Category Archives: holidays

The Most Romantic Love Song?

I was driving home from work the other day and the dj on the radio was introducing the next song by saying that it is the most romantic song.  It’s the song that people should play when spending time with their significant others on Valentine’s Day.
Which song is that, you may ask?  James Arthur’s song, “Say You Won’t Let Go.”
Now I’m not here to rant about the song itself.  I actually like the song.  However, I hope that anyone who listens closely to the lyrics can understand why I absolutely do not believe that it is the most romantic song.
Does it sound nice?  Yes.  If you don’t listen to the first verse, it sounds like a super emotional love song.  But let’s take a closer look.  Here is the video if you don’t know which song I’m referring to: James Arthurt – “Say You Won’t Let Go”
Here are the beginning lyrics:
I met you in the dark, you lit me up
You made me feel as though I was enough
We danced the night away, we drank too much
I held your hair back when
You were throwing up
Then you smiled over your shoulder
For a minute, I was stone-cold sober
I pulled you closer to my chest
And you asked me to stay over
I said, I already told ya
I think that you should get some rest
I knew I loved you then
But you’d never know
‘Cause I played it cool when I was scared of letting go
I know I needed you
But I never showed
But I wanna stay with you until we’re grey and old
Just say you won’t let go

This is the love song of 2017, according to that dj?  Gosh, I hope not.
We danced the night away, we drank too much
I held your hair back when
You were throwing up
They went out dancing, got wasted, and the girl was puking while he held back her hair.  Cute.  Not my idea of the start of any really romantic love song.  Let’s continue.
Then you smiled over your shoulder

For a minute, I was stone-cold sober
I pulled you closer to my chest
And you asked me to stay over
I said, I already told ya
I think that you should get some rest
I knew I loved you then
So he realized that he loved this girl in the middle of her puke fest?  Picture that for a moment.  Two people go out to the club, dance the night away, and drink too much.  They go back to the girl’s apartment.  The guy needs to hold her hair back while she vomits from her binge drinking.  In the middle of all of this, she turns around to look at him over her shoulder.  Her mouth probably still reeks of vomit residue, her eyes are probably red and glassy from alcohol and fatigue.  He’s drunk too, but he feels sober for a moment when he makes eye contact with her.
She wants him to spend the night with her (mind you, all of this is said while under the influence of alcohol).  He says she needs to sleep (clearly, since she’s drunk enough to puke).  But at that moment, he has the epiphany that he is in love.
Aww, the doves may now be released.  What could sound more romantic?  If only I had a similar story to tell.  If only a guy loved me that much.
Sorry for the sarcasm.  But seriously.  Can we put our standards for love a little bit higher than this?  I don’t want someone to fall in love with me while I’m puking due to my bad decisions in drinking too much.  I don’t want someone to realize their love for me only while they’re intoxicated.
Can we not expect more from our relationships?
Sure, the song gets better later on in talking about how the couple will spend their lives together and raise children together, so it’s not just a one night stand.  But still.  It should by no means be considered one of the most romantic love songs.
Let’s write a song about how much we love our significant other because they push us every single day to be the best version of ourselves.  Let’s discuss how we knew it was love when we realized that we wanted to be that person’s partner through not just the fun times and adventures, but the mundane tasks of daily life as well.  We look up to the person for their character and personality, and we feel utter awe and respect for them.  We love them so much that we desire the best for their future, even if that does not necessarily include us beside them.  We are willing to let them go if that is what would be the best for them, but we hope with all our might that that is not the case.
That is the love song that I want to hear.  That is much more romantic than a song about realizing we love someone while they are so drunk that they are getting sick.
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2016 Year in Review

As I’ve done for the past two years (2014: My Year in Review, 2015: My Year in Review), here is my 2016 year in review.  Everyone seemed so eager to see the passing of 2016, but I don’t feel that way at all.  While I am excited to see what this next year of life brings me, I am content looking back at all that happened in 2016.  I feel beyond blessed at how different my life is today, January 2nd, than January 2nd last year.  There are so many people I didn’t even know last year today who I am now happy to call my friends.  I had a great year and I look forward to an even better 2017.

January:

-I started off the new year in San Antonio, Texas, watching fireworks exploding all over the place at the passing of midnight and playing lots of games like jumbo Jenga before flying back to Jersey

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-Annual trip to Frost Valley in Claryville, NY

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Posing with the snowman and my cousin
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Hiking to High Falls with painted faces
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The crew

February:

-The end of my last relationship

-Caidin came to visit and we went to Twin Lights in Highlands

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-My mom traveled to Israel / Tel Aviv / Jerusalem / Bethlehem / Rome for her birthday pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  She got to renew her baptismal vows in the Jordan River.

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March:

-I traveled to Brazil for Spring Break.  First, I was with my sister, Vanessa, and my brother-in-law, Carlos, for Easter.  We went to see an amazing waterfall.

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Swimming by the waterfall with my brother-in-law, Carlos

-Then I went to Manaus for my grandma’s 99th birthday.  I am so thankful that I got to go and spend some time with her because that was the second and last time I would ever see her.

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I also got to see lots of other family members while there and I went swimming with river dolphins with two of my uncles.

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-My mom’s 60th birthday

April:

-Although my mom’s birthday was in March, we had a family party for her in April

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May:

-My cousin, Dan, graduated from UConn

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-I ran the Run the Hook 10k in Sandy Hook, NJ

June:

-I went to senior prom to see my students

-Finished my first year teaching in New Jersey

-Traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, to grade AP English Language & Composition exams with my friend from DHS, Elise

-While in Kansas City, I also got to see my friend, Kristin, from high school, who is now a zookeeper at the Kansas City Zoo

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-Ran the Fairfield Half Marathon and set a personal record of 1:55

July:

-Went to Connecticut for my grandpa’s birthday party

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-Ran the Belmar five miler

-My friend, Juan, came to visit me in Jersey

-Met on Monday nights with the Belmar Area Catholic Young Adult group that I helped run

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-Through the Belmar young adult group, I met my friend Gabriella, and through her, my Bible study, which has been such an amazing blessing and has brought me so many new friends

-Went to the sand castle competition in Belmar

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-Went to Long Beach Island for a week with my mom

-I turned 28 in Long Beach Island

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Birthday lunch

August:

-Ran the River to Sea Relay race with an awesome group of people to raise money for Covenant House

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-I started riding my bike all around the shore

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Riding my bike through Avon by-the-sea

-Traveled to Nicaragua with Living Water International

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My amazing team

-We helped to drill a well to bring clean water to a rural village

-We also taught hygiene lessons and Bible stories to the women and children.  I helped to translate.

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The community with their finished well

-My friend, Lizzy, visited since she was in Philadelphia for vet clinicals, so we had a beach day

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-Worked on improving my yoga and handstands
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-Hung out with new friends from Bible study14212800_931558857870_9142389201927948083_n

September:

-As of the 1st, I have officially lived in New Jersey for one year

-Started my second year of teaching in New Jersey

-My Brazilian grandmother passed away right before her 99 1/2 birthday

-Went to the Philadelphia Zoo with my friend, Adam

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-Went kayaking with my friend, Adam

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October:

-Ran the Jersey Shore Half Marathon in Sandy Hook

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-Tenth Avenue North concert with my friend, Amanda

-Went to Catholic Underground in NYC with friends from Bible study

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-More kayaking with friends

-Ran the Atlantic City Marathon.  My mom and my friend, Adam, came to cheer me on

-I saw whales a few times from the beach in the fall

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-I went swimming in the ocean the day before Halloween

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November:

-I hosted our weekly Bible study once at my house in November.  It was tight to squish in 15 people, but we managed.

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-Bar Crawl in Asbury Park to raise money for Covenant House

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-Did some November stand up paddling and kayaking in the ocean in my wetsuit from my uncle

-Kayaking Shark River with my friend, Kate

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-Home to Connecticut for Thanksgiving

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December:

-Went to see the ice sculptures in Tinton Falls

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Mimicking the ice sculptures

-Out in Asbury for my friend, Stacy’s, birthday

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-Weekend in the Poconos for Sway’s 25th birthday

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-New relationship with AJ on December 11th

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Climbing a tree in the Poconos

-Graham cracker gingerbread house building with AJ

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-Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house

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-Christmas day at my aunt and uncle’s house

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-Devin & Elise’s New Year’s Eve wedding with AJ

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So here is goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017.  This year should be another great one, filled with more adventures!

Advent

I was watching an Ascension Presents video today from Father Mike Schmitz, entitled “Advent: More than a Chocolate Calendar.”  If you’re interested, you can view the video below:

 

Father Schmitz talks about how Advent is a time of joyful preparation for Christ’s coming.  Then he discusses the difference between joy and happiness:

“Joy is the abiding sense of well-being that comes from the fact that I know that God loves me.”

“Joy is not dependent on circumstances.”

“Joy is a choice.”

“I know the Father knows and loves me, despite my circumstances.”

These messages about joy really speak to me because I have felt this way quite a bit lately.  I feel truly joyful. But that doesn’t mean that life is perfect.

Life on earth can never be perfect because true perfection can only be found with God, which we will only encounter if and when we reach our ultimate goal of our union with Him in Heaven.

If joy depended upon our earthly circumstances, then nobody would be truly joyful.  There will always be suffering, whether it is our own suffering or seeing the pain of others, especially loved ones.

There will always be issues at work, within our families, in our relationships, with our friends, within our country, politics, and natural disasters.

If we wait for perfection in order to feel happy, then we will wait until death.

But joy is different.  I can say that I am joyful right now because I am so grateful for the ways that God has blessed me and the ways that my relationship with Him has grown.  Sure, there are still obstacles, but I know that He is with me, guiding me through life’s trials.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” -Psalm 23:4

Father Schmitz says that Advent has three main goals:

  1. To worship Jesus
  2. To celebrate His coming
  3. To prepare for His second coming

He then poses an interesting question: “If Jesus came today, would there be any time for him?”

Our world, especially the United States, is so busy.  This time of year is particularly stressful and overwhelming for many people.

Unfortunately, Christ often gets left out of Christmas.  People instead focus on buying presents, putting up Christmas trees/lights/decorations, baking Christmas cookies, attending ugly sweater parties, sending Christmas cards, making gingerbread houses, drinking egg nog, cooking, and traveling to be with family.

None of those things is bad to do.  But sometimes we get too wrapped up in the material aspects of Christmas instead of remembering the whole point — Jesus Christ.

Even traveling to visit family can sometimes hinder us.  Some people end up missing church services because they are driving to visit family.  But the holiday wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Jesus.  He needs to remain the priority, or else what are we really celebrating?

If Jesus came to your house knocking on your door right now, would you have time for him?  Would you be able to fit him in somewhere in the middle of that to-do list and that schedule of events?  Or would you be so busy that you wouldn’t even notice the knock at the door?  Would you ignore Him and continue moving forward with the hustle and bustle of the holiday?

It’s great that people focus more on family during the Christmas season, but we must remember to also focus on Jesus.

He is, in fact, the reason for the season, after all.

 

A Season of Gratitude

I try to always be aware of the importance of gratitude.  It is so easy to focus on the things that we with we could improve in our lives.  This is especially true in our prayer lives.  It’s easy to get caught up in constantly asking God for things.  There is always someone whose health could improve, someone who can use a new job, and many other requests that we have for God.

But we must remember to also thank God for all that He has given us and all of the prayers that He has answered.

With the approach of Thanksgiving and the Christmas season of Advent, it is now the perfect time to focus on gratitude.

So I want to reflect on my year and all that I am grateful for.

-My health – I’ve been doing well with my Lyme disease for a while, finally able to get back into running races again this year

-My family – Since I no longer live close to my family, it makes me even more grateful for the time I get to spend with them during the holidays.  I am thankful that they are only two hours away so that it’s not a difficult task to go home to Connecticut.

-My new friends – I have been so blessed with all of the new people I have met this past year, meeting people at work, at the beach, and in Bible study, and my young adult group.

-My Bible study – It is through this Bible study that I have been able to meet most of these new friends.  I am so grateful to have a group of people who are pushing me to grow in my faith.

-My apartment – I love living so close to the beach.

-The ocean – It keeps me sane on the days when I am stressed out.

-My job. I love teaching high school English so much.

-My students.  I have a really great group of kids this year.

Running

Racing

Biking

-My wet suit from my uncle that now allows me to go kayaking and stand up paddling even when the weather isn’t super warm

-The beach

-Having a roof over my head

-Living in a first world country so that I don’t have to struggle each day to survive

-My love for volunteering

-All of the people I have met through my volunteer opportunities both locally and abroad

-My priests

-My sponsored child, Patience, and his family

-That I have had the chance to meet the Brazilian side of my family, especially my now deceased grandma and grandpa

Desserts

Traveling

Waterfalls

Hiking

-My Catholic faith

Is Love Worth the Pain of Loss?

I signed up for this when I said that I would be your girlfriend.

I signed up for this pain that I now experience.  I knew that was a side effect of love, especially since, for the first year, our relationship was a long distance one.

But when I was feeling those butterflies, I never imagined that the pain could hurt this much.

Was it worth it?  Of course.  I wouldn’t take away those last 2 years that I knew you.  Sure, it would be easier, but we had great memories and experiences.

I just wish that this pain wasn’t the end result of us.

I put on a shirt today that I had already worn once before since it was last washed.  It still had the smell of you on it.  I must have worn it last on a day when we were together.  I could take it off any put it in my laundry bag, but instead, I keep bending down to smell you.  It makes it seem as though you are not as far away.

I keep having moments when I’m doing better and then suddenly, just hearing a song lyric causes the tears to come flooding down my face again.

I’m trying to forget about you.  But all I keep wondering is how you’re doing.  If you’re feeling as badly as I am.  If you think your decision was a mistake.  Or if you’re still confident, knowing that we were not meant to be.

All I want to do is call you, talk to you, hold you for just one more moment.

When we said our last goodbye I gave you a hug because I knew it was the last one.  You held my head in such a tender way while we both cried before you turned and walked out the door.

I want to believe that I’m okay with out you, but right now that is just not the case.  You make me want to be a better person.

But now you’re gone and I don’t know where to go next.

I know it’s only been about a week, but it feels like a month since I last heard your voice.

That pain in my stomach just won’t subside.

I keep praying for answers, for peace, for calm.  But you interrupt every thought and prayer.

I’m trying to spend time with family and friends to get my mind off of you.  But it doesn’t work.  My thoughts keep drifting away to you.

Every story I want to tell somehow involves you or your family or something we did together.

Are you experiencing a similar situation?  Or are you already moving on?

I want you to be happy.  But I also want you to want me.  I want us to be happy.  Preferably, together.

But I also don’t want someone who doesn’t want me fully.

So many mixed emotions.

I know that there are a million wounded souls.  I know people have experienced far worse, more traumatic breakups.  I know that a breakup while dating can’t possibly compare to the end of a marriage.

But right now all of that doesn’t help me to feel any better.  Because my pain is real and gosh, it hurts so badly.

I thought you were the one for me.  I really did.  And I know that, at least for some amount of time, you thought the same thing.  We had talked so much about our future.  I had let all of my walls and guards down for you.

I know that it was worth it.  But gosh, do I miss you, especially on this miserable Valentine’s Day.

 

I Want to Hate You

I want to hate you.  I want you to be the horrible ex-boyfriend.  I want to be able to realize that I am now better off without you in my life.  I wanted you to say that you cheated on me so that I would at least have a reason.

But you didn’t.  And I don’t hate you.  You’re not even close to horrible.  And I’m not so sure that I’m better off without you.

It seems that Valentine’s Day is not my luckiest time.  I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day, with or without a boyfriend.  As a single person, it obviously sucks, but even when in a relationship, there is still usually some letdown when one person’s actions don’t live up to the other person’s high expectations.

I broke it off with my last boyfriend the day before Valentine’s Day.  Now you broke my heart just 6 days before.  Is it karma?

I want to be sure that you were wrong for me.  That we’re too different.  That you were just a rebound relationship or a little fling.

But you weren’t.  We had our differences, but we also had our similarities.  Initially, I thought you could have been a rebound, but it turned into so much more than that.  Almost two years of happiness.  Sure, there were arguments here and there.  That’s normal.  But for the most part, I loved each moment I spent with you.

We were making plans for our future.  My heart had no question of “if”, but rather “when?”  When will we get engaged?  Where will we live?

I had such a strong degree of certainty, so unlike my last relationship, when each week was filled with new doubts.

And then it all came crashing down on one random Monday evening.

When you texted and asked if you could come over, I prepared myself for the worst.  Our date night is Wednesday, after all.  I asked if everything was okay and your response was, “nobody is dying.”

Uh oh, I thought.  Could this be what I’m thinking is about to happen?  Is he about to break up with me?  

No, it can’t be.  He uploaded new pictures of us together from our trip to Texas last night.  Why would he do that if he’s about to break up with me?   No.  We just talked on the phone for 30 minutes about our Mondays.   We talked about plans for the summer.  

But my gut was right.  In your mind, it was over.

And your confidence about it killed me.  Looking at those tear-filled eyes while you told me how certain you were that we were just not meant to be.

All I kept asking for was a reason.  What was it that was the problem?  I needed an answer, but you gave me none.

All I got was the, “You’re so amazing,  you’re beautiful on the inside and out.  You’re one of the nicest people I know.  You deserve someone better than me” typical nonsense.

Why nonsense, you may ask?  Because if I’m that perfect, then what is the problem?  Is it you?  I know you haven’t been happy with certain aspects of your life lately, but I didn’t think that I was part of the problem.

I was having my own struggles with my health and with my job, but you were the person I always wanted to turn to.  You would always listen.  I could always count on your hug to make me feel better.  But now that is all gone.

We were supposed to go to Baltimore this weekend.  We were supposed to relax at the inner harbor and wander around the aquarium.  I couldn’t wait for today.  But now that today is playing out to be much different.  Instead of going on a little trip with you, I’m now going home to spend time with family and friends, with the hopes of forgetting about you, if even for a moment.

“But you’re so much better off than me,” you told me.  “You have a beautiful apartment.  You have things together.”  Really?  I’m the one who now lives in a place where I don’t know anyone but you and your family.  You are surrounded by family and friends to support you.  Mine now live 2 hours away.

I want to hate you.  I wish I never wanted to see you again.  But I don’t.  I keep having the unrealistic idea that I’ll just happen to come across you any time I go anywhere.  That you’ll realize your mistake and come running back to me.  But that confidence you had in your decision suggests otherwise.

And then I saw your stepbrother a few days after you ended everything.  I could have walked the opposite way and ignored him, but instead, I decided to say hello, not realizing that he had no idea that it was over.  He asked where you were.  I had to tell him about the situation, as the tears began to stream down my cheeks.

He was dumbfounded.  He couldn’t believe the news.  He was so kind, so encouraging, and he gave me the hug that I needed so much.

But he also gave me a tiny glimmer of hope.  He was so amazed that we were over that he told me to make you wait for me if you changed your mind and came running back.  That’s what I want, after all, for you to come running back to me.

I keep replaying our conversation in my mind.  How your brother really couldn’t believe the news.  How much he had had faith in us.

I want to hate you, but I can’t.  Because I still want you in my life.  When you said it was over, it didn’t end the love I have for you.

Yes, I ripped up and threw away every picture of us right in front of you.  I handed you the things that I had here just for you.  That iced tea that I’d never drink.  Those peanut butter m&ms that I had bought just for you.  I wanted you to feel some of the pain that I was experiencing.  I wanted you to see my heartbreak.

But really, I don’t hate you at all.  But I also don’t want someone who doesn’t want to be with me.

I’m trying to move forward.  I’m trying to tell myself that if you weren’t the one, that I will find someone better.  But right now I can’t imagine anyone better.  I want you and all of your idiosyncrasies, all of your quirks and imperfections.

I can’t hate you because I still love you.

 

2015: My Year in Review

Last year, I wrote a blog entitled 2014 Year in Review.  2014 was a busy year, and also on of the saddest years of my life since I had to put my dog, Butterscotch, to sleep.  But there were also positive memories like multiple Spartan races, spring break in Marco Island, Florida, and a trip to Brazil for my sister’s wedding.

Unfortunately, I was not able to run even 1 race in 2014 since I was dealing with Lyme symptoms for the majority of the year.  I’m hoping that will change for 2016.  Regardless, though, I still had a pretty great 2015.

Here’s a look at this past year.  2015 in Review:

JANUARY:

-Started off the New Year with Matt making dinosaur chicken nuggets and shaped mac & cheese for dinner

-Annual trip to Frost Valley (in Claryville, NY) with my family

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New Year’s Eve dinner courtesy of Matthew
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At High Falls – Frost Valley
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Our family at Frost Valley

FEBRUARY:

-Family party at the dinner theater for my Grandma’s 80th birthday

-Day trip to Philly with Matthew

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Westchester Dinner Theater in NY
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Drexel’s Academy of Natural Sciences in Philly
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New Year’s Eve dinner courtesy of Matthew

MARCH:

-My mom’s birthday

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APRIL:

-Hosting my family’s Easter at my apartment in Danbury

-Trip to the Philadelphia Zoo

-Spring break in Orange Beach, Alabama with my mom

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Easter
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Easter egg hunt
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Easter

 

MAY:

-Impractical Jokers at Mohegan Sun for my mom’s birthday present

-DHS Senior prom at the Amber Room

-Mother’s Day party at my grandparents’ house

-One year anniversary with Matthew

impractical
Impractical Jokers at Mohegan Sun
prom.jpg
DHS Senior Prom – The Amber Room
mother
Mother’s Day

JUNE:

-Belated anniversary dinner at the Churrascaria in Port Chester, NY

-What I didn’t realize at the time was my last DHS graduation, since I was not yet aware that I would be moving to new Jersey less than 2 months later

-Going to see the Twin Lights in Highlands, NJ

churras.jpg
One year anniversary dinner

JULY:

-4th of July party for my grandpa’s birthday

-Getting hired as an English teacher in New Jersey

-Finding my new apartment

-One week vacation in Long Beach Island, NJ

-My 27th birthday

-Mission trip to Rwanda with Visiting Orphans

 

4th.jpg
Grandpa’s birthday
birthday.jpg
My 27th birthday
LBH2
LBI with my mom
LBI
Long Beach Island, New Jersey

 

AUGUST:

-Visiting my sponsored child, Patience, in Rwanda

-Gorilla trekking in Rwanda

-Visiting Lizzy in Virginia

-Packing up my classroom at DHS

-Visiting Brazilian family in New York City

-Moving from Danbury, CT to Belmar, NJ

patience
My sponsored child, Patience
patience2
With Patience’s family

 

lizzy.jpg
Manassas, Virginia
DHS goodbye.jpg
Packing up my classroom…very bittersweet
classroom
New classroom in Jersey

SEPTEMBER:

-Starting my 6th year of teaching and first year teaching in Jersey.

-Grandma & Grandpa’s 60th anniversary party

OCTOBER:

-Tyler Ward concert

-New last day of the season swimming record: October 11th

tward
Tyler Ward concert in Asbury Park
oct.jpg
Swimming in the ocean in Belmar on October 11th

NOVEMBER:

-Visiting with Amy and going up to Massachusetts with her for a wedding

-Thanksgiving

-Jets vs. Dolphins football game for Matthew’s birthday present

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Tina & Tony’s wedding in Massachusetts with Amy

DECEMBER:

-Christmas Eve at Grandma & Grandpa’s house

-Christmas in Connecticut

-Visiting Amy in Austin

-Visiting Dan, Vivi, and Ryan in San Antonio

DSCN4157
Trying on cowboy hats in Austin
DSCN4208
HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin
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Austin, Texas
DSCN4317
San Antonio River Walk

2015 ended up being a pretty busy year.  I spent time in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Massachusetts, Texas, and Rwanda.  Now it’s time to see what 2016 will bring…

No Resolutions for Me

I’ll admit it. I can be a bit of a cynic. Although I absolutely love Christmas and Easter, I despise both New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Well…despise is quite a harsh word. But it’s pretty close to accurate.

The clock hits midnight every night. Every 24-hour cycle that passes and we’re hit with another midnight. Just because someone decided that January 1st would mark the start of a new year doesn’t really change much in my mind. It’s just another midnight. Another day that has passed. If April 12th was the date someone arbitrarily decided to be the new year, then everyone would be going out partying on the 11th. But it’s really just the passing of another day.

And the New York City ball drop? Each year, I forget how anticlimactic the ball drop really is. In my mind, this giant crystal ball drops (like actually drops, quickly) while fireworks fire in the background. What actually happens is that the ball, although large, appears quite small since it’s on top of a building. And it starts dropping, very slowly, as the countdown to midnight begins. Once the clock strikes 12, it’s already at the bottom. Done. No spectacular firework show. Just a bunch of people yelling “Happy New Year”, kissing, and throwing confetti. The end. Time to try to get back home without being hit by a drunk driver or arrested for a DUI.

It looks pretty nice if you could actually see the ball up close
It looks pretty nice if you could actually see the ball up close
But because it's so high, it just looks like a small white circle slowly moving
But because it’s so high, it just looks like a small white circle slowly moving

Now there are some aspects of the holiday that I enjoy. The countdowns of the top music videos. The most googled terms of the year. The most popular celebrities. The biggest news-worthy events. Those, I get a kick out of. It’s fun to look back on the year and remember all of the events that passed, both good and bad.

But another aspect of the holiday that I disdain? New Year’s resolutions.

I have never made a New Year’s resolution and I plan to keep it that way.

First of all, it’s often discussed how few resolutions last past the month of January. By mid-February, most of these resolutions are all but dead. Gyms know this. They offer lots of deals around the new year to lure in those people who just decided to lose weight for the new year, knowing that these people will continue paying monthly fees but will most likely not take up any space once January passes. It’s common knowledge that most New Year’s resolutions do not last very long. The same goes for the healthy food items in the fridge. People plan to lose weight, so they go overboard purchasing healthy food items, only to soon realize that they can’t keep up with that lifestyle, either due to finances, boredom, time, or because they just don’t enjoy the taste.

I can make a resolution on any random day. And I believe it’s these commitments that last longer. When I decide to change something in my life, I can make that decision on my own time, rather than feeling forced to pick something to change on January 1st.

Maybe some people need the push of the new year to get them headed in the right direction, but for me it’s just too cliche. The “new year, new me” mentality. Ehhh, no thanks. If I want a new me, I’d rather make that change mid-May when I have decided for myself that I want a new me, not just because I heard everyone else proclaim their resolutions and decided to jump on the bandwagon.

If a New Year’s resolution is truly what you need to start a positive change in your life, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re just changing something because you feel like you need to pick something, then I’m sorry to inform you, but it probably won’t really work out.

This year, I plan to continue eating healthy, running, taking time to enjoy the simple moments, and spending time in prayer and with God. But I don’t need a resolution for that. I will do these things because they fulfill my life, not because it’s January 1st and I need a change.

If you made a resolution, I wish you the best of luck. And if you didn’t because, like me, you believe this holiday is overrated, then I still wish you the best of luck.

Let’s all go “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,” as Henry David Thoreau once stated, with or without an actual resolution to do so.

Happy 2015.

2014: My Year in Review

It’s been a whirlwind of a year, full of some of the highest highs and, unfortunately, one of my lowest lows in losing my dog. But looking back, I am truly blessed to have such an exciting life. I was able to participate in a variety of activities this year that I’m incredibly thankful for.

JANUARY:

-Starting off the year with a New Year’s lobster dinner.
-Annual trip with my family to Frost Valley in Claryville, NY.

Lobster
Lobster
High Falls at Frost Valley
High Falls at Frost Valley
Rock climbing at Frost Valley
Rock climbing at Frost Valley

FEBRUARY:

-Ending my 3-year relationship.
-Lots of hikes with Butterscotch at trails and parks around the area.

Jan 2

MARCH:

-Carlos’ visit from Brazil.
-My mom’s birthday.

Central Park
Central Park
Empire State Building
Empire State Building
Shamrock Shakes
Shamrock Shakes
My mom's birthday
My mom’s birthday

APRIL:

-Spring Break trip with my mom to Marco Island, Florida.
-Seeing Eminem’s Marco Island house.
-Color Me Rad 5k in Hartford with Jayme.
-Hosting Easter for my family at my house.

Airboat ride in the Everglades
Airboat ride in the Everglades
Holding a baby gator
Holding a baby gator
Marco Island, Florida
Marco Island, Florida
Marco Island, FL
Marco Island, FL
Eminem's Marco Island home
Eminem’s Marco Island home
Color Me Rad 5k
Color Me Rad 5k
Easter
Easter

MAY:

-Graduation from Western Connecticut State University with my master of science in education with a focus on curriculum.
-My mom’s graduation from the same school with her bachelor of arts in professional writing.
-Graduation party at my grandparents’ house.
-Kenny Loggins concert in Stamford for my mom’s birthday present.

Graduation
Graduation
Former students surprising me at graduation
Former students surprising me at graduation
Mom's graduation
Mom’s graduation
Graduation party
Graduation party
Kenny Loggins concert
Kenny Loggins concert

JUNE:

-Elise’s Nerdy Thirty birthday party
-DHS graduation
-Fairfield Half Marathon in Fairfield, Connecticut with Jayme.
-Spartan Sprint at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut with Juan.

DHS graduation
DHS graduation
Elise's birthday party
Elise’s birthday party
Fairfield Half with Jayme
Fairfield Half with Jayme
Fairfield Half
Fairfield Half
Spartan Sprint
Spartan Sprint
Spartan Sprint with Juan
Spartan Sprint with Juan

JULY:

-Grandpa’s 80th birthday party.
-Butterscotch getting sick with pneumonia, seizures, and possibly a brain tumor before finally being put to sleep on July 12th.
-2-week vacation in Long Beach Island, NJ.
-My 26th birthday in LBI.
-Surfing lessons with my cousin, Lindsay at LBI.

Grandpa's party
Grandpa’s party
Grandpa's 80th
Grandpa’s 80th
My last moments with Butterscotch
My last moments with Butterscotch
LBI with Mom
LBI with Mom
LBI with Matt
LBI with Matt
26th birthday
26th birthday
Surf lessons
Surf lessons
Surf lessons with my cousin
Surf lessons with my cousin

AUGUST:

-Jersey Boys and Churrascaria Plataforma in New York City with my mom.
-Eminem/Rihanna concert: The Monster Tour with Lucia.
-New York City with Lizzy and her mom.
-Starting my 5th year of teaching.

Mom with a cast member from Jersey Boys
Mom with a cast member from Jersey Boys
Churrascaria Plataforma
Churrascaria Plataforma
Making friends waiting in line for the Monster Tour
Making friends waiting in line for the Monster Tour
Rihanna
Rihanna
EMINEM!!!  One of the best days of my life!
EMINEM!!! One of the best days of my life!
NYC with Lizzy
NYC with Lizzy

SEPTEMBER

-Super Spartan 8-mile race in Vernon, New Jersey.
-Spartan Beast 16+ mile race in Killington, Vermont.

Spartan Beast - NJ
Spartan Beast – NJ
Spartan Beast - VT
Spartan Beast – VT

OCTOBER:

-12-mile Tough Mudder in Englishtown, New Jersey.
-Traveled to Brazil for 4 days to be a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding to Carlos.
-Dressing up as m&ms for Halloween at work.

Warrior Carry - Tough Mudder
Warrior Carry – Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder - NJ
Tough Mudder – NJ
With Vanessa and Carlos at their wedding reception
With Vanessa and Carlos at their wedding reception
Rio with my cousin Gabriel
Rio with my cousin Gabriel
Rio with some of my cousins
Rio with some of my cousins
Halloween at work
Halloween at work

NOVEMBER:

-Spartan Sprint at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.
-Thanksgiving with my family.
-6-month anniversary with Matthew.

Spartan Sprint
Spartan Sprint
Spartan Sprint at Fenway
Spartan Sprint at Fenway
Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving
6-month anniversary
6-month anniversary

DECEMBER:

-Going to MetLife stadium to watch Red Bank Catholic win the NJ State Championships.
-Adopting Rocky for a week before finding him a (hopefully) forever home.
-Spending Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my family.

RBC vs. Delbarton NJ State Championships
RBC vs. Delbarton NJ State Championships
After the big win
After the big win
Rocky
Rocky
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas morning with Rocky
Christmas morning with Rocky
Christmas Day
Christmas Day

Thank you to everyone with whom I shared some great moments this year. I wish everyone a healthy, happy, blessed 2015!

~Stephanie

Optimism or Naiveté?

I consider myself to be a pretty optimistic person. Some people associate optimism with naiveté. For me, that’s not usually the case (key word: usually). I’m optimistic, but often simultaneously realistic. I would rather hope for the best, even if things don’t always go exactly as planned than to always be expecting things to go poorly. Usually, even when circumstances change, I don’t too feel disappointed since I embrace most of those changes.

Sometimes people think that I’m too optimistic, as if it’s a fault. But my happiness and excitement shouldn’t frustrate those around me who don’t have the same outlook. They’re not the ones who get their hopes up for everything.

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There’s a rhetorical device I teach in my AP Language class called ‘litotes.’ It’s an ironic understatement when someone denies the opposite of his or her true feelings. For example, I will experience something quite terrible and respond that it’s “not the best.” Clearly, it’s not even close to being “the best”. I didn’t even realize how often I actually do this until I started teaching litotes. When I talk about most negative aspects of my life, I usually still use a positive word and add the “not” before it.

-It wasn’t the greatest day.

-It’s not my favorite food.

(You get the point.)

To me, this is one of the qualities that I like the most about myself. I try to look at the positives rather than the negatives. In seemingly bad situations, I try to find the silver lining. And I do this almost subconsciously. It’s not like I think to myself, gosh, this is a tough day, what good can I find here? It just happens.

For example, my car battery recently died. It was freezing cold outside, so I was pretty chilly sitting in my car. I had just traveled about 6 hours to and from Boston after running a Spartan race, so I was completely exhausted. It was around 8 or 9pm and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet. Most people would have been extremely upset in this situation. I wasn’t happy by any means, but I think that most people in my shoes would have been much angrier than I was. Why? Because I considered all of the ways the situation could have been worse:

-My car could have died in the commuter lot that was further from my house, meaning I would have had to call and wait for AAA for a while.

-My landlord could have been out, unable to drive down to help me.

-I could have been living in some state away from friends and family, with nobody to help me.

-My car could have died entirely rather than simply the battery, so that I would have had to start shopping around for a new car.

-My car could have been parked in a spot that was difficult to access with jumper cables.

-The car could have been dead in a dark, scary parking lot rather than the brightly lit gas station.

-It could have died in the morning, causing me to miss a day of work, or to show up late.

-It could have happened during a busier time at the gas station, with people honking and upset that I was taking up space at one of the pumps.

Sitting in my car and eating a protein bar while I wait for my jump-start
Sitting in my car and eating a protein bar while I wait for my jump-start

These thoughts all streamed through my head as I was sitting in my car waiting for my jump-start. And that’s what usually happens to me in many seemingly bad circumstances. I consider the many ways that the situation could be worse, and I’m always grateful that I have the easier route.

But I’m getting a bit off track. Along with this optimism, I also usually see the good in people. When I am driving on the highway and I am cut off by someone who is plowing their way through the traffic, this is my first thought: Maybe his pregnant wife is in the passenger seat and she has just gone into labor and they are in a rush to get to the hospital in time. I know that idea is quite unrealistic, but is that really a problem? There’s only positive outcomes from having this outlook. I don’t have to feel anger or resentment toward the person driving crazily, so I can more easily move on with my day than people who may grumble for the next few minutes or hours about the jerk who cut them off in traffic.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, even when they least deserve it. That snotty, impatient cashier at the grocery store? Maybe she’s on her 8th hour of work and her husband is sick with cancer and she needs to maintain this job to help pay for medical bills. That teenaged girl dressed in skimpy clothing? Maybe she is extremely self-conscious and thinks that this is the only way that she will ever feel the attention she desires since she gets none from her family members. I know that these imagined scenarios are often false, but they enable me to continue on with my day without feeling anger.

I’m definitely not perfect. I get angry at times. I become frustrated and I definitely lose my patience with my mom. But I find that viewing the world from this optimistic, positive outlook helps me to maintain my sense of calm in most situations.

This is what God wants from us, after all. He doesn’t want us to judge others. I definitely make judgements about people. We all do. But I also invent these imaginative scenarios about people and their potential struggles since I don’t know the obstacles they’re facing that may be the reason they’re acting in a particular manner. If that helps me to maintain my peace, then I believe it’s a good situation. The Bible says:

-Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. -Luke 6:37

-Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. -Romans 14:4

-Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. -Mark 12:31

-Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. -Ephesians 4:2

-Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. -Proverbs 10:12

wedding-bible-verse

However, sometimes this optimism can turn into naiveté. This week, I stopped at a brand new gas station for the first time. When I swiped my credit card, the screen kept saying that it wasn’t allowed. I was confused at first, so I swiped it a few more times, but still received the same message. I wondered if the new gas station wasn’t ready to accept credit cards yet. Then I read the screen after the error message went away. It said the pump already had $24 prepaid. I was still a bit confused, but there weren’t many people around. So I put the nozzle into my car to see if it would work, and it did.

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After it started, I became excited, remembering how I always hear stories of people ‘paying it forward’ during the holiday season. I hear about people paying for the coffee of the person behind them in line at Dunkin’ Donuts, or paying for the person behind them at the drive-thru. So, while pumping my gas, I was becoming more and more excited, believing that someone had prepaid for the pump as a random holiday act of kindness. I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to call my mom to tell her the good news.

My car was full at $18 and then I wasn’t sure what would happen with the remaining $6 left on the pump. I hoped that it would be another gift to the person who came to the pump after me. Amidst all of these thoughts, I saw the gas station clerk come running out of the building. He was yelling, “you just used that guy’s gas!” He wasn’t saying it in an angry tone, just stating the facts. I was completely confused. There was one other person at the gas station trying to fill his car, but he was at a different pump.

Apparently, the gas station clerk had programmed the wrong pump number when the man purchased his $24 of gas. So rather than getting an early Christmas present, I was accidentally stealing that man’s gas.

Everything ended up fine. I went inside and paid for my $18 of gas and the clerk fixed the error with the man. But looking back on it, this is the perfect story to summarize my outlook on life. I’m so optimistic that, rather than being frustrated that the gas pump wouldn’t swipe my card, or confused about the prepaid amount and going into the building to ask, I was relishing in my “Christmas gift” that really didn’t exist.

I guess there’s situations like this where it would have benefitted me to be a bit more doubtful. But this mindset usually works out for the best. And the gas station incident now goes down on a list of funny stories, so it’s really not so bad after all.