This years Thanksgiving was no different than last. There is still an empty seat, still a hurt in our hearts yet gratitude continues to overflow.

This year, much like last, we hosted the local law enforcement alongside our family. We had a few troopers and cop show up! Thank you to Anita, Miah, Russell, and James for making it a point to stop by even if just for pie!

It not only warms our hearts to give back, but it also makes us feel closer to Josh.

To be honest, if Josh were here, I’d still host. I appreciate Law Enforcement and all they do for our community. They are our extended family.

So, this year much like last, we celebrated together and provided for those working and unable to be with their families.

Amelia got to see Frozen 2 in theatre with her Aunt, we actually watched the Thanksgiving parade followed by the dog show and overall it was a pretty good day! Bulldog won Best in Show and by the look on Emmy’s face, you can tell she’s thrilled…

We still lit our 5 candles, and said our poem in Josh’s honor and then celebrated with laughs, love and gratitude.

Blue Rose

As someone who writes often, I can take an ordinary conversation and turn it into inspiration…. the last two days I have struggled to put into words all of the emotions. As many of you know, I am a member of the non-profit Backing the Blue Line. It’s 100% volunteer run. We are there for all occasions, good, bad, sad and otherwise. We are the women behind the badge and hold strong to our values and support of all uniformed officers. Two and half years ago, women came together to spray blue roses and hand them out at Josh’s funeral. Little did they know, those roses have brought us so much peace and gratitude. I had the honor of being apart of that team the last two days. I am in awe of the work and attention to detail that goes into every single rose. It made me appreciate them that much more.

Today, as I stood with my feet planted and knees slightly bent, I gracefully reached out to give a blue rose to two children without their dad and a grieving widow. A simple blue rose to show our support in hopes it will bring some sense of peace in the hardest of times.

I’ve said it before; it’s the little things. The little things become big things after you lose someone. A small rose can bring about so many emotions that remind you to be proud and that you have an Army of women in your peripheral waiting for you should the white flag be drawn.

To my BTBL gals, you are appreciated beyond all measure!

It is never fun being on the receiving end of the roses but what an honor it was to provide that support back.

“You need to get out more”

More recently, people ask of all the things I do for myself. When they find out how little I get away, I get the old “you need to get out more”. I will admit, it’s true. I do need to get out more however, there’s a certain amount of comfort that comes from routine.

I am routinely focused on my kids, my studies, my work and pretty much everything that doesn’t involve putting myself first. I’ve always lived a life of helping others and putting myself first feels unnatural.

I’ve spoken with a few people and asked what they think is the amount of times you should “get out”. Once a week was the common answer. However, sometimes that once a week isn’t necessarily “getting out” it can be a night in where you dedicate time to yourself and forget about your to-do list. I always think of how nice a night off would be!

I have a hard time putting my brain to rest whether it be chores, homework, or overthinking basically every thing in my life…I worry a lot. Sometimes, I think so hard, my words come out in an awkward fashion or I just simply state how awkward I am being to make situations that much more awkward… which is interesting to me considering how eloquently I write. Maybe I just need to word vomit on paper when I feel the mind going crazy….

There is one person who stands out to me in all of this. Her name is Christi. She doesn’t know it yet (but will if she ever reads this) that her actions have helped more than she could know. I can remember a time when she said, “you need to get out more girl” but instead of just telling me, she made me.

It was just a few weeks after Gabriel was born and I was out on the town with her and a few others. That particular night has brought up many memories that turn my face red with embarrassment. Luckily for me, they are the no-judgment zone team! Then I was again invited out for her birthday and she even swung by just for coffee once. It may seem little but it really meant the world.

Then when it came to my birthday, someone else convinced me to do at least something and again, Christi and friends came together for a fun night.

Sometimes I won’t go out because I am afraid. I’ll find an excuse but when you carpool, it holds you accountable so there’s no backing out! And even when I say, “I can only have one because I need to get home and mop my floors” (cue odd looks and laughter) they prove it’s ok to have two… or a few and that floors can be mopped anytime!

It would be nice to get out once a week but sometimes, that’s also just not feasible so I try to find other things to fill my time that simultaneously fill my cup.

In the last couple of months, I have found myself getting out more and let me tell you, what a blessing it has been! I dedicated Thursdays as self care days and sometimes it’s just errands but it always has music class.

I have met some pretty great people in these months and enjoy spending time with them; be it for coffee talks, painting, or beer.

It has been an interesting growth process this past year. I spent 8 months dating someone who inevitably chose to walk away. With every failure, whether relationship, adventure, or idea, you learn something about yourself and you grow from it.

Every failure leads me to a deep breath, open mind, and a heart fueled with a deeper passion.

I have found that following my passions really does bring great joy and I cannot put myself on the back burner or I will (and have) gotten burnt out.

I have also found that more recently, I am singing more. Not just in the shower, or in the car, but literally everywhere! I haven’t done that in a long while. Music speaks to me on so many different levels and lately, it’s given me hope that I am worthy and good ones exist. Something optimistic is going on around here and I like it.

Going into the third year without Josh feels, dare I say it, good. Not because I miss him less but because I know myself more and have grown exponentially.

I will get out more this year. I am choosing to surround myself with some pretty awesome people and work a plan so that I can get out more.

By “this year” I mean 2020… that will give me two more months to prepare my anxiety for the adventures that await!

I have faith that 2020 will bring great things because I am more open to adventure. Maybe I’ll go ice fishing or learn to skate? Maybe I’ll go to more than one WILD game and maybe, I’ll do an audition. Who knows where 2020 will go but I am optimistic in God’s plan.

My faith in Him far outweighs my fear to put myself first.

My Birthday

Despite initially not being very excited about this day, it turned around rather quickly. The night prior, I offered to help paint and made no mention that I’d be painting on my birthday….

Good ol’ facebook gave it away and at lunch, I was surprised with a carrot cake! I had planned on just working through lunch but was ever so smoothly swayed to eat lunch with everyone else. And by “smoothly” I mean being told to come eat with everyone else!

I will admit, I was incredibly embarrassed to get recognized for it being my birthday however, I was so grateful. I haven’t been surprised in years so although I was red to the face, I felt warmth in my heart. It was extremely wonderful and gave me hope that a good one must exist….

Some think, ” I can’t believe you offered to help paint on your birthday” but it was so much more than that. I wanted to be surrounded by good people. I wanted even more to help because I am always happiest when I am doing for others. Let’s be real, I am pretty “artsy fartsy” as they say so I can paint a pretty nice edge in a home!

I was able to spend my day listening to music, making painting progress, and talking about everything from my favorite flower to my time in the Army.

I apparently get really into my work because I somehow got paint on my face but, I’m just glad my boobs didn’t smudge the wall!

After leaving painting, I came home to change and found 2 bouquets of flowers! I hadn’t had time to get myself any yet so it was pretty great to walk in and see! My mother-in-law gets us flowers for our birthdays every year and this year the bouquet was perfection! All things orange and my favorite orange lilies! A former neighbor and friend also sent flowers which was unexpected and so heart warming!

Dinner with the family and gifts led to me getting necessities for my vehicle, a new coffee mug, figurine, and my very own set of princess socks picked out by Miss Amelia herself! While the gifts were great, the greatest gifts were the people I was surrounded by from start to finish of my day.

It was a pretty spectacular day that made me look forward to my 32nd year.

I am trusting God’s plan and hoping that maybe for once, we might be on the same page…