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the good stuff

As I sit here early in the morning of the last day of the year, my house is quiet with the exception of an occassional sneeze or cough from me. Recovering from this massive cold has been tough. I have the pattern down now though, its a seven minute cycle… rub a little vaseline on my nose to help the soreness, cough a few times, eyes tear up, a sneeze is coming, grab a tissue, finally three sneezes (they always come in threes), grab another tissue for cleanup, then reapply vaseline, and the cycle starts again.

Life is full of cycles, the longer I live and the more I learn, the more I see this. There are small, everyday cycles like paying the bills, maintenance on the car, and the weekly run to the grocery store (or in my case, the monthly run to the grocery store – ha, ha). Then there are the bigger cycles, the ones that can often change your life. People passing away but turning around and seeing a newborn baby. Happiness and joy that are followed by hardships which in time resolve again to happiness. Relationships that work for a while, struggle for a while, and then come back around. At any given time every person you meet is at various points in each of their dozens of cycles that represent their lives.

I know in my last post I talked a great deal about the hardships my family has faced over the last twenty years or so. But I failed to mention all the amazing good stuff that happened in the middle of all the difficulties, I failed to show the cycle.

So here it goes… some of the good stuff…

First and foremost, as dysfunctional as we can be, I have always had a family in tact and in contact with each other throughout all of these years. One to celebrate holidays and birthdays with, one to share good news with, and one to cry with when life falls apart. That is a lot more than many people have and through all the hardships, life has been easier because I’ve always felt the security of my lovely and crazy family.

But as for some specifics…

My brother and I both graduated college – my brother being the first from either side of our family to do so. I went on to obtain my masters and I became the first from either side of our family to reach that goal. I am so proud of my parents for creating the ability for my brother and I to continue our education. And they did so in hopes that we could build stronger foundations that would pave better paths for our lives. I know that it was a financial hardship for them and added strain to an already heavy load of problems. But out of love and dedication, they put their children first and made sacrifices to give us a selfless gift. I will forever be grateful.

All of my family has had the opportunity to travel many times. Even though we often did not all travel together, combined we have seen more than 25 different countries as well as several destinations within the U.S. like New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Miami.

I have two favorite trips, my first being the one I shared with only my mother. We sailed off on an Alaskan cruise just a few short weeks before we received news of her breast cancer diagnosis. The beauty and timing of that trip I will never forget. My mother is my best friend and sharing such a remarkable experience with her meant more to me than I could ever express.

My second favorite trip was the last one I shared with my entire immediate family – a trip to DisneyWorld. I know it sounds childish, a trip to DisneyWorld. But that trip was the first vacation that my father’s health held up relatively well and he actually seemed to enjoy sharing the time with us. I know many of you think I’m horrible saying these things about my deceased father. I want you to know that I loved him dearly, he was my dad after all. But this does not erase the fact that he was a difficult man and often made vacations and life feel more like a boot camp nightmare and he was the drill sergeant nobody wants. But on this particular vacation, he relaxed a little. I actually enjoyed being with him. And it marked a change in how I viewed my father and our relationship. I will never forget that.

During these years I purchased my first home. I bought the plans and let the builder create the dream. I had so much fun planning and preparing, picking wall colors, counter tops, floors, and furniture. I felt a bit out of place that first night alone in my new house, but quickly adapted to life on my own.

I have also worked at the same place for eight years and have come to find that it continues to fulfill my professional aspirations. When I come to moments where it would be easy for the job to become static and redundant, it always manages to present new challenges. I could not ask for a better place to work. I love the people I work with and the responsibilities I have within the organization. I am very thankful.

And one more thing then I’ll wrap this one up. I have learned that it is often during the difficult times when the good stuff creeps in to catch you off guard. Just like after my father passed away and my mother’s cancer diagnosis… the outpouring of love and generosity from our wonderful friends was irreplaceable and continues to be. “… a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9… how true that statement is. At my family’s lowest times, our friends have been a big part of what has kept us going by renewing our spirits and providing help when we needed it.

These are just a brief few moments of good stuff that have kept the cycles of my life going. As we kick off another cycle with the new year I hope that you all find a small moment to reflect on your own lives. To think about what has happened, where you are and where you are going. To remember what is important to you and to be able to focus on that. May you all have a Happy New Year!

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