Good Vibrations Gratitude #18

It’s Friday.  You know what that means-

Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude.

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Here are the 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1. The fact that this will be a quick blog post without a lot of words because I am getting ready for a Bachelorette weekend!  Fun! Fun!

    #sorrynotsorry

  2. My parents.

    Because this weekend is made possible because they came to watch my daughter for the weekend.

    Kimmy Gibbler told me that her son was sad she was going away for the weekend and I said that I think my daughter is thrilled because her grandparents are here.  Bye Mommy!

    Plus, I got to witness this moment.  Pappy couldn’t resist buying his granddaughter a big kid bike.

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  3. Cupcakes and Champagne

    I was feeling kind of down earlier this week but time with my friends always cheers me up.  #tribestrong

    And I want to be clear that the champagne was only for the adults.  The kids got milk and/or water.

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  4. Caffeine

    Because I am exhausted and have been drinking a lot of it this week.

  5. Surviving and thriving

    Life isn’t always easy but I have everything I need.  I am a survivor.  I have clarity.  I am living.  And for that, I am thankful.

    What are you thankful for this week?

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Boundaries

My close friends and I were discussing the role that narcissists have played in our lives.

None of us have a Psych degree but we have all had issues with narcissists whether it was someone in our social circle, someone we dated, someone in our family or if they were in-laws.

Maybe you know a narcissists.  Narcissists do not know empathy to others, they think the world revolves around them and they will tell lies to people to turn them against each other.  If anyone makes them insecure, they try to change everyone’s opinion of the person that makes them insecure so people see them in a negative manner.

Research states that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is rare but it seems that our group of friends have encountered more than our fair share of narcissists.

I have a few theories.

The first theory consists on our influence of others.  I believe that we all vibrate at a certain level of energy.  It could be good energy or bad.  That energy ripples out and effects those around us.  People are affected whether we are spreading love, light and positivity or  if we are spreading selfishness, lies and negativity.

Our behavior affects others.  And other’s behavior effects us.

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Narcissists are confusing beings because they disguise their true selves and most people are fooled.  They pass as perfectly nice people. They are good at fooling people because that is their natural state.

When you are the victim of a narcissist, you feel alone because everyone else thinks that they narcissist is great.

Narcissists can cause a lot of damage in families and social circles.

One theory I have to the inflated perceived narcissistic population is that some people may grow up with a narcissist parent or grandparent and that a child may grow learning that manipulation is simply the natural way you treat people.  These people are probably not narcissists in their core but are merely using the “skills” that they learned from their narcissist parent grandparent.

This theory has a positive spin as a person may grow up with a narcissist parent or grandparent and learn that that is not how you treat people.

My second theory is that some social circles, including the one that I am belong to, are very inclusive and since narcissists are good at hiding their true colors which are not beautiful like a rainbow.  But my social circle does not want to be closed off so we will take the risk.

Widowhood has made me wiser.

When I became a widow, I began to examine every area of my life. Heck, I am still examining and learning.

I want to make sure I am living my life to it’s fullest potential and that I surround myself with love and not negativity.

I began to truly appreciate those who love me and my daughter.

But I also became really good at noticing people who are toxic, people who are phony and people who had an ulterior motive to our friendship.

Before widowhood, I would have brushed off those feelings and given the offenders the benefit of the doubt.

And on top of that, I would have gone out of my way to make sure they liked me because I was a people pleaser.

I ignored my intuition on so many accounts, despite the fact that my intuition is almost always right.

But now that I am a widow, I can spot a phony person right away.  I can tell when a person is trying to manipulate me.  I can see all the ulterior motives.

I have learned to listen to and trust my intuition.

I think it is a widow superpower.

So in the beginning of widowhood, I removed toxic people from my life.  Part of it was necessity.  But mostly because I didn’t have enough bandwidth to handle the drama.

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But then it became clear to me that I just didn’t want to deal with the drama.  I only have so many hours of the day and our lives only consist of so many days and I do not want to spend them with toxic people.

And while narcissists are toxic, there are other types of toxic people.  I just opened with narcissists because they were a clear example and my life had been affected by a narcissist for many years and I hold the greatest empathy for anyone dealing with a narcissist.

Some toxic people manipulate.  Some tear others down in order to make others look good.  Some argue constantly.  Some do whatever it takes to make you feel sh*tty about yourself.

So I took a stand.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Because I was never good at saying no to people.

I decided that I was going to say no to toxicity.

I had to cut some people out of my life.  I needed to keep positive people around me and my daughter and I needed to use what energy I had to focus on the important things.

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And toxic people don’t like being cut out.

They are persistent.

They will try to manipulate you and when they can’t manipulate you, they will try to manipulate those around you.  They will try to change other’s view of you to gain sympathy for themselves.

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Simply cutting toxic people out of your life isn’t enough.

I learned that you need to set firm boundaries.

I used to feel that boundaries were purely a physical matter like having people stay out of the master bedroom or deciding who has a spare key to your house.   Or when you are a kid and your sibling is annoying you and you say that there is an invisible wall that they can not cross.

But boundaries are also emotional, mental, and social.

How you let people treat you is a boundary.  Do you allow people to walk all over you?  Do you let people treat you poorly? Do you let people boss you around?  Do you let people make you feel small?

I used to have a friend in my younger days who would cancel plans with me on a moments notice because a guy asked her out.  I would be upset but I let her do it.  And she would do it again…and again…and again.  I did not have the self-esteem to realize that this behavior was not acceptable and I did not set any boundaries.

In case you are wondering, I have not spoken to that person since my wedding.  It all makes sense to me now.  Before I was with Bryon,  I was a people pleaser and not only did I let people treat me poorly, I would try to get those people to like me more.  But Bryon set the boundary for me.  He would tell me when my friendships were one sided and he would advise me not to put any effort into those friendships.  And this friend did not like that she could not push me around if Bryon was in the picture.

But Bryon isn’t here to help me set boundaries.  It is a skill that I have been learning to implement.

This is my life.

It is okay to stand up for myself.  You don’t deserve to be treated like a doormat.

It’s okay to choose not to hang out with someone because they make you feel poorly.  Your friendship is a privilege, not a right.

It’s okay to delete someone from social media.

Not everyone deserves an explanation about your life choices.

I write in this blog and will continue to do so.  But just because I am open about my grief does not mean that everyone is privy to my personal life.  I have had to exercise my boundaries and make it clear that I determine what I share.

Setting boundaries is about taking care of yourself and protecting yourself (and those you love) from negativity.

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I still get sad sometimes

And it’s been 596 days since I have become a widow.

596 days since my daughter lost her father.

596 days since the world I knew ended and my future was taken away from me.

596 days where I have felt lost and broken.

596 days of wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

596 days of guilt.  Even though my head knows I have nothing to feel guilty about, I still feel it.

596 days of wondering “what if…?”

596 days of guarding my emotions because other people can’t handle them.  Because making sure someone doesn’t feel discomfort for a short period of time is more important than the emotions of a person who deals with or had to deal with this hell every day.

596 days of rolling my eyes when people make insensitive comments knowing that they mean well.  I envy their naivety.

596 days of missing what I had and wondering if I will ever be loved again.  Though my love for Bryon was unique (as every love is) I wonder if I will ever feel that way again.

596 days of feeling like I am on a deserted island.  I know people try to understand but sometimes I really wish I could just be “normal” like everyone else.

596 days of having to work at being happy.  I will avoid anyone that makes me feel worse about my current state of life.

596 days since I have changed but people don’t see the real you.  They want you to be whatever version of you that they previously knew.  Or thought they had. Or they just see you as a broken widow, not the stronger person that you are really are.  The old me is dead or on sabbatical until I decide where those old versions of myself fit into my new life.

596 days of protecting my boundaries.  People will try to manipulate you.  Even people who you thought were friends.  People will pretend they are helping you in a public forum but never pick up the phone or text.  There are people who think that your private life is their business just because Bryon was popular and I have a blog.  But I choose what I write about on my blog and I choose what is private and will continue to enforce that boundary.

596 days of sadness.  And while my sadness rarely breaks me down anymore, it still runs in the background, kind of like an app you forget to close on your cell phone.  Once in awhile, it builds up and you have to deal with it.

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I remember being told that it gets easier.  And it has gotten easier.  But I still miss him.

Sometimes I wonder if it the grief is subsiding or if I am just getting used to Bryon being gone.  When Bryon first died, my whole world was rocked and I was in the “widow fog” for about a year.  Now I have gotten some of my footing back and the fog has lifted but I am more likely to miss the little things.  I don’t have my fog to protect me from reality anymore.

I am so over this whole widowed thing.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #17

It’s Friday!

You know what that means…

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday

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I am still recovering from my trip to Chicago and Wisconsin and Easter weekend.

This week has been a whirlwind but I am thankful for it because it has been full of engagements with friends.  I am so thankful for my friends.

Here are the 5 things I am thankful for

  1. Easter Traditions, new and old

    On Saturday, my daughter and I went to our friends house for the second annual Easter egg hunt.

    Always a challenge to get them to look at the camera

    Fun with SnapChat

    After the Easter egg hunt, my daughter and I traveled to my cousins house in Massachusetts where we spent Easter with her branch of the family.

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    Again, hard to get them to all look at the camera at the same time.

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    I was also thankful that this was a Happy Easter because last year was not a Happy Easter for me.  I am thankful that I am past the raw stages of grief.  The good days outnumber the bad.  In fact, I don’t really have bad days anymore, just moments that hit me hard.  And I will always have those moments and I am okay with that.

    Last Easter I was very upset but this Easter I was happy and I am thankful that I can find joy again.  I am thankful that I am healing.

  2. A night out with my cousin

    While I was visiting my cousin, we had the opportunity to go out.

    We went to a local speakeasy called Less Than Greater Than which is located in the back an ice cream shop called New City Microcreamery.  We had to wait for seats in the speakeasy so we did have ice cream while we waited and it was the best ice cream I have ever eaten.  Legit.


    As much as we love our little ones, it was nice to be able to talk to her without getting interrupted.29597321_10156655418322841_2229641748837008323_n
  3. Living in America

    I love living in America because we can all take part in each other’s cultures.

    Monday was Dyngus Day and while I am not Polish, my daughter is Polish.  I heard that there was a Dyngus Day celebration at The Hill at Muza, a Polish restaurant in the nearby city of Troy and decided to take my daughter.  I want her to know her heritage, including her non-Irish heritage.  And I heard that Dyngus Day was like Polish St. Patrick’s Day so I was sold.

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    It was a great party.  Good food, good music.  A very nice lady gave my daughter a pussy willow to tap her crushes.  Then she gave one to me and I was like “Haha…thanks…*awkward laugh*…”

    My daughter tapped every man that walked by.  They would turn around and then see her smiling at them.  I don’t know if she was flirting or if she was trying to set her poor mother up.  I mean, she signed me up for tinder after all.

  4. The birthday girl

    I have no pictures from this week with my friend who celebrated her birthday.  (She doesn’t have a blog name yet).  But here is a pic from when we went to the casino after Christmas.

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    She is one of my absolute favorite people.  Her interactions with my daughter are always cracking me up.  I have so much fun with her but our friendship is much deeper than fun.

    We also spend so much time talking about things like the meaning of life.  We read the same books and have deep discussions about them.

    I am a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding.  Well her and Our Favorite Community Helper’s wedding.

    I mean, it is 40% his wedding.

    Before you freak out, I am kidding.

    It is a How I Met Your Mother reference from Season 1 Episode 11.  When Ted is insistent that he RSVP’ed with a plus one to Claudia and Stuart’s wedding and Claudia says that he did not RSVP with a plus one.

    Lily [about asking to bring a date]: You can always ask Stuart.
    Ted: Can I do that?
    Lily: Sure, you guys have been friends for a long time, and it’s 40% his wedding too.

    Today I was helping my friend at her wedding dress fitting.  I have good fine motor skills but I was having trouble with the buttons because I was shaking.  I was getting so emotional seeing her in her wedding dress.  There is a 70% chance I will cry at the wedding but it will be tears of joy.

  5. Time with Robin Brillantes

    I got to spend time with another friend, who is a Spanish teacher.  It was her school break this week so I got to spend a lot of time together.

    We went to the mall.  We were looking for dresses because we have a few social events this spring.  We sat on those massage chairs and I took a very unflattering SnapChat pic.  I wrote “Let’s go to the mall…today!” and sent it to our friends.

    Two How I Met Your Mother references in one blog post…I am on a roll.

    Because it is hard to talk about my friends without references to How I Met Your Mother.

    Our Favorite Community Helper snaps back and said I had to refer to our Spanish    teacher friend as Robin Sparkles in my blog but it had to be in Spanish.  My friend said the closest Spanish work to “sparkles” was “brillantes” so she is officially Robin Brillantes.

    Robin Brillantes also came out to my daughters dance class, had dinner at Chipotle with us and then three of us got mani/pedi’s. Well, except Robin- she just got a pedicure.

    It was my daughters first mani/pedi.  She chose bright orange.  I felt it was important to let her express herself.

    We also saw a guy who looked just like Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.  Though #fauxmikeehrmantraut was much chattier and friendlier.

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Though now I want some Los Pollos Hermanos even though it doesn’t exist.  I used to say that to Bryon when we watched Breaking Bad.

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That is what I am thankful for this week.  What are you thankful for this week?

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Wisconsin 2018: Water parks, cheese curds and the Cheese Castle

My daughter and I recently visited my best friend in Chicago.  While we were making plans for our stay, my best friend sent an email with a list of things we could do.  One of the things listed was going to one of the indoor water parks in the Wisconsin Dells.

My daughter lobbied hard for that option and my best friend agreed to it.

I was happy to go to Wisconsin.

I visited once before in 2004 for a wedding of a friend who I attended school with in England.

My cousin came up from Florida to be my guest.

We were babies.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Not many pictures exist from that trip.  And the ones that do seem to feature alcohol.

Double fisting Spaaten at the Essen Huas.

Well not really.  More like holding my beer and my cousins beer.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Drinking a beer with a lemon…what was I thinking?  My taste in beers sure has evolved since 2004.

This was at the Great Dane Pub.   I remember my cousin and I talked some guys about hunting deer.

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Madison, WI 2004

This last picture I look hideous.  According to my cousin’s caption, I drank a few Blue Moons at Stillwaters.

What was I doing drinking Blue Moon?

This clearly was the age before I discovered that stout, porter, cider and pumpkin beer are really the only beers worth drinking.

I remember that there was a huge fish tank and I was talking to a nice hippie guy about fish poops.  We also had a conversation about government parks affect the local tax structure and we did not see eye to eye.  We agreed more about fish poop.

I was actually trying to remember the name of this place when talking to “Uncle Greg”.  I googled it and found out it had closed in 2005.

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Madison, WI, 2004

I actually just got rid of that sweater in my closest.  Right before I went on this trip.  It was time.  I probably hadn’t worn it since the Bush Administration.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Anyway, I really like Wisconsin and was excited to get to go again and bring my daughter with me.

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Wisconsin Road Trip, 2018

While we were driving through the Illinois countryside and we passed the town of Belvidere Oasis and while it isn’t spelled the same, it got us thinking about Mr. Belvedere.

And how come more middle class American families don’t have butlers.

I could use a butler.

And then we got thinking about how much we miss TV theme songs.

Like Just the Ten of Us

And Out of this World.

Though I still don’t understand why the alien father didn’t just stay instead of just talking through that weird cube thing.

and Small Wonder.

I remember my brother and I (and I guess my Dad too) watched it every Saturday night after we went to Mass.

We talked about other theme songs but maybe I will save all of those for another post.

Eventually we made it to Wisconsin.

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We were traveling along I-90 which also runs through NY.  I was trying hard to find an I-90 sign that was near a Cheese bilboard because I wanted to get a picture and say that it was just home…with cheese.

I was unsuccessful.

We were travelling to the Wisconsin Dells and I had no idea what a Dell was except that there once was a Farmer in one who took a wife.

This is what google told me.

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We stayed at Mt. Olympus Water Park.  I wish I got more pictures but it was hard between the two girls and having to discipline all the unruly children around us.

Yes, I have become that parent.

And I am not sorry.

Seriously, there were kids that were clearly taller than the maximum height for the kiddie area and some of them were pushing the little kids out of the way.  It becomes a real safety issue.

At dinnertime, we went downtown and had dinner at a Mac and Cheese restaurant called Macs.  It was amazing.

My daughter had the L’il Mamma’s- Cheddar, Mozzarella and Fried Hot Dogs

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Wisconsin Dells, 2018

My friend got the Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac– Cheddar, Mozzarella, Chicken, Bacon and Ranch

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Wisconsin Dells, 2018

I got the Taco Mac- Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Seasoned Ground Beef, Pico De Gallo, Sour Cream and Avocado.

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Poor Squeakers looks longingly at the Mac and Cheese but he can’t have any.

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We still made room for ice cream.  I hadn’t been to Cold Stone in years.  I love that place.

I got coffee ice cream with oreos. I even got a fancy cone that I was too full to eat.

My daughter and my friends daughter were more, um, creative.  My daughter got cotton candy ice cream with M & M’s and my friends daughter got Mint Ice Cream with marshmallows.

Whatever.

It was their vacation too.

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The next day we went to the water park for a couple hours before heading back to Chicago.

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As I mentioned in last weeks Good Vibrations Gratitude Post, we stopped to see “Uncle Greg” and his girlfriend and Uncle Greg gave the girls their own cheesehead hat.

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“Uncle Greg” and the mini-cheeseheads

We were having lunch by the Capital so I felt that we had to take our picture in front of the Wisconsin Capital with the cheesehead hat.

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Madison, WI, 2018

We found this cool cow but couldn’t get the girls to look at the camera.

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Madison, WI, 2018

We had lunch at The Old Fashioned because I told the Wisconsonites that I wanted fried cheese curds and this is the best.  And they did not disappoint.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

I took a picture of my Wisconsin Burger on SnapChat but sent it before I remembered to save it.  So no pic of that but it was delicious.

Here is a pic of my daughters chicken fingers.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

We said our good-byes because we had one more Wisconsin stop.

We drove to Kenosha (by way of Milwaukee) to stop at the CHEESE CASTLE.

My best friend said she always wanted to stop there but her husband never wanted to.

I told her this was the trip where dreams come true.

Because that whole YOLO thing.

It was awesome.

So much cheese.

I bought a lot of cheese curds to bring home.

They are in my fridge.

And before we knew it, we were back in Illinois.

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Wisconsin-Illinois Border, 2018

The end.

 

Always uninstall

Oh. Em. Gee.
 
I am so embarrassed.

Mortified really.

I admit. I may have been playing around on Tinder for like, ten minutes when I was in Wisconsin a week and a half ago.  (Travel post coming- I promise!)

I was curious as to what Wisconsin had to offer.

Wisconsin had a lot of offer.  But too many of them had “Uncle Greg” listed as a mutual contact and that would have been weird and awkward.

I find the whole Facebook friend connection thing to be awkward and uncomfortable.

I deleted the account.

Because swiping is boring.

I know I played around before and it was amusing but I don’t find it amusing anymore.

Swiping is not for me and I doubt it ever will be.

I want organic connections only.

I am open to whatever the Universe sends my way but until the Universe sends me love, I am content to be by myself.

I just want to focus on myself.

I mean, I am pretty awesome but I can always be more awesome.

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Apparently when I deleted my tinder account, I didn’t uninstall the app.  I just let it sit dormant on the phone.
 

Well I tonight got a notification from the app that my profile had ten likes and that they were waiting for me to swipe.

What?!?!?!

I was mortified.

 

I am not the most tech savvy but I know I deleted the account.

 

Maybe it is because Mercury is in Retrograde?
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Mercury Retrograde causes your technology to be messed up and WordPress keeps messing up my spacing…

Then it dawned on me that I let my three year old daughter watch YouTube kids on my phone.

What can I say?  I am on my way to becoming Mom of the Year 2018.

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I used to let my daughter play on my regular YouTube app but decided that probably wasn’t the best idea.

Plus, my suggested videos in YouTube started showing options like this-

Or even worse…

So I downloaded the YouTube kids for her but sometimes she accidentally closes it and opens other apps.
 
She almost sent a SnapChat the other day that a picture of my floor with something like “sdjddfhsdf” written in the text.
 
So she probably opened the Tinder app and hit the button that lets you sign up with your facebook account. 
 
It’s actually really easy to do.

Either that or she is trying to play matchmaker.

I can’t make this sh*t up.

I am okay with her sending random weird snaps accidentally to my friends but I draw the line at tinder swiping.

 

So sorry to the ten guys who swiped on me.  I’m flattered that you took the 2 seconds to look at my pictures and decide that I was worth a swipe right.

I am done swiping.

I go into the app and it alerts me that one of my pictures wasn’t used because it violated their terms of use.

 

Oh boy.
 

I deleted the account and uninstalled the app.
 

Lesson learned.

 

Always uninstall.

 

Uninstall.  Uninstall.  Uninstall.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #16

It’s Friday!

You know what that means!  Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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These are the 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1. Seeing my bestie

    Last weekend my daughter and traveled to Chicago to see my best friend.  We also took a side trip to Wisconsin.  Travel post will be coming.

    It was great to see my friend.  We met at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, DC in 2006.  She was sitting in front of me on the bus ride back to the hotel from the Romanian Embassy.

    We wouldn’t become close until later that year.

    We both pretty much have retired from politics but we usually try to see each other once or twice a year.

    It’s always great to see each other and catch up.

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    Wisconsin Road Trip, 2018

2.  Lunch with “Uncle Greg”

On our return trip from Wisconsin, we stopped to visit a close friend of mine.  Greg was one of Bryon’s best friends and he has been so good to our daughter.  You can see his kindness demonstrated below as he gave the girls their own cheesehead hats.

(I don’t usually use people’s names but I can’t think of a proper blog name for Greg.  Though I am sure Bryon would have suggested a few inappropriate ones).

Pro-Tip when visiting Wisconsin: make sure you leave some space in your luggage because those cheesehead hats take up a lot of room.  Though I guess she could have worn it on the plane…

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“Uncle Greg” and the mini-cheeseheads

We had an amazing lunch complete with Wisconsin cheese curds.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

I also got to meet Uncle Greg’s new girlfriend.

I don’t give my stamp of approval to just anyone.  I am not Marshall Erickson.

But I am happy to say that Uncle Greg’s new girlfriend has my stamp of approval.  I can’t wait for him to bring her to Albany so everyone can meet her.

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3. Making it home in time for our favorite community helper’s birthday

We made it back in time on Monday for a special birthday.  Another one of Maddy’s “uncles”, who I refer to as “our favorite community helper”, was celebrating his birthday.  I took my daughter out for dinner and our favorite community helper and his fiancee (a.k.a. Carter’s parents) met up with us.  I didn’t get a picture with our favorite community helper, but here is a picture of my daughter being silly.  I was tired and probably not the best company, but these two are family to me and it was important to see our favorite community helper on his birthday.

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McGeary’s. 2018.

4.  A night at the museum

This week was the opening of Canstruction.  A good friend (I will call her “the architect”) has done this event for 8 years.  Canstruction collects cans and other non-perishable food and builds structures to raise money for food banks in the region.

I am so proud of my friend.

On Wednesday, there was a reception that I was lucky enough to attend.

The event took place at the New York State Museum on Empire Plaza.

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There was a taco bar.

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There was toasting with friends.

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My speech got a standing ovation.

We’ll just ignore the fact that Kimmy Gibbler was the only one listening…

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I didn’t get any carousel pics but we rode on it and it was awesome.

Here are a few pictures of some of the structures.

5.  Surviving

Two years ago yesterday was when my life completely fell apart.

I am still here.

I survived and I am grateful.

What are you grateful for this week?

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