Monday, November 19, 2012

A Craft Show and Some Junkin' with Two Christophers

This past weekend was a fun one. Busy. But fun. On A Whim had a display during Christmas Through Lowell. That was a lot of fun. Despite my son Christopher, who didn't necessarily want to be there. He did alright. But he was forced to play with 2 seven-year old girls. Not always a 5 year-old boy's cup of tea! lol. So, we had some rocky moments. But, all-in-all, things were good! We sold stuff and handed out a bunch of business cards. So glad we were able to participate in this really fun event! :) Another big thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out our stuff and to Jodi for letting us display our wares at her house!

Here a few pics of our display (with the wrong camera setting. So pardon them being so golden!)...


On Saturday, when Chris was really getting fed up with the two older girls (lol), he and I went to my boss's house. We were on a mission to get some barn wood from his neighbor who said I could take what I wanted from a smaller barn that had fallen down. Chris was excited to have a break from the craft show biz! So, off we went.

We got to my boss's house (whom I will refer to as my boss because he is also a Chris and this post could get way too confusing! ha ha!) and the 3 of us took a golf cart ride to the neighbor's barn. Not only was he getting a break from the girls, Chris was also getting a golf cart ride. I had one pleased little guy on my hands! :) When we got to the fallen barn, the neighbor came out to talk for a bit. He asked what I wanted the barn wood for. Next thing I know, he's telling us to check out the inside of a different barn and take whatever we want from there. Wow! That's about all I could think when my boss and I peeked in there. Pack-Rat Heaven! Junker's Paradise! Oodles and oodles of vintage things for the taking. Someone's years of packing things away had just become my good fortune! Yay for me! :)

Now, I did say this was an old barn. And one absolutely full of junk. So, with my fear of spiders (which is putting it mildy), I could not really venture into the barn myself. My boss, who knows about said fears, went right in there and starting pulling stuff out. I was a little afraid for him to be honest. Who knows what size of spider was lurking in there. I may have mentioned that there was probably the Mother of All Spiders living in there. But he was not deterred. I even dutifully took things from him as he handed them out the barn door. What choice did I have, after all? I needed this stuff! Spiders and all. :) My Chris was a big help, too. He took the little things and we started making a regular junk pile! 

We managed to pick up some barn wood, too. That was, after all, why we were there in the first place. But I have to admit, I got slightly distracted by all the other goodies we found. lol. When we got done pickin', Chris (my boss) gave Chris (my son) some cookies (which made for an even happier little boy!) and we were on our way back to the craft show biz! My boss even made a special delivery for me so we could get it all home. And, let's just be honest, I am so totally going back for more the first chance I get!!

Here are a few pics of the junk once we got it back to my garage. 



I certainly hope everyone had as great a weekend as I did! And I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving too! :)






Friday, November 9, 2012

My Little Bud Turns 5


 

Any of you that have young children know what a joy they are. (And also what a handful they can be!) But I have to brag just a little about my Christopher today. He's turning five today, and I just couldn't be more of a proud momma than I am of my little guy.

I went to his conference last night and his teacher and I were talking about his progress from the beginning of the year until now. Personally, I have noticed a distinct change in him within the past few weeks. He seems to have gotten older. More mature. It's like all of a sudden, I've been getting these glimpses of a grown-up Chris. And I really like what I see.

My Chris has always been a sensitive little guy. He's pretty in-tune with what people are feeling and I just love that about him. He has a big heart. He's the kind of kid who genuinely feels bad if he does something to hurt or disappoint someone. And he honestly likes to make people happy. He has a strong built-in conscience and an empathy for those around him. I plan on doing my best to nurture that so he will grow into a man with the same kind heart he has as a young boy.

Just this morning, he showed his soft side, so to speak. I bought him some Captain America tattoos for his birthday. I thought that would be cool because he's such a big fan these days. So, he opens his tattoos and says, "I already have these." I quickly said, "no you don't," thinking he was mistaken. I was just as quickly put in my place by the seven year old boss of the house when she clearly stated that he indeed does have those already! Well, I guess I really am getting old because I still don't remember buying those for him before now! lol. But, I said something like "shoot, I'm sorry. I didn't know you already had those." And Chris's response... "It's ok mom. I lost my other ones so it's good you bought me more." I'm sure they're not lost. They're probably in our closet with the other tattoos. But isn't he just such a sweetheart for trying to make me feel better about it? :)

In addition to his sweetheartedness, he's so darn funny and adorably cute too! I just love listening to his stories at the dinner table. He's stinking hilarious! His teacher and I were talking last night about his scrunchie face. If you know Chris, you have probably seen it. If not, you are really missing out! He has the cutest expressions but  the scrunchie face really takes the cake. He knows it, too. Whenever I try to tease him about it, he gets a huge smile on his face. Which, in turn, makes me smile too. He always knows how to make me smile. Always has. He's the kind of kid that you have to turn your back on so he won't know you're laughing when you're trying really hard to be serious about something you're saying to him. What a stinker he is! 

So I wanted to take a minute today to say Happy Birthday to my little guy. He's the joy of my life in so many ways. And I hope, when he is grown, he remains the big-hearted, sensitive yet silly guy that he is now. Happy 5th Birthday Little Bud!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Aubusson Blue Hutch Reveal


For whatever reason, the computer wouldn't read any pics on my camera the other day. But I got it to work today and I was finally able to grab the pics so I can post this awesome furniture reveal! Yay! 

This is my friend's great hutch before we started working on it. She bought it at a bargain price and decided she didn't have the time (or possibly energy. lol) to redo this herself so she asked us to do the job for her. I was so excited at the color she chose: Aubusson Blue Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™


She wanted to use Old White underneath for the distressed areas. So I first set to work painting the edges and various other areas with Old White.


After the Old White was on, I got started on the Aubusson Blue. I love, love, love this color!! It's so gorgeous by itself, but once you get a little dark wax on it, it is even more perfect!

Like I've said before, Chalk Paint™ goes on like a charm and the whole hutch didn't take long to paint at all. And the distressing went really well, too. I distressed this one a bit more heavily than I did out last piece. I think I'm just feeling more and more comfortable with it as I go so the distressing isn't quite as daunting as it was on our first piece. Besides, the more I work with the paint and wax, the more I realize that it would be such an easy fix even if I didn't like a spot I distressed... just paint it right over the wax and go again. :) I also distressed it so that some areas had the wood showing too, while most areas have the Old White peaking through. I'm glad I did, because I really like the dimension that gave it. 


We were supposed to deliver this yesterday, but the wind and rain got in our way. So we will be delivering it later this week. I sure hope Jen doesn't mind me sharing with you before she has this pretty thing in her hot little hands. But I just couldn't wait any longer! ;)


See this project at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Grungy, Metallic and Manly

Just wanted to share a fun little design I did today for Eric's friend at work. Johnny Rocket is Eric's nickname for the guy and Eric wanted me to do a decal for his buddy's tool box. So, I came up with this. I do believe I like it. Wait... love it!

I am a girly-girl pretty much. I like pretty things and I enjoy doing the shabby chic, cottage-style decor with my business. But, I must say, I love it when I can do a design that is manly. Other than the motorcycle element and the name, I got to start from scratch with no pre-conceived ideas about the design...my favorite way to design something! I love it when I can just go with whatever pops into my head and not have to follow a customer's ideas to the letter.

Logo/sign/decal/whatever designing is fun. Sometimes lately I forget because, unfortunately, we have to build our name up here as far as design goes. The guys at United Sign Company are great at what they do (sign installations, electrical, and all that) but they haven't had an actual designer until they hired me. They aren't exactly known for it. So, I don't get to design as many brochures and logos and fun stuff such as this like I used to. I'm hoping that picks up soon.

This was just a quick layout as a favor to Eric, so I used some clipart that I had on hand. I always keep a nice stock of good stuff to use when I need it. The motorcycle, for instance, is not my handiwork. A little too much detail for a favor, even for Eric. :) But, either way, I just love how this turned out, all grungy with a dash of metallic. (I even managed to add my favorite color in there!) Just wanted to share since I had so much fun with it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

If I Had Flower Makeover


I wanted to share one of our projects with you today. This shelving unit is one of the very first pieces we purchased at the local thrift shop here in Lowell (F.R.O.M.). When we bought her, she had an old faded picture of a rose in the top portion that served as a clock face. The clock didn't work anymore and the rose had seen better days. I never thought about taking a before pic or you could see for yourself how out-dated this great piece of furniture was. So we removed all of that and I printed up an original piece of artwork for her with a delightful little phrase. She's painted in a pale blue, with dark wood stain for aging, and ASCP in Primer Red. We painted the drawers in a slightly darker version of the blue so they would stand out a little from the body.

Since we bought her, we have affectionately referred to her as The Clock Tower. So I thought I'd keep part of that for her new name. (Plus, it rhymed so well with flower that I simply couldnt' resist. lol) We put this little lady on display for the first time at the Harvest Craft Show in Lowell and she sold the same day! It's no wonder... she's a real beauty. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sweet Blue Flower End Tables



I'm just a little in love with these tables. Believe me, I have seriously thought about keeping them for my very own! I found these 2 cuties at an estate sale of sorts that I stumbled upon on the way to work one morning. I was only going to get one, but the lady there really wanted them gone and made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Boy, am I glad I got them both because I think they  make the cutest little pair! :)

When I bought them, they were green. I don't have a problem with green. I actually like it. But these tables were a putrid, loud unattractive green. So, in this instance, I was not a fan of green. Here is a pic of one in the backseat of my car...
Well, I got busy and sort of sat on these for awhile. They hung out in my garage all summer. But I saw this great redo on Art is Beauty's blog and it inspired me to do something similar to my tables. I thought the flower was a great idea and knew that these two tables would be quite a pair if they shared that floral element. :)

I am fortunate enough to work at a sign shop. So, whenever I cut vinyl and have any leftovers, I save them for later use. I put some leftovers to use and cut my flower stencils. I am pretty good with computer design, but I'm not an artisitic painter by any means. I need a stencil! lol. I painted the edges of the table, the drawer fronts and the area I would be placing the stencil on a pale aqua blue paint. I used a home-made chalk paint recipe, combining plaster of paris and water along with some latex paint. I simply love this color of blue latex paint I have and couldn't resist using it wth the ASCP graphite. I just knew they would be a great combination!

Then I applied the stencil over the blue paint and started to work on the graphite. Here is a pic of it with the stencil on...

After the painting I waxed and did a little bit of distressing and voila! Two cute little end tables. I am very happy with the way these turned out. I just love them to bits! Hope you do too. :)



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thank Goodness for Well-Built Bridges



I must say things seem much brighter than they did last week at this time. I don't know if it's because I got paid for transforming that desk the other day and we sold some stuff on our etsy store. Or if it's because my car might actually be fixed tomorrow and I won't have to spend my life putting water in it or waiting for it to cool down. Ot if it's because I was finally able to switch my cell phone service to a provider and plan that will be about half the amount of money each month. But, whatever the reason, I feel less down in the dumps this week. And I am SO VERY THANKFUL for that!

I was just talking with someone about how stressful it is to constantly feel like you're under a tremendous weight of debt and financial burden. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep a positive attitude when you always feel like you're scraping the bottom of the barrel to get by. So, even though I'm really no better off this week than last as far as financials go, at least I have a couple issues taken care of  that I've been putting off because of their cost. It feels like I literally have had some weight lifted off my chest. Like maybe there actually might be light at the end of the tunnel after all. Because, frankly, I was really starting to feel like the narrow bridge I found myself teetering on was just about to give way under my feet and I would soon drown.

Of course, always the pragmatic individual, I am not going to start whooping it up because things are looking a little brighter. I know I have a long way to go before I actually crawl my way out of the financial situation I'm in. A very long way. And if anything else should get thrown at me, I can't help wondering if that narrow bridge won't just crumble after all. I guess I can only thank God that I started with a well-constructed bridge in the first place...

What I am going to to do is enjoy this little bit of relief I feel today. Heck, I even felt a little elated earlier when I thought I might get my car back today, in working order once again. I'm not going to count on things getting better very quickly and I'm certainly not going to count my chickens before they're hatched. But I will count my blessings and just take what I can get for now. A little bit of happiness here; a little bit of contentment there. I can deal with that for as long as the bridge holds. :)     

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On A Whim's Desk Transformation


I'm so excited to write a blog about a furniture transformation. And using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™, nonetheless! At our booth during the Riverwalk Festival in Lowell, we met Kimberly. She purchased a whitewashed end table and an upcycled sign. She then took our card, mentioning that she may be interested in having us  refinish some furniture for her. About a month later, she called and asked for a quote on a desk.

Here is the desk as it was...
This was a nice piece to begin with. A solid wood desk with 2 pull out shelves at the top of each cabinet door. The right-hand side cabinet has a cubby space for your computer tower and the left side cabinet has another slide-out shelf. Not to mention the slide-out keyboard area in the center. In other words, a lot of nooks and crannies to paint! And some nice edges to distress as well.

Our client  wanted a black distressed finish to give this great piece of furniture an updated look. She was going to have us work on the bottom only and leave the hutch for later as she wasn't sure she would use that portion or not. After our initial consultation, she decided to go with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Graphite. I told her it would distress very nicely, even though it wouldn't be a true black, as she had originally requested. I've transformed other pieces, but hadn't had a chance to work with ASCP before. I was so excited!

Eric, Gavin (Eric's son) and I went to pick up the desk. And thank goodness Gavin went with us because this baby was HEAVY! When we got there, we learned that our client wanted us to do the hutch portion as well. Yay! So we brought both pieces back to my house and a day later I started painting.

Here is a pic of the partially painted desk (along with some laundry in the background. lol)...

It was a lot of work because of all the cubbies and areas to paint. But, that being said, it wasn't nearly as much work as it would have been had I needed to sand the desk before I painted. I had read up on chalk paint (in other words, I had done my homework). But I was pleasantly surprised to find the claims were all true! The paint worked like a charm on the unsanded wood! At first, I used it straight out of the can. But I found that when I watered it down a bit, it went on just a little easier for me. And it really goes a long way too. Both of these large pieces (at least 6' wide) were done with only 1-1/4 quarts of chalk paint. And the time I saved on the sanding made the paint well worth the price.

Once I finished painting the desk, I started on the waxing. I have to say I was a little bit nervous about this part. I'd never used wax before and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. But it turned out to be super easy to use. :) I waxed the entire piece in sections, wiping off the excess with a lint-free cloth, sanded the edges to distress it and then applied dark wax over the clear in order to give it an aged appearance. All according to "the book" (or, in this case, the internet. Like I said, I did my home work!)

I was in love with the piece once I got the waxing started. It made the color just a little darker and, with the addition of the dark wax, the piece was really coming together beautifully. When it came to sanding for the ditressed look, what can I say... best paint ever to distress with. The sanding process was so easy. And I found that the wax would erase any stray sandpaper marks I might have accidentally left when my hand slipped off an edge and I scuffed an area I didn't mean to.

When I got the desk finished, I started on the hutch. My client had a date in mind she had hoped to have the desk back by but wasn't as concerned with the top part. But, once I started on the hutch, I got that all finished in just a day and a half. The Chalk Paint™ dries very quickly, making the entire process that much faster.


Last night, we prepared to deliver the finished desk to Kimberly and her husband. Alas, no Gavin this time, so I had to help Eric load it onto the trailer. But, we managed. :) In my normal fashion, I oopsied. I had mistakenly read my client's text wrong on Monday, thinking that she said Tuesday would work for delivery. But when I looked at the text again last night, after we had already gotten the desk loaded onto the trailer, I noticed that the delivery day was actually supposed to be Wednesday. I thought for a moment that Eric might shoot me. But, I'm happy to report, he did not. lol. Things worked out fine. Our client was home so we were able to make the delivery anyway. Ahead of her in-hands date too! The most important thing: she and her husbnad LOVED the transformation! We were so happy, this being our first consigned job and all. Up until now, we have only transformed our own pieces. This was the first time we'd worked on someone else's furniture. And they couldn't have been more pleased. Whew... {insert sigh of relief here}

We can't wait to work on our next client project! Looks like it might be Kimberly's curio cabinet, refinished to match her new desk. :)  And I am officially a huge fan of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™. It works great and I'm excited to start using it on a couple of end tables in my garage!



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Measure of Our Worth



I've been struggling lately with, well, a lot of things. But mostly stemming from money. And because of that I find myself in a different kind of struggle. The kind of internal struggle between what I know to be true and what I keep feeling to be true. More and more, I find myself measuring my worth on one criteria: the amount of money I have (or, more appropriately, don't have).

It's a trap I have done my best to avoid. But it's getting harder and harder after a year of stressing over money on a regular basis. A year of not really even making the ends meet anymore. It's a situation that is both frustrating and just plain tiring. I've come to the point where I am feeling so low about money, that I literally have to remind myself of how many other things I have going for me in order to keep me going at all.

And, unfortunately, it's a trap a lot of us find ourselves caught in from time to time. Money might not always be the issue. But, too often, we let ourselves be defined by one thing, instead of tallying all the pieces and parts of us to come up with our net worth. Sometimes there's one thing that seems to weigh so heavily that it somehow winds up becoming 90% of the score when, in reality, it might not even be worth counting at all.

For me, at this moment, the big issue is money. I'm so busy anymore worrying about how I'm going to pay for this, that or the other, that I can hardly focus on anything else. And because this issue is taking up so much of my time and my thoughts, it's becoming more and more difficult to not equate myself with the problem. In other words, because I don't have enough money, I also feel like I'm not enough.

It is so horribly unfortunate that we do this kind of thing to ourselves. People do it all the time. Maybe they feel they aren't worthy of love because they don't think they are attractive enough: they don't have the right body image or hairstyle or facial features. Or maybe they judge themselves as stupid because they are poor test takers and fail tests often in school. We define ourselves as fat or dumb, uptight or timid. The list of negative descriptions goes on and on. And, typically, we define ourselves in these negative ways because of one single thing that we don't like about ourselves or our lives.

What we tend to forget in moments like these, when we are feeling low about one part of our life or our personality, is that we are complex individuals. We are so much more than the amount of money we make or the car we drive. We count for more than our test scores and our accolades. Our worth as people should not be defined by the kind of work we do but, rather, by the quality. We should never feel unworthy because of a physical trait we don't like about ourselves. Because we are so much more than that one thing we don't like about ourselves or that one thing we find lacking. That single, glaring problem we focus way too much of our energy on is NOT what should define us. We each have so much in our lives, in our personalities, besides these negative things, so much to offer others and so much to offer ourselves, if only we try to focus on ourselves as a whole package. And not forget that we are not the same as the problem. We need to remember that our lives our so much bigger than one little thing, no matter how much stress that thing may cause us. I know I certainly needed the reminder today.

Friday, September 7, 2012

There are more things in heaven and earth...



Sometimes you hear something and it really sticks with you. Awhile back, my kids told me that they thought their Grandma had turned into a butterfly when she died. It was a comment made out of the blue. There were no butterflies around and we weren't talking about her at the time. When they said this, it was completely unexpected. And very sweet.

My kids will often mention my Mom out of nowhere. And, to be honest, it makes me feel good and sad at the same time. I miss my parents. Immensely. So to hear my kids talk about my mom sometimes makes me melancholy. Especially on those days when I'm already missing her to begin with.

But at the same time, it warms my heart to know that my children remember her so fondly and with such love. Chris was only 3 when she died. I'm sure his memories of her are more feelings than events. Keara, on the other hand, remembers specifics about my Mom. Either way, I'm so glad they got to know her. I have always wished they could have known my Dad...

In the way that only children can, they remember my Mom with an innocence that refuses to see anything but the good about her. I love that about little children: they focus on the good in people. They really don't remember that you yelled at them for notting getting ready in the morning before school or that you thereatened to swat their butts in the store for throwing a fit about the 5,000 toys they wanted that you wouldn't buy. They really focus on the positive things and don't hold the negative against you. It's a skill most adults could stand to take a refresher course in. :)

So, in their wonderful childish way, they have decided to equate my Mom's soul with a butterfly. And I love that! It's one of the most beautiful things I have heard in a long time. And it has really stuck with me. Not long after they said it, I was working on some projects outside my house and was visited, time and again throughout the day, by a butterfly. I just kept thinking about what the kids had said and I couldn't get it out of my head how odd it was that this butterfly kept returning and landing on my projects. It was so strange that I got my camera out and snapped a few photos.

Yesterday, at work, I saw this gorgeous butterfly and it reminded me of that incident. In fact, every time I see a butterfly anymore, which has been often this summer, I'm reminded of what my kids said to me. And it's such a peacfeul feeling...

I'm not saying that I believe my Mom is now a butterfly. I don't buy into that kind of stuff really. But part of me wishes I did. And, maybe, a part of me does. Just a little.  It's really such a beautiful thought. And why shouldn't we allow ourselves to believe in beautiful thoughts such as that? I like to think that my parents are watching over me. I'm sure of it, really. So couldn't their souls visit me every now and again on the delicate wings of a butterfly? The more I think about it, the more it seems within the realm of possibility after all...

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5 159-167
William Shakespeare

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happiness on Thankful Thursday



I'm beginning to think the only day I can actually sit down to blog is Thursdays. Maybe I need to name all of the other days of the week something clever, too, so I force myself to sit down and write! Since today is Thankful Thursday, I wanted to take a moment to write about what I'm truly and completely grateful for. Happiness. Simple happiness.

I can attest to the fact that happiness isn't always easy. Sometimes it's actually pretty difficult. But the honest truth is, it's a reachable goal for us all. It depends, in part, on your definition of happiness, I suppose. But if you break it down into moments, (and isn't that what life is, after all, just moments?), then we can all achieve it. There are times in life when happiness just comes naturally. And there are other times when we have to actually work at it. Most of the time, though, it's a combination of the two. 

My life at the moment is definitely a mixture of the two. It's a challenge sometimes to remain upbeat in the face of financial struggles. And, boy, do I have those! But, on the flip side, there are moments when happiness just seems second nature, even in the midst of a boatload of stress. Times when my kids are behaving well or saying something really cute, or simply telling me what a great mom I am and how much they love me. Who could resist being happy when they hear that? :) And then there's my relationship. Another great source of happiness for me.

It's been very nearly a year since I met Eric. He has been a source of constant joy for me. Someone I can laugh with when I might otherwise feel like crying. And someone who lets me cry when I need it. Just because I'm basically happy these days, doesn't mean I don't have my moments with the waterworks. And he makes even those moments better. Having someone you can count on for the good and the bad times, now that's true happiness.

I am so thankful that I met Eric and found the one person I am sure I was meant to spend my life with. Someone who only brings me happiness. I'm not saying he's perfect. But I know for a fact that he will never purposefully do anything to hurt me. He'll never put me down. He'll never be ashamed of me. He'll never make me feel like I have nothing to offer. Quite the contrary, he lifts me up continually, and makes me feel like I'm one of the best people on earth. (Which, by the way, can be pretty embarrassing at times. lol) He does, indeed, by his very existence in my life, make me happy.

No one said life would be easy. I don't personally know one single person who thinks it is. And, since it isn't easy, we can only do our best. Sometimes, doing our best means, in part, finding our happiness in all the little moments. I can say with certainty that my life these days is not easy. And that it isn't all I wish it would be. But, even though money is important for obvious reasons (like my car repairs, my property taxes, my grocery bills, etc. The list goes on and on... lol), most of that is superficial. Because, when it comes right down to it, I'm actually very wealthy. I have an abundance of love and kindness in my life. I'm actually stinking rich with those! :) Because I have those, and despite the lack of other things, I'm a happy girl. And extremely thankful for it.



 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful {for an argument??} Thursday


As promised yetserday, I am writing today's blog post about why I am thankful that Eric and I had our first real, full-fledged argument. Might sound strange to you. But I mean it. I'm so glad we had our first argument because now I know we can argue and make it out in one piece. Maybe even better than when we started. 

Some of you may be thinking that an argument really isn't that big of a deal. Couples have them. No two people can agree about everything, after all. And I know that's true. But, the problem is, I come from a different relationship background than most. My previous relationship was riddled with disagreements, arguments and actual fights. And when I say they weren't pretty, that's being kind. In fact, they were downright ugly. Read into that whatever you'd like to. You'd probably be correct...

Comparing the relationship I have now with the one I used to be in is like comparing apples to, well, cow dung. But, it can't be helped. It's my only real frame of reference for the way I interact with another person in a relationship. Truth be told, I have felt, for a long time, like a dismal failure at relationships. Even a year ago, when my previous relationship had been over for a couple years and I'd had time to reflect, get my bearings back and stand on my own two feet again, I still felt like a failure at being with someone. Even when I knew everything that had gone wrong had not been entirely my fault, that there were factors simply beyond my control, I still couldn't quite convince myself that I would ever be any good as a girlfriend. I figured I would spend my life pretty much alone and I even convinced myself that I was good with that.

And that is the real shame. I had written myself off as a lost cause. And, in turn, had pretty much closed myself off, too. And then I met Eric. We had our first date on September 9th last year. And within the past year, I've realized something I have never known until now: I can be good with someone. I can be good for someone. I cannot express to you how very refreshing it is to know this after a 10 year relationship that seemed to prove exactly the opposite. It's exhilarating!

Eric and I have spent nearly an entire year together. We laugh with one another. We joke with and tease each other. We basically just get along famously. :) It's been great. But, also, a little strange. Because up until a few days ago, we really have never argued. For someone like me, who had been used to daily arguments or, at the very least, walking on eggshells to try to avoid them, going nearly a year without an argument felt odd. It felt wrong somehow. Now, how messed up is that? :)

But, as I said in yesterday's post, we finally had a tiff (aka: a lover's quarrel). It was horrible while it lasted. Hurt feelings and terse words. And, of course, there were the necessary capitals and exclamation points required for yelling via text! lol. But, the funny thing is, it never got worse than that. There was one point in my texting frenzy that I made a typo, omitted a word, and accidentally called Eric an idiot. In reality though, I had meant to say I was not an idiot. It got lost somewhere in the translation. Kind of like when you start talking so fast you mess up your words. My fingers got behind my brain a little! Lol. But, other than this one little oopsy, we didn't call each other names. No one got called crazy, bi-polar or schizophrenic either (much to my relief) and neither of us harbored any hard feelings after the fight. We took some time, cooled off, and things went back to normal.

And there you have it. Did you catch that word? I just hit the nail on the head... normal. It was a normal argument. A real-live, I have a bone to pick with you kind of quarrel. The kind where you vent, let it all out, and find out you love each other just as much when you're done as when you started. The kind that doesn't crush you into feeling like you're nothing because it turned so ugly and wasted every ounce of energy within you. The normal kind, where you don't end up having to leave in the middle of the night because you just can't take anymore. A regular, old, run-of-the-mill argument. Not exactly what I'm used to, that's for sure.

I must admit, I was apprehensive about talking to Eric after our cooling off period. I wasn't sure whether or not he would be angry with me. Would he secretly think I had been a complete moron or a complete and total witch (with a capital B. lol)? Would he hold this against me for the next few days? Would he stew on things and bring it up later? Somehow find a passive-agressive way to dole out punishment for me saying things that he didn't want to hear? Again, this is my frame of reference talking. These are the things I had grown accustomed to before. All of this stuff was normal to me just a few years back. Old ghosts sometimes like to come back and haunt you at times like this, when you're feeling insecure...

But, guess what? I talked to him. We both apologized. We started joking again and we said I love you. And that was it. We were done. He hasn't once made me feel bad about it. I haven't had to live with any repercussions. I argued with him because my feelings got hurt. And we're still okay. More than okay, because I feel like we've just cleared a hurdle. Or, maybe better put, like I've just cleared one. Perhaps I've never felt more normal in my life! 

So this, my friends, is the moral of my story: I'm grateful we argued on Monday because I've never felt so relieved. Relieved to know we don't have to see eye to eye all the time. We don't have to agree on everything. And we're both wonderfully, normally human. We make mistakes, overlook things, aren't always perfectly in tune with each other's feelings, wants or needs. We may even argue about these things. But it won't be the end of the world. It won't be like it was before. An argument won't break us into tiny little pieces because I'm not broken anymore and because we have a strong foundation to begin with. I've learned I am capable of the real deal: a relationship that is completely normal. Slightly imperfect, beautiful and wonderfully amazing at the same time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Lover's Quarrel. {Finally}


Well, it took nearly a year, just about 2 weeks shy of it in fact, for Eric and I to have our first real argument. But we finally did it! I know, I guess it must mean we are out of the honeymoon stage or something, right? lol. I tried to tell him, afterward, that it was only technically half an argument, because we were both at work and yelling (well, I was yelling anyway) via text message. Had it been an honest-to-goodness, face-to-face argument, it probably wouldn't have lasted as long as it did. I admit, I probably would have broken down and cried instead of using numerous exclamation points and a few capital letters. Those are, after all, the best way to yell in type, right? :) But, hey, at least I didn't call him any names...

The whole thing started because I got my feelings hurt. Not at all an a-typical reason for an argument between a couple, I suppose. I wasn't even really all that hurt to begin with. But, I expected an apology for the very egregious errors of Eric's ways. Lol. And he did not apologize! Men. I swear sometimes they can be so obtuse! I mean, really, when a woman says her feelings are hurt, just apologize, will ya? It's really much easier than saying you didn't mean to hurt her feelings or giving reasons/making excuses as to why you said or did whatever it was that hurt said feelings. Come on, men. Just give a girl a break sometimes. Give in to her perhaps unreasonable, perhaps only unreasonable-to-you, bruised ego and say you're sorry already. :)

Anyway, back to the story. I was expecting an apology about something that happened (rather, didn't happen) on Sunday.  But, instead, I got the above mentioned I didn't mean to hurt your feelings line. Mistake numero uno. (And, Eric, I hope you're reading this, because you could stand to read these guidelines! lol) So, instead of feeling better, I felt worse. I spoke with Eric on Monday morning before work and, of course, in the true fashion of women everywhere when they get something under their skin, I didn't talk to him about being hurt/angry. I was, instead, short and flat in our conversation. (Mistake numero 2. And, yes, it was mine...) So, things escalated from there to the exclamation points and capital letters of our (and by our I mean, my) text messages.

I've been making light of our argument in this post. But, the truth is, at the time it didn't seem funny at all. To either of us. I am glad to report, the heated argument only really lasted for the morning. I eventually got an apology somewhere mid-morning. Although, by then, I hardly cared. lol. We both stopped texting for awhile and things cooled off. I later apologized, too, and hoped liked hell he wasn't mad at me. Yada yada yada. In other words, I sorta caved. But, there are worse things that could happen. Much worse. And, believe me, I would know. As far as arguments go, I can handle this kind. And I have a feeling they won't ever be much worse than this one was. But that's a topic for tomorrow's post. Be sure to check back Thursday to find out why I'm grateful we had this argument. Yes, that's right. Having an argument with Eric will be the topic of this week's Thankful Thursday post. Maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense right now but, believe me, it will...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

for my little girl

 
I remember rocking you to sleep when you were small enough to fit in the length of my arm. Evenings were my favorite times. It was just you and I, and so very quiet. I can't describe the peace I felt holding you, knowing that I was the one responsible for the whole of you. That in my arms rested a sweet, precious little person who would grow up to be anything. And my everything.

I always sang to you. Something I had made up. A little melody and words for only your ears. And you would look at me so intently. Like I was someone special. And, I cannot deny, I needed that. Needed it more than I even realized at the time.

You have always made me feel special. To think I had a hand in bringing such a beautiful baby into the world made me feel a little more important. More needed. More loved. And the love I felt, for you, from you, was more than anything I had known before. So amazingly unconditional. And I marveled at it, especially when we would rock in the chair together, just us two.

One night, and I'll never forget it, you started humming to me. The same little tune I had sang to you for seven months while we rocked in that very chair. I was in awe. After all, you really weren't very old to have memorized the tune. But there you were, humming it back to me. The same song I sang to you to make you feel loved and safe. And it occurred to me that I wasn't at all sure anymore if I was making you feel loved and safe, or if you were doing it for me. All the months I had held you, cherishing our special evening time together, you were actually the one holding me. Holding me together while other things unravelled around me. Providing me a peace that kept me whole. For with you there to love and depend on me, I couldn't fall apart. You were my reason for strength, when it would have been easier to have given up.

My baby girl, I cannot thank you enough. For being my saving angel, just by being born. One day, when you are grown, when you understand better the things that happen in a woman's heart, and understand that two people together can simply go so very wrong, I hope you will know how much you gave me when I had nothing else. And I pray that I return to you each day of your life the love you showed to me when I needed it most.

Happy seventh birthday Keara. My darling baby girl. Forever the light of my life.




Sunday, August 12, 2012

the answer is yes

I am tired and can't sleep. I took a long hot bath and I'm drinking some wine. Plus, I've just had a pretty busy week. But, I cannot seem to get myself wound down. I think I might know the reason: I have something to get off my chest.

I've just finished off an amazing week. One that's always full of bustling activity, late nights and early mornings, lots of greasy fair food, stinky crap (literally) and noisy animals, and boatloads of responsibilities. But none of these things compare to the wonderful people who surround me during fair week. The laughs and fantastic times we share are so wonderful that I cannot even describe what a high it is.

I know I've already blogged about the people that I know and love at the fair. But I just can't help it. I have to say again what a joy it is to work with this group of people. Things get crazy and hectic and we get so fantastically tired, but somehow we manage to keep our spirits high and our humor over-flowing. I would hate to give this up.

My 3-year term on the board is up this year. I've been asked numerous times this week if I'll run for the Kent County Youth Fair Board of Directors again. Had I been asked a month ago, I think my answer would have been "no." It's something I've been struggling with. I hate to let people down and that's what I feel I would be doing if I didn't run again...

But, after this week, I'm reminded how much I love doing this. I literally love being a part of the fair. I have such a great time and have made so many wonderful friends. Friends who make me laugh. Friends who are there for me when I cry, and help me out when I need a hand. And those kinds of people can be pretty hard to come by. 

And, I cannot deny, I like the responsibility. I thrive on it. I feel like I'm an integral part of something important. Even with the inherent headaches that come from being on a board of directors, no matter what the organization might be, I like what I do. I could do without the 'politics' but, like I said, it comes with the territory. Fortunately, though, there are enough people to counteract the negative aspects of this position. There are people who whole-heartedly care about the fair. That want to see it succeed. Who aren't a part of it for the title or the resume point. I think I fall into this category. And I know my friends that I mentioned earlier do as well.

So now, having just finished off this fantastic week of fair, my answer to the question of whether or not I'll run again is a definite "yes." After all, I would miss this. Sometimes, at 12:30am, when we're all grouped in the office for a few minutes of downtime, laughing hysterically over something completely stupid, I feel like I might be the luckiest girl alive. Because I'm part of something pretty amazing. And I have so much fun doing it. :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

sleep is overrated. {thankful thursday...the fair edition}

I'm writing this post at midnight because, frankly, it's the first chance I've had to sit down and write today. And technically I'm late again because now it's Friday and this is my thankful Thursday post. Darn it! :)

But I can hardly be blamed. It's been quite a week. It's fair week, after all. And, for those of us who help there, that means a lot of late nights and early mornings. Being home by midnight actually constitutes an early night compared to most during this busy week. There's just so much to do. And it can be exhausting.

But, the truth is, even though my legs feel like lead, and I can hardly get my eyes to open in the morning, working at the fair is so much fun! I really enjoy what I do down there and I'm glad I chose this great place to volunteer my time.

The main reason I love it so much is the camaraderie that most of us have down there. I love the group of people I work with at the fairgrounds. I love the devotion they have and the humor that fills the atmosphere. Especially at night when we all get a little more chatty and a lot more goofy, mainly because we're all so darn tired! But, who cares about sleep. It's overrated anyway! The great times I've had down at the fairgrounds in the last few years are well worth a week or so of running on empty.

I'm so thankful tonight for my friends at the fairgrounds. Now, probably better get to bed. We have two more late nights and early mornings left to make it through during this fair week... :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Remembering Ron



Last night at the fairgrounds, we paid tribute to a man who was, in a lot of ways, the personification of the Kent County Youth Fair. Ron Wenger was the man most people thought of when they thought about the fair. He was, typically, ever-present at the fairgrounds. Not only during fair week, but most times. You would usually see his truck parked down there and he'd be tinkering around with something or another, wearing his hat and signature plaid shirt.

No matter when I would show up to work on something for the fairboard, he was there. And usually ready with a good story to tell while I sat at my desk doing the tedious work that is bookkeeping. :) He made the evenings enjoyable with his good humor and camaraderie. We would laugh about the stupidest things while I wrote checks for the fair. I loved his whacky sense of humor and I think he kind of liked mine, too. Or we would hash out some dilemma or another while I worked on a report. Over a short time, we became friends. Even more, he became like a father to me. He worried about things that I was dealing with, and tried to come up with ways (some of them pretty out-there. lol) for me to change what wasn't going right in my life at the time. In short, he cared about me. And I about him.  

When it became evident that something was going on with Ron's health, we all grew more and more concerned. And as the weeks passed, we could see that his condition, unknown at the time, was deteriorating.When it was discovered that he had ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) we were all heartbroken. It wasn't long after that diagnosis that he left us. And when he did, he left a big hole. Not only at the fairgrounds, but in our hearts as well.

In memory of Ron, some people who also loved him here at the fairgrounds decided to have a luminary tribute to him during fair week. The luminaries were given out last night with a donation, all of which is to be donated to the ALS Association in Ron Wenger's name. The night couldn't have been nicer for this beautiful tribute. And watching the lanterns float up in the sky was a peaceful, moving sight. My daughter was with me last night. She wanted to light one for Ron and for her grandma, my mom, too. She asked, in a true innocent child's  way, "do they float all the way up to heaven?" I told her that they just might. But, in reflecting today, my answer is yes. I know they do. They float right on up to heaven full of the love we still have in our hearts And the souls of the people we love and have lost shine all the brighter for it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A little bit of glam can be good for the soul


Friday morning. I should be thrilled. The work week is over. The weekend is ahead. But, honestly, this feels more like a Monday morning to me. There's just too much stuff wearing me down to get excited about a weekend. And isn't that just a bummer?

So, in order to pep my spirits up, you know what I did? I got all dolled up. I didn't do the usual routine of blush and mascara. I went whole-hog. Broke out the smokey eye makeup. Got out a little lipgloss. Heck, I even put some concealer under my eyes. God knows I needed that! It's amazing what stress and a good cry can do to the eyes...

Then I went a little crazy and got the curling iron out. It isn't something I do just everyday. Usually I blow dry and go. And thank goodness I've got a cut that allows me to do that. Because, let's face it, I usually don't have the energy for much more.

Used to be I never wore makeup at all. And a lot of times, I still don't. But every now and again, it's fun to get glammed up...

Being a girl has its ups and downs. Emotional, hormonal & physical. Sometimes all at once. And, regardless of gender, we all have our own stress and issues to deal with. Just part of being human. So, we learn to roll with the punches. And, typically, we all do a pretty good job of it.

But every now and again, we need a boost. And, when I'm in the doldrums, it feels good to get all pretty-fied. I'm not doing it for anyone else. Just me. I feel a little more confident, like I have a little somethin-somethin extra going on. I'm a little more ready to take on the world and all the crap that sometimes lives in it. I've got just a little more pep in my step than I did when I woke up. And that's a good feeling. I hate being all bummed out. It's no fun at all. It's good to be a girl on a day like today. A little glam can be good for the woman's soul. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

friends, fun & fair....{thankful thursday: the pre-fair edition}

The Kent County Youth Fair is only a few days away. Hard to believe for those of us behind the scenes. But true nonetheless. It will be here before we know it. Ready or not! But, I'm sure everything will be ready just as it needs to be, thanks to the group of devoted people who put their hearts and souls into this effort. A lot of volunteers and employees work hard to bring fair week together. And I'm thankful for all of them today. But I'm especially thankful for a handful of people who put in a lot of extra hours, not just directly prior to fair, but long before everything has come together. Their legwork insures that everything will, indeed, come together. They are a special bunch. And I want them to know they are appreciated.

Not only am I thankful that they work so hard. I'm thankful, too, for their passion. They enjoy the work they do to ensure a succesful fair because they enjoy the outcome. They honestly believe that the Fair is a great resource for teaching kids responsibility and leadership, character and integrity. And it's because of this passion that they deal with the inevitable snares and hiccups and headaches that usually accomodate any event. With so much to do and prepare for, there is never a dull moment!

Which leads me to the next reason I'm so thankful for this group of people... with them, there really never is a dull moment! And I mean that in the best way possible. :)  Even when we're in the middle of a puzzle (ie: what happened to these ropes and now what are we going to use to rope off the parking lot? lol) or in the midst of a small crisis, these people are just FUN!. Sometimes things get a little harried and people get slightly freaked out for a few moments. But, all in all, these people are genuinely amusing to be around! They make fair week and all of the prep leading up to it a complete and total blast. And I love them for it. I'm so glad to be able to call them my friends. :)

Being surrounded by enjoyable people is a definite plus in any situation. But being surrounded by them during a hectic time is a MUST! There's enough humor among this group of people that, even if one of us gets temporarily negative, or just gets so plain tired that we can hardly function anymore, you end up being back in a good mood in no time. All it takes is some off-the-wall comment and you're smiling and giggling again. These people are positive, and they're just downright comical, so we have a great time, even while we're working our butts off! :) If that's not something to be thankful for, I don't know what is!

Fair begins next Monday, on the 6th. This crazy bunch of people (who love the fair with all their hearts) will be there, possibly acting a little insane, most likely laughing about something ridiculous. But we'll be there and, gosh darn it, we'll be having fun! And so will you when you visit the Kent County Youth Fair. Check out the full schedule of events at www.kcfg.org. Hope to see you at the Fair!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

My momma raised me right. And it stuck!... {a tiny Thankful Thursday tirade}

I have a few things to say this morning. Not anything new, I know. But I feel they must be said, so here goes...

First of all, I am so very thankful that my Mom and Dad taught me about hard work, responsibility, generosity and, perhaps most of all, simple courtesy. They didn't just teach me; they showed me everyday by simply being themselves. I think they both would have done just about anything for anyone. My dad worked, in some form or another, nearly everyday of his life. And he always gave his best to whatever it was he was doing. My mom worked equally hard at home. They were highly responsible people. Until later in my life, they never even had a credit card. My dad was old school: paid for everything with cash. If he didn't have enough cash to buy something, he waited until he had saved enough. And they always treated people with respect and courtesy.

Not only did my parents show me the importance of these qualities, the life lessons I gained from them actually stuck! I feel pretty good about the person I grew up to be. Sure I've got faults. And who doesn't? But, all-in-all, I'm a pretty decent person. And I'm so glad for that.



Now, here comes the tirade part. If you'd like to surf off to another page and read no more, I completely understand. And I won't be offended at all. Truth is, I won't even know you didn't finish reading! So feel free to ditch the whole thing right here and now :)

Events from this morning have shown me all too well how the simplest of virtues can be so easily thrown out the window. Then again, maybe that's phrased incorrectly. I guess if you don't have those qualities in the first place, you can't really throw them anywhere, now can you?

I simply don't understand how someone can be raised by two decent parents, pretty great parents actually, and somehow turn out to be one of the most indecent people in town. (Perhaps on the planet, but I don't want to get too carried away. lol) Seriously, I wonder how none of the lessons one learns as a child can stick with him or her. And I wonder why it isn't obvious to this type of person that something basic is missing from his or her life. There is a certain happiness, after all, that comes from being a person who is considerate of others. A person who works hard for the things they want in life and who is responsible for his or herself and the actions he or she takes. There is something to the old saying that what goes around, comes around. And, maybe it's just me, but I enjoy being a good person. It's so much easier than wasting my time trying to figure out what I can do next to get under someone else's skin. Let's face it, being an angry, bitter person takes a lot out of you. So does being a person you aren't even proud of. Despising yourself is downright exhausting. I know. I've been there before.

So let me just say again how very thankful I am to be good with who I've turned out to be. I can't thank my parents enough for instilling in me the qualities of decency, integrity and responsibility. And I'm glad, too, that their lessons stuck. That I didn't lose sight of those qualities as I got older and came to be on my own. If you possess those kinds of qualities, you should be glad too. Because there are plenty of people around these days who simply do not have them. And, I tend to believe, being devoid of decency and courtesy must make for a pretty lonely life.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday... A Day Late. A Dollar Short.

Last week I wrote my Thankful Thursday post on Wednesday. This week it's Friday. What can I say? I'm a busy gal and can't keep a schedule to save my life!

So this morning I was thinking about how I missed writing my post yesterday and the phrase "a day late and a dollar short" popped into my head. There are plenty of times when a day late isn't such a big deal. Take this post, for instance. I didn't get it done on Thursday. Whoop-ti-do. Life happened. I simply got too busy.

There are also times when being late does count. You miss an important deadline at work or to sign your kids up for an activity. Sometimes you can fix it. And sometimes you can't.

But then there are the really big things. The things you simply cannot afford to miss out on. Those life-changing things. Maybe it's a moment. Maybe it's a lifetime of taking someone for granted. Until, one day, you've missed the boat. That person is gone suddenly and you're left with nothing but regret. That's the one I want to talk about this morning.

Sometimes it's easy to take things and people for granted. You settle into habits. Things and people become everyday and normal and you forget just how precious they really are. I think we all do that now and again. The saddest part of this scenario is that the closest people to you are the ones it's easiest to overlook. Because the special things they do, the unique qualities about them, become regular and, in doing so, start to be nothing more than normal. We take it for granted that they will always be around. That we'll always have them in our lives.

But, of course, life is fleeting. I say nothing profound here. We all know it. But it sure is easy to forget sometimes. Life can be so darn busy. And we all get caught up in the whirlwind of schedules and appointments. We lose sight of the bigger picture: that life is not about how many events or relationships you can fit in but, rather, how amazing those moments and connections are.

When I thought of this post title, one of the first things that came to mind was my parents' deaths. It's probably because I was talking with someone just a few days ago about losing a parent suddenly and feeling somewhat like an orphan, even at my age.

For those of you that don't know, I lost my dad to cancer about 9 years ago. It wasn't an extremely prolonged period of time between his diagnosis to his death. But, I was somewhat prepared when we lost him. I was a daddy's girl, and I relied on him for a lot. We had a very good relationship and that helped when he died. I didnt have regrets or sadness for what we didn't mend in his lifetime. But, rather, had only good memories of how we were with each other.

Even still, it really does indeed hit home just how much you take for granted when you lose someone. There was so much he did for me that became so very evident when he wasn't there to do it anymore. What I realized most, the thing that I had completely taken for granted, was what a rock he was for me. I always felt safe knowing that, if I fell, my dad would be there to catch me. And then, suddenly, I didn't have that safety anymore. It was scary.

Now, with my mom, the scenario is a bit different. We had a good relationship, too. But we bickered  A lot. I think that the biggest problem with my mom and I was that we were a lot alike. And some of the things I didn't like about myself, I blamed indirectly on her. Little personality traits that I picked up from her would get on my nerves. She worried and got stressed about things too much. So did I.  She was picky. Me too. As a teenager and a young woman, these things overshadowed all the good things I also inherited from her. Like a kind heart and a giving personality. The ability to love big.

In addition to this, a mother-daughter relationship just has a different dynamic than that of a girl with her father. I didn't idolize her like I did my dad. Plain and simple. But when I lost my dad, I came to realize what a true gift she was to my life. How much I had always counted on her too. And then, most suddenly and shockingly, she was gone as well. And I found myself alone. I had my own children and plenty of people to rely on. But no one to catch me if I fell. No one to provide the unconditional love like only a parent can.
I didn't have regrets when I lost my mom either. I felt good in knowing that, even with all our bickering, there were never any hard feelings between us. We argued and then forgot about it. And we had grown even closer within the 7 years between losing my dad and losing my mom. Simply put, I'm confident that she knew how very much I loved her. And I know how much she loved me too.

So today, I am thankful for the peace that comes with losing someone and yet knowing that, if you could do things over with them, there really isn't too much you would change. I know a person who continually takes his parents for granted. Who basically cuts them off from most of his life because of his own short-comings, not theirs. And I know, from experience, that one day he will lose them. And have to live with the regret that he didn't appreciate what he had while it was his. I feel sorry for him. Because I know how hard it is to deal with losing people that are important to you without any regrets. I cannot imagine what it must be like when your heart is not only full of sadness over their death, but also with the sadness that you lost them long before they died.

If you read this and it means anything to you, please take a moment to really think about what others mean to you and how you would feel if they left. Would you have peace looking back on your relationships? Or would you have a heart full of regret? Once you lose someone, you don't get a do-over. Try not to be a day late and a dollar short when it comes to what truly counts in life. Make an effort everyday to appreciate the things that people do and the amazingness that makes them who they are.

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