The Man, The Myth, The Legend, SBFDM

SBFDM=Sisters and brothers from different mothers. Complete with handshake

Me: Carl, in 2019 I’m going to do things, I’m coming out to visit, I’m going to be more honest with myself, and we’re going to have fun”

Carl: “Yessss!! You better come see me, what are your plans? Tell me more

 

Hey all!

It’s been quite a long time since I last posted (two years I think, if not more so for that I apologize). A lot has changed in the last two years, a lot of growth, heartache, loss, joy, but most of all, a lot of what’s happened took place with one incredibly special human by my side. His name is Carl, I’ve known him for upwards of 25+ years. He’s added such value to my life, as has his family. Why am I writing about him you ask? Simple! This man has seen me go through hell. And I’m sure it wasn’t easy to witness…it never really is for those who love you the most is it?

Before I get too carried away with the nicknames, the adventures, and the many memories that stood the test of time, let’s start off by how I met this kind soul. It was a wonderful September day in 1993, we’d both just started karate, and I’m sure both were equally nervous. Now I have no recollection of this, but I will tell you, that I’m sure it happened because well we all have our less than desirable moments. I, Julia, stuck my tongue out at Carl…during Our. First. Karate. Class. Literally had no idea until he mentioned it in my yearbook. Poor guy! We were in many of the same karate classes up until high school, our moms became close waiting for us in the waiting room. My mom with her dangerous perm, and his with her adventurous style and exuberance. When we reached high school, we ran in the same circle of friends and and grew close, he’s been a brother to me and I, another sister to him. Kindred spirits. Usually, we were not far behind if other was off doing something. Then we both started driving…once we were past the 6 month probationary period we went for joy rides from Stoneham to Gloucester or Maine and back in one night, a particular favorite being Good Harbor Beach and York Beach. He’d stay with my family for a couple of days when we rented a condo in Rockport. Even then, we always found something to do. Then we were graduating and off to college…At the time I didn’t know how I would function without him, how I’d get through classes and my freshman year, but as it turned out, it was the best thing for us, individually and together. Each summer throughout college was better than the last, making the four years fly by even more. Luckily we had the same spring breaks, and Christmas breaks, which allowed for ample debauchery, long drives, trips to the mall, hikes, do I dare go on? However the summer that was life-changing for me was right around the time I was realizing I was LGBTQ, I had a hard time grappling with it, and Carl was downright concerned and scared, it was not fun. But through it all, he was there, every second of the way and to for that I’m so grateful. He was patient, kind, and empathetic. I count my lucky stars each and every day I have this guy in my life, his honesty, his joy, his ability to be in the moment and listen. Tell me when I’m being ridiculous, but most importantly, being what we’re all so deserving of in this world, an amazing friend. A human who cares so deeply about your well being, successes, and life that he will stop at nothing to let you know that what you’re doing matters.

Now, fast forward to 2008, we graduated college, and he was in town for a couple of months before moving out to Michigan for grad school. A place where he would flourish, find his groove, and find a wonderful partner. Over the course of the eleven years that he’s been out there, every few months he’d ask when I planned to visit, each time met with some resistance whether it was dating, finances, or anything else in between. To be quite honest with you, it was minutiae, it was bullshit, my reasoning for not going out to see him. He’d always come home to see family, and we’d catch up, but it was never enough time, I selfishly wanted to see him for a little while longer, and each and every chance I saw him “You need to come out soon! Book that ticket! You tell me when you’re coming out, and we’ll make it happen!” 2019 rolls around, and I decide, “I need to go out there, I need to see him. When? You can’t take work off! Oh just book it, you’ll be glad you did.” Well June 5th, it happened people, I booked the ticket for June 27-July 1st. I flew into Detroit not expecting anything except to see Carl and Joe and having a good time, getting the chance for a proper catch up. Carl and I drove up to Traverse City on Friday and over the course of four hours, a lot of heart to hearts took place, and it’s in moments like this where I stop and think, man the universe has been good to me. Talked about his life, how he was feeling and coping with various events in his own life; professional, personal, and otherwise. We discussed my plans for the coming months and the next year. There’s something so empowering of telling your best friend of your plans. It’s invigorating. There’s a sense of solidarity, accountability, support, and honesty that is inexplicable. Spending time with him made it more apparent that *I* need to see him more, connect, and really just be there, be open, and make the effort. Carl continues to push me out of my comfort zones without fail.

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My First Love

Ahhh yes, my first love believe it or not. We all had that one thing that gave us a sense of purpose in the universe. It gave us butterflies, motivation, maybe some anxiety (good anxiety!), and sometimes felt like that first crush you had back in grade school.  You couldn’t get enough, you went to bed dreaming of it, you ate, slept, breathed it. Talked about it obnoxiously to anyone who would listen, who would most likely almost immediately regret asking (haha i mean right?)

Here I was, 7 years old, stepping into my first dojo, completely unaware as to how karate would change my life, and how it would unlock a plethora of opportunity. At the time (it was the early 90s when I started) the training regimen was vastly different than most see or experience today. It’s an ever evolving industry to be honest, however, at the time it had that old school feel; looking back it’s an experience that I look back with a shake of my head and a chuckle. I was affiliated with my first dojo for 20 years, which when you think about it, is a lifetime! I received my black belt there, as well as my 1st through 4th degrees, and I became an instructor, eventually teaching independently. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of running various pilot programs throughout the years for that school, another one, as well as for myself. And had the distinct honor of managing my own school for a short period of time. Martial arts is a very inward and independent journey, so comparing your progress to someone else isn’t quantifiable. I can tell you all about my personal experiences with my testing, but you’re going to have a completely different one in comparison solely because we’re two different people. Yes we may have the same testing procedures, but think of it as being in school, is any one student the same? Any one human being?

I started apprenticing to be an instructor when I was 10. At the time I was a red belt, excited to learn about the bo staff, nunchaku, and of course more challenging kata. Since I was progressing at a reasonable pace, with my black belt off into the distance, I grew even MORE hungry! Can you imagine? It’s within your grasp, and that desire is beyond overwhelming.

The entire experience makes my heart skip a beat, I’m giddy when I have the opportunity to train (once I head back to the JKA [Japanese Karate Association] Boston, you’ll be hearing more about those experiences. I’ve always practiced to my heart’s content, and talked anyone’s ear off about martial arts…which is awkward because, uh, I still do that. The challenge, the difficulty, the pride one has in themselves after they absolutely nail the kata or technique. Attaining that new fresh, crisp belt, and hearing that fabric zip as you tie it around your waist. The unmistakable snap of your gi. It’s a sensory infused experience. That death scream called a kiai that comes from a place you didn’t know existed deep down in your gut. It’s cathartic.

As I jump full force into 2018, I’ve come to the realization that I still have the desire and fire to both empower individuals and continue my own training. I want to teach what I was taught, what I deem important. I knew that in order to unlock my true potential, I needed to take a deep breath, take a leap of faith, and spread my wings. I had get comfortable with the uncomfortable and brainstorm the specifics of running my own club. I never felt more alive and I got right to work on my website, devising Curriculum, making/revisiting contacts. The values that were instilled in me throughout the years were a vital piece throughout this process and what I aspire to pass on. Dedication, commitment, work ethic, respect, self-discipline, self-esteem are just a few of my favorites. Of course I intend to teach in Japanese in order for my students to get a full experience. While it may not be the exact way I was taught, it’s still introducing and fostering that value into my students. My favorite aspect to learn and teach? KATA! No contest, still is to this day. Want to learn it? I’ll gladly teach you! It really helped with the organization, sequencing, executive functioning, self-esteem, self-discipline, and a strong sense of accountability. It slowed the rank progression down, provided a great sense of humility (hey we all have something to learn don’t we?) resulting in acquiring patience. The application of technique was crucial too!

I’ve always felt a void when I wasn’t involved in martial arts training, whether it’s teaching or my own training. Maybe the reason why I keep coming back to martial arts is because I’m not done. Not done helping others set and reach goals. Not done being involved in a sport that drastically changed my life for the better. Not done unlocking my own potential in order to support others in doing the same. Not done, because life today can be hard, and someone needs an outlet, a beacon of hope to feel validated. And maybe, just maybe, I’m not done making that 7 year old gawky, awkward, young girl proud. I’m not done unlocking her potential and talent. Whatever it is, I’m not done, and I’m beyond excited to work with you in the future.

A note to 7 year old me: we did it, you still inspire me to push myself beyond my limits, see the good in people, and want to pay it forward. The difficulty and bumpy roads throughout your 25 years, shape you to becoming a strong woman. Let’s keep going.

My thanks, my apologies, my pledge

Hey you, yeah you right there, you’re awesome!

To those of you who’ve taken time out of your busy schedules to read my blog thank you so much and my apologies. I pledge moving forward that I will commit one Went MIA for about a month and a half figuring life out professionally and personally, actually it’s still happening. Sometimes you need to step away, to figure out what’s important, who’s important. For all of you who’ve provided feedback for what I write, I’m indebted and I apologize sincerely for not doing the same for you lately. I make it a point to write about things that matter to me, what inspires me, and what can help me grow and maybe inspire YOU. Sometimes it’s a podcast, sometimes it’s a song, but most of the time it’s something I’ve read or an experience I’ve had. A newspaper article, a book, one of your blogs (yes you beautiful writers, I’m talking about all of you!), something that resonates. The perspective changes, my attitude changes. I’ve been really inconsistent with posting and I vow to be better about it. You know why? Because it takes a whole lot of weight off these broad shoulders and this wonderful world we call WordPress allows us to express our vulnerability, put it out in the ether, and free up space in our minds. Pretty f*cking cool right? It helps me reflect on what I see in the world, how I view myself, which to be honest with you, has been warped for a long time.

Side note: I just started the Art of Charm Challenges, I’ll be writing about those!

And even a Christmas post, because you know December is on Friday, and my family goes nuts decorating right after Thanksgiving. #Sorrynotsorry

 

Alright stop….

Got you hooked didn’t I? Raise your hand if starting singing Vanilla Ice. Raise your other hand if you know who he is. Now raise the roof. No? Neither one of them is a thing anymore? Am I dating myself? Anyway. Now raise your hand if you felt like this year has been quite the whirlwind. This post doesn’t have much to do with politics, but everything to do with morality and humanity. I’ve been hemming and hawing at how to position/write this post, mostly because it’s tricky business.

Well the year is coming near a close, and I figured why not get a head start on resolutions? But first, let’s all take a minute to breathe, think about what’s gone on the last nine months, yes we have a new president, am I particularly thrilled? No, but you know what I’m doing, even if it’s just locally? Standing up. Reading the newspaper, watching the news.

Something to think about, I know I left off many others, but these are what popped into my head:

  • I don’t care where you stand on the political spectrum, as long as you’re not angry, do you understand why each United States citizen has the right right to the pursuit of happiness? What each amendment stands for? Do you understand that they don’t apply to only you, and nothing will be taken from you?
  •  I don’t care what religion you practice, as long as you practice it with love and peace in your heart, do you acknowledge the atrocities other religions have faced?
  • I don’t care who you love, as long as you’re not angry, or ashamed. Or hateful towards someone different than you. Do you understand the struggle, violence, strife, and fear that was imprinted into the minds of the and the blood, sweat, and tears dripped to ensure rights for ALL?
  • I don’t care if you’re a tradesman or a CEO, are you doing honest work? Are you proud of how you got to where you are today? Are you paying your workers equally based on experience, intelligence?
  • I don’t care if your skin is lighter or darker than mine, what are you doing to change viewpoints, mindsets, opinions, prejudices? Are you aware of history and those who were marginalized past, present, and future?
  • I don’t care that you were the most popular jock in high school, do you now acknowledge and sympathize with someone who couldn’t speak for themselves?
  • We have a choice. We can either turn the other cheek, or observe what’s happening in front of us and take action.
  • I DO care that you treat other humans with common decency and respect, we fear the unknown right? It all starts with a conversation to better educate yourself!
  • Are you noticing a theme? Own these many pieces of your identity and be proud, but one part of you doesn’t make up the WHOLE of you. Speak out, be heard, fight for what’s right. When I first came out, I thought that was the only identifying factor of me, and boy was that a hard time.

Yes we’ve all had moments where we’ve been discrimated against for one thing or another, and we’ve been hurt by it, I know I have, but how are we going to change the narrative? Yes it may stay with us (it’s hard to let that one snide, hateful, elitist comment go, I get it, I do), but it’s up to everyone, individually and collectively to speak out on what’s wrong. What I ask is that, what are you going to make of those little dashes in between those two years on your headstone? Are you going to say you loved, lived, changed someone’s life even if it was just for a day, you’d be amazed at your own impact.  My approach is to treat others how I want to be treated, and it works. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Don’t go after revenge, go for change.
What I do care about is across the board how we’re all treating one another based on one or numerous factors of what makes us all individuals. Do I agree with what some may say? Certainly not, but do I listen? Yes. Why you ask? Because maybe I might learn something from someone. Do I cry because I disagree with them? No. That’s the beauty of it. There’s always room to learn something new! There’s a potential friend who despite their own personal views, is looking for the same thing you are. A friend, someone they can count on. Growing up,  I’ve always been taught to look at an issue from both sides to formulate my own opinion, as well as to have the evidence to support my opinion.  Does this make me better than anyone else? Nope…but it DOES make me hungry to learn, to ask questions. I’m angered by the close mindedness, the lack of love, the lack of empathy and understanding. The miscommunication. So what does that have to do with resolutions you say? Everything! For me personally my first resolution is to listen. Actively listen, get more involved, speak my truth, ask difficult questions, and be prepared for difficult questions/responses.  There is such misfortune taking place on our soil, with an unspeakable divide and in neighboring US territories and countries. Dig deep to find even more compassion. I mean the world is in our hands right? How are we going to leave it to our kids and so on? What are you going to do to ensure you don’t go to sleep with a guilty conscience? How are you going to live your life, and most importantly, how do you want to be remembered? Make the most of that dash.

Realization

Don’t worry, It’s not preachy, just an ongoing personal quest!

Happy Friday everyone! 
Ahhh yess Friday, my favorite F word…okay my OTHER favorite F word. The hero, the protagonist, Monday’s arch nemesis. 

Food. It tastes good right? It fuels us, it bonds us to social experiences, and
it makes us feel cozy. I think collectively we all find solace in those experiences, which really isn’t a bad thing.

Now, as for me, I want to share with you guys (followers or not, feel free to read!) about something I’ve struggled with from the time I was very little. My weight. My eating habits. My self-perception. Acknowledging that food isn’t the devil. Why? Because it’s important and maybe you or someone very close to you can relate. We all have that one glitch in the matrix. And somehow they’re linked (at least for me, maybe it is for you too) Much like an earlier post from months ago(referencing the PFD post) I wanted to drop some personal realizations, share my vulnerability, and ultimately own what I have been feeling the past few weeks and years, but for time’s sake and your eyeballs’ and attention span’s sake, I’ll keep it at the last three months.  In addition to not having a job (starting over’s scary business), studying, and some other happenings in my life, I thought I’d share. 
Moving forward. From the time I would say I was about 8 on, I’ve always been sure of myself. I’ve had moments where I was doing really well with my nutrition then one day BAM!  I fly off the rails and eat to my heart’s content. Not exactly the eaten emotionally (which think about it is only short term, doesn’t help in the long run, instant gratification is the devil) to dissipate that feeling of stress, sadness. Did it work? Only for a minute. So what happened? I did it more; do you see a pattern? I went through phases where I didn’t necessarily need to or want to and I felt good about myself. My weight has been an issue for about 10 years off and on. Especially over the last 5 years. There have been a lot of changes professionally, some new experiences (such as training for a figure competition, which I will get into in a bit), and getting back on track. Now… Here’s the kicker, my sweet tooth is the size of Texas, so I always relied on getting that fix, whether it was fruit, smoothies, or even a nice cold glass of orange juice. Something negative would occur, and how did I respond? By eating a cookie, and then maybe 4. It worked wonders for a bit, but you know what I realized? That I wound up feeling badly immediately after doing so, and I’d go down this rabbit hole. I remember one time when I was little I overheard someone refer to me as the fat one out of my sister and I. That was a blow; but the interesting part is that when you’re a kid, you have more self-confidence and more of an IDGAF attitude. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that that would bother me, as it has more recently. There are times where I would be killing it with food intake (lean meats, overall clean eating).I’d indulge every once and a while, as long as I kept it balanced, I was good, and it felt good!
I mentioned earlier that I was training for a figure competition 5 years ago. There were a lot of transitions in my life. My sister was getting married (she’s happily married with two kids now), I was in a flow at work, and I was in my first relationship. I wanted to tackle this goal, because I had been training consistently for the past two years and I thought it would be a great challenge. Indeed it was. At the time, it was TOO MUCH of a challenge. The eating regimen made me physically ill. Increased heart rate, anxiety was through the roof, the protein intake was obnoxious and I could feel my body reacting. So again, what do I do? Eat some delicious pizza, especially just as I was starting to see some crazy results! Muscles I never thought existed. I. LOOKED. GOOD. But…I felt awful, miserable, I wanted to eat a baked potato. It drove me nuts to be so consumed by what food I ate, that it drove me nuts. So I gave it up. Ahh yes, a bagel! Waffles! SUGAR!!! I hoped that after I got all of that business out of my system, I’d hope back on the horse and be back at it. Not soooo much. During that time frame, I ran my own karate school, I started a job at another inner-city school with long hours, with that came more weight gain, more feeling like I was lost and less of a desire to do something about it.
Cut to February of 2014, while I was beyond elated that my niece had arrive, I was miserable in my relationship, my health, my job. It sucked. In just a year and a half I put on over 50 pounds, so looking in the mirror was out of the question. I retreated even more. That September, my partner and I decided that it was best we go our separate ways. Our relationship wasn’t working, and while I tried to keep it going for some time, I knew it was over. When it did end, and I was starting a new school year, I was sure I was ready to start fresh! As the year progressed though, I couldn’t snap out of my funk, and I felt it in my heart I didn’t want to be an educator, which made it really tough to finish out the year. As luck would have it, there was some restructuring of the educational teams, and it was mutually agreed upon that it wasn’t the right fit at the school. I absolutely loved the kids and the families, but I didn’t have that zsuzz, that spark, and I was burned out. When we closed for the summer, I made a promise to myself before I drove off. That for once and for all, I’d regain control of my health and get back to doing what I loved so much: lifting, cardio, Martial Arts. I’d find that zsuzz, whatever it meant; yes I’d date to get myself back out there, but not at my own expense. I’d take a class to learn about how the human body works. I’d finally begin the journey of unlocking my true potential. I’d say for the past two years I’ve been hovering at about a 75% success rate, which I’m happy about, but I need and want more. ANNNDDDD 25 lbs. less. I lost over 50 pounds originally, but not doing Muay Thai consistently has impacted it, and with the stresses of my most recent relationship break (I’m sworn to the single life until further notice, in order to get my ducks in a row facing the right way), I gained some of the weight back, which doesn’t make me happy but I’m working on it! Here’s to the next chapter, the better me, getting to know myself more, and being ready for whatever is thrown my way!

With all of that said, yes it’s been an ongoing struggle, yes it’s been a roller coaster figuring out what works for me, getting to know myself again. 10 years ago I focused on one aspect of my life, in the midst of that I lost sight of everything else. I’m finding it now, and finding peace within myself, and forgiving myself for what I put ME through health wise. The more I’m willing to accept, the easier it’ll be in the long run. Isn’t that the beauty of it? Knowing that we’re all on our own path? Make the most of it.

Cheers everyone, enjoy your weekend!

Mind 💥💥

Guys, guys, guys. Two things! 
First of all: for those of you who haven’t narrowed your passions in life, watch this. You won’t regret it. Mutlipotentialite TEDx
SECOND: read this book!

Listened to the Ted Talks on my way up to the beach. (When did I become a beach person??) It definitely put a lot into perspective. The book, I just started last night, I’m looking for any and all great selections for self improvement! Fire away your faves! 

Life. Love. Work. 

Hey beautiful people, it’s been obnoxiously long since I last posted, which is a huge bummer since I’ve been DYING to write more! such is life. But for real, life has been pretty crazy, between some crazy changes and some much needed personal growth (which my dears is always happening). I won’t bore you with the details and minutiae, but I’ll update you!  Lots of things. Let’s see here. Well job wise, it’s been….interesting. I was working for a recruiting agency and was offered a job, got it, had it on lock, I get a call Friday afternoon, “hey the contract wasn’t approved”. A little glimpse as to the thoughts in my head: “Ummm excusez moi? Well shit! *Followed by some even more colorful language*What do I do now? How am I going to pay that? Oh look, the beautiful sky!” So for the last month or I’ve been applying directly to different companies, because that makes much more sense. The experience though working as an administrative assistant has been undeniably a wonderful learning experience. Seriously  guys, plot twists are the best. They help you establish character, figure out new ways to cope, but wait! There’s more! You learn more about yourself, which frankly is probably the best thing to come of it. Just like in a relationship, you learn your worth, you learn not to settle, and you learn what really drives you. You figure out what keeps that fire in your soul lit nice and bright. So what did I do? Started studying for my training test again! It’d been two years since I took it the first time, I missed by two points. At that juncture in my life, my attitude was to give up and that I did. Didn’t touch my study materials for almost two years exactly. Dangerous thing to do, I was angry, bitter, and over it.  This time though, even though I studied and did well on my practice tests, I began to look more in depth with HOW I studied, realized I couldn’t rely on just ONE medium, but many facets, what material I needed to bone up on, and figure out strategies that would help me be successful, and credible in the fitness industry. Ahhh yes, the traits of a fine educator: Growth mindset, problem solving, strategy devising. All aspects utilized to help me in my schooling, as well as my own students’ learning experiences. This time, while I did better, I still missed by one point! You hear that? That’s what growth feels like. Accepting what the situation is. Instead of “ugh fine, I’m not doing this, over it.” Try: “okay now what? How do I make this better?” Sure it may take some soul searching, but you change the internal dialogue a bit, my dear, you’ll see a shift, I guarantee it. Except this time, I went about it a new way. Instead of feeling sorry for myself (I had my time I’ll admit), I took two DAYS (that’s right days, instead of years) off, and back to the drawing board I went. Evaluated what I missed, and started creating outlines, which I proooobbbabbly should have done the first and second time around….probably. And man when I looked at those outlines, did the content start to make even more sense. High school me was back! I created outlines for EVERY. THING. EVERYTHING. Didn’t matter the subject. Could have been US History, or my Italian class, it had to happen to keep me in check. I took this as a huge lesson in humility. Sure I know the content, and I’d had fortunate experience teaching fitness by way of martial arts, but damn did I need to be knocked down a bit. Experiences make us individuals. There are too many clones in this world. Thsi was my “aha” moment, as my birthday buddy #oprahwinfrey so glorious put it. The wheels are still in motion, I added a little grease, processed, and now determined to pass this smooth talking son of a gun of a test. (Actually going to the testing center was nerve wracking, I hated locking all my stuff up, but alas that’s a story for another time) 
With all the professional changes going on, there’ve been some personal changes as well, which I think comes with the territory when you’re evaluating your life. Sadly, in June, I ended my relationship with a great individual. All you need to know is, it wasn’t for me. There was a disconnect and I felt as though, I was lying by continuing. I had so many changes going on I couldn’t keep up and I felt myself distancing from her. I was distracted, stressed, and really eager to grow and felt that it wasn’t fair or honest to either one of us if I stayed for the sake of staying. It’s not a path I wanted to venture down. Luckily, throughout the course of the relationship, I maintained contact with friends and family, which made the whole process easier. In previous relationships, I’d fall of the face of the earth, which honestly is the world’s shittiest feeling if you’re on the receiving end. Kind of like a “heereee’s Johnny” type deal. I made a promise that I wouldn’t repeat that. I mean I get it, the first few months are so exciting you want to be with that person 24/7, but there are some crucial people that you’re missing out on. People who’ve been behind you. They’ve helped me find my home base again. Some people have reentered my life after years of not speaking and you know what? It feels good, picking up where I left off with them. 
There’s been a hell of a lot of growth, anguish, transition, heartache over the last year. Speaking of, off to find some jobs and study. Much love!
This right here, is a reminder that we start fresh each day. 

Uncle Pt. 1

Hey folks! Sorry for the lapse in entries! Work picked up, I’ve been busy with staying on track health wise, and I thought to myself “Hmm it’s been a while!” With that said, let’s talk about something that impacts our lives day to day. Loss. We experience every day in some capacity. It’s a funny thing right? Mostly because of when you feel it and how you feel it. It hits you at unexpected times, and when it happens it knocks the wind out of you. Maybe it was a loss of a pet, something material, or maybe it was someone near and dear to you, and you felt like your heart was ripped out. Three instances occurred in my life, the first being my uncle, who we lost unexpectedly at 59. On April 1st no less. My uncle Dick was more of a surrogate grandfather to me (I’d never met my grandfathers, they passed before I was born). So the loss hit me pretty hard at twelve years old. He took my sister and I to Maine to his cottage on the lake for weeks at a time from the time I was three years old, taught me how to bait my own fish hooks (which I recently started doing again), and let me help with many small projects around the camp growing up. I guess he considered my way of helping out around the camp. I always felt good about what I accomplished, regardless of how challenging! Being up there with him, I never felt so safe with him and my aunt. Going on Sunday drives with them was my absolute favorite after church. The campfires on Fourth of July, and any weekend we were up there. The boat rides around the pond and into Big Bear Pond. When we would come back from said boat ride, he’d let me jump into the water in my clothes and swim to shore. How he’d play the Marines’ Hymn on his cassette player and have it blaring throughout our campfires. Pretty sure I knew the lyrics by the time I was five thanks to my dad. With all this said, I frequently wonder what would be different if Uncle was still alive. Definitely a lot. He’d be so proud of all of his wonderful grandchildren. How would my life be different? I wonder that sometimes. It’d It’s funny, Since his passing almost 20 years ago, there have been a number of instances where he’s come to me in a dream, I’ve seen a shooting star many times in Maine over the pond, seen men near and far, or even on television that look like him. The dream that I had of him was wild. He was with my grandmother at my sister’s house for a holiday. My sister, my niece, and I were sitting at the dining room table. I was on one side and my sister and niece were on the other. Out of the corner of my eye I see my grandmother sitting in her recliner. I ask her what she’s doing with us and she explains “We’re just here to check on everyone, look I brought someone” and I look over and see my uncle, who chuckles quietly and nods at me, then looks right at my niece in amazement. Looking back at my grandmother with a smile and tears in my eyes I start to talk to which she says “You’re the only one who can see us, and you’re the only one who has been able to, so don’t say anything”. When I saw the shooting stars: there were two at a time, which I believe were my uncle and grandmother. It’s crazy. In talking to some family members, I’ve found out that I’m the only one who’s had these experiences. Loss is nothing you ever truly get over, but as I have learned throughout the years, you grieve, process, accept this pivotal moment. Maybe it’s motivation to live your life for you and to live more honestly. Maybe, it helps with that leap of faith you needed to take. Do I think of him often? Of course I do, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t.

I’ve been asked why I write about things that I hold dear to me. It’s cathartic, it allows me to be in that moment, and reflect on my life and who’s made an direct and indirect impact. Though it’s somber, he’s always been someone I’ve held close to my heart both spiritually and mentally. I hope you enjoy reading this one my friends. Will be more diligent in posting moving forward.

Part II: Womb Mate

Hey all,
I’ve been working like crazy, and have a couple of entries lined up, however I wanted to make sure I recognized a pretty spectacular individual.

Womb mate: n. definition: a lifelong friend with whom you’ve known since conception

Let me introduce you to my sister, my twin sister. For as long as I can remember our dad called us and it always stuck with me.

So where do I begin? Considering it was #nationalsiblingday on Monday, I decided it would be fitting to write about my sibling, though with her everyday is #nationalsiblingday. Catherine and I met in the skies of space as specks of matter before we were even thoughts in this crazy world. Then comes a day in May when our parents found out they were expecting twins. January 29 rolls around, and we graced this Earth respectively, I at 2:48, and Catherine at 2:50. We were given the names of our grandmothers, both unbelievably strong women (and certified badasses) in their own right. It certainly set the stage and our destiny. As babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers, and eventually as women, she’s always been my fiercest protector. She spoke up and made it known when she felt something wasn’t right, or I was being treated appropriately. Great example: our senior year in high school I drove us to school. Secretly, I absolutely loved it. It presented many opportunities to get to know one another (as we were vastly different) and catch up on happenings in our lives before we embarked on the next big step going off to college. I still look back and it makes me smile, knowing those 10 minutes it took to get to school were golden. Anyways, back to the example! We were driving to school like any other day when a car ran a stop sign and hit us on Catherine’s side. Initially I was worried about her being hurt more than anything. We got out of the car and the woman tried to tell the police officer that we were turning right (we weren’t especially considering the direction we needed to go in) My sister called her out and explained that just because we were younger didn’t give her the right to pin the accident on us. I mean wow! This is one of many countless times that she always had my back. The day I went off to school (20 minutes away but still far enough for her to worry), she cried because she wanted me to be safe, which still is the sweetest thing to look back on. As time went on, we began to see each other’s differences and as hard as it was, we needed to grow separately and embrace our lives and experiences, which when you think about it, was probably the best thing we could do. I think anyone has to do that with their siblings. Find your own ground, your identity, and discover who you want to be.I was discovering who I was as a person, my own identity (Which I kept locked down since I was about 11), and how I could live honestly. She was doing the same in her own way. The dynamic of our relationship changed because we were different people, as we were becoming more of our authentic selves. Catherine has seen me through some pretty dark times and while I never expected her to understand, her compassion, patience, wisdom, and boundless support has been a recurring source of motivation and empowerment. Despite our now busy lives, Catherine finds a way to check in and see how I’m doing.
Now more on her and her successes. Catherine has established herself as a well respected Physical Therapist Assistant. She flourishes in the field and her patients ADORE her, she knows her stuff and treats her patients with the same respect and care as she does her friends and family. When she called me to tell me excitedly that she was engaged, I cried. When she got married, and I was up at the altar with her, I cried. When she told me she was pregnant with my niece, I cried. When we hung out and bonded even more over because of a tiny little person and were amazed, it moved me. The feeling of my niece tugging at my heart strings and wanting to hang out invigorated me. When she told me she was pregnant with my nephew, I cried. And when it was evident that Olivia is/was a wonderful big sister when her little brother came into the world, it gave me joy. Seeing her establish her own family with her husband, who I absolutely adore, is inexplicable. There’s something about seeing your sister morph into a parent that springs pride. Something along the lines of “Yeah she’s doing it, killing it, and loving her family as much as she can” Truly living up to her name Catherine. It’s encouraging, it’s motivating, it….makes sense. Having been blessed with a friend, playmate, and confidante is one of the most treasured gifts I’ve received in my time on Earth. Seeing your sister find happiness in work, in life, in love, and be able to forge her own path is wondrous. Knowing she has my best interests at heart (despite me not wanting to hear it some of the time ;)) is comforting. But above all knwoing that she will be in my corner, like she has, especially when I’ve needed it, is empowering. She’s seen me through triumphs and tragedies, ups and downs, both shared and individual. When we were younger , in the throes of teenage angst, I think we can ALL agree that our parents have said “You guys will get along when you’re older!” and while we may have blown them off from time to time, you must admit: THEY WERE RIGHT! (Don’t tell them they’ll do that Told Ya So thing).

A Synopsis of Catherine: smart, funny beautiful endearing helpful athlete mom sister daughter wife friend coach go getter physical therapist fun wise cautious. she is a fire cracker, a strong woman. she is loved by all and loves wholeheartedly. she is a role model to many. she’s setting the tone for her daughter and son and how they will contribute to this world. she’s brave and wears many hats I never thought possible. She is…my sister Catherine.

Well there ya have it folks, my womb mate, sister, friend, coach. There’s no one like her I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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