In reflection about my life, while there were challenges, hardships, grief, and trauma, there were also very happy and victorious times as well. My life has been so hectic and busy lately, I decided to make a list of the most happy and important moments in my life so I can look at it and remind myself of life’s joyful moments when I am having a bad day.
- All throughout my childhood, my sisters and I spent summers with our maternal grandparents in Saugerties, NY. During these trips, we typically followed similar rituals of bargain hunting at the flea market in Woodstock, NY; swimming at the fresh water lake in downtown Saugerties; shopping at the mall and eating at certain restaurants in Kingston, NY; and enjoying my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage, baked chicken, and her delicious cookies. Every night, my sisters, grandparents, and I would play 500 rummy or scrabble. We barely watched television. During these trips, I had the opportunity to explore nature and get extremely close with my grandparents and my sister, Julie. Because my oldest sister is 7 years older than me, she did not go on these vacations because she graduated high school after I completed the 5th grade.
- During the high school years, I played mallet percussion in the band and have great memories with friends. While I was not the most popular person in high school, all of the friendships I made mean the world to me and made me a better person.
- In 1987, I was on an indoor competition color guard called Ladyhawke. When I was a freshman in high school, our group worked extremely hard on our routine in practices. Our show was based on Ladyhawke, the movie, which was about a woman who was a hawk during the day and human at night. Our show’s choreography was amazing and during that time, we wanted to win the regional championships in Wildwood, NJ so badly, we thought of nothing else. After days of hard practice for many hours, we felt ready. When it was time for us to do our show, we felt amazing energy, did an awesome performance, and took the championship. Still, to this day, tears come to my eyes when I think about how happy we were because our hard work and dedication led us to victory.
- In 1988, when I was 16 years old, I spent the summer traveling around the country on a bus for 6 weeks with other youth. This experience taught me how to relate better with my peers, and I got to see many parts of the country I would not have seen otherwise. Highlights of this trip were my first time in New Orleans, hiking a mile down and up the Grand Canyon, hiking through Yosemite National Park, and traveling all the way from New York, to Georgia, to San Diego, to Northern California, and back to New York via the northern states.
My first live music in New Orleans
Grand Canyon was breathtaking
- When it was time for me to go away to college, between 1990 and 1994, I had no idea what to expect. I went to Rutgers College, which was about 45 minutes from my hometown in New Jersey. I ended up having a wonderful college experience because I made great friends who I continue to be in contact with today. I am a part of the Rutgers music service fraternity. I also spun rifles, sabres, and flags in the Rutgers Marching Band and another indoor color guard in college, which was a blast!
Marching band friends
My first off campus apartment
Me and my sophomore year dorm roommate (yes her name is Ellen also) back in 1992
- When I became a senior in college, I had the opportunity to bond with my oldest sister because she lived a half hour from campus. Every Sunday, I went to her house to do laundry, watch football, and eat her delicious cooking. I had a great deal of fun with her and the couple she lived with, nicknamed Bud and Blanche. I remember having wonderful memories of being with my sister during that time.
- In 1996, as I completed graduate school at the University of CT, I met the person who ended up being the love of my life. I remember seeing him deliver mail to my academic department, and I remember thinking to myself he was cute. Eventually, we met at a party and a couple of days later, met again at a bar. After meeting one another as friends a few times, we eventually decided to go out on a date after we realized all we had in common. One of my first memories with him is dancing at a Violent Femmes show at the UCONN football field during Spring Weekend in 1996. It is amazing how fast the last 18 years went because as I have described in many previous blogs, meeting him was the most important moment in my life. I would only imagine how my life would be if I decided to go to Washington DC for graduate school because I was also accepted to American University.
- In 2000, Jed and I got married. This was my best day ever. Even the photographer then said we had the most fun wedding they have ever been to.
Photo credit: Ray Gagnon Photography
- In 2006 and 2009, I became a mother to the most fantastic kids ever. I know they are a lot of hard work, but it is amazing how much they give back to us when we least expect it. It feels great when my kids give me so many compliments. It definitely helps alleviate the occasions when they are not behaving.
Photo Credit: Teddy Bear Portrait
- The day I became an aunt in 1995 was incredible. I have one niece and 7 nephews! They are all awesome and it is great when they can get together with my children.
Photo credit: Portrait Simple
- Finally, my husband and I make time for ourselves to take an awesome vacation every year. We have experienced a cruise (4 times) with our favorite bands performing, a fantastic trip to Hawaii, a couple of trips to Aruba and Disney World, and now yearly trips to New Orleans for Jazz Fest. We are also planning our first trip with the kids to Disney World this spring. In addition, we also have great times with our friends when we can get a babysitter.
St. Martin in 2000
Best sunset ever on our first cruise in 2010
Our great friend we met along the way 🙂
While it is important to appreciate my experiences from the past, it is also important to have things to look forward to in the future. While we all have problems we face, let’s remember the good times so we can help ourselves feel better. I urge you all to sit down and write the happiest moments in your lives. I know my list will grow as time goes on and as I remember other awesome memories.
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