Monday, September 11, 2017

We are love.

Disclaimer: This is cheesy, but from the heart. Read on.

Tom and I are two people who were meant to be together. We are two people who signed up on a dating website, looking for love. We are two people who dated once, broke up, became friends, and then, slowly but somehow not so slowly, fell in love. We are two people who are getting married in just a few weeks. We are two people who understand each other, who embrace each other, who encourage one another. We are two people who were lucky enough to find one another.

I believe that Tom and I are a combination of the love that surrounds us. We are the love of our parents. Both mine and his have stood by one another through very difficult times, putting love and family first. They have brought the words "dedication", "commitment", and "partnership" to life. We are the love of our siblings, each so different but each so wonderful. We are my sister's patience, my brother's humor, and Nick's perseverance. We are the love that we have seen our siblings show their partners. We have grown tremendously through their examples. We are the love of of nephews and niece, who light up our lives and make us want to be better and to do our part to make a better, brighter world.

We are the love of our friends, who bring so much joy and laughter to our lives, who have stood by us and watched us grow. The memories we've made with our friends, and the examples they have been in our lives, have made life a little more fun, a little less scary, and a lot more beautiful.

We are the love of God. My very favorite quote from Les Miserables says "To love another person is to see the face of God". I am not quite sure I really knew what that meant until I loved Tom. Although our religious views differ, I know with full confidence that God brought us together, and that the Love God instilled in both of us is what has kept us together.

Lastly, I am Tom's love. I am his patience, understanding, compassion, encouragement. I am more "me" because of him, he's brought out the very best in me, and continues to love me even when I am at my worst. He is the only person I could ever imagine having by my side, forever and always. He is my love.

On September 23rd, we will be celebrating our love and our commitment to one another. Every single person in that chapel and in that reception hall has been an impact on the way Tom and I live our lives. It is your love that inspires us, and our love for each of you goes beyond measure. It's a day of celebration. My greatest hope is that we hold on tight to the love we feel at weddings, and we go out in the world and spread it- to everyone we meet, no matter how different they are from us.



Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Dad is an Overcomer

Note: I wrote this blog post last Thursday but have been waiting to post until we received official news on my dad's test results.

I lost my car in a parking garage today. In my defense, it was a very confusing parking garage, and I was trying to carry my heavy work bag, purse, VERY strong coffee, and vegan granola bar from the hipster coffee shop. After walking a few laps and taking trips up and down the steps, I did find my car.

I only had a slight moment of panic. I remained relatively calm, sipping on that super strong coffee. For a split second, I did think "okay but what if my car was gone? What would I do?"

I would probably call my dad.

At least, that's what I would have done 5 years ago.

I wouldn't now, he has enough to deal with. But is the first person I would think to call.

Because for the majority of my life, my dad was that person I called in crisis when it related to cars or money. Car accident? Call dad. Car battery dies on the freeway? Call dad. Over draft my bank account? Call dad.

And he always knew how to fix it, without judgment or overreacting.

I learned at a fairly young age that my dad was unique. Not only did he care for his three children, but he often served as a "second dad" to our friends. Everyone who knows my dad adores my dad. I have always seen his strength, his compassion and his gentle understanding. When he was diagnosed with cancer nearly four years ago to the date, it rocked our world. Suddenly, he needed us. The four years to follow have been incredibly rocky, full of ups and downs. I've written about them plenty of times before but I will not go into it here. I will just say that I have watched my dad suffer, in more ways than I ever thought possible, but time and time again, he has pulled through.

This guy is a true hero, even though he doesn't always see it. He has sailed through every single hurdle that this damn disease has put in front of him. He has never shown any hint of giving up. He is not letting this disease win. He has taken cancer for a ride. And even though he needs us and needs help now more than ever, he's still beating the odds.

Earlier this summer, we didn't think my dad would make it to the fall. On one of those days in the hospital, just shortly after he came out of a sort of comatose state, he looked me in the eye and said "I'm gonna make it". I asked him "make it to what?" And with all the confidence in the world, he said "September 23rd".

My wedding date.

The day before this happened, he didn't even know our names. But he pulled through, like he always does, and he's fought every single day since then so that he CAN and WILL make it to September 23rd- and beyond.

He is a rockstar, a warrior, a superhero, a fighter. He is my dad and I couldn't be more proud of him.

And let's not forget the woman that has stood behind him, walking right beside him through this entire journey. Mom, we know that you are the secret wings behind dad, pushing him, carrying him, encouraging him. None of us could do this without you. We love you.

Dad, your strength and determination is not only admirable, it's contagious. When you fight, we fight. We are your army, standing behind you in the front lines. You don't give up, so we keep marching on, picking you up when you get weak, but you are the one actually fighting this battle. And you're winning.


Irma.

Here is a very quick run through of how my brain has operated this week:

A huge hurricane is about to hit Florida. It may hit our Honeymoon vacation spot. 
We might have to cancel our vacation, which we've been looking forward to since we got engaged.
The place where are going is so incredibly special to my family, and all I wanted was to take Tom there.
We won't cancel until we know what the storm is going to do.
We won't know what the storm is going to do until Friday or Saturday, and by Monday we can no longer cancel and get our money back.
We will only get our money back if the city has a mandatory evacuation.
We can't plan another trip without getting that money back
I'm going to follow every reputable meteorologist I can find to keep on top of updates.

Oh my god, I can't believe I am so worried about a vacation when these people are about to lose their homes and people are going to die.
What is wrong with me? When did I become so selfish and heartless? How could I even let myself worry first about a vacation?
This storm is very, very bad. I can't stop watching. No longer as worried about my precious vacation, but I am focusing on the sadness, unpredictability, and fear of it all.

Why is this happening?
Why does God let this happen?
Where is God?
I thought I had a strong faith, why am I questioning God?
But I don't understand how this can happen.
No one deserves this.
Why isn't God stepping in?
How can I help?
Are there enough resources left over from Harvey to help Florida, Puerto Rico and all the other affected areas?
Do my friends who live in Florida have somewhere to go? Can they get out? 
This isn't fair.

Tom and I will just deal with whatever happens. It doesn't matter. There are bigger things in life than a vacation. If we have to cancel we will make do. We will have a vacation somewhere else, somehow we will pull together the money. Our vacation loss will be nothing compared to what other people are about to face.

God, I am sorry I questioned you but I can't even possibly imagine the reason for all of this, or why you are not stepping in, after there has already been so much destruction. I am thankful for my friends and mentors who have tried to find words to comfort me. And I do believe in You, and I believe you will provide- but I am struggling to understand why some people will have to lose everything they know in the process. I am praying that there is a light at the end of this very dark tunnel, and that You have great plans in the works. I am praying that I gain trust in You. The one thing I have come to embrace in this whole thing is that life is so precious and unpredictable. This is a lesson I seem to be learning time and time again, and I am reminded of it once more with these hurricanes. We can plan all we want to, but sometimes life does not work out the way we imagined.

In sum, this week (and last, with Hurricane Harvey) I have felt anxious, confused, guilty, selfish, helpless, angry, fearful. I want to be able to make a human chain to Florida and every other affected area, and pull every person and animal in danger out of there, safe into a warm house. I don't want anyone else to suffer. I don't want anyone else to lose their home or business or certainly their life. But I can't do anything, except continue to donate to those in need.

I know it can be depressing to watch the news. Frustrating to hear updates. But please don't turn away. They need us. Those of us who are safe and capable need to come together and help. The one thing I am certain about God is that His (or Her) light is within each of us, as cheesy as that may sound I believe it, always have and always will. It's time to turn that light on as bright as we possibly can and help each other, it is not the time to hide or to ignore.

Stand strong, my friends.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Taylor Swift- Look What You Made Me Do

I know what you might be thinking. What 30 year old sits down to write a blog post about Taylor Swift?

I do.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Taylor's most recent single, Look What You Made Me Do, and perhaps even more buzz around her video to accompany the song. And ever since I first heard the song on Friday morning, I have wanted to share my thoughts. I've sent out a few tweets here and there since Friday, but let's face it, 140 characters just doesn't cut it.

Before we dive in, I should give some background on my Taylor Swift fandom. I have been a loyal fan since her first album dropped in 2006. I was fascinated that this 16 year old, just three years younger than I, was writing these incredible songs. And I wasn't even a fan of country music! I loved her lyrics. I've been following Taylor ever since, and have always appreciated her creativity when it came to songwriting, performing, and, let's face it, marketing. Taylor's music has been a major part of my life for 11 years now. So yes, you can say that I am a fan, and I am not ashamed nor do I think her music is solely for teenagers. I also have an incredible respect for the way she treats her fans (giving them gifts, paying for tuition or medical treatments, etc).

That being said, I've had my share of disappointments in Taylor. There are songs I refuse to listen to (22 and Welcome to New York being two examples). There have been times I've rolled my eyes at her. There have been times I wish she would speak up, and times I wish she wouldn't say anything. I recognize that she's done some shady things.

 But I certainly can see that people have been very unfair to Taylor, too. Calling her a "serial dater" when she is a teenager/young lady who is simply dating just as any other person her age does. Saying she only writes about heartbreak when literally 90% of the songs we hear on the radio are about love/heartbreak and no one complains about Ed Sheeran doing the exact same thing. Saying that she is "always playing the victim" when she literally HAS BEEN the victim in many situations.

So that sort of brings us to where we are today, with her recent release of the pop heavy Look What You Made Me Do. On first listen of the song, my initial reaction was that this MUST be about Kanye/Kim. But after a few more listens, I started to wonder if the song was actually Taylor talking to herself, at different phases of her life/career. I thought this song could maybe be like Blank Space, which is a total sarcastic response to the media's image of Taylor's dating life.

After watching the video, I think I might be on the right track. Sure, there could be some subtle digs at Kanye, Kim, and Katy. But I truly think the real "bad guy" in the song is the media, combined with mistakes or missteps Taylor has made along the way. This was especially obvious toward the end of the video, when all of the "old Taylors" are knocked down by the new Taylor, and at the very end of the video where Taylor full on addresses some of the most common criticism she has faced along the way.

I know that for a lot of people, this song is another "she's playing the victim" song. But in my mind, it's Taylor taking back ownership of what she's created. And frankly, she should. Taylor is one of the most hardworking people in the industry, several folks who have worked for her can back up that claim. And she makes a lot of, if not all of, the creative decisions surrounding her work.

I get that a lot of people won't like this song. People miss the old "Teardrops on My Guitar" Taylor or they just think this song is too much. I'm not here to convince you to like it. People have different music tastes and I get that (and frankly, I hated Shake It Off the first several times I heard it). What I'm doing here is simply saying "Taylor, I get the song, I get the video, and I support you".

If you appreciate creativity, symbolism, or are just genuinely curious about Taylor's video, check it out below. You can read a breakdown of all the symbolism here. It really is quite fascinating and creative. Also, I should add, I have not cared or appreciated a music video in about 5 years, so obviously something about this is sitting with me: