Looking Ahead….

Every year for the past several years I’ve sat down with my computer and written reflections about the year behind me.  I wrap up the entire year in several paragraphs trying to convey the major events and milestones that took place in my life that year, but I realized I never take the time to write about the future.  I never stop to look ahead.

I don’t really make resolutions for the new year.  Not that I don’t have any resolve, I just don’t think I need to make promises to myself, especially when I usually don’t tell anyone what they are so there is no one to hold me accountable if I don’t keep my self-made promise.  I usually decide to continue to try to be a good person.  To be kind to others.  Help the less fortunate when able.  Be quick with a smile.  Those are things that I think we can all resolve to do on a daily basis and we don’t need a new year’s resolution to do them.  We should be doing them anyway.

That’s not really the point though, so back to my initial thought.  Looking ahead.  I wrote my 2012 wrap up a few days ago and while I certainly have a lot to be thankful for in 2012, I decided I should look to my future and see what 2013 holds for me.

To begin the year, I have a job that I truly enjoy with a company I couldn’t be prouder to work for.

Looking around me, I have the best family (even if they drive me nuts sometimes).  I find myself often thinking that people who don’t have siblings are missing out on one of the greatest gifts on Earth.  I’ve said more than once that I consider myself truly fortunate to be in a unique position with my siblings; I have the gift of being both a little sister and a big sister.  I’m a little sister to a sister, and big sister to two sisters and a brother.  How lucky am I that I get to be the sister to not only sisters but to a brother as well?  Sisters are some of the first friends you make (followed closely by your cousins).  Brothers are a strange beast to be sure.  They smell different than sisters do, and they do weird things that most sisters don’t do.  But I truly feel that I have been given one of life’s greatest treasures by having my sisters and brother in my life.

I also have the most amazing friends.  They are patient, funny, smart, and understanding.  Above all they are loyal and trustworthy.  I know that my friends are there for me when I need them, even when I’m being a complete flake.

Top that off with an engagement to the greatest guy. In eight months I will take one of the best walks of my life toward him with my Dad at my side.  After that walk we will party the night away with our family and friends around us and the next day we will take a wonderful week long trip to an island neither one of us has been to.  How blessed can one woman be?

I have a major birthday to look forward to as well.  One that has me excited and curious, but anxious as well.  I love birthdays, especially milestone birthdays, but as this is my first major milestone birthday in quite a while, I’m not sure what to expect.  Will I feel any different?  Will there be new expectations that come along with my new age?  Are there new health risks I should be worried about?  These are the things that I think about.

But, this year is full of many more blessings.  I am lucky to have a home that provides me with shelter, warmth, and safety.  I have a pantry and refrigerator full of food, and a vehicle that is nice and safe.

I ask again, how blessed can one woman be?

When I take everything listed above and combine it into a nice, neat, little package I can’t help but realize how wonderful 2013 is going to be.  With blessings like that how can my year be anything less than amazing?

If I were to make a resolution for 2013 it would be this: to continue to focus on the positive things in my life.  I realize not every day is going to be perfect, but there will be perfect moments in every day.  I hope I will always be able to see that moment, and that I will remember to look for it.  I hope that I don’t get so caught up in the mundane details life requires I miss the beauty in the smallest of things.  I hope that I always notice how beautiful the sun is when it sets.  That I always see the light at the end of the tunnel and most importantly, that I always remember no matter how rough of a day I might be having that I don’t have to bear the burden alone.  I have family and friends that are there for me to help, to listen, to offer advice when needed, to provide guidance when necessary, and to give hugs when there are no words required.

My hope for you this year is that you, too, will always remember to search for the bright spot in your life.  Even when times seem the darkest, reach for the light.  Hold onto it, and seek it always.

Life is a beautiful thing.  Don’t spend it surrounded by negativity and darkness.

Bully: Just Don’t Be One

December 8th, 2001.  It started out as such an ordinary day.  Hanging out with the boyfriend.  Shopping.  Lunch.  The typical things that college freshman do.

It ended as a day forever etched in my mind.  And all because people can’t use nice words.  Because we are all too self important to take the feelings of others into consideration.

When I arrived home for the evening, I was informed that at the age of 15, my sister’s best friend ended her own life because the pain of being bullied was just too much to bear any longer.  She was a sophomore in high school.  She was beautiful.  She was funny.  She was a daughter.  A sister.  An aunt.  A granddaughter.  A friend.

But kids, they are so cruel.  They teased her.  Called her names.  Tried to fight her.  Did fight her.  Punched her.

She just couldn’t take anymore.

Suicide is never final.  For the family and friends left behind it’s a pain that doesn’t end.  There are so many questions with so few answers.  The lives of these people are forever changed.

If anything ‘positve’ can come from such a tragic event my hope is that it’s this:

Be mindful of the words you use towards others for their impact is far greater than you could ever imagine.  Kindness is always the answer. I believe that so strongly I tattooed the phrase ‘kindness can change the world’ on my wrist.  I look at that phrase every single minute of every single day.  It is a constant reminder that I possess the power to impact others.

I hope I wield that power well.

Peace be with you Emily.  You are gone, but not forgotten, Lady.  I hope you found the peace you were seeking and that as you look down upon your family and friends you see how loved you are.

Reasons to be thankful…

Thanksgiving has come and gone once again.  I can’t believe the end of the year is already upon us – honestly, where does the time go?

This is my most favorite time of the year and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the entire year, though the last seven years it’s always been bittersweet.

Seven years ago, on Thanksgiving day, I was notified that a former boyfriend had died as the result of a car accident.  It was a slap in the face and I didn’t know what else to do other than collapse into a puddle of tears, heartbreak, and sadness.  With the exception of my grandparents’ deaths it was the saddest I had ever been in my life, so every Thanksgiving I pause and reflect on the things that I am most thankful for, since I failed to take the opportunity at previous times in my life.

This Thanksgiving, I have been flooding my friends’ Facebook timelines with ’30 days of thankfulness’ so I wanted to take a moment to list 30 things I’m thankful for:

Day One: At a time when many are out of work, I am thankful for a job that I enjoy.

Day Two: I’m thankful to have a home of my own during a time when many people have lost theirs.

Day Three: I am thankful for the unfaltering generosity of the people in my life

Day Four: I am thankful for friendliness and laughter.

Day Five: I am thankful for the great company of awesome women who genuinely like being together.

Day Six: I am thankful for suffragettes. I am thankful for civil rights fighters. And I am thankful for our military.

Day Seven: I am thankful for comfortable beds, warm houses, and the arms of a loved one.

Day Eight: I am thankful for my sisters and brother. The biological ones and the ones that married them. They all drive me crazy sometimes, but I love them.

Day Nine:  I am thankful beautiful fall days filled with sunshine and the rustling of leaves.

Day Ten: I am thankful for kind neighbors who know what being neighborly is.

Day 11: I am thankful that today I can light candles in honor of my brother instead of in memory of him. I am thankful for all of our veterans, but specifically Poland RonDesira Poland, and Ron Poland. Thank you for your sacrifices in honor our nation.

Day 12: I am thankful for seasons and living in a state where I get to enjoy all four of them.

Day 13: I am thankful for unlimited text message, data usage and Pintrest’s humor board. I’m also thankful for family and friends who don’t yell at me for clogging up their inbox with hilariousness.

Day 14: I am thankful for kind coworkers who host delicious food competitions. Especially when said competition’s theme is pumpkin!

Day 15: I am thankful to work for a company that appreciates its employees so much that they throw us a pizza party for doing our jobs well.

Day 16: I am thankful for good food, fantastic fellowship, and funny nieces.

Day 17:  I am thankful to have not one family but two families who love me. I am also thankful that those two families blend well and can enjoy each other’s company.

Day 18: I am thankful for my dad. Everyone thinks their dad is the best, but mine really is. We don’t see each other as often as I’d like, and we don’t talk on the phone as often as we used to, but I am truly the luckiest girl to have a dad that loves me so much. He supports me in all of my decisions even if he disagrees with my decisions. He is strong enough to let me fail but gentle enough to pick me up when I do. He doesn’t say ‘I told you so,’ instead he asks ‘what did you learn?’ He makes me laugh and makes me think. He is always my dad first, but I am proud to say he is also my friend. Thanks Dad, for putting up with tiny little baby clothes, toddler tantrums, teenaged moodiness, and twenty-something know-it-all-ness. Looking forward to taking a walk down the aisle with you by my side!

Day 19: I am thankful laughter and humor.

Day 20: I am thankful for great coworkers.

Day 21: I am thankful for my brother. I am thankful that he serves his country with honor and that he treats his wife and daughters with respect. I am thankful that he and his family drove to Kansas to celebrate my favorite holiday with me.

Day 22:  I am thankful for family. I am thankful for the ability to host our first holiday dinner in our new home. And I am thankful that we were all together.

Day 23: I am thankful for a successful dinner hosting and that everyone who came to dinner arrived safely and returned to their homes safely.

Day 24: I am thankful for the years spent in past relationships.  They helped me figure out what I do and do not want in a partner.  Every past relationship was a blessing and I have held them all close my heart.  On this day seven years ago my perception of my previous relationships changed and I took a hard look at myself and what I brought to a relationship.  It wasn’t all awesome.  I did some soul searching and found what I was looking for in a partner.  More importantly, I found the partner I wanted to be and hope that I do a good job on a daily basis.

Day 25: I am thankful for sunshine and laughter

Day 26: I am thankful for my sisters.   I am thankful that I have three, when some people don’t have any.  I am thankful that even though we fight, and argue, and make each other cry, it doesn’t divide us.  At the end of the day it brings us together.  My sisters drive me nuts sometimes, but my world would be a sad place without them.

Day 27: I am thankful for the world’s greatest (future) in-laws.  They have been such a part of my life for so many years.  They welcomed me into their lives during times of extreme turmoil for them all.  I remember thinking to myself ‘how brave these people are to wear their grief so outwardly but be so welcoming at the same time.’  I very much look forward to officially joining the family in August 2013.

Day 28: I am thankful for great friends.

Day 29: I am thankful for my Mom.  I am thankful for her craziness, her humor, her smiles.  She drives me crazy sometimes, and we definitely don’t always see eye to eye, but she’s my Mom and I love her.  I don’t have to agree with her, but I will always love her.

Day 30: I am thankful for an amazing partner.  For six years I called him my boyfriend.  As of August 17th (our six year ‘anniversary’) I get to call him my fiancee.  And on August 17th, 2013 I will get to call him my husband.  I am truly one lucky lady.  He makes me laugh.  He makes me smile.  He makes me think and pushes me to do better at everything.  He encourages me to live my best life.  He lifts me up when I am down and celebrates my successes.  Spending the rest of my life with this amazing man will be nothing short of incredible; and that is truly something to be thankful for!

I notice a theme in the things I am thankful for.  Namely that they aren’t “things.”  I am thankful for people.  For feelings.  For opportunities.  And I truly am.  I have an incredible family.  Wonderful future in-laws.  Amazing friends.  A rewarding career at a great company.  I have been through tough times and survived them.  I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

These are things I am thankful for every single day, but Thanksgiving definitely gives me a reason to really stop and reflect on how fortunate and blessed I really am.  I try not to take that for granted and hope that I am doing a good job.

So, what are you thankful for?  How did you spend your Thanksgiving?  With family?  Friends?  Alone?  Feel free to leave comments and be sure to check back throughout the next few days for the updates on days 26-30.

Happy Thanksgiving!

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…

You ever have one of those moments, one of those feelings?  A sense that you needed to do something?  Those feelings are rare, to be sure.  But they are deeply profound… even if you don’t know why at the moment.

We had one of those feelings tonight.  We left work right on time to go to the polls since we live in a state that allows early voting (and if you live in one that allows early voting as well I HIGHLY recommend doing it – total time door to door… 15 minutes).  We ran our regular ‘on the way home’ errands and decided we would go to Freeb!rds for dinner since we hadn’t been in a while and well, after camping out in the parking lot for a day, it’d be free.  We went inside and got in line and waited while other people got in line behind us.

While we were all waiting to give our order, the gentleman behind us struck up a conversation.  The enormity of the Super Monster was the conversation catalyst.  We all chatted cordially while we were waiting, and we found out that our new food line friend had never been to a Freeb!irds before.  So, we explained what it was about, what we liked and what the secret to the perfect burrito is – hint: ask for the queso.  The three of us chatted all the way through the line and our friend seemed so appreciative of our vast burrito knowledge.

When we went to ‘pay’ for our burritos, Brett told the cashier to put our friend’s burrito on his tab.  Granted we each have a bajillion free burritos, so there wasn’t any actual monetary transaction, but still.  When our friend went to pay for his food the cashier told him we had already covered it and all he needed to pay for was his drink.  He seemed so genuinely thrilled and so happy.  He thanked us and we told him to have a good night, and headed out the door to head home to eat and watch the Jayhawks.

As we started to pull out of the parking lot, Brett said he felt like we should go back inside and sit and eat with our new friend.  So, we did.  We got another parking spot.  Took our to go burritos inside and walked up to our friend and asked if we could join him for dinner.  As it turns out he was also meeting a friend there, so we got to enjoy the company of two new friends – double bonus!

Brett and I are very blessed to have the highest quality humans in our lives, and we have so much fun with them – Henderson Halloween Party, anyone?  But tonight was one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in a long while.

We learned about our new friend; his name, where he is from, what he does for a living.  We learned that he is a board member for a charity group that does amazing work right here in our very own community.  It was just a really beautiful moment.  All because we had a feeling that we should go back and eat dinner with a complete stranger.

I am so glad we did.

As we were walking back to the car Brett said to me ‘imagine what the world would be like if more people did that.’

Imagine, indeed.

I say it often.  I literally wear it on my ‘sleeve’ (technically it’s my wrist).  I truly believe it….

Kindness can change the world.

Mine was changed a little bit tonight.

Thank you new friend, and thank you universe for giving us the sense to turn around.

Chim Chim Che-ree! Happy Halloween, Lovelies!

Last night was our friends’ annual halloween party, something we look forward to every year because they do such an amazing job!  There is always a good food spread, incredible decorations, libations abundant, costume voting and awards, and a backdrop for photo ops.  So. Much. Fun!

The last several years there have been a theme, but this year the hosts decided not to have a theme.  I think it actually made coming up with a costume idea more difficult, but Brett and I NAILED it!!!

After discussing a couple of different ideas (I suggested cowboys and indians) we were having a tough time deciding on a really great costume idea.  The last two years Brett and I have won awards for our costumes, so we wanted to keep the trend going, of course!  So a couple weeks ago, Brett sent me a link that said ‘I think this might be the winner.’

I clicked on the link and knew he was right.  We gathered all of the pieces we would need for our costumes and set out to the party.  We had a great time as always, and after all the votes were tallied the results were announced… (drum roll please) And we won first place for Best Couple and second place for Best Overall!  How exciting!!

I know you’re all dying to know what our Award Winning costumes were so, without further ado……………………………………

So, if any of you are curious about the process of transforming ourselves into Mary Poppins and Bert, here are the details:

Mary Poppins

I bought a mid-length pin stripe jacket for $4.

I bought an XS men’s tuxedo shirt for $4

I bought a long navy blue skirt for $4

I bought the hat for $2 – the hat was white when I bought it, and the flowers and ribbon were falling off.  I bought some fabric paint for $3 at Hobby Lobby and removed the flowers and ribbon and painted the hat black.  Once the paint was dry I used a hot glue gun to reattach the flowers and ribbon.

I bought the red bowtie at Hobby Lobby as well.

I bought the bag and umbrella at Target.

The boots were my own.


We bought a wool suit coat at Salvation Army for $3

We bought the red scarf at Salvation Army for $1

We bought the newboy cap at Target

The black shirt, black pants and black shoes were Brett’s.

We used left over ash and charcoal from our fireplace for the ash on his face

For the chimney sweep broom, I repurposed an old broom that was in the basement.  We bought a styrofoam disc at Hobby Lobby and used left over paint from the Mary Poppins hat to paint the disc black.  Brett cut all the bristles off of the broom and I poked them into the disc until all the bristles were used and the broom looked full.  Once the paint was dry, I attached the disc to the broom handle and used hot glue to make sure it stayed in place.

I have to say, of all of the Halloween costumes I’ve ever put together, I think this is by far my most favorite!  And I was Rainbow Brite one year!  It was so fun to put everything together and see myself transform from everyday Arianna into Mary Poppins.  I found a YouTube tutorial to help with the makeup application and am really pleased with how everything came together.

Brett looked absolutely AWESOME as Bert and the fact that we were able to use real ash for his face and hands was just perfect.  We got lots of positive feedback about our costume and just had a really fun time with awesome friends.

Thanks to the Hendersons for hosting such a great time!