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Memorial Day is not ‘happy’

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Memorial Day and it’s meaning. I wrote this eight years ago. And I posted the screenshot below on Facebook six years ago.

But I keep seeing people post “HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!” and talk about big parties and Memorial Day celebrations. And, like…just no. No. NO!

There isn’t anything happy about this holiday. We’ve really lost the meaning of what this day is honoring. It’s called Memorial Day because the people we are “celebrating” aren’t alive anymore. This is a day that is painful for a great many people. Families and individuals alike.

For many people your bbq is a reminder that if they held one, a loved one would be missing. A mother, a father, a brother, a sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, husband, wife, friend, battle buddy, neighbor. It’s a day we should take to reflect on exactly what these people gave their lives for. Are we honoring their memories and sacrifice? Are we becoming better as a nation? As a society? As a person?

The families of these people have made a hard sacrifice. Being part of a military family is hard. The worry and stress are always there. And I’m just a #MilSis. I can’t imagine being a mil spouse to someone who is deployed. The worry must be agonizing. And Memorial Day must be an excruciating reminder to the family left behind.

So, let’s do better. Let’s honor the ultimate sacrifice they’ve made, and their families live with every day, and strive to be better; to focus less on what divides us and more on what we have in common. It’s okay to disagree on how to fix things, but let’s at least agree on what’s broken. And then find common ground on workable solutions. And advance those solutions so we can heal what’s fractured. Let’s take a page from the Aaron Burr book of advice and “talk less.” But, perhaps let’s ignore the advice of settling things with a duel?

The best thing we can do to honor their memory and sacrifice is to be willing to listen to uncomfortable information just because it doesn’t match our own experience. We are hurting as a nation, but we can heal. We just have to be willing to give as much of ourselves as the people we are honoring did.

Ringing in the positive

While at dinner with my father and sister and brother in-law last night my husband leaned over to me and very quietly said ‘I would like the next three sentences out of your mouth to be positive.’

Naturally, my immediate reaction was to go on the offense and my husband knew I would and told me ‘I know you’re trying to be funny. I don’t think you realize it’s negative. I was just making you aware.’

Funny thing is, he was right. (Don’t tell him I said that). I was trying to be funny and I didn’t realize I was being so negative.

And like it or not, I think this is something that I do often without even realizing it. Another example?

During a recent conversation about movies and actors I stated that I do not like Jennifer Lawrence. Everyone asked me why and I don’t really have a good reason. She just bugs me. But while I was having the same conversation with my best friend via text message, I said the reason I don’t like her is because everyone praises her for lashing out at the Hollywood bullies and ridiculousness of the industry name calling and the meanness of it all but she’s doing the same thing. She’s just attacking the the attackers. Just because you’re being mean to the meanies doesn’t mean you’re not being mean.

And then my best friend said ‘btw that’s you!’

Man. I suck.

I don’t want to be mean. And I don’t want to be negative. I’m the kid who tattooed the phrase ‘kindness can change the world’ on her wrist. The person who brought home an entire litter of flea infested puppies that were dumped on the road because I was afraid they were going to get run over. Or eaten by coyotes. I’m the nice person.

But recently I’ve been made aware that I’m not. I’m the mean person. And Humanity, I owe you a giant apology.

So, in 2014 I’m going to focus on the positive, pay more attention to my attitude, and make each day a reason to be thankful. Having just come off my favorite season, I think I need to do a better job at giving thanks all year instead of from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Here’s to 2014 and positivity!

Happy New Year

So 2012’s wrap up is a bit later than I had intended, but as today is Epiphany, and the Christmas season is officially over, today seems like the perfect day to complete this.

Each year, I go back and read the previous year’s reflections to see how the current year was different.  Reading through last year’s post I am smiling as I remember how truly blessed I am.

This year was a whirlwind of emotions and trials, ups and downs.  The impending ‘end of the world’ apocalypse that was supposed to happen obviously did not (thank goodness for that).  So, here are my reflections for 2012:

1) The year started off pretty uneventful, just like most other years.  But shortly after the first of the year, I lost my job.  It was devastating to me.  I didn’t know what we were going to do.  But, whenever one door closes another one opens, right?  It took longer than I wanted it to, but I am happy to say that I found a job.  One that I truly like going to each day.  I work for an incredible company and couldn’t be happier to be part of the team.

2) Charity is important to us, so we try to attend as many events as possible throughout the year.  This year we once again attended Jazzoo which has become our favorite charity event.  The benefactors of the event this year were the Sumatran Tigers who received a new habitat to lounge around and explore.  We were also able to attend three 5Ks; Head for the Cure – a race that raises money and awareness for brain cancer; Free to Breath – a race that raises money and awareness for lung cancer; and our company hosted their first ever race benefitting the kids at Della Lamb.  We are truly fortunate to be able to participate in so many events.  My hope for 2013 is that we are able to continue to help others.

3) Last year I wrote that I was in school and was almost finished.  I am so happy to say that I GRADUATED!  In May I officially became an alumnae of The University of Central Oklahoma forever becoming a Broncho.  My family hosted a cook out for me at a lake in Oklahoma and Brett’s family hosted a cook out at a park in Kansas a couple of weeks later.  It is one of my proudest moments.

4) The summer was full of busy-ness as always.  Lots of trips to the lake.  Boat rides, cook outs, fireworks, bon fires and topped off with an October reunion to reminisce about the Mexico trip last October.  My favorite part about the summer is the amount of family time that is had.  We are truly fortunate to have such a loving and supportive family.

5) Since the world in general is cyclical, some sadness was bound to creep into the year.  In June our beloved Bogey died.  Even now there is still an emptiness and there are still little things that set me to tears, but I am happy knowing that Bogey is no longer living with whatever pain he was carrying.

6) After a three-year house hunt (please note that those were not three entirely active years), we found the most wonderful house and made an offer.  On my birthday we found out that our offer was accepted and that the wonderful house was going to be our wonderful home!  Talk about an awesome birthday present!!  We moved in July 6th and have settled in nicely to our new home.  We hosted our first joint family dinner at Thanksgiving and having our families together to celebrate my favorite holiday was a dream come true for me.  Having our first Christmas in our new home was just as wonderful.  I may have gone a bit overboard decorating the house, but it looked beautiful.  For the first time in six years, we had a live tree for Christmas.  It was amazing.  I can’t wait to spend more Christmases here.

7) And, as always, my very favorite part of this year is that it is one more that Brett and I spent together.  Number six.  But this was my favorite year together by far.  In August we celebrated our sixth year together.  We went to dinner and exchanged gifts like we always do and then for some fun we headed over to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  I’ve always loved art museums, but the Nelson has undoubtedly become my favorite one because it’s where Brett proposed!  After six wonderful years of dating, we are going to be taking a walk down the aisle.  Keep your eyes open for Save the Dates and invitations, and keep your August calendar open!  And if you’d like to follow the wedding preparations, you can head on over to our wedding site.

So, there’s my wrap up for 2012.  It was a pretty exciting year. There were some bumps in the road, but overall, 2012 was a pretty awesome year and will probably go down as my favorite year (so far – I have a feeling that 2013 is going to be my new favorite).

I hope that your 2012 was everything you hoped it would be, brought you everything you needed, most of the things you wanted, and above all, was spent with family, friends, laughter and love.  If it wasn’t everything you needed it to be, then I hope 2013 is a better year for you.

Happy New Year!

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!

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.

Bert

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!