A Beautiful Spirit

Some things in life don’t make sense.

Why do some have more then others?

Why does an innocent child become terminally ill?

Why does the world seem to be in constant turmoil?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

It doesn’t make any sense and I doubt it ever will.

For the last year I had the privilege of working with one of the most wonderful people I have every met. She was a teacher in a school who cared deeply about the children in her class. She was a beautiful woman, on the inside and out. This woman was amazing; always spunky, always happy, always smiling, always positive. Her smile was infectious. Even on a bad day, if I saw her, I couldn’t help but smile. She was the most positive person I’ve ever know. Even in the most horrible situations, she always looked on the bright side.

I think that says a lot for someone’s character.

She was a young woman, only 42, with a husband and three children. She loved her job, adored children, and had her whole life in front of her.

So, imagine the shock when we all found out she had cancer.

Imagine thinking you had Lyme Disease only to find out you actually had cancer.

Every morning she still came to work, still taught the kids in her class, and loved every one of them.

This wonderful woman was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, one that only smokers can develop. She never smoked a day in her life. And there’s no know cure either.

She was a fighter. Even on her darkest days she powered through. Her willingness to try any drug that might help and chemo came from her positive attitude and desire to live. Anything that would help.

Nothing did.

But her will to live was amazing. She never gave up.

She had good days and bad days, but never stopped fighting, even when she became too weak for chemo and ended up in the hospital.

She dictated letters, one to her husband and another to her father, from her hospital bed. Both were meant to be read by the staff and her class. Even now, she was still so positive.

I think one of the greatest, or saddest, parts, of the situation was that she truly believed she was going to get better (I guess it all depends on how you look at it.).

We all believed she was going to get better too. We were all hoping for a miracle.

In a way, I guess we got one. It wasn’t the one we were looking for and certainly not what we were hoping.

It was a shock when she passed away. It all happened so fast, within the span of four months. Cancer. The aggressive, silent killer.

Almost a week later and it still doesn’t seem real, but I keep reminding myself that at least she’s not suffering anymore and she’s in a better place.

It still doesn’t make sense, even with that slight rationality, and I doubt it ever will.

I think we can learn a lot from this woman. After all, she was a great teacher. Her kindness and positive attitude shined in every situation. She was always willing to help others and had a great love for all people.

Imagine what kind of world it would be if more of us carried her attitude; if there was more kindness, more love, more positivity.

It goes to show that there are no guarantees in life. We are only guaranteed today while tomorrow is a promise that may never come.

Life is a beautiful gift. Every day is a beautiful gift.

I don’t believe she ever took life for granted.

She was, and will forever be, a beautiful person.

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The Things Dogs Teach Us

Dogs really are “man’s best friend.” I’ve grown up with them and I’m confident in saying that dogs teach us some of the greatest life lessons.

PUPPIES ARE LIKE BABIES
Babies wet their dippers. Puppies wet the carpet.

Babies spit up food. Puppies spit up whatever it was they weren’t suppose to eat that day.

Babies put things in their mouths. Puppies put things in their mouths.

Babies cry in the middle of the night. Puppies cry in the middle of the night.

Babies are adorable. Puppies are adorable.

Although I don’t currently have children, I have spend a majority of my life around kids. I babysat my way through middle school, high school and college and if there’s two things children have taught me it’s; 1.) they need a lot of care and 2.) they have a sense of complete innocence.

It’s kind of the same with dogs.

Puppies are a lot of work. They need constant care; food, water, brushing, bathing, house training, play time. Even with your best efforts you may find them still wanting to play after dinner or at bedtime, but you still love them.

It’s like having a child.

Both are completely dependent on you.

Babies teach us patients, among other things. Puppies teach us patients, among other things.

Babies work their way into your heart. Puppies work their way into your heart.

LOOK INTO MY EYES, I’M LISTENING
Have you ever looked a dog in the eyes?

They appear almost human, as if there’s a person inside. Their face seems animated as their little eyebrows wiggle up and down while their eyes are deep and soulful.

I often look into my dog’s eyes when I’m talking to her. (I assure you I’m not crazy. Lots of people talk to their dogs.). She stares back, sometimes shifting her eyes or wiggling her eyebrows. As strange as it may sound, she gives me facial expressions. It makes me feel as though she’s actually listening. I know she is, although she might not understand what I’m saying, I know she hears me.

Dogs are excellent listeners.

BE HAPPY

Everyday when I come home from work, I’m greeted by an excited face and a wagging tail. It’s as if she hears me coming before I even put the key into the lock. She jumps up and down and wants to lick my face as I try to get in the door. Even if it was a tough day at work, I seem to forget all about it once I make it home. All the stress melts away as my dog tries to jump up and nibble my ears (yes, for some reason she nibbles…and it’s cute). So whether the day brought stress, frustration, or I’m just happy to be home (because we all have those bad work days), it’s hard to feel anything but happy around my dog.

Have you ever noticed how dogs are (usually) always happy? They seem to have a carefree attitude, which us humans should think about adopting. I understand we can’t be carefree all the time, but isn’t it true that we stress and worry a little too much? Yes, I know there’s work and/or school, kids, bills, the car, the house and many other big or little things that may come up during the day, but stressing about these things aren’t going to make them better. Maybe adopting a somewhat carefree spirit would help us out. On the other hand, if a carefree spirit isn’t the way to go, then, maybe we should all just try to be happier. At the end of the day the things that make us happy are more abundant then the things that stress us out.

THE JOY OF LITTLE THINGS
The dog found a stick.

The dog found a leaf to chaise across the yard.

The dog is fed and then goes on a walk.

The dog chased a chipmunk up the drain pipe and is now playing with it.

Have you noticed how dogs can find joy in the the little things?

It still amazes me how dogs can be happy doing just about anything. Sometimes the smallest things gives them pleasure. Now, I know some may say that they’re “just dogs,” but that’s not true. They become our friends and teachers. There is something oddly human about them, especially in their eyes. I think we should all listen to this lesson and enjoy the little things life has to offer.

DON’T EAT IT IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS
Every dog I’ve had, or ever known, has always enjoyed a nice helping of yard salad. For some reason they eat grass, even when they don’t feel sick. I wish it was just the grass they had a fancy for, but it’s just about everything they find in the yard, even if they don’t know what it is.

My dogs have eaten tissues (and other items found in the trash), dirt, worms, caterpillars, little beetles in the summer, dandelions, twigs and tree bark, just to name a few. There have been attempts to eat rocks or pebble, bottle caps, erasers, shoes, stuffed animals and leaves, again, just to name a few.

Sometimes, the dog I have now, will put things in her mouth and chew on it for a bit before spitting it out. I guess she thinks it tastes bad or she just doesn’t want it. Every now and again she’ll start gagging because something she wasn’t suppose to eat is slowly working it’s way down her throat. Other times, and not very often, she’ll throw up something she ate and leave a nice pile of undigested something to be cleaned up.

The thing here is, it’s alright to try new things, but really, don’t eat it if you don’t know what it is.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
This one is pretty simple. Dogs will always show affection and love you. Maybe we should think about loving others in the same way.

BE WILD AND FREE
My dog’s crazy (not in a mental way). Fun crazy. She tears around the yard after tennis balls and other toys. At times she doesn’t even bring them back, just runs around with them in her mouth with the intention that I’ll chase her. I usually do, and then end up looking as crazy as her. It’s ok though, because it feels really good to run around for no reason.

That’s the thing about us humans. We rarely take time for ourselves. We rarely throw caution to the wind and do what our hearts desire. Many of us know what we want out of life, but few of us have the courage to chase those dreams. The truth is, or at least I believe the truth is, there are no boundaries in life except the ones we make for ourselves. Still, few of us are willing to be wild and free like a dog tearing after its tennis ball.

LOVE LIFE
I think this might be the most important lesson a dog can teach us; love life.

DOG SPELLED BACKWARDS IS…
No disrespect is intended on this point, but it’s something I’ve thought about off and on for the last several years. Maybe this is why dogs are such good companions. Maybe this is why they are always there for us, always love us, always helping us to find joy and be happy. Maybe this is why they are trying to teach us to love life. After all, every day we’re alive is a miracle, another chance to do good, to live our dreams and to simply live.

Forget Fear

Yesterday I was invited to go ice skating. I jumped at the chance; the chance to spend time with my friend, to get out of the house, to meet new people and to do something new.

It dawned on me later that day that this was definitely going to be something new. The last time I was on ice skates, I was 5 years old. It didn’t turn out well. I was on my butt more then my feet, even though I had one of those bars you could hold onto and push across the ice. My parents had signed me up for ice skating lessons and all the kids had these bars. I can’t speak for the others, but I remember hanging on for dear life while the instructors tempted us to move forward with cookies. That was their teaching method; cookies. While I am quite the cookie monster, it might have been helpful if they showed us how to move our feet and stop, among other things. No, instead they stuck us out on the middle of the ice with a bar for balance (a lot of good that did) and expected us to be able to skate toward the cookie. Sorry, but learning something new isn’t magic. It takes hard work and practice. I don’t remember the day perfectly, but I do remember leaving the ice crying and never putting on a pair of skates again…until last night.

I’m sitting on a bench outside the rink, putting on my rented skates, when I realized I don’t know how to lace skates. I refused to ask how to lace a pair of ice skates and decide I could figure it out, which I did (that was the easy part). My friend stood up and asked if I was ready to go.

“You know I’m going to fall down as soon as I stand up?” I said.

He kind of laughed. (If I didn’t know this guy since high school, I may have thought he was laughing at me instead of at what I said.).

I stood up and gained my balance before walking to the rink with no problems. It felt a little strange, walking on nothing but a single blade, but I think this, like lacing them, was also the easy part.

When I stepped onto the ice, I was holding onto the side. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to move because I was afraid of falling. And yes, I know the possible irony of the situation. I agreed to go ice skating when I was afraid of falling, when I hadn’t been on a pair of skates since I was a kid. I told my friend this and he asked why I wanted to come. Why did I want to come? Well, for all the reasons I already listed. Plus, if you don’t try new things you just end up sitting around doing nothing. What kind of life is that? Not a life I want.

So that’s how I ended up standing on the ice with zero skating ability and an unwillingness to let go of the side.

As for falling, it wasn’t so much that I was afraid of falling in itself, but falling on my face. I’ve had too many close calls with my face. In the past, my falls have had me leading with my face, which is something you never want to do, if you can help it.

I didn’t want to hang onto the side forever, so I forgot about falling (possibly on my face) and let go. My friend was nice enough to offer me his hand (which I held onto almost all night) and helped me around the ice. He even started teaching me how to skate (no balance bar or cookies included…although I could have went for the cookies). He’s a good teacher too, but it only took two minutes for me to end up on my butt. I was sprawled out on the ice laughing. When I stood back up it only took another two seconds before, somehow, I was losing control, spinning in the opposite direction and careening into my friend.

Laughing. Lots of laughing.

If you can’t laugh at yourself, well, you have to be able to laugh at yourself.

I certainly was laughing at myself last night.

Once I was pointed in the right direction, and holding onto my friend, we were off. Rather, he was off. I looked like Bambi learning how to walk.

Slowly, I learned, although, the second time I fell I was standing still. It was as if someone came and knocked my feet out from under me. I’m not really sure what happened, but I laughed about it. I mean, have you ever tried standing up on ice when you’re already off balance? It’s not easy. And laughing makes it a lot harder.

My final fall was pretty graceful. I’m not sure what happened there either. I just know one minute I was on my feet and the next I was on my butt, the cold ice seeping through my jeans.

Laughing. Always laughing.

My friend even left me for awhile to do some laps on his own, which was fine because I didn’t want to hold him back. He looked like a pro the way he was zipping around the ice, at least compared to me. Apparently he wanted to give me time to “take the training wheels off” and “spread my wings.”

That’s just it though, isn’t it? Eventually we have to spread our wings and see how far we can go on our own. Sure we might fall flat on our butt or back or hip or some other part of our body, but it’s all part of the learning process. When you fall, you have to get up again. You can’t be afraid to do or try things because then you just end up sitting around. What kind of life is that? No life I want.

Everything that’s new is scary at first, but if it’s something you want to do, then, you should try it.

Half the things that I’ve done in my life would never have happened if I stayed afraid of doing them. When I worked for newspapers, every day was an adventure. I rarely knew what I was doing or where I would be going on any given day. I never expected to climb into the cockpit of a WWII plane or hop on the back of a motorcycle with a complete stranger as part of the Honor Flight escort. Outside of work, I never expected to walk down the back ally behind the venue at 16 to meet my favorite band, to run my college newspaper, to ask some of the questions I’ve asked to get to where I want to be (the worse thing a person can say is “no”), to enter my stories in contests and send them to literary magazines (my rejection pile is growing, but one day my acceptance pile will begin to grow too), to do all the things that I’ve done.

I never expected to be the writer or photographer I am today.

I never expected to be the person I am today.

Experiences shape us.

Experiences are called living.

It’s alright to be afraid, but we shouldn’t let fear rule over us. These become obstacles and the things we must over come.

I believe there are no boundaries in life, only the ones we make for ourselves.

So, yes, I went ice skating. I had no clue what I was doing. I may have held onto my friend the for the majority of the time and possibly crushed a few bones in his fingers, but I learned to skate (sort of). And yes, I did fall (and yes I ended up with a bruise the size and color of a plum), but at least I can say I tried something new. At least I can say I lived. And most importantly I can say I had fun and would do it again in a heartbeat.

I Still Remember You (And Everything You Taught Me)

When I was in college, I had a journalism teacher I will never forget.

He was a little old man (old enough to be my grandpa) who walked around campus with nothing but a jean jacket and a baseball cap, even in the middle of winter. Actually, he shuffled. He shuffled around campus and I often wondered how he made it anywhere on time.

So began the mistakes of first impressions.

I would soon find out that he had more spunk then I imagined.

Going in on the first day of class I was in the same boat as everyone else; we didn’t know what to expect. When I walked into the classroom there were only three other students (out of fifteen) sitting around two long tables and the teacher was sitting at the head of the class. He had his eyes closed and his head resting on the back of the chair.

I thought he was dead. Seriously. I thought my teacher was dead.

I’ll never be able to say why this was my first thought, because I don’t know. All I know is that he wasn’t moving and I was surprised by his age and the fact that he was still teaching, but I would soon realize that he could, and would, teach me more then I thought possible.

This was the hardest class I ever took in college, even harder then any math or science class (which were never my strong points). I wrote every essay and journalistic article assigned and always made sure I was handing in my best work. So when the first paper came back with a glaring red C staring at me, I felt disappointed. I worked even harder on the next paper; a B. He kept giving me Bs and I became increasingly frustrated. I often wondered, “What do I have to do to get an A?” The day I chose to talk to him about a paper, he told me I could do better.

Do better? Do better? How could I do better when I was already handing in my best work? I didn’t see it then, but I see now that he believed I was a better writer then the assignments I handed in were reflecting. So he was pushing me, challenging me, and I accepted that challenge. (And if you’re curious, yes, I did finally receive that A I was after).

He sat at the head of the table like a king on a thrown. He ran the classroom like a real newsroom, calling us by our last names with a “Mr.” or “Ms.” in front. He sent us out on, what most of us thought were, silly and ridiculous assignments. We would spend ten or fifteen minutes in a parking lot counting cars, looking at license plates and car colors as well as make and model. Then we would go back to the classroom and he would ask us questions about what we saw in the parking lot, or wherever it was he sent us that day. If we didn’t know the answer, he sent us back out. Sometimes he would give us almost impossible assignments or just tell us to read the newspaper.

Yes, he was old. He was soft spoken (until someone was rude or disrespectful and he kicked them out of the classroom). He was rough around the edges and, even though I continued getting my As, I spent most of my time wishing I could slap him. Disrespectful, I know, but if you knew this man then you may have felt the same way.

To be honest, I thought he was a complete asshole and wondered what I could really learn from him, but this would be yet another mistake of first impressions.

As time went on, I was able to get to know him better. He sent us on these so-called silly assignments because he was trying to teach us to pay attention to details. So they weren’t really silly at all. They were learning tools. Everything he made us do was a learning tool and he was anything but a conventional teacher. He made us read the newspaper so we were informed, but somehow assignments always came from what we read. He wouldn’t let us hand papers in late because he was teaching us about deadlines (you can’t hand in a article late to a news editor). He pushed us because he cared.

Once I figured him out, I realized I liked his style and he really was a great teacher, so I signed up for all his classes. Although, you can’t really figure a person out, not completely. They always have untold stories, but I was about to hear some of his.

Turns out this man was brilliant. He was a reporter and editor for newspapers all around the country. He had seen and done things that made me realize he was a reporter during a very different time. (Somehow he reminded me of those real gritty newspaper reporters you see in old black and white films. The ones you see with a press card sticking out of their hat, a cigarette hanging out of their mouth, always keeping cool under pressure.). Once he retired (or was pushed out of the business due to his age, so the story goes) he started teaching.

I’m thankful I realize this man was a wealth of knowledge and I could learn from him. Other students made fun of him because of his age, calling him a dinosaur behind his back. Sure, he was old enough to be our grandpa, but he knew what he was talking about. For years he lived what he was now trying to teach us and, to me, that was worth more then a PhD professor.

I didn’t talk to him again until my last semester. I would wave to him in passing and saw him shuffling around campus almost everyday. In the winter I would see him with his jean jacket and baseball cap and wonder, “How can you not be cold?” It made me smile because I would have on boots, gloves, a coat, a hat and a scarf (and sometimes still be cold). On the day I talked to him, I was making my way back from a class and saw him sitting in a classroom, alone. I stopped in the doorway. He looked up from his newspaper and we started talking. I told him I was super stressed because of this one class. He asked if I wanted to talk about it and I told him him it probably wouldn’t do much good.

We agreed to meet Tuesday morning for coffee, even though I don’t drink coffee. Neither of us had a commitment to a class until about eleven and, honestly, besides reading or writing, what else was I going to do?

I didn’t know this Tuesday coffee meeting was going to turn into a weekly event, but I’m glad it did because I enjoyed them tremendously. He had his coffee (black, no sugar or cream) and I had my tea or hot chocolate. We talked about the news, life, books (I suggested some he might want to read and he gave me books to keep), he told me stories from his past (about when he was growing up, how and why he chose journalism, about when he was a reporter and then an editor) and I told him stories too (about my goals and dreams). He encouraged me on my writing and the idea that I wanted to write a book one day (something I am still working on). Once he found out I was a photographer, he wanted to see some of my photos, and encouraged me with that too (even gave me a photo book). In so many ways it really was like talking to my grandpa.

Once I graduated and found my first job at a newspaper, he was constantly in my head every time I sat down to write an article or went out on assignment; ask the hard questions, the most important information goes in the front, what’s your angle?, keep it fresh, it’s ok to ask them to repeat themselves if you don’t understand, pay attention to detail, did you know obituaries are the only full story in a newspaper because they have a beginning, middle and end?, always ask ‘why,’ chase the story.

I wonder what he would think of me now; I worked at a few newspapers (don’t anymore), I’m working on a book, I’m working on being a concert photographer and I will live my dreams.

The sad part is, I’ll never have a chance to tell him. A year ago, in early January, I was reading the newspaper and saw a picture of him on the front page below the fold, followed by a rather lengthy article. I don’t know why, but I had a bad, scary feeling. As I started reading, my fears were confirmed. He had passed away.

Cancer’s a bitch. There’s no doubt about it. Cancer’s a bitch. I didn’t even know he was sick. It was like the cancer came and just ate him in one gulp. That’s how fast it was, and I heard he had no chance of surviving. Colon cancer. Yes, it’s a bitch. So the man I remember as spunky and feisty had to stop teaching and, instead, ended up in the hospital. I can only imagine how much he must have hated that, not being able to do anything when he was so use to always being on the move. I don’t know a lot of the details and, honestly, I don’t want too. I don’t know if he was in pain or how much he suffered. I would like to think that even in the end he was still feisty (because that would be just like him).

He was indeed a fireball, a firecracker, a feisty little old man who I wanted to slap but ended up teaching me so much. He taught me more then just the ins and outs of journalism. He taught me about life. He pushed me because, I believe now, he saw an untapped talent and wanted me to reach my full potential. My only regret is that he won’t be here to see it, to watch when I finally make my mark in this world. He won’t be here to see me publish a book or go on tour with nothing but a backpack and my camera or any other dream that I am currently chasing, but I’ve always been ambitious and determined so maybe he already knew I would accomplish all these things.

I’m not ashamed to say that he was one of the greatest teachers and friends I had the privilege of knowing. I think we all have those teachers who become our friends after we are no longer their students, the ones who have always pushed us to be greater then we think we are because they believe in us more then we believe in ourselves.

When Music Touches the Soul

I believe music can touch a person’s soul. I believe it possesses a certain power that, if allowed, can penetrate the heart and seep into the soul, eventually mixing with the blood as it becomes part of a person’s being.

I’ve always heard people talk about how they can “feel the music.” I use to think they were embellishing. When I was younger, I played the piano and never once did I feel the music. My fingers flew across the smooth black and white keys, but it never really meant a thing to me. It’s a shame, really, because I was told I was good and there was once a time when I loved it. Despite this encouragement I was restricted to certain piano books, when I wanted to play on my own or learn jazz. I wanted to explore music, but my teacher wouldn’t let me. She said I wasn’t good enough to move to a higher level. Since the songs became monotonous, I became board, and that’s when I started losing interest.

Some of my friends and family play musical instruments. I can tell just by watching them play that they feel the music coursing through their veins. Usually I sit there and listen to them play. I love listening and watching them. Sometimes, if I close my eyes while listening to the music, the notes becomes images in my mind.

I stopped playing the piano a long time ago, but this pass summer I felt as though it was calling my name. So I pulled out the bench, sat and started playing. It felt good. I forgot how much I enjoyed playing, but, while music is a passion of mine, things are different now. I would rather write. I would rather listen to music and write about it. I would rather photograph it. I would rather be swept up by it as it pulsates through me, like a heartbeat pushing blood through the body.

There’s a lot of different music I listen to, thanks to family and friends and my own musical exploration. Still, with everything my ears have heard; every song, every singer, every band, every melody, there is only one band that can play a song so beautiful that it reaches down to touch my very soul.

Music is part of me. It embodies my being and moves me in everyday life; closer to creativity, closer to tranquility, closer to beauty.

That’s the thing about music, it moves us. At least, I believe it does. It’s universal and, therefore, brings us together. It starts with a beat; raindrops tapping against the window, the sound of shoes hitting the pavement with every step, the roar of the ocean as the waves break and rush towards the shore, the beating of our own heart.

There are multiple ways music can touch the soul. It not only carries melody, but it holds emotion and meaning. The words are carefully thought of and put together to create something special, something one of a kind. That’s how I see it. It’s one thing to feel the music, but it’s another thing entirely for it to become a part of our being, to flow as freely through us as blood.

As I became older, I found myself increasingly engrossed in music. I like listening to how the notes are strung together, how the words carry weight and emotion, no matter what that emotion might be, to make a song. It’s a piece of art, a small piece of beauty in a world where so many things feel hopeless. I love closing my eyes and just for moment being alone with the notes, being wrapped in a blanket of hope.

That’s why I like Switchfoot’s music. I like a lot of music, but, as strange as it may sound, there music speaks to me in ways other music does not.

Though I enjoy a variety of music and other bands, and other artists have come close, these five guys are the only ones who have achieved writing songs so beautiful and deep that they strike my very soul.

The more shows I went to, the more I began to understand. I was amazed at the amount of energy put into one show, let alone one song. I’ll never forget the first time I saw them live. Their signer was drenched with sweat after two songs. That night it dawned on me; these songs mean something to them. They weren’t just songs. These songs weren’t just words strung to a melody. They were well thought out. These songs meant something to the people who wrote them. They carried meaning and weight, emotional weight. I could instantly tell they cared about the songs they were playing, the words being sung. They believed in the words. The music was part of them, much like any art is part of the artist, flowing through the body and emanating into the world.

Their music impacts my life in ways they may never know. It’s helped me through some pretty hard times. I listen to it on bad days, when I want to do nothing except curl into a ball and hide myself from the world. There songs can take a bad day a turn it around. It’s not only the hard times that I listen, but also the good time. I listen to their music when I’m happy, when I’m feeling good. I listen when I’m thinking, when I’m writing, when I’m daydreaming. Sometimes I put on one of their albums for no reason at all and sing along.

That’s the things about music; besides being universal, it makes us feel good. It makes a bad day better and, maybe, even touches the soul.

Some Bonds Can’t Be Broken

I’m fairly confident saying that we all have those people in our lives that we can count on. Those people outside of our families. Those people who are like sisters or brothers. Those people who we laugh with, cry with, fight with, but always make up with because we can’t imagine our life without them.

They are our best friend.

I met my best friend during junior year of high school and I’ll admit, it was a lot easier to navigate those halls having a friend like her by my side. So imagine how I felt when, a year later, I found out she was moving after graduation. It felt like I had been blindsided, hit by a truck. Now, I’ve never actually been hit by a truck, nor do I want to, but I can imagine the pain it would bring. All the broken bones. All the scattered limbs. And possibly death. That’s how it felt. I didn’t want her to go. She didn’t want to go. Even today I can’t imagine how she felt. After all, she was the one packing up her life and moving.

That summer, on the last day I saw her, I was still partially convinced it was all a dream, but the boxes piled in an almost empty house, the moving truck in the driveway and the “For Sale” sign stuck in the lawn told me otherwise. I waited until I was in the car, driving away from her house, away from her, away from high school memories and all the thing that could have been, to breakdown and cry. I cried off and on for a week every time I thought about her. Sometimes I still cry, but it’s different now because I’m crying for the all the things we’ll never be able to do together.

I miss her.

Maybe I should have mentioned this before, the reason why the move was so devastating. She wasn’t moving further down the road or across town. She wasn’t even moving to a different state. No, I could have dealt with any one of those better. No, she was moving to a different country. She was moving to Holland. Holland. That’s 3,600 miles away. That’s why the news was so devastating. I kept thinking how we would never see each other again, how our friendship would last for about another year before we slowly drifted apart and stopped talking all together.

I was wrong. I was so very, very wrong.

It’s been six years since my best friend flew across the ocean and started building a life in Holland and we are still close. Maybe even closer, if that’s possible. Those who know us best say we share a brain. I won’t deny it…and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t either. We read the same books, listen to a lot of the same music and think similarly on many topics. This might sound boring, the fact that I’ve painted us as, essential, the same person, but as much as we are the same we are different and it’s those differences that keep our friendship interesting, among other things.

Don’t let the ease of our like-mindedness mislead you. Our friendship, like any friendship, takes work, but it’s work I’m willing to do.

It crossed my mind when we talked over Skype before the new year; distance means nothing. Maybe it’s something I’ve know for years, subconsciously, and just now realized. For years I’ve been afraid of us drifting apart. Even though we’re adults, we’re still growing up and we happen to be doing so in two separate places on two different continents. For years I’ve been afraid of losing my best friend, the woman who is always willing to talk and help me though difficulties. In the game of life, she is my cheerleader and I am hers. For years I’ve been afraid of losing one of the only people, other then my family, who means the world to me (you could say she’s like a sister).

But not anymore.

I see now that distance makes no difference.

Some bonds simply can’t be broken.

We are truly lucky if can find that one person we can count on; a best friend. If you ever find this person, put in the work the friendship deserves and hold on to them. A best friend is precious.

It’s true there are a lot of things we’ll never be able to do. We’ll never be able to call each other up for a quick chat or grab a spontaneous ice cream in the summer, but I look forward to seeing her again one day. I look forward to visiting her in Holland, to her coming to visit me and to all the new adventures we will share. I’m thankful for having her in my life. Even though she lives so far away, I wouldn’t change a thing because at the end of the day she’s still a part of my life.

365 Days of Possibilities

Happy New Year!

And hello 2015!

A new year.

A clean slate.

That’s the thing about a new year. It’s like having a clean slate, starting over. You still have your past, but it’s the past, so you can’t change any of it. You have to take the good times with you, keeping them as memories, and hope that you learned something from the bad. All that’s left to do is move forward, and a new year is the perfect place to start.

There are 365 days of endless possibilities.

So grab every opportunity, make mistakes and learn from them, become a stronger person through your struggles, cherish every joy and simply live.

As I sit here on the first day of 2015 I can’t help but think of all the things I already have planned, all the things I want to do and all the things that could happen.

Again…Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2015!