Long time, no post! Life has been a little busy, to say the least. We’ve had a lot of (wonderful) stuff going on with my family, not to mention the fact that Pablo and I both got promotions. (Yay!) I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things soon. :)
Last night, my sister’s high school team won their conference championship. I’m so proud of her! She played an awesome game and their team definitely deserved the win. (I might be a little biased…) What makes this win even better is that I won the same exact title when I was her same exact age. I think it’s a new family tradition.
Her win made me realize that wow… it has been 8 years since I won that title. 8 years! It seems like it was just yesterday, but nope – it was 8 YEARS ago! I’m awestruck by how much I’ve accomplished and the person I’ve become in that time.
- I graduated from one of the top 5 high schools in the nation with honors.
- I fulfilled my life dream of being a Florida Gator and graduated with honors while experiencing 3 championships during my time there.
- I’ve been to Cambodia twice on mission trips.
- I lost my grandmother and learned the real meaning of family.
- I’ve had 4 jobs and worked an internship.
- I ditched team sports for group gym classes.
- I’ve expanded my wardrobe past band t-shirts and jeans.
- I’ve donated my hair twice to Beautiful Lengths.
- And probably the best and most unexpected thing of all happened – I met the love of my life.
When I sit and think about how different my life is and how many things I did in those 8 years, I get even more excited for the future. What will the next 8 years hold? Where will I travel? What will I accomplish? Who will I meet? The truth is that I have no idea what lies ahead of me, but I can’t wait to find out.
My mom and I are very close. We share nearly everything with each other and have in depth conversations regularly. She told me that at a recent family gathering, she looked around and was awestruck by the conglomeration of people we had in our home. To rattle a few descriptors off, we had a doctor, an infant, an ex-con, a college student, a person with MS, people who had overcome serious addictions, someone who works at a church, an executive, a stay-at-home mom, an athlete, and a person in law school, among others. Sounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it? But it was beautiful! These are some of the people I consider to be my family, and out of all of them, I’m only biologically related to 7.
I’ve mentioned my grandmother before on this blog. The truth of the matter is that when she passed away, we lost our family. Being raised to believe family is of utmost importance, this was a huge blow. But over the past few years, I’ve come to understand that family isn’t just who you’re related to. It’s so much more than that.
This whole concept first sunk in for me when my little brother became part of our family. He was a friend of my youngest sister who lived with us for several months, spending his birthday and Christmas with our family, before he made the trek out to California to live with people he was related to biologically. I don’t think I fully realized until he left that he was family, but the tears we all shed and the aching we all felt in our hearts when he left made it obvious that he was one of us.
Since his move, we’ve met even more people who have grown to become part of our clan. I have people who I would tell you are like aunts and uncles – they even gave me birthday presents! I’m well on my way to having an older brother, which is something I’ve wanted my entire life. He’s even given my youngest sister a wet willy, for which he earns some mad props. From the grandparents I adopted when I wasn’t even 10 years old to the relatives we’ve adopted most recently, I’m so blessed to have such wonderful people to call family.
I celebrated my 25th birthday over the weekend. In the days and weeks leading up to it and the days since, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my wonderful first 25 years of life. I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned thus far with you. (They’re in no particular order.)
- Money matters! Keep a budget, save for retirement, and live within your means (if not below them).
- Get active and stay active. Your current health impacts your future quality of life.
- You can never go wrong with being nice.
- Eliminate toxic people from your life. Don’t let them drain you.
- Family isn’t always biological.
- Focus on the people who do, not the people who don’t. It’s the ones who are present who care the most.
- Go with your gut instinct. It’s usually right.
- It’s okay to say no and not have a reason.
- Spend more time with your elders. You’ll learn valuable lessons and will gain precious memories.
- Things really don’t matter. You don’t have to have the newest/best every time.
- If it’s important to your significant other/close family and friends, it should be important to you. (Along that same line – what’s important to you is important, too.)
- It’s just as important to have negative role models as it is to have positive ones. There are certain people you want to emulate and others whose lives you don’t want to replicate. Choose both wisely.
- Your relationships are more important than your career.
- When you’re interacting with others, don’t fiddle around on your cell phone. It makes them feel unimportant and prevents you from truly engaging.
- People change. Don’t hold on to grudges.
- Not everyone wants advice when they vent to you. Sometimes, you just need to listen.
- Don’t wait for someone else to make plans or initiate a friendship. Make the first move.
- No matter how impossible your situation seems or how dismal you’re feeling, it will pass. Day by day, things will get better.
- Everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t realize it now. Every person you meet, every experience you have, every choice you make serves a purpose in your life that you’ll understand when you look back someday.
- Don’t hold onto things you don’t need. Pass them along when you’re through with them so someone else can enjoy them and you can have more space.
What would you add to this list?
I have a really bad habit of paying attention to what other people are doing. I don’t mean that in an annoying sticking-my-nose-in-other-people’s-business way, but in more of a how-do-I-measure-up-to-what-they’re-doing manner. I’ve done this with with blogging, my personal life, my relationship, and my career. And you know what? It never does me any good.
It actually reminds me of a story in the Bible - when Peter walked on water. When he stayed focused on Jesus, he stayed afloat. But when he looked around him and considered the conditions, he quickly began to sink. As soon as he regained focus on Jesus, he was fine.
I get so frustrated when I’m not at the same “level” as someone else with where I am in life. There are so many things I would just like to fast forward and achieve, but I have to remind myself to stay calm, stay grounded, and stay focused. What everyone else is doing really has no bearing on me at all. I’ll achieve things in my own time and they will be glorious.
It took me 3 and a half months, but I’ve finally realized that my word of the year this year is FOCUS.