Monday, March 10, 2014

30 in 30 by 30: Thankful

This is the first and second entries in my 30 in 30 challenge, where I write 30 things I am thankful for in the 30 days leading up to my thirtieth birthday.

 

I'm turning 30 in 29 days, and I am in the clich├ęd middle ground of acceptance and complete fear of my third decade of life. I have been toggling between excitement of my future and relishing in the past; dreaming of what's yet to come, while wishing I would have accomplished more. Luckily, I am beginning to tip the scale, and acceptance of my age is starting to settle in and take residence in my heart.

Now, 30 is a huge milestone, and one that should be celebrated. I have struggled to decide how to commemorate my big 3-0. So much so, it is actually laughable. Do I go on a trip? Do I do 30 daring things? What about a day at the spa or a shopping spree? All of these sound wonderful, but also dangerous or expensive. After getting my pie-in-the-sky ideas out of the way, I decided to be slightly more reasonable, yet meaningful and challenging. So, I'm here. For the next 30 (29) days, I am going to write. The theme my writing will surround is thankfulness and gratitude. There are so many things, people and places that have contributed to my life; so many experiences that are woven so delicately into my story that I feel now is the perfect time to share. I have chosen 30 different things to write about and each one is intertwined with the next. There is no order or ranking; some things will be heartfelt and others will be silly. Some topics will be full of love, others may even be tough for me to write about. Why? It's only fair to write from both sides of my life. Also, some of my most thankful moments comes from deep dark pits of nothingness. Weird, right?!

We can only move forward when we take a minute to reflect back on where we have been. I hope that over the next 30 days, I will be able to reflect on my 29 years of life and fully embrace where my thirties will take me. I also hope I will be able to share just a tiny bit of my gratitude for everyone who has been so instrumental in my life. 

Today's entry will cover the first two days. 

Sunday, March 9: Hilton Head Island. 
My first experience of HHI was when I was in high school. My mom, dad, my twin and I had the fortunate luck of being able to stay a week in amazing paradise. It was not just the beautiful accommodations, the clear blue water and picture perfect weather that encompass my thankfulness, however it was my ability to slow down. Before that fateful trip, I never knew what relaxation meant. I was always on the go. If I was idle, I was sick. I always had plans, lists and worries. I even admit I had a list to cross-check with another list to make sure I never forgot a single thing. Oh how things have drastically changed. 

When we got to the hotel and checked in, I asked my parents what our plans were. There were none. NONE. My father said that we will just decide as each day came. This wasn't easy for the girl who needed plans. I thought my vacation was ruined, and it wasn't until mid-week that I began to realize that it was far from ruined. It was a truly blessed and sacred vacation. With every long walk on the beach, sitting poolside with my twin or taking a day trip to Savannah, I began to see how beautiful it was to just let life do what it does best: happen. 

So HHI, you will always have a place in my heart. I plan to bring my own children and I will, just as my parents did for me, show them to slow down, be present and open to what this amazing life has to offer. 


Monday, March 10: Singing
I was in the fourth grade when Ms. Alice began teaching music at St. Agnes. She began a chorus and grades four through eight were allowed to join. My twin joined, so I naturally did too! I had no idea that my mom went to Ms. Alice and told her that two of her daughters were going to sing, but that one had the voice of an angel, and the other couldn't carry a tune. That tuneless daughter was me. Now, don't get mad at my mom, she was 100 percent right. I could not sing. Period. But I loved the thought of being able to sing, so just wished myself to get a better voice. I am so thankful that my mom wanted to protect me. As a parent now, I completely get why she said what she did. She wanted to protect me. She hardly knew Ms. Alice, so all she knew was that one day in the choir I could have been ridiculed, embarrassed and kicked out. She wanted to be the one to tell me if I was in or out of the choir. 

Anyway, Ms. Alice said not to worry and that she would work with me. Three years later, I landed the lead role in the school musical. I sang choir in high school, I sang the national anthem in a trio for the Mayor of Cincinnati, I sang Amazing Grace to my dying grandfather with my twin. I have rocked my children to sleep while singing their favorite lullabies and I also sang at my parents' wedding anniversary.

I would not have the memories I have today without the gift of music in my life. 
I am thankful that Ms. Alice never gave up on me. She knew I could sing, she believed I could do it. The support and care I received from that woman can never been returned in the form of gratitude because what she did for me is greater than any thank you I can utter. So I repay her through song. Every note I sing is a prayer for her. 


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