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Love Built From the Ground Up

“Grandma and Grandpa painted a picture of 53 years and one, little house….they built their love from the ground up.”

Today my grandparents would have been married 55 years. As I sit here at my desk at work, I reflect on the profound impact their love has had on me. It’s completely, totally, and incredibly awe-inspiring, and overwhelming at the same time.

Tears are welling up in my eyes as I write this. Happy tears; for a marriage so beautiful, so strong, and so priceless, that nothing could possibly come close to it. Happy tears; for being able to have this love story as a part of my family….forever. I truly am blessed in the most wonderful ways.

Yet, at the same time, tears of sadness begin to roll down my cheek. Sad tears; for knowing that my grandparents aren’t celebrating this day together. One in Heaven, one on earth, it’s heartbreaking to know that my grandma has lost her companion. The man she’s been with for nearly 60 years. My heart hurts for her.

But, throughout the hurt, there is some joy, and I’m sitting here wondering how it’s possible to feel such opposite emotions at the same time. Warm memories snuggle into my heart now as I look back on their life together. From meeting at the tender age of six, to becoming godparents at age 16, to falling in love and marrying at age 20, to building a home and a family, their story is nothing short of a miracle.

As I browse through some of their historic wedding photos that I scanned to my phone, I smile to myself. I could only imagine how my grandma was feeling that day. A young bride about to marry her best friend, her soul mate, the love of her life. I wonder what was going through her mind then. I wonder what went through his mind. Did they know their story would impact their future granddaughter? Did they know that through all of life’s ups and downs, they would always manage to overcome every obstacle together?

I laugh as I remember their playful moments together. How they would sometimes act like two little children having the time of their lives. My heart turns to complete mush as I remember the romantic gestures they would show each other. A kiss, a hug, the sparks in their eyes, the “just because” gifts, the way my grandfather used to take complete care of my grandmother – simply because he loved her, and she was his world.

I cry as I remember the two short weeks of my grandpa’s illness, and how my grandma watched with helplessness, and took care of him with such unutterable tenderness.

This love, is only something that I can dream of. Since I was a little girl, it was never about Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella or Prince Charming, it was always about grandma and grandpa. And it will forever will be.

Happy Angelversary, Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,

It’s now two years since you went to be with the Lord. I remember that day so vividly. From the minute I woke up, I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t explain it then, but looking back, it was as if God was tugging at my heart, trying to prepare me for something big, trying to prepare my emotions, trying to empower me with strength. 

The night before you were called home, I remember getting down on my knees and just praying for you. Praying that God held you in the palm of His hand, held you close to His heart, and gave you the peace and healing that you deserved.

Little did I know, at 1:00pm on August 12, 2014, my prayer would be answered. It was answered in a way that I, nor anyone in our family, wanted. But, through the glory of God, He placed His hand on your heart and erased your pain. I can’t imagine what that moment must have felt like for you. Taking your first breath in Heaven, in Eternal Life, finally seeing our Creator face to face, and hearing those words that we all long to hear someday….”well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Two years ago, I had no idea how we were ever going to make it through life without you in it. The thought of not seeing you, not hearing your voice, not feeling your hugs, or listening to your stories was too painful. It shattered my heart into a million tiny pieces.  

Since then, there have been so many events that you should have been here for. My 21st birthday, my college graduation, family parties and vacations,  and the list goes on. But, as I sit back and reflect on all that has happened, I realize that you never truly left us at all. You were here for all of those moments. Maybe not in the way we would like, but you never failed to show your presence in some breathtaking ways.

Every time I talk about you, share some silly stories and memories, or remember your unique lingo, I always see a red cardinal appear seemingly out of nowhere. One day not too long ago, as I was driving to work, I had you on my mind. I turned on the radio and our song – “Who Stole the Kishka” came on. I couldn’t help but laugh. You sure loved your Polish music! Then, a cardinal flew right in front of the car. Okay – it was clear: your presence was definitely with me! I smiled with a full heart.

It’s funny. Two years ago, I never felt so far from you. Now, I’ve never felt closer to you. I see you (and occasionally get lucky enough to hug you again) in my dreams. Knowing that your permanent address is in Heaven makes me feel safe and secure. Knowing that your blood runs through my veins makes me feel that you never really died, but you now live in your children and grandchildren. How proud that makes me.

There was always one thing that I promised I would never do, and that was to disappoint you and let you down. I hope I haven’t. If I did in any way, I want you to know how sorry I am. More than anything, I want you to smile when you’re watching over me. I want you to be as proud of me as I am of you.  

I’d be lying if I said that losing you still doesn’t hurt. Because it does. There are days when I question why you were taken from us. There are days when the waves of grief seem to overwhelm me. There are days when I feel like I am right back to square one. But, then there are days when I seem to hear you whisper into my heart “Allison Marie…I see you, I’m here with you, you’re going to be just fine.”

So, happy second angelversary, Grandpa. You righteously earned your wings. Thank you for blessing me each and every day. Thank you for the life, the joy, the memories, the smiles, the laughs, and the happiness that you brought, and continue to bring into my life.

I love you,

Forever your granddaughter.  

 

 

 

 

 

Identity.

I’m so incredibly frustrated with myself today. Who would have thought that a simple question such as: “who are you?” or “tell me about yourself” would send me into a spiraling runaway train of negative thoughts and leave me unable to answer.

Who am I? I don’t know. How does someone answer that? Is there a correct answer? What’s the secret to finding out the answer? UGH! All around me I hear young women my age confidently speak their truth, share their beliefs, describe themselves, and constantly stand their ground. Me? Well, I’m sitting there with this dumbfounded look on my face. Kind of like I was just asked to solve E=MC squared.

Can anyone out there relate? Why is it so hard to find a true identity?  Has social media completely engulfed my brain to the point where I lose myself in comparison with other people?

I can identify who I want to be. I can measure myself up against others and rattle off the qualities I wish I had, like a pro! I hate admitting this fact, but I totally rely on others to define me and tell me who I am, to fill my “bucket” as a friend of my parents calls it. I don’t know any different. Truth is, I simply don’t know how to fill my bucket by myself. I long for encouragement, support, and acceptance from others. I need that because I can’t yet hold my own. I can’t walk in confidence, secure in the knowledge of who I am.

Real talk time: I can preach all day long to others about finding their true selves, how to be happy, how they should go about doing that, and why it’s so important. I can give advice to everyone about how to value themselves, and how to find their worth in God and God alone. But, I cannot do that for myself. No matter how hard I pray, or try, or read those self-love/self-help books, I have no idea where to start and I have no idea HOW to start.

I’ve heard “Allison, practice what you preach!” or “Why don’t you take your own advice?” too many times. I guess I wonder, why does it have to be so hard? Sure, I can rattle off a few things about myself. My name, my age, my degree, and my job title, but other than that….nothing. I wasn’t a star student, I didn’t graduate with a phenomenal degree, I haven’t changed the world, or made a positive impact like I hoped. I’m not a wife, or a mother, or even a girlfriend. I’m about as graceful in sports as a newborn baby deer, I have no awards, ribbons, praise or accolades to show. So, what makes me stand out?

Has anyone else gone through a point like that in their lives? Or…am I the only one struggling? I would love to hear some thoughts.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to count it all joy….

#TheHappinessChallenge: Why I’ve Decided to Join the Social Media Movement

Do you think the world could use more happiness? Could you use more happiness in your life? I know that I sure do! Research proves that when your brain functions at a positive level, it performs 31% better than it does at neutral or negative! Interesting right? This is what is called the happiness advantage!

Recently, I stumbled upon the 21 Day Happiness Challenge on Twitter and I thought it was such an interesting idea. Logically we know that happiness is a choice. We are in control over our thoughts and reactions. However; we often lose that awareness when life throws us those unexpected curve-balls. Or, at least, I do! I’m a professional negative nancy on those less than stellar days! {Whenever I’m having one of those curve-ball days, all I want to do is crawl under the covers and eat the heck out of some double brownie chocolate chip ice cream. Annnd, maybe add some chocolate sprinkles for good measure 😉 }

The purpose of this challenge is quite simple: to regain and promote optimism and happiness by committing to doing the following five things each day for 21 days. The beauty is, these tasks are powerful enough to make a difference, yet not so difficult that it becomes daunting!

This challenge is hardly time-consuming, and can really change your way of thinking. I’m doing this because want to change my mind-set. Who wants to join me? Let’s do this! Here’s 5 steps that YOU can take to get to happy!


Journal Three Specific Things That YOU Are Grateful For

Writing can be so cathartic and can really soothe the soul. By documenting 3 specific things that you are grateful for each day, you are re-wiring your brain to look for the positive – no matter what the situation! So grab a journal, a piece of paper, go on your computer, anything works, and start jotting.

ExampleToday, I’m grateful for having a loving family to come home to every day, for being greeted with puppy kisses, and for having a Heavenly Father who forgives me, and never abandons me. 


Record One Positive Experience Per Day

 

Similar to the exercise above, writing down one positive thought a day, trains your brain to find the good in your life. Think about it, have you ever found yourself dwelling on negative or extremely embarrassing events from the past? Of course you have! It’s the worst right?! Instead, focus on one positive memory per day. That will help your brain relieve that positive experience and cause the same feelings of happiness.

Example: my friend (for the purpose of this blog, we’ll call her Joy) and I used to enjoy going to view Nicholas Sparks movies together. We’d make a plan, she’d pick me up, and we would head to the movie. Looking back on those memories always makes me smile from ear to ear. You know those people who shine so bright even the sun gets jealous? That’s Joy! I loved (and still do) spending quality time with her, and was so blessed to have shared those little moments. She radiated positivity and happiness, and I always came home with a full heart.


Carry Out Random Acts of Kindness

 

This is by far my favorite task on the list! I love showing people kindness. It makes me happy and (hopefully) makes the other person happy as well! Create a Kindness Kit for someone, post a positive thought on your social media accounts, compliment someone, pay it forward. There are all different and creative ways to spread sunshine around. Don’t hesitate – just do it!

Example: One of my favorite things to do is to send out little messages and gifts to people – whether that’s in the form of text messages, cards, or even a writing. I love to make others smile, and I love the surprise element of it all!


Exercise

Okay, I’m not going to lie, this is probably my least favorite activity on the list. I’d rather curl up with a good book or tv show, and a cookie. BUT, I’ve begun to find out that exercising is such a powerful way to boost your mood. As it turns out, nothing can release endorphins quite like getting up and moving around!

Example: Do a different type every day, just to make it interesting, but be sure not to burn yourself out. Yoga, stretching, whatever your preference may be,  take 10-20 minutes each day and treat yourself to feeling good!


Meditation

 

It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day life. We’re constantly rushing around to accomplish tasks that we hardly have time to breathe sometimes. That’s not healthy and that certainly does not make us happy! By taking time each day to meditate will help to bring you back to the present, will allow you to focus, and give you the relaxation that you need and deserve!

Example: Take a moment or two and do something strictly for you. For me? That means reading my devotionals, listening to my Christian music, and praying. Getting back in touch with my faith is the only way I know how to bring myself peace, along with happiness.


Studies show that it takes approximately 21 days to form a new habit. Wouldn’t happiness and positive thinking be a great habit to start? For me, it will! And, I hope it will for you, too. So, what do you say? Hop on the bandwagon with me and challenge yourself for 21 days.

If you’d like to participate in the challenge, I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment here, or on the contact page! 

 

 

Adopt Your New Best Friend on July 23: Clear the Shelters!

Everyone has different passions. Different things that drive them, and make their hearts sing. For some, it might be sports, music, art…etc., but for me? It’s all about animals! I’ve grown up with many pets around me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, I could not imagine a life without a furry friend in it!

I was born with a huge love in my heart for animals. I believe God gave me that love for a reason, and hopefully, someday, I’ll know why. To me, there’s nothing more important than promoting their health and safety, and advocating for their rights. Basically, being a voice for the voiceless. That’s where my heart will always be.

But, enough about me…let’s get to the real point of this post. It’s all about a little campaign called: #ClearTheShelters!


In July 2015, several animal shelters across the United States joined NBC and Telemundo stations to help find loving homes for the millions of animals in need. Over 19,000 pets found their furr-ever homes and began to live in freedom. I’d say that was quite a success, but there’s always room for improvement! #ClearTheShelters quickly became a nationwide pet adoption initiative, being televised, and spreading like wildfire through the use of social media, and I have to say, I love it!

Pet adoption is something that has been less than a priority over the years, but thanks to the many advocates out there, the word is increasingly spreading, and more and more people are finally becoming aware of the growing number of animals in shelters. For every one animal rescued, ten more get surrendered by the minute, thus, creating the problem of overcrowding…which then leads to the heartbreaking issues of euthanasia. These are unfortunate circumstances that shelters are faced with every single day.

The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, and The North Shore Animal League are just a few of the amazing organizations that work endlessly to promote animal welfare,   adoption, fostering, rescue, and to end the tragedies of animal abuse, neglect, animal fighting, puppy mills, and every other form of animal cruelty. In fact, there have been so many false statements placed against those in shelters. Accusations such as: “there must be something wrong with them if those dogs are in shelters.” “These cats must not be healthy.” “These animals must be dangerous because they’re in  a shelter.” And the list continues. These organizations above fight non-stop to end the stigmatization. Check them out!


Now, on July 23, 2016, the second annual #ClearTheShelters campaign will be held all across America once again. More than 400 shelters will be participating and waiving or discounting fees for this one-day event. With the phenomenal success of last year, it is my hope that we can come together and TRIPLE that amount this year. While 19,000 was certainly an impressive goal, millions more remain homeless.

Are you looking for your next best friend? Are you looking to make a change in this world? Imagine what saving a life could feel like! Imagine looking into the eyes of a four-legged friend and seeing the joy and happiness in their souls? What a blessing!!

But, if you can’t participate and adopt, don’t think you still can’t make a difference…YOU CAN. Volunteer at your local animal shelters, become a foster parent, or do something simple like, joining the social media movement and conversation! Hop on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and spread the word using the hashtags #AdoptDontShop, and #ClearTheShelters!

 

 

New Month, New Start, New Me

I’ve been blogging for about two years now. This whole journey has been such a learning process for me. When I started writing back in 2014, I had no idea that I was about to discover another passion of mine.

I was in my third year at Utica College when I saw a job opening for a student blogger. I didn’t know a whole heck of a lot when it came to that (and still don’t!), but, it sounded so interesting, and I was pretty sure it would be something I enjoyed. So, I took the leap, my application was accepted, and I soon became an official student blogger for Utica College.

I absolutely loved my job. My requirements were to write about events going on in and around campus, as well as the community. Basically, anything was acceptable as long as it had something to do with college life or community topics.

Gradually, I found my voice and realized that I loved to give people advice, or share my stories with other college students. Sharing helpful hints to my peers became a regular part of my writing. Anytime someone shared or commented, it felt so great. Especially because I was relieved to have finally found my talent. (It only took me 20 years of nonstop searching.)


When I graduated from college, I knew that I still wanted to write. I still wanted my voice to be heard, and I still had an incredible desire to help others – in some way. So, I dubbed myself “The Positive Princess” and jumped in all the way into blogging. And completely drowned.

I did build a following – which was terrific. I managed to have a couple of my blogs go viral and be published on other blogging sites. I got to make friends with a few people who lived a billion miles away from me, but who loved to write and have an impact on people as much as I did.

Somewhere along the way though, I lost my fire. I lost my passion for writing. I lost my focus. It was becoming more like a chore than a cathartic hobby. I was caught up in reading about becoming a professional blogger, and striving to be the perfect writer. The more I read about blogging, the more I wanted to achieve success and be that perfect blogger.

I would sit at the computer every night, trying to write something that would be meaningful, positive, profound, and successful. When that didn’t happen, sometimes I would publish something, just to publish. After all, all of the tips on blogging said that 2-3 posts per week was the norm!

When I couldn’t think of a single thing, when I felt negative, or that article didn’t do as well as I hoped, I punished myself. I beat myself up and completely lost all confidence in writing. It took me a little while to realize that the way I was approaching writing….was all wrong. I felt a stirring in me to take a little breather from writing, to gain my focus back, and to completely start over. And that is what I am doing…


I am breaking free from my need to be perfect. I am breaking free from the need for likes, shares, and comments on social media.

I don’t want glory or success. I don’t want praise. I don’t want compliments.

What I want, is to make a positive impact in this world. If that can be done through my writing, then that will be enough for me.

If my story about my anxiety, my depression, or just my life in general can change someone, my heart will be filled with joy.

I want to focus on being real in my writing. Being myself. Being unedited. Being humorous. I want to build a blog that matters. That can touch people’s hearts. That can make others laugh. That people can identify with. I want to inspire others – in the hopes that someone out there will read my words and know that they are not or never will be alone.

I plan to be an open book in this blog. Completely vulnerable. Which, scares me a little bit, but that is what is tugging at my heart. I don’t plan to be all sunshine and rainbows all of the time. Because that’s not reality. BUT; I do plan to be as encouraging as possible, as much of a positive princess as I can be, as I continue walking down the path that my Lord and Savior put me on. And, I hope you’ll grab some popcorn, pull up a chair, and join me.