•You can learn more about starting therapy here, since pretty much everyone can benefit from talking to a professional.
•You can learn more about depression here.
7 Cups and IMAlive are free, anonymous online text chat services with trained listeners, online therapists, and counselors.
Vent and Paralign are community-based apps where you can express yourself anonymously and connect with people who might be feeling the same way.
•If you need to talk to someone immediately, the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. A list of international suicide hotlines can be found here.

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Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

I hope “the other woman” is never a part of you life.
I hope that you never have to meet her, or hear about her, or think about her.
Because I hope for you, whoever you are, that she doesn’t exist.shakespeare

Because I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone.

Because that kind of pain is something totally different. It’s an endless labyrinth full of twists and curves, and tunnels that lead you to new kinds of pain every day.

The initial pain is thinking about their whole relationship in your head. How intense is their relationship? How long has this been going on? How did it start? Why did it start? Did she not know? If she did know, why? If she didn’t know, how? Why didn’t he tell her? What did he tell her about you? Did he call you crazy? And trust me, after some time, you will be able to see it all, and then some.

And then it’s the pain of thinking about your own relationship with him. Why doesn’t he love me? Why would he be so cruel? Did he ever love me, did he ever even care at all? Was it a game the whole time?

The pain of realizing that everything he said to you, he was saying to her.
That quiet, soft voice that you thought was reserved only for you, he was also using with her.

The pain of realizing that the same lips he used to kiss you, were also kissing her.
That body that you felt so sure of and so safe with, was also holding her.

And then you feel disgusting and dirty.

The pain of having to imagine them in the same places that you once were yourself: his kitchen, his car, his office, his porch. Anywhere you ever were with him, is now tainted by her.

The pain of knowing you obviously weren’t good enough.
Not pretty enough.
Not smart enough.
Not funny enough.
Not talented enough.
No thoughtful enough.
Not enough.

The pain of wondering what is so wrong with you that he needed someone else.
Then the comparisons start; why is she better than me?

The pain of remembering all the times he excused himself from spending time you, that now you have to wonder if it was to spend time with her. You never wondered before what he was doing when he wasn’t with you, because you assumed that he was working, or hanging out with his other friends, or going to the gym, or doing something else productive to society, you never assumed he was cultivating another romantic relationship. How many stupid lies did you fall for?

The pain of feeling absolutely betrayed.

And then, another darker and worse tunnel leads you down the path of wondering how many other people knew about it and didn’t tell you? How many people saw what was going on, but allowed you to stay oblivious? How ridiculous did you look to those people?

That tunnel is where you meet your new friends embarrassment and humiliation. And you just learn to live with them. Because you were stupid and this is what happens to stupid girls.

You were not different. You were not special. You were just another girl.

(…but the secret is that YOU are special one. You have been all along.)

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#GratiTuesday: Bolivar City Fire

Today, and always, I am grateful for my Bolivar City Fire Department family. All of them.

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I know I have blogged about this before, but it’s never going to stop being true, I never in a million years thought I would be working in the fire service. Like, never. The thought never once crossed my mind.

But now, after three years with BCFD, I have no idea who I would be without these people in my life. They have given me so much and enriched my life more than I can quantify. And I don’t just mean the people who work with me at the station…I mean everyone of them, spouses/significant others and children included.

These families have graciously welcomed me into their hearts. I’ve formed friendships with them that I didn’t even know I needed.

And that is what I love so much about BCFD, we truly are a family. And how many people get to say that about the people they work with? I am a lucky girl. It sounds a little exaggerated to say it, but I really believe if I was in distress I could call anyone of the members of our department and they would drop everything to aid me…I’ve seen it happen. And I don’t think there is a single crew who’s family hasn’t welcomed me to a meal (or twelve), and their wives/fiancés/significant others have spent many hours hanging out and talking with me and getting to know me. And that means more to me that I think they’ll ever comprehend. Because being accepted and loved by your work family is not a luxury everyone has, and I feel very fortunate.

I am eternally grateful for their friendships.

Happy GratiTuesday! 

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#GratiTuesday: Alexis Layne

Today is the 12th birthday of my niece, Alexis. And today I am grateful for her.
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She is funny, smart, and creative.
And when I say smart, I mean she’s way smarter than I was at 12. She’s probably way smarter at 12 than I am at 26.
And when I say creative, I mean that she has more creativity in her pinky than I could ever hope to have. She likes to paint and draw and create things.

 
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She is also thoughtful and has a mess of feelings. And it’s hard having feelings in middle school. Because middle schoolers are not the most sensitive of creatures. They poke and make fun, and bully. And I spend a lot of time worrying about her.

She’d rather play Minecraft than wash her hair, and I love her for that. Because come on, why wash your hair if you don’t have to?

Happy Birthday, Alexis! And happy GratiTuesday!

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#GratiTuesday: Colossians 3:13

This week I am grateful for forgiveness. I know that sounds cliche, but this is my blog and I’ll be cliche if I want to. And as my bfffff Tara would say, cliches are cliches for a reason.

12301754_10153186971036975_2715205849436186696_nMy gratefulness for forgiveness comes in two primary tangents. First, I am eternally grateful for the forgiveness that comes from my Savior. The guy who knows all my hidden sins and all the bad things I do, but still chooses to call me by name. Christ forgives what I’ve done (and what He already knows I’m going to do) and instead decides to see my potential for what I could be one day.

What kind of life would it be with no hope, which is what I would have without forgiveness? No hope to be better. No hope to be stronger. No hope to be happier, or smarter, or kinder. That wouldn’t be a life I would be interested in living. So I am grateful to be a loved child of the King.

Second-fold: I’m grateful for the forgiveness my friends and family extend to me on a daily basis. I am aware that I am not the easiest person to get along with all the time. I have my selfish moments, and I have my hateful moments, and my ridiculous moments, but my friends and family love me regardless of how bad I mess up. And I mess up a lot, but they always look to see the better parts of me, even on days when those parts are tucked way deep inside.

Without their gracious hearts, and their willingness to forgive my flaws, I would have no one. And I don’t think that’s a life I’d be interested in living either.

So, to my friends and family, thanks for forgiving me, and remembering that I can sometimes be cool, even when I suck.

Happy GratiTuesday! (Even though today is Wednesday. I knew this moment was inevitable. I knew I was bound to miss a Tuesday somewhere along the line…I just thought it’d be further out than week three!)

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#GratiTuesday: “It is health that is wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.”

Today I am grateful for my relative good health.

This seems like something small, but it’s really not. It’s a really big deal that I take for granted on a daily basis. The fact that I don’t get colds, or the flu, or have any kind of chronic pain is a huge blessing in my life.

I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I basically never get sick. I’m convinced it’s because I ate dirt as a child and refused to bathe, but look Ma, it all worked out in the end! I have developed a pretty stellar immune system, and for that I am grateful.

I can remember in college living in the dorms (#B1Sforever) how when one girl got sick, it was just a matter of time until the entire floor was sick. But I was never a part of that group…and it wasn’t because I spent the month in isolation.

pizzaAlso, I can 100% testify to the fact that I don’t exactly treat my body like a temple. I eat junk food. I stay up late. I don’t fitness (yes, I just used fitness as proper verb). My body has every reason to revolt against me. But it continues to be a brick house. And for that I am grateful.

Being sick is actually one of my greatest fears. I’m afraid that one day I’ll go from totally fine, to mortally ill. And I’ll get no warning. That one day I’ll use up all of my immune system tokens and then boom terminal illness. I’m not trying to make light of it, because terminal illness is not something I joke about, but making it a little lighter is the only way to console my fears of it. I’m constantly having to remind myself that God doesn’t work like that, trading tokens for health.

So until told otherwise, I’ll continue to live in the glow that is being healthy and I’ll try to not take my working extremities for granted.

Happy GratiTuesday!

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#GratiTuesday: Mama like the roses, but most of all she cared

I’ve notice, upon review of my recent blog posts that I spend a lot of time being sad. Or lamenting about being sad. Or complaining about things.

Which is sad. Because I actually do live an incredible life. So, I’ve decided that throughout the year of 2016, I’ll be focusing on being grateful for what I’ve been given, because even through the rough patches of life, it’s still incredible. Each day that I wake up with Clark in my lap is a gift. Each time I open my phone to text message or a phone call, I’m reminded of all the people who love me, and that is a gift.

So each week (hopefully) you’ll be seeing a post of from on something I’m grateful for. These posts will conveniently be on Tuesday, because it makes a nice little hashtag 🙂

The first #GratiTuesday I’d like to go on record is for my Mom. God bless my mother, who knows how she does the things that she does? I have no idea how she manages to be so good a life.

She’s selfless, and hilarious. She puts up with me with an outrageous amount of patience. Which I know is a thing all moms do, but if you know me at all, you know this is a bigger feat that most. She has spent many hours on the phone with me teaching me how to do laundry, whether it’s really okay to leave a crockpot on ALL DAY while you leave the house, and talking me through long LA traffic jams.

She’s a lover of music, and a lover of nap time (which I think has been passed down genetically). She sleeps through movies, but still indulges my Dad and me when we drag her to IMAX showings of Star Wars on opening weekend…when we had to stand in line for 2.5 hours…to see the movie in a theater full of nerds.

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I’ve never particularly wanted kids, but if someday they appear in my future, I could only hope to be as great of a mother as she has been to me.

Love you, Mom!
Happy GratiTuesday!

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