christmas

brendan,

merry christmas.

merry freaking christmas.

by now you probably know exactly how much i love christmas. now let me tell you exactly why. my parents fought a lot when i was little and there’s a lot of times i don’t like to remember from my early childhood. but the times i love to think back on were always christmas. i loved waking up christmas morning and jumping in my parents bed and running downstairs to my grandpa’s eager face and big belly laughs. it was more than the presents at such a young age, it was a time of pure joy.

even as i grew older, christmas was always a time of love, happiness, and warmth at my household. when we didn’t have any money for presents, but we still managed to get my special celebrate adoption ornament. when the heat went out at my grandparents house so we all snuggled up to a nice warm fire with hot cocoa. it was curling up in my grandfather’s arms and letting his love wash over me, it was my moms tears whenever i made her a gift instead of buying one, it was my father singing feliz navidad over the phone because he knew how much it made me laugh. i just love christmas.

over the years ive learned to tone down my excitement about a lot of things because people think its childish or weird, but the one thing i have never been around you is embarrassed about my excitement. you have consistently allowed me to be unashamed about my love for christmas and have even indulged me. never did i think i would find myself dating someone who accepted my love for christmas this much and do anything to make me my happiest.

simply put, it’s why i’ve fallen for you. there are so many other reasons, but this is the biggest. thank you for letting me show my christmas cheer. thank you for your encouragement and patience. thank you for being you.

merry christmas, brendan.

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an open letter to 2017

2017,

i was so ready for you. i was so ready to turn over a new leaf, to meet new people, to go through recruitment, to keep chugging along in school, and to continue working at a job i enjoyed. i was entering the new year so hopeful that things would be good, but not change a whole lot.

i wasn’t ready for what was coming.

i think looking back, i was naive to assume that things would just improve without really changing. within the first month of the year, i had already joined a sorority that would eventually set everything in my life on a different course.

entering 2017, i was just starting to gain my footing as a new college student. i had finally figured out who i was enough to see that i wanted to try my hand at being more social. shortly after joining my sorority, i had been thrown into meeting tons of new people, always having someone to eat with, and i even participated in a pageant. it all terrified me because, yeah, i could be outgoing when i needed to be, but now i was the girl who wasn’t afraid to be a terrible dancer anywhere she went.

as 2017 progressed, i started to see that i had two options. i could remain the same, not branch out, not try new things, just do what i had been doing. or, i could take a giant leap and embrace this new person i felt myself becoming. i picked growth.

and dang i have not looked back.

a lot changed for me in 2017. not just my hair color or my major or my job, because, yes, all of those changed too. but more than that. i had my heart broken for the first time. there were times when i felt completely and utterly alone and i had to learn how to pick myself back up and piece myself back together. i found some of the best friends i’ll ever have. they were there to celebrate my best moments and cry with me during my worst. i started dating someone new. it wasn’t easy to trust again, but once i did i realized how refreshing it is to be truly cherished by someone instead of feeling like an afterthought.

and most of all i found myself. i feel like for so long i had been trying to be something i couldn’t ever be. i wanted to be liked so badly and i refused to believe that people would ever accept me for who i was. but now i walk in the confidence of knowing who i am.

so thank you 2017, you’ve given me who i am.

2018, let’s go. i’m ready for whatever changes you bring to me.

A Letter to My Girls.

This summer I went through my first heartbreak. I thought I knew myself before, but I never really learned to love myself and those around me until I went through the hardest time of my life. So here’s my advice.

  1. Do not make yourself anything less than who you are for him. Shine. Be perfectly who you are without him. Never let him change your spontaneity or your love of dancing. Dance without him. Be ambitious. Be courageous. Be yourself because he should not put you in a box.
  2. Learn to love your gal pals. When he leaves, you’ll sit and cry for days. You’ll only blame yourself for it and you’ll pour. Your gals will sit with you while you cry and when you start to feel better, they’ll be the ones building you up. You are more than him, a catch. Let your girls tell you that. They know you better than you do right now.
  3. Even when you’re with your boy, make time for you. Make time to sit at home and watch Netflix alone. Make time to go out on a Thursday with your girls, without him. It’ll be a lot more fun, I promise.
  4. Do stupid stuff. Get a tattoo because you’re bored. Call your people at 9pm to go hiking. Redecorate your room in a night. Go on a date with a boy that’s nice if you like him, and stop worrying about the future. Just learn to embrace the moment, embrace the stupid, embrace the wild.
  5. Wash your sheets and get rid of his things. His scent will linger on your sheets until your heart aches again when you get a whiff. You’ll lay down in your favorite t-shirt and realize it smells like his cologne. WASH IT. Do not hoard his things. His ghost will only keep you up at night. Trash them, burn them, get rid of them until he is no longer a pestering thought in your brain.
  6. Know what you want. And go get it.
  7. Learn to be open to new possibilities. He broke your heart and left you to pick up the pieces with tape and glue. But that doesn’t mean everyone will. Open your heart, you never know what you’ll get.
  8. Find your soul mate. Whether it’s your best gal pal or a boy, find them. Let them in to all the parts of yourself you’re too scared to show anyone else. If they’re your soul mate, they won’t run. They’ll love you so much it hurts. They won’t leave.
  9. Find yourself. Be embarrassing, be nerdy, be strong. Be whatever makes you, you. Don’t pretend you’re not as strong as you are to make someone else like you. Be headstrong and stubborn. Be nerdy and intelligent. Be embarrassing and crazy. But find it in yourself to be those things because that’s who you are, not because that’s what people want you to be.
  10. Trust your mom. She knows what’s best for you. Even if you want the boy with all of your heart, listen to her. He’s not right if mom says no.

Most of all, trust yourself. You know you. Listen to what your mind and heart are telling you. If you know in your heart he isn’t right, if he’s too different or too much, then don’t force it because you’re afraid.

To my nugget. I hope you know I love you always. 

Oh how Cecelia was the light of my household. Her footsteps, heavy yet delicate like only a baby’s can be, echoed throughout our small townhouse day in and day out. She ran with speed and determination, always to the person who would give her the most attention. She could pull a smile out of the saddest of people and knew of her own delightful talents. And if the belly laughs didn’t get you, her big blue eyes would suck you right into her devious trap. 

Umbilical-stump-and-all she came straight from the hospital to our house. My mom and I were almost too scared to touch her-she was so peaceful and pretty. We’d never seen a truly pretty baby before Cece. We swaddled her and rocked her to sleep and almost called 911 when she skipped a breath. She was a princess in our small castle. 

Fostering a child was a difficult switch for us, but somehow we managed. Our little misfit family attracted some strange looks and definitely limited our family outings, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. This swaddled baby was our little sunspot, the brightest light we knew. 

We waited on the court system with anxiously hopeful hearts for the outcome we wanted- for us to be able to adopt. A year and a half passed with little to no progress either way, and so our hope persisted. We continued to love with all the love we could muster; making memories, having fun, living life, and hoping. 

But sometimes hope is painful. 

Today a girl so full of life and flowering love will leave my misfit family. The bedroom door upstairs will be closed and so will the door of my house, normally so open to the world and those who wish to enter. Because today my mom and I lose. 

But here’s to hoping that Cece doesn’t. 

When we learned Cece was leaving my heart was a rock inside my chest. Today it is too. It changes from moment to moment, sometimes it is my normal liquid heart pumping the life I need. Other times it is cold, hard, and unforgiving. But the sadness that is today will be joy tomorrow because of the love and care I know Cece has received in her first few years. This pain is temporary and her pain is minimal, and so we will continue.

Nugget, may God bless your path and light it for you in the darkest times. Remember the light you bring to others with your smile and never lose the skip in your step. You’ll forever be a baby birdie to me, touch the sky smalls. 

And remember, I love you always.