I rememba…

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Though we all shake our fists up to the heavens about the lives we lost in 2016, in the morning hours of January 25, 2017, my grandmother, Carol Knight—or as we call her “Granny”—passed away.

Though there were no press releases issued or journalists rushing to write her story, to me, she is one of the most important ladies of my lifetime.

We are all lucky to have known someone who cared more about those who surrounded her than she ever cared for herself. A woman who would have given away every material possession she had if she thought it would bring them happiness.

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Liane, Granny, and me

It’s funny the things you remember about a person when you really try. I remember being 5 years old, and Granny setting me up on the washing machine so she could get a direct view of my face to cut my bangs. I remember her scolding me about making fun of her NJ accent when she said “warsher.” I remember climbing up in bed in between her and grandpa on a Sunday morning while they drank coffee and talked about who knows what.

Little memories are grand, aren’t they?

So, who was she? Granny was proper—or at least she liked to pretend she was. She hated the outdoors and couldn’t stand dirt because “it had worms in it.” She was the type to sip a wine cooler and fall asleep snoring, but she would up her street cred by randomly dropping the F-bomb for shock effect. She would jokingly wiggle her pinky finger at you and say that you weren’t worth the whole bird.

She would whisper when she needed to use the restroom, but would loudly sing (to the tune of “Do My Ears Hang Low?”),  “Do my boobs hang low, do they swing to and fro…” She would giggle every time she called bras “Over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders from the maker, “Keeps-em-from-floppin’.”

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Mom and Granny

She was always aware of everyone’s feelings and tried her mightiest to be polite… even if she would call my mother after they left to tell her how much she absolutely hated the new dress she had just gushed about for 30 minutes. Her dry sarcastic wit made us laugh until we cried. She was devoted to her family, and though she was not sentimental, she kept pictures of every child and grandchild she had on her walls.

But overall, she was the kind of Grandma that every child deserves to have. She tried to stuff you with snacks every time you visited, let you stay up watching TV later than your mother wanted you to. She would cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She would tell stories of when she watched Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra play, and she would always hug you before you left.

To me, she was someone that will never and could never be forgotten. We worked on crossword puzzles together; we worked on actual puzzles. We went shopping and met for lunch. She listened to me cry about my mother when I was upset, and she wouldn’t always sell me out when I said mean things about my mom. She took me on trips and could always make me laugh. My grandmother, in every way possible, was one of my best friends.fullsizerender-2

Her story is full of twists and turns, tears and laughter, and even though the entire world didn’t mourn her passing, any person that came into contact with her should know how lucky they were to have a woman like my grandmother in their lives. She is a celebrity in her own right and those in her world feel her loss extensively.

Rest in peace, Granny, and wherever you may be, let your shoes always be comfortable and your sweaters always fit. Let it not be too hot for a Yankee like you, and know that every time I fill out a crossword puzzle, I’ll be as brave as you and use a pen… wait. That’s a bit too crazy… maybe one of those eraseable ones? Or a pencil… it has the word “pen” in it, so that counts, right? Love you, Granny, and I’ll miss you always. There’s a little less laughter in the world without you.

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Relationship Goals: The Newest Accessory for Our Lives

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The internet is truly a wonderful thing… for the most part. However, on the flip side, it does opens doors for lies, misinformation, and jealousy.

One bit of this that has frequenting my FB feed more and more is “Relationship goals.”

These are stories and pictures of what we all wish to achieve in our relationships, but sometimes it goes further than that.  We start comparing our relationships to these pictures and stories. They look and feel inferior, and we find ourselves wanting more. Sometimes we push forward; other times, we look elsewhere.

We, as a society, have become quite materialistic; a fact that can been witnessed every time Apple releases a newer version of whatever is out there. People who have perfectly working phones, tablets, watches, etc. will line up in the streets simply to get the next best thing.

Have we become so materialistic that we consider our relationships an accessory to our lives? We are constantly bombarded with information about other couples, better couples. They’re the iPhone upgrade commercials for our relationships. Why continue to be happy with what you have when you can achieve a better level of happiness with someone else?

But then… maybe you don’t. Everyone know that new phones contain glitches that the older ones had worked out. It’s okay, though, a new upgrade will come through in another couple of months; just bide your time.

I’m not saying that it’s unhealthy to continue to build a relationship, to hope to reach a different level of intimacy with the one you’re with. In fact, that is great. The problem arises when we find ourselves wishing for unattainable wants because we read a story or saw a movie or scrolled past a picture on FB, Instagram, or the Twittersphere.

Stop for a moment and realize that you are yearning for one moment in time. A picture can say a thousand words, but it still only captures that one moment. Ever smiled for a camera and then found yourself crying shortly thereafter?

A glimpse into one moment of someone’s life isn’t all encapsulating of the relationship. It’s merely a sentence in their story, and on the internet, your story can become whatever version you want it to be.

The same goes for movies, TV shows, and books.

I’m guilty of it, for sure. I read these books and watch these movies and imagine what life would be like if my prince would sweep me away from this place. I mean, heck, I’d even be happy with half of the love shared between RDJ’s Tony Stark and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.

However, this is just another level of accessorizing our lives. As if we didn’t have enough to live up to, now we are expected/expecting to live up to the relationships that have been deemed “relationship goal” worthy.

You know them: Elizabeth and Darcy, Marshall and Lily, Gatsby and Daisy, Aurora and Phillip, Chandler and Monica, Jim and Pam, Zoe and Wash, and the list continues throughout all of history/literature.

But you know what makes these couples great? What makes their relationship so perfect that we can’t help but wish we could be like them?

They’re not real. *gasp*

Unlike our relationships in real life, theirs is built from some of the greatest creative minds sitting in room developing a story-line, a personality, and a relationship. Theirs is written. Ours is lived.

So, we can go on wishing for an impossible goal, or we can toss aside these societal expectations and dreams and find someone real. Someone tangible.

Stop wanting the newest trend in relationships and find someone that you want to know. That you wouldn’t want a predictable storybook ending with. Find someone you want support their dreams and stand next to while they achieve them.

Find someone you want to share adventures with, whether it’s just going grocery shopping or backpacking around Europe together. Every new experience should be cherished; you’re making memories.

Find someone that feels this way for you as well, and I promise you, though there may be fights and crying from time to time, that relationship will be better than all the fictional relationships combined.

Stop accessorizing and start loving again.

All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

Sadness is a part of life. Sometimes it comes about because you dropped the last piece of your favorite candy on the ground, and sometimes it’s because of a life-changing event.

I’ve heard that it’s not the sadness that is important but, rather, how you handle it.

Everyone’s heard, “This too shall pass” or “No use crying over spilled milk.” People are constantly reminding us that life goes on after this event. That no matter how you feel in this instance, in a few days, months, years, decades things will change for you. (Of course, they’re also implying that this change will be better… but that’s neither here nor there.)

It is important to know that life won’t end simply because you’re sad, but what’s really hard is that life does go on.

In my times of woe, people have told me that I’m strong, and that everything will be better again soon. I know it’s true. I know that one day I’ll be able to look back on these memories and smile, but while I’m sad, every happy memory, every thought, leads to pain and sadness. And, knowing that life is going to continue moving forward while I’m stuck in the sludge—for the lack of a better word—sucks.

Being strong has its perks. You can live your life, and you can enjoy people’s company during the hard times. But, what many people don’t realize is, no matter how strong someone is, they still feel the pain.

Strong people are expected to wade through the sludge and come out on the other side with a brighter disposition and a newfound purpose in the world.

As a strong person myself, I can tell you that, while I’m feeling incredibly sad, I also feel incredibly guilty. I feel selfish and silly for wanting my world to pause while I fall to pieces. I want to step away from life for a bit and pretend that none of what is bringing me down actually exists. I want to become Miss Havisham for a few days, weeks, or months, but as it goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Instead, I force myself to hold it together. I throw myself into projects or busy myself with work. Sure, I still cry. You stumble across a familiar memory that hits you like a bus, shattering every bit of the façade that you have built up.

It’s in those moments that the ugly sobs come. The ones that have been waiting for such a moment to be let out. That’s also when you get the crazy stares from anyone that might be around to witness this. Immediately, you realize that you’ve shown too much, and with a great withdrawal of breath and a few quick wipes of the face, you draw all of this back in and thrust yourself forward.

I cannot say that I’ve ever been clinically depressed. Overall, I’m a very optimistic and happy person, but I have felt depressed. Everyone has. It’s a part of life. I cannot assume to know how people who are depressed feel on a constant basis. A friend once told me that it feels like you’re drowning, which seems to be the easiest definition to understand.

What I can tell you is that you’re not alone. All of those “strong” people that walk among you that seem to have their lives together. They feel it too. They feel the pain and the sadness. They might process it differently, but it’s still there.

The one thing that hurts strong people the most is telling them that they’re strong when they are at their weakest. I’ve been told that so many times. “You’ll make it through this.” “You’re strong.” “Everything will be okay.” Yes, I know all of these things. But stop saying that. In those moments, I don’t want to be strong. I want someone to wrap their arms around me and let me sob into them like I did when my favorite toy was broken when I was a kid. I want to burrow under the covers in my room and fetal-position it for a day or two.

I know I’ll make it through, but in the first few days or so, I don’t want to feel like I have to be a put-together person when something that I cherished has been yanked from my life.

So, if you know someone that is going through a rough time, don’t tell them inspirational idioms and encourage them to do something productive. Let them do what they feel like they need to do. Tell them that you’re there for them. Tell them that it’s okay to cry. Bring over a ton of movies and snacks and veg out with them on the couch.

Sometimes, words aren’t needed. Sometimes, just a familiar presence can ease the pain. Because when your heart aches, there’s nothing better for it than love and acceptance.

Lessons from the Playground

We're all stories in the end, just make it a good one, eh?

They say high school is supposed to prepare you for college and that college should prepare you for life. However, I’ve found that the lessons that I learned at recess in elementary school were much more accurate than what they feed us now.

Let me explain.

  1. You learn of cliques… yes.. there are cliques even at the lovely (and completely unawkward) age of 7. Though you don’t necessarily pay attention to them, you know that there are certain people that you want to spend time with, and then there are the people who throw sticks in your general direction when the teacher isn’t looking. Either way.. you’re learning to base your socializing off of those you treat you better than that… unless they’re throwing sticks with you, then.. well.. it’s a very fine line.
  2. You learn the evils of the gossip mill. There must have been a million grapevines on my playground because if someone whispered everyone heard it; it’s also important to note that this is where you learn how things can get misconstrued. There was once in elementary school when I slugged a boy in the arm (he probably deserved it), and by the time it had made its way to the teacher, there were much more serious implications. Luckily, for me, the boy told the truth about where I had hit him.. for a second there it had turned into an awful game of telephone.
  3. You learn about the unfairness in life. One word. Kickball. You know what I’m talking about. Many of us have stood in that line waiting to hear the captains call our name out, but one by one, the group dwindles. People that didn’t necessarily play as well as you were chosen first because they were friends, and then, it got down to you and that other kid, ya know, the one that didn’t really want to play but they conned him/her into it so there would be an even number. The only thing going on in your head is, “Please don’t pick me last. Please don’t pick me last.”
  • There is a caveat to this one… I’ve found that if you’re actually really good at said sport (or whatever), kids on the playground tend to overlook the fact that you’re female faster than adults do. You peg one kid directly in the head.. and you’re golden. Don’t try that as an adult.. that’s how people get sued.
  1. You learn that having a crush on someone is terrifying. Sure, once you’re an adult it’s scary… you’re wondering, “Is this the one? Will I screw this up? Are they going to dump me? Do they actually like me?” All in one thought process.. (overthinking FTW). However, when you’re young, it’s much worse. Possibly the only thing we have to base our “love life” on are Disney movies. By sending over the “Do you like me? Check: Yes or No” letter, you could be sealing your fate for happily ever after. Girls.. don’t act like you didn’t already start signing his last name in your binder. Playing MASH? You cheated so his name was circled. People worry about being heartbroken now, at least now you know it’ll get better. You’ve had the experience to be able to know that even if you take the risk, it won’t destroy you. But, then again, maybe it was better then.. “loving” without fear. Plus, holding hands with somebody is just so nice. 🙂 Go on now.. go hold hands.
  2. You learn that good friends are a MUST. When I was in 5th grade, I had short hair.. REALLY short hair. I didn’t care.. long hair took effort, and I really was more concerned with enjoying sports than fixing my hair. However, because of this, some of my classmates decided that it would be funny to call me “It.” They said that there was no way to tell if I was male or female, so it fit me better. My best friend at the time and I were in line to get some ice cream, and one of the boys in our class was being especially cruel that day and made some comment about me looking like a boy. My friend.. being the amazing girl she was.. put her arm around me and said, “Well, if she was a boy, I’d choose to date her over you any day.” Right there, ladies and gentleman, is a true friend. It’s not about saving face or what you can do for them, it’s about love, compassion, and trust.
  3. You learn to pick yourself back up. Though maybe the drama you experience now is a bit more serious than it was then. Who cares? If there’s one lesson in life that I’ve always cherished, it’s the one that shows you that no matter how bad it gets, it can always get better. Not to make you start singing the Frozen soundtrack, but let it go. Don’t let anything hold you back from your dreams. Don’t let anyone hold you back from anything. Sure, we’re all going to have baggage… but it’s how you store it that matters. You can choose to lug it around with you, or you can choose to vacuum-seal that junk and put it away. It’s not about getting some place.. it’s about the journey. Don’t let your past hold you back from being happy. Find yourself. Find what makes you happy… and when you find that, never let it go.

So there ya go.. a few lessons from a 90s playground. Go out and live your life! Find your bliss! Kiss someone! Join a nudist colony! Whatever! Do what makes you happy! Because as much as you can want everyone around you to be happy, you’re spending the rest of your life with yourself. If there’s ever a moment where you feel like there is no bouncing back, don’t give up. Sometimes fear holds us back from happiness, sometimes it’s heartache, sometimes we’re just being stubborn/stupid, but don’t let yourself wake up one day and regret what could have been.

Just think:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

No Longer One-Size-Fits-All

Frozen What if I meet the one

“What if I meet THE one?”

The other day, I served a table that asked me how many children I have; I went about answering it the same way I normally do: “None at the moment.” That usually ends the conversation. However, this man decided that the idea of me wasting my life without children and a husband was ridiculous. He asked me why I didn’t have any. I politely told him that I was pursuing other things in my life currently, and I didn’t have the time or the opportunity to do so. From here, the conversation went further south. He told me that I’d ought to hurry up before it’s too late, and I pretended to find this funny and told him that I would do my best to change my priorities around to get married and start a family.

Though I’m sure many would be offended by this man (I admit that I was slightly put-off), this conversation did make me start thinking about how we look at the value of someone’s life. Here we are, the 21st century, and somehow, we’re still stuck on the idea that our happiness lies in finding our one true love, getting married, and having a baby. And, the people that choose a different life, a different path, are ostracized. Even if it isn’t said out loud, the questionable glances and judgment is there.

Why?

Think for a moment what this is teaching our children (well, not mine because, as mentioned, I have none). They are constantly bombarded by Disney movies telling them that their Prince Charming, their soul mate, is out there somewhere waiting for them, and when they find them, that’s when happily ever after begins. Of course.. that bubble is burst after the first few failed relationships… the guys turn out to be more like Hans from Frozen than Phillip from Sleeping Beauty.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not always the guys. Sometimes, as females, we get a little.. hmm.. ahead of ourselves. There are those moments that happen with a simple smile from are date.. and it turns into the distant sounds of wedding bells in our minds. I’ve done it, you’ve done it.. let’s be honest.. we’ve all.. jumped ahead. Pinterest proves this. How many of you have a wedding board and don’t even have a boyfriend?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it the constant bombardment of a timetable that society is telling us is a one size fits all?

Recently, I’ve been thinking more on this. Why am I in a hurry? Sure, I’m nearing 30, and my childbearing days are not as plenty as they used to be. How can that be an excuse? There’s adoption. I could love any child, regardless of it being biologically mine. Why can’t I simply stop and smell the roses? Appreciate what life has offered me?

I’m trying. I think we should all try. The timetable that starts the moment you have your first date.. throw it away. Maybe you’re ready to commit and they’re not at the same place yet. Ask yourself two questions: “Do you love them?” If the answer is yes, then ask, “Are you in love with them or do you just need love?”

Who are we to say that our timetable is more important than theirs? If you have needs that aren’t being met, then find someone else. But, just because society attempts to shove the one-size-fits-all logic upon us.. doesn’t mean we should do it to our significant others. Remember this: Different people need different amounts of time, and there are no guarantees.

Would it be nice to step into a relationship knowing that you were guaranteed a white dress and ring.. sure. I guess.

But what fun would that be?

Instead of worrying about the future.. about what you can get from them. Stop and enjoy it. Enjoy them. Who cares if the white dress never comes? You’re making memories.. these may be the best days you’ve ever had with someone, and that is what is important. Not the title. Not the dream. It’s the person standing there with you for as long as they do.

Sometimes things don’t work out, and that’s okay. Because that person has shown you something about yourself that maybe you didn’t know before. Don’t hate them for not following your timetable.. love them because they were apart of it at all.

Maybe marriage isn’t something in my future and maybe I’ll never have kids. That’s all okay because I will never be able to say that I haven’t loved… because though it’s terrifying to fall in love, our heart is a muscle and the best exercise that it has is falling in love. That’s why it hurts when things fall apart.. you’re not broken.. you’re just a little sore. So, go out there! Exercise those hearts! Let it soar as far as it can!

Mothers’ Day Weekend

 

Finally done with the Spring Semester! Finals were finished just in time to celebrate a fake holiday.. Cinco De Mayo. Oh.. Americans.

Then, my mom came to visit me.

When I hear the horror stories that some of my friends have about their mothers, it makes me want to run home and hug my mother! She has always been there for me and is truly my best friend.

I was a good child, but I still made my mom do things that she’d probably rather not have done… and most of them involved baseball.

Mom and Me

My first birthday

For example, the countless number of Atlanta Braves game that my mom took my friends and I to (though she loves baseball, she did not love going to the game). My mom was the one who sat in the nosebleed section with the book that she was reading at the time while my friends and I made idiots out of ourselves with homemade t-shirts and signs.

She was our personal photographer to capture all these details.

We even convinced my mom to drive us all over the southeast to go watch minor league baseball games. Richmond, VA; Greenville, SC; Asheville, NC; and Savannah, GA were all cities that we graced with our baseball fanatic ways, and not once did my mother show her embarrassment (of course, we were caught up with all the happenings on the field, so there’s a good chance that she was and we just didn’t notice).

My mom and I took trips all the time together, and there was never a time when I didn’t want to spend those times with her. I never laugh as much as when I’m with her… of course, most of the laughing is at the expense of one another.. or my grandma (“I rememba…”)

Now that I’m an adult (at least in age), it’s not as easy to take off and spend time with my mom, but we still find time to goof around. Most of the time she comes to visit me, and we spend days thrift shopping and doing arts and crafts (no joke).

Mom and Me

After Preschool recital

However, no matter how little time we spend together and how many miles are between us, I know that my mom is there for me no matter what… unless our phone conversation lasts more than 15 minutes.. then she gets impatient. 🙂

She is amazing, and one day, I hope that I can be as sure of myself as she is. There is no better role model for me than the woman who struggled to raise me and my three brothers (and trust me.. they were a struggle); she sacrificed so much for us.. and still does.

I love her with all my heart.

 

 

Oh, and mom.. if you’re reading this.. can I borrow $20? 😉 just kidding.

Fairytale Reality

Fairytale Love

When I was a little girl, I loved Cinderella. Maybe it’s because I thought a prince would one day sweep me off my feet, and we would live happily in his castle forever. Maybe it’s because I wanted to go to balls and wear shiny jewelry. Who knows. I thought, “This love can stand the test of time.” But, let’s all take off our glass slippers and be honest: real world love isn’t about that.

The truth is castles are cold and drafty, and back in those times, they didn’t have indoor plumbing and water that turned hot with a twist of a handle.

I don’t want a prince to sweep me off my feet (well.. maybe a little bit). What I want is something real and tangible.

Men say that they never know what women want, but it’s really pretty simple. Here are ten items:

  1. We want to be supported, just as we want to support you.
  2. When we talk, we want to be listened to, not just heard
  3. We want you to talk to us (we don’t always want to start the conversation)
  4. When we say something like, “Wow. This is so amazing! I love this.” That means buy it for us if it’s achievable and realistic. Not right then, but maybe for our birthday (you’ll get props for remembering).
  5. We want to be touched (not just sexually). Hold our hand, move our hair out of our face, give us a peck on the forehead, cheek, or hand. These little moments make us feel loved.
  6. Don’t lie to us. Not out of fear of getting caught, but out of respect for us.
  7. Ask us out on a date. Though we love to plan things, sometimes it’s nice to have a night planned for us.
  8. Remember our favorite things (or things like food dislikes and likes)
  9. Tell us we look beautiful. (Sexy is nice on occasion, but it gets old after a while).
  10. If you love us, don’t just tell us.. show us.

And, here’s an overall statement for both men and women:

Don’t be afraid to love. If you’ve been hurt in the past, it’s hard to let go of those fears, but by letting go and trusting someone with your heart, you’re allowing yourself to grow as a person. Yeah, it may still hurt, but think about the good stuff. Realize that because of that person, you have become someone else.. someone stronger.

Stronger doesn’t mean shutting people out. Stronger means having the courage to love again. Stronger means letting go of someone or something that is pulling you down, holding you back from all the great things that you could do. Being supportive is number one on my list because, when you find the person you’re meant to be with, they will push you forward and believe in you no matter what. They want your happiness as much as they want theirs.

Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your life. Find yourself first, then you’ll be able to find someone else.

And if all else fails, remember.. I believe in you.