Family

Hello From The Other Side

Since my grandmother passed away last March, I have become a lot more aware of signs.

The day before she left, I took Bella to a public park close to our old apartment to throw the ball for her so she could burn off some steam. I also needed to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. My heart was heavy with the knowledge that I could and would lose my grandma at any moment, and the feeling of being inside was oppressive.

When we got to the park, we found a vacant soccer field full of dandelions for Bella to run around in. Feeling sad and thinking it couldn’t hurt to pick a dandelion, make a wish, and blow the petals away, I leaned down and plucked a random one from the ground. I can’t remember what I wished for – it probably had something to do with sending my grandma off peacefully. After I made my wish, I blew on the flower to release the seedlings. It was as they were flying away that I noticed something red about the size of my pinky nail in the center of the bloom.

A ladybug. A symbol of luck, granting wishes, blessings and finding true happiness. And of all the thousands of dandelions in the field that day, I picked the one with a ladybug inside it. The tiny little bug brought me so much peace that day, and has made me acutely aware of other signs like her since then.

Not long after my grandma died, I was driving to work when a white bird flew in front of my car. And not just any white bird – a white dove. A bird not at all indigenous to the Sacramento area. A bird that represents purity, love and peace, and encourages you to reconnect with your spirituality or a loved one.

I am not a magazine reader by any means – I don’t follow gossip columns, I don’t subscribe to Cosmo. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I even purchased a magazine let alone read one But somehow I ended up with a free subscription to Women’s Health magazine. And today I finally decided to pick up one of the issues and flip through it. What prompted me to write this post was an article I read in Women’s Health magazine today, titled “Love Advice from the Other Side.” The article interviews a woman who is a medium that specializes in helping women find love by communicating with “teams” and reading signs from the other side.

One thing to know about me – I am fascinated by the idea that we may be able to communicate with the other side. And this article sort of solidified how I’ve been feeling since I lost my grandma; like she’s been trying to subtly steer me in the right direction – dropping little hints and putting certain people and opportunities in my life.

From March of last year through January of this year, my dating game changed a lot. I stopped going out with the “bad boy” persona, and started to set my sights on men whose goals and aspirations matched my own. Whose backgrounds and family dynamics paralleled my own. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

It was in late January, almost exactly eleven months ago, that I met my boyfriend. I had reconnected with my idiot ex a few weeks before, and when he pissed me off again for the 68793498347th time, I gave him the boot. The final boot. It could have been that I was just sick of his shit and that was the last straw, but I think my grandma had a lot to do with it. I think she gave me the strength I needed to finally cut the jackass out of my life and move on.

And had I not had that horrible ex, I never would have been able to truly appreciate the man I am with now. So maybe that was another thing my grandma executed – the timing of it all.

I might sound crazy to you, and truth be told I haven’t always believed in ghosts, paranormal activity, spirits, etc. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to find comfort in thinking there may be a realm just beyond ours. There’s peace of mind in knowing that my grandma could very well be watching over me, and helping to guide me on the right path in life.

Even if you don’t believe in mediums and the afterlife, I encourage you to read the article. It’s an interesting read, and gives you a few tips on how to be more aware of the subtle hints and signs in your own life.

A thank you to my grandmother, who was like another mother to me, and who has led me to the beautiful place in life I am in today.

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What Is Love?

I’m a woman of few relationships.

I tend to stray to the side of independence. Who needs men and all that, right?

A week ago, my family lost somebody near and very dear to our hearts – my paternal grandmother.

My grandparents were married for 66 years. They met when they were in high school – HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS. How often does that happen these days? Uh, yeah – NEVER.

Last Friday, my whole family, all seven of us, gathered around as my grandmother slipped peacefully off into another life. It was emotional for all of us, as it would be for any other family, I think.

But on that day, the most emotional vision I experienced was my grandpa – a generally stoic man who, on the scale of emotions goes, displays only the very minimum required in any situation. And while we all cried for the sake of losing a loved one, my grandpa sobbed onto my grandmother’s lifeless shoulder because he had lost something that day that none of us had – his soulmate.

It was that moment that I had a total and complete epiphany about my life – about everyone in it, about the relationships I’ve had, the choices I’ve made. Not only did I feel sadness about losing my grandma, but I also felt regret, and anger and stupidity at myself. Life is short; life is precious. I realized that I didn’t want to waste another second of it being young and dumb and careless.

I’m not sure if I believe in angels or heaven, but I do believe that when our loved ones pass on they watch over those who survive them. The day after my grandma passed, I went out with a guy who had been trying to get me out for a week. I know what you’re thinking – way to freakin’ mourn. But we all grieve differently. I don’t like to stay inside and cry. I need air in my lungs and the thrill of life. That is how I deal with loss.

But back to this guy. He stuck out my emotional rollercoaster over my grandma for a week. He was supportive and sweet for the six days that I struggled with watching her slip away from planet earth. And I didn’t even know the guy. We had only met one time. And because he was so patient and understanding, I thought, “What the hell. Why not give the guy a chance?”

And so I did.

And it was absolutely one of the funnest nights of my whole life.

He took my mind off of everything, and I found myself having such an easy connection with him.

When we parted ways, I was completely surprised to find myself missing him (a feeling I am not at all familiar with, as I tend to prefer my solitude and peace; in fact, usually the situation is reversed).

I’ve spent the last week getting to know this man. I’ve had so many laughs, the conversation has flowed so easily and freely, and for some reason every emotional wall that I’ve ever had up just wants to come tumbling down.

I have no idea if anything will ever come of this, but I do believe that my grandmother placed this person in my life for a reason. It’s like she knew, due to past relationships, that I was closing myself off emotionally from the potential to find love.

So for this, grandma, I want to say thank you. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but there is nothing like the ups and downs of emotions to remind us that, at the end of the day, we are all human. And we are programmed to find love. There is someone (or, perhaps, many someones) out there for all of us – we just have to be open to finding out and open to sticking it out.

Until death do us part.

Thanks for the Memories

Earlier this evening, while sharing a homemade pizza with my parents, I learned some sad news about a friend of mine from high school. A couple of weeks ago, while she and her husband of four years were having dinner (as they do every night), he casually mentioned, as if having a normal conversation, that he no longer saw a future with her and didn’t want to be married anymore. That night, he packed his things and moved out.

While devastating for my friend (especially because she is thousands of miles away on the east coast, far removed from family and really any friends), I realized how lucky she is to have such a great relationship with her family, even if they are so far away from her.

While we all know by now how much I believe in a woman’s independence, I do, however, believe that there is someone out there that is right for me – and had that someone pulled that kind of BS on me, I would be so, SO grateful that I have such a wonderful network of family and friends to keep me going through such a difficult time.

With the holidays literally just around the corner, and with a day devoted to giving thanks just a mere handful of hours away, I thought it appropriate to send out a little blast to the people in my life who make every day worth living. To my family and friends – I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the endless love and support and for always believing in me even when at some points I didn’t even believe in myself. Thank you for lifting me up when I was down and making me laugh when I wanted to cry. Thank you for always encouraging me and pushing me to do and be my very best. Life truly is better when you surround yourself with good and positive people. I am so very lucky to have the best family and friends that a girl could ever hope for.

And, while we’re here, to the people who are no longer a part of my life (for one reason or another) – thank you for helping to shape me into the person I am today. Without whatever drama or problems you may have caused me, I never would have learned from the situations and realized that the things I thought I wanted out of life were actually not what I wanted out of life. I am who I am today, and I’ve bettered myself thus far because of all of you who tried to bring me down. So thank you for making me realize that I am a better person than I was allowing myself to be. Thank you for making me realize that my initial path in life wasn’t so bad after all.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who might happen to come across this post. You should always be grateful for the people in your life, but take special care to thank those loved ones this week. Whether your family is made up of blood or just people that are close to you, family is family. Family is forever. And blood is thicker than water.

Season of Love

Okay, so it’s not much of a season – more of a day – Valentine’s Day. But it’s based on love, all the same.

And I don’t know about you, but Valentine’s Day always manages to remind me of how lucky I am to have certain people in my life. I have spent 99% of my Valentine’s Days as a single girl, so for me this Hallmark holiday really just represents the importance of loving the people that matter most to me. That’s not to say that I don’t love them the other 364 days of the year, but with a holiday based solely on reminding people you love them by showering them with gifts, it’s impossible to overlook the important ones in my life who truly allow me to shine.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I recently (and currently) have been dealing with a rough patch in my life. While it does bring me down every once in a while, and while it truly tests my strength both as a human and as a woman in her late twenties, I know that I will survive and come out on top. And the reason I know this is because I have incredible people in my life, despite a certain individual who tried to alienate me and isolate me from them. Without them, I know that I alone would not have the willpower or the yearning to get through a lot of the things I come across in my life. And while I believe that it is important and empowering to do things solo (if you couldn’t tell from some of my other posts, I’m a HUGE advocate of individuality), I am finding that there certainly is power in numbers.

And so, despite all of my female empowerment posts, it is time, ladies, to realize that there is also power in friendship and family. Whether or not you have family by blood, having someone or a group of someones that are “family” to you is extremely important.

I don’t believe in God. I believe in the Earth evolving. And evolution, unfortunately, has bred some wacko people who every day walk among us. Some of us, also unfortunately, cross paths with them and are forced to overcome obstacles in their lives that they never even thought they would have to. It is in these times that the people who truly matter will support and defend you. It is in these times that we truly need a support group and a family to back us up. Those of us that have love, and have love above all other things, will make it through. Survival of the fittest. Sadly, so will the crazies.

Darwin broke it down so well for us. And I must say that using animal analogies in this situation suits perfectly. The crazy wack jobs out there are the scavengers. They are the rats, the crabs, the seagulls of the world – the animals that will do anything and eat anything in order to survive. And we, the people with the families and friends and loved ones to turn to, we are the whale pods, the gazelles, the lion prides in the Sahara Desert. We will prevail, we have love, we have strength, we have power. Nothing and nobody will stop us. The only thing that EVER stands in our way is ourselves.

THIS is what Valentine’s Day brings forth in my mind. This is what I think about on the 14th of February every year. I don’t think about how sad I am that I’m not getting chocolates or flowers (because, frankly, I hate chocolate and I hate flowers). I don’t feel sad that I don’t have a boyfriend or a significant other to share a silly, fake holiday with. No.. I think about the REAL loved ones – the people I’m close to, that I’m in touch with every single day. The people who would truly break my heart if they decided to no longer be a part of my life.

I encourage all of you out there to take this time of year to truly appreciate the people closest to you. Even your pets (if you have them). They bring us a joy every single day that even no human could bring. A simple little goldfish brings peace and serenity. The lick from our dog or a sweet “meow” from our cat as we walk in the door after a long day just makes our hearts melt and the stresses of the day fall away. Regardless of what the holiday has always represented (at least, in America), Valentine’s Day is really about appreciating and loving everyone who has always, ALWAYS been there for you, and everyone who always will be.

So, if any of my friends or family are reading this, thank you for being here for me. I couldn’t make it through this crazy, beautiful life without any of you. I love you all to the moon and back (I know, so cliche, but it IS Valentine’s Day after all ;)).

The Griswalds

Family.

Ah, yes. The sweet word that brings about an instant cringe slash eye-roll, but in the same moment equally brings an all-knowing smile.

You can laugh all you want at the title of this post – but the reality of the Griswald family [from all of the “Vacation” movies, for those of you that have been living under a rock], and the reason that they make us laugh so hard, is that they are us. They are the typical American family.

Okay, maybe not TOTALLY typical, but they are pretty close. A father who just wants to do right by his family, and tries to hide his shortcomings from his loved ones; a wife who adores him because she knows all his secrets and loves him regardless; a son and a daughter who are embarrassed by their parents as equally as they love them [throw in a little standard sibling rivalry and normal family drama – and – VOILA! – Familia Americana 101].

The stress here is family. I know that in this day and age, a family cannot just be described or defined by blood. To some of us, family is our closest friends, or even our colleagues. For others, we do not accept anyone as family except for our pets. The beauty of today is that there is no person or no law that defines what a family truly is.

All we know, inherently as humans, is that family is important. Deep down, every single one of us knows that we cannot survive without some version of family.

True, there are some out there that prefer the company of a book rather than any life form, but does that not count as well? Anything that brings you comfort or makes you feel anything but alone – THAT is family.

I realized recently [albeit, almost too late in my little, short life] how important having something or someone to call family truly is. They will always have your back, no matter what. And only the people who are TRULY your family will. The people who you THINK are family, and then turn your back on you when the going gets rough – well, they are nothing but cowards. They are fair-weather-family.. People who only exist to feed off of you until you can no longer provide for them. The people that stick by your side through thick and through thin – they are your family. And don’t ever forget that.

My point of titling this the Griswalds [aside from making the all-too-familiar familial comparison], was to point out that despite their complete disfunction as a family, they are truly happy and they always manage to enjoy themselves or come together. And to emphasize that family doesn’t necessarily have to be blood, human, or even alive, to that point. Family is what makes us feel a part of something and gives us a silent strength that we may not have discovered on our own.

Don’t take the people in your life that equal family for granted. Do what you can to appreciate them and thank them at every turn. They may not be blood, nor may they be alive; but once something has been banished from your life, it is extremely hard to get it back.

In short, be appreciative. Love who and what is important to you, and never hesitate to hide it. If there’s one thing that this planet needs, it’s more love – more emotion and appreciation. More openness and less shyness.

Unless your life is at risk [or, if your life is at risk and you don’t care], then there really is no reason to hide how you feel. Don’t be afraid to be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to be honest and open. You have absolutely nothing to lose.