Sunday, October 12, 2014

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving weekend everyone!  Well, at least it is in Canada and since that's where I live, I stand by my statement.  It's Thanksgiving weekend everyone!  Gobble gobble!  Over the past month or so I've been 'nominated' on Facebook to do 5-7 days of things I am thankful for.  I haven't bothered.  But what better time than now?  What better place than here?

So on this weekend of reflection and giving thanks I'll post some of the things I'm thankful for and maybe even a little reason why.  We ALL have something to be thankful for, so take a moment to yourself today and find what that is.  Many are obvious, some not so much.  Let's start to focus on all the good in our lives.  There's just way too much negativity and disappointment these days.

So of course, I am thankful for my boys.  To be honest, I'm thankful they aren't girls!  They are dramatic all in their own right so I can't imagine mixing estrogen in with all that!  I am thankful that overall, so far, they've been relatively easy to raise.  I'm thankful for the close and trusting relationship I have with both of them.  I'm thankful that they still tell me they love me, unsolicited.  I'm thankful that they talk to me about all sorts of stuff.  Nothing is really off the table.  I'm thankful some blip in the universe thought to make me their mom.

I'm thankful for Eric. I'm grateful that the timing in our worlds was right.  I'm grateful for a partner who is on the same page as me, who wants similar things despite our differences.  I'm thankful for how wonderfully he treats me.  I'm thankful that he still finds me as beautiful as he did when we first started dating (inside and out).  I'm appreciative that he's pretty damn handy and tolerates all of my requests.  He's my our super hero.  And I'm most thankful that I still love him and actually enjoy spending time with him.

After three and a half years I'm able to say I'm thankful that my dad passed away the way he did (no not thankful he died, just how he died).  No lengthy drawn out pain and suffering and having all of his family put their differences aside and gather around him to send him off with mountains of love and respect.  I think I've decided, in an ideal world, that's how I'd like to go.

Much appreciation for my almost 13 year old nephew.  He has taught me to be a way better person. He has taught me acceptance and continuously opens my eyes to the pretty spectacular miracle that is the human brain.  He has shown me the value of perseverance.

So of course that means I'm also thankful for my spunky 6 year old niece.  She gives me the gift of a sassy, hilarious, smart mouthed daughter without being my daughter!  She brings a belly full of laughter every time I see her.  She makes every day stresses (for me any way) melt away in her presence. I can hardly wait to stand by and watch during the teen years.

My friends give me so, SO much to be thankful for!  I seriously surround myself with the best group of people.  I genuinely believe I have no toxicity in this department.  I love all of them, near and far, old and new.  I love that I don't feel pressure to be in touch with every one of them on a daily basis to be able to maintain these relationships.  Every one of my friends contributes to my life in their own way.  They are all unique and different, and I need every one of them!

I'm thankful for my job career.  I'm thankful for the opportunities I've been presented with in my working world.  I'm most thankful that after 18+ years in this industry I still very much like my job.  I know not many can make the same statement.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to help others at a particularly dark time and the trust they extend to me by inviting me (even if briefly) into their families.  I'm grateful for all the life lessons I've managed to learn from doing this day in and day out.  I genuinely feel like my career has molded me into a completely different person today than what I started out as.  The company car, gas card and private office helps too.

My family (mom, dad, brother, sister and sister in law)!  Did you think I was forgetting you?  Pfft.  I'm so blessed with a kooky and unique family who are also relatively boring and drama free.  They are dependable and I know they are always near by.  I know we can't choose our blood family, but in this case if I'd been able to, I'm not entirely certain I'd choose any differently.  I'm still trying to figure out who they are!  This much I do know; they are the people I've known the longest;  they were my very first friends and frenemies; they are a constant; they are home.

My health.  I'm thankful that I'm relatively healthy (I think).  I'm grateful for the Health System here in Canada.  Despite all its known flaws, when I have a fear or illness I can "afford" to see a doctor to ease my mind and body.

I'm thankful for my furry little friends, those that co-habitate with me now and those that have already left my side.  They seem to always know when they need to be near and even when they don't.  They offer what I'd like to believe is unconditional love and not just a "sucking up so I'll feed them" move.

I'm thankful for my house and the literal roof over our heads. I'm grateful for my ability to pay for it. With each new project this house has become a home.

I'm appreciative of my cell phone, Facebook and Instagram.  As hokey as it sounds they keep me more involved in the lives of those who are important to me.  They have brought people into my life and back into my life who probably wouldn't have found their way there if these didn't exist.  Social media affords me the opportunity to actively participate in their lives on a consistent basis and I feel like I always know what's going on in their worlds.

I am grateful for my sense of humour and easy going nature;  my lack of giving a deep rooted shit about what others do in their lives or my need to voice my opinion.  There are just too many nay sayers out there now that feel like their opinion of what other people do (when it's not actually hurting others) is warranted or wanted.  I'm glad I'm not one of those people.  I'm grateful for not being uptight.  I'm thankful for having an open mind.

On the flip side, I'm thankful for my ability to judge others and still find something positive about them.

Despite everything I'm thankful for my ex-husband who contributed to the existence of two of my most favourite human beings.  I'm grateful that despite all the hiccups through the years we have still remained on friendly terms and my boys love him and enjoy spending time with him.

I'm thankful for my in-laws, who I'm pretty sure like me even when Eric tells me they'd never let on if they didn't, so I'll never really know.  I'm thankful for being welcomed into their fold and I'm super grateful they've welcomed my boys into their world.  I'm grateful for feeling at home in their house and the comfort I have opening the refrigerator without asking first.  That's huge!

But especially for this weekend, I'm super-dee-duper grateful for two hot meals cooked for me.  Food always tastes better when someone else prepares it.  I'm kidding (probably not)...I'm thankful for the opportunity to spend time with some of those crazy people I mention above, this weekend.

So again, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope you are blessed to be able to spend some time with the people who mean the most to you.  I hope you steal a chance to reflect on what's important in your life and what isn't.  Please make the most of what you have been given and find the good around you.


Warm Fuzzies

So this year marked the 40th anniversary of me being alive.  To commemorate that day I decided I was going to have a party to ring in the end of my 4th decade.  Working almost 20 years in funeral services has taught me a lot, but mainly that life is short so enjoy it as best you can, don't sweat the small stuff and most importantly, create memories with those people that mean the most and affect you the best.  So I took the bull by the horns and I ensured that happened.

I wanted to keep it fairly simple overall so as not to make it a stressful project.  My only must haves were a hall, a candy table, a 'photo booth', and a Holly play list of music.  Though in typical Holly
fashion, about an hour before the party was set to begin there was a small fire brewing at the hall.  No literally, a small fire!  For those of you that truly know me you know of my history with fires and my understandable fear of them.   My awesome photographer for the night, and friend, Dave (Lucky73 Photography) came to my rescue and squashed that threat.  

So many of my friends graced me with the privilege of their company that evening and I will be forever grateful.  A few of them came from far away too!  There were definitely many missed faces, but the night was still so wonderful for me.  It was full of so many cherished friends and family.

At one point in the evening, I took a moment to just stand there and take it all in.  And, I thought to myself, "This is living.  This is what it's all about.  Being surrounded by people I love and by people who clearly appreciate me.  This is it."

So while I thought for sure the party would be the highlight of this years birthday celebrations, and it most certainly was, Eric surprised me with a little project of his own.   He included in the envelope with the invitations I sent out a letter requesting people to submit their own memories of me.  What an incredibly awesome surprise!  While it would have been totally amazing to get one from everyone, he did get a fair amount of returns.  And I loved reading every one of them!

I think the thing I found most interesting about reading other people's memories of me was just how differently I remembered the same situation.  Or, I won't lie...NOT remembering it right away.
Eventually I remembered them all, but I have always thought I had a memory like a steel trap, but I've forgotten more things than I know and it was so incredible to be reminded of these great times.

Here's a small sampling of what some people said in their memories:
"We decided to throw caution to the wind and make the journey without a guarantee of success.  In the spirit of youth, we scrounged together what little money we had, hit the road and hoped for the best, as we often did in those days.

"She makes you laugh.  She listens.  She helps plot against the people who are messing with you.  She is a constant."

"I know I can count on her to always be straight up and I value our rare 'girls nights'.  I count Holly among one of my few true friends."

"You were a dancing queen when you could barely walk."

"I am awed by the compassion you have for others.  You are teaching your sons to be caring and considerate as well."

"We have come to know you as a happy, outgoing and extremely confident person who surprises us in many different ways on a regular basis.  Your devotion and dedication to your family, your friends and the clients you work with is remarkable."   

"We don't talk every day and have even gone a few years without speaking, but when I needed her she was there for me, when her father passed away she knows I was there for her.  Every time we see each other it's like we just saw each other yesterday and we take right off from there."

"Out of all the people in my life, you were the one person that could always keep me in check.  Never taking my shit and calling me on it.  Sometimes I would get pissed but deep down inside I truly respected you for it.  This all carried over to my adult life and is probably one of the reasons I am who I am today."

"After my relationship broke down, Holly was always ready with a listening ear, a helpful suggestion, a laugh, and a reality check when I needed it.  She seemed to know when to share her own experience and when to just listen.  She was able to balance her friendship with my ex at the same time.  She never took sides."

I seriously have the best friends and family ever.  I'm going to keep my stack of memories in envelopes...sort of like a stack of love letters from my friends and family.  Thank you so very much to those that took a moment out of their day to share their thoughts and memories with me.  I've kept them private.  Even Eric hasn't truly read them.  I'm humbled and honoured and I feel the same way about all of you.  This has been the most absolute best birthday ever.  Thank you to everyone who contributed in some way.  I love you all.  My heart is full.