Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #30

A little late but today is still Friday! You survived the week!

Do you know what this means?  It’s time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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Since I was too busy last week, I did not do a Gratitude post so this is going to cover the past two weeks.

  1. Time with my daughter

    Dance class and gymnastics class never get old.

  2. The fact that summer is almost over

    This is probably an unpopular opinion but I am ready for summer to be over.  I am from Maine and this humidity is killing me.  I am not going to rush the end of summer because I know Fall will be here soon but I can’t wait.  Bring on the pumpkin spice!

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  3. A good concert with a good friend

    One of my besties and I got a chance to see REO Speedwagon and Chicago at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). It was a great time.  Personally I thought the REO Speedwagon half was better than Chicago.  I like Chicago’s music but it was very mellow and almost a let down after rocking to REO Speedwagon.  Just my two cents.

  4. Getting by with a little help from my friends.

    Some of my friends have stepped up to help me clean out Bryon’s storage unit.   When Bryon died, so many people said that they would be there to help in any way needed but whenever I ask for help, it is always the same few people who offer to help.

    There is no way I could I ever payback these friends for the kindness they have for me.  I could not get by without these friends.  No mentions, they know who they are.

  5. The little memories that make me smile.

    Bryon and I had a good 8 years.  And every day, I am usually reminded of something funny he did.

    I was driving my daughter to dance class and Orleans “Still the One” came on the radio.

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    Now, if you are a longtime reader of this blog, you may remember that Bryon and I met while participating in politics.  (Don’t worry, this is not a political blog.  A story may pop up here and there but there will not being any preaching.  Grief and death don’t know political parties.  I love you all!)

    You might remember that John Hall made a stink about George W Bush playing the song “Still the One” at a Rally in 2004.

    Anyway, John Hall went one to become a Congressman in New York State and in 2010, Bryon and I, along with some of our Young Republican friends worked on a campaign weekend and we dropped literature for his opponent, Dr. Nan Hayworth.

    And I remember Bryon writing this tweet and thinking it was so funny.

    Screenshot_20180810-213718 He could have been tweeting in this picture.

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    And even though he is gone, I am grateful for those little memories that make me smile.

    What are you grateful for this week?

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Choices

Here it today’s bit of Kerry McKim Wisdom-

Your life is the aftereffect of all the choices you have made.

Boom.

The first major decision in my life was in the Spring of 1993.

It was a period of high fashion consisting of blazers, floral dresses, choker necklaces, boots and scrunchies.

(Okay, that kind of sounds like right now.)

An era was ending as Cheers had their last call.

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And Zack and the gang graduated from Bayside High.

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I was finishing up my eight grade year at Cyril D. Locke Middle School in Billerica, MA and I was preparing to begin my freshman year at Billerica Memorial High School.

My father had worked for the U.S. Postal Service since 1977, the year before I was born.  He had worked in Suburban Boston and he had been promoted to the position of Postmaster.

But there was a catch.

He would be the Postmaster of Little Deer Isle, ME.

So we were going to be moving five hours away to coastal Maine.

I would not be going to high school at Billerica Memorial High School.

I had been bullied in middle school so I wasn’t particularly sad about leaving.  But it was still a period of uncertainty.

The population of Billerica, MA in 1990 was 37,609 and the population of Little Deer Isle, ME in 2000 (couldn’t locate the number for 1990) was 251.

My father had to start his new position immediately so he would work in Maine during the week and come back to Massachusetts on the weekends to see us and to pack up and sell our house.

My father went to the local high school which was on the larger neighboring island of Deer Isle (connected to Little Deer Isle by a causeway) and the school was grades 7-12 with a school population of  about 150.  The guidance counselor of the school was up front with my father and said that there was a high chance that the students wouldn’t accept me because I was not a native of this island.  The guidance counselor recommended that he send me to a larger high school on the mainland because I would have a better chance of fitting in.  She gave my father the course catalogs for her high school as well as the three closest high schools on the mainland.

My father took my guidance counselors concerns seriously. He brought home those course catalogs and told me to look them over which I did.  Then I made my decision.  I told my father I wanted to go to Ellsworth High School.

My decision was based partly on intuition and partly because Ellsworth High School had the better catalog.  (Take away- listen to your gut and marketing matters).

The high school I chose was the furthest away geographically from Little Deer Isle but my mother also wanted to live closer to Ellsworth because there were more stores (i.e. civilization).

As my high school years passed, it was clear that I had made the right decision.  Each school had a reputation and I knew I wouldn’t have fit into schools labeled “crunchy” and “granola”.  (Not that there is anything wrong with that.  It just wasn’t me.)   I fit in the best at my high school, which had the reputation of being a “jock” school. I fit in, even though my classmates teased me (good-naturedly) for having a Boston accent.

My choice of high school affected the friends I made, some of which I am still friends with to this day.  My choice in high school affected my studies because I had some great teachers who exposed me to Broadway musicals, the French language and the concept that the world was a very large and fascinating place.  I also had some not so great teachers that turned me off to math and science.  (I don’t know what high school Kerry would think if she knew that in her 30s, she would go back to school for a degree that required Anatomy and Physiology.  I wish I could tell my younger self that she was smarter than she thought she was and capable of much more than she thought).

My choice in high school affected my social life.  I had to chose between staying busy with sports and work or hanging out in the Burger King parking lot.  Or partying in a gravel pit.  Though I wasn’t cool enough to party in a gravel pit.  I made the choice to run cross country and track, tutor students and participate in French Club.  I also made the choice to participate in class activities like prom committee and I raised money for the Chem-Free party on graduation night.  I also made the choice to work part-time at Shop N Save (now Hannaford).

I definitely left high school with a certain set of experiences that my eight grade self would never have foreseen me having.

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“Mormons or Lobster” A sign in Ellsworth, Maine.

My next major decision was college.  I actually felt like I had less of a choice in choosing a college due to financial constraints.  My older brother had attended college at University of Maine at Orono (UMO) which was a little over an hour away.  I knew if I attended UMO that I would live there for a semester or two and then move home to save money.  I did not want that.

I wanted to be in the city.  Any city.  And if I couldn’t be in Boston, Portland was going to do.  That is how I wound up at the University of Southern Maine.  (USM)

High school had been a learning experience and a culture shock as I adjusted from Suburban Boston to Rural Maine.  But college was definitely more of a shock as I was exposed to so many different ideologies and lifestyles that I had not been used to.  Like high school, I made friends.  Some of which I am still friends with.

I made the choice to study abroad in England the Fall of my junior year.  I almost didn’t apply because I had had a rough year my sophomore year.  I remember telling my father that I couldn’t keep it together here so going to England was probably a bad idea.  My father said that he thought that three months away from USM might be exactly what I needed.  I chose to listen to him and listening to him was one of the best decisions of my life.

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Canada looks really good.  A sign we saw on our way to Ottawa in 2011.

My life had became a series of choices, even if they didn’t feel like choices at the time.

The choice to finish college.

The choice to enter a romantic relationship.

The choice to not return to England after graduation because I had a new boyfriend. (Stupid, stupid, stupid!)

The choice of employment.

The choice of friends and associations.

The choice of my living situations and roommates.

The choice to end my romantic relationships.

The choice to move back home.

The choice to pursue a new career.

The choice to go back to college.

The choice to get involved in politics.

The choice to join the Young Republicans.

The choice to start dating that younger guy in New York even if it didn’t make sense.

The choice to move to New York.

The choice to accept a marriage proposal.

The choice to buy a house.

The choice to start a family.

Where we are in life is based on the results of choices we have made.

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Everything in your life is based on a decision you have made or haven’t made.

However, these decisions have no guarantees.  Good decisions don’t always yield good results.  A good decision may have catastrophic results while a bad decision may surprisingly yield a very positive result.

Sometimes shitty things happen to good people.  We can’t control external factors.

But you always have to make the choice as to how you react to the shitty situation.

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This realization is overwhelming to me.  I used to view life as a series of events that happened to me and that everything was left to chance.

(So I guess Green Day was wrong in Good Riddance when they say that time grabs you by the wrist and directs you where to go…)

I did not realize how much of a role I played in my own life.

This realization comes to be at a time when my life in a crossroads.

In some ways, this scares the shit out of me.

The stable life that I knew is gone.  I have spent the last two years of my life reeling from what happened and I have been struggling to make sense of it.  I have been trying to figure out this “new normal” even though I yearned for the “old normal”.

I had always been one of those people who always had a “two-year plan”, a “five-year plan”, a “ten year plan” and a “twenty-five year plan.”  Now I barely have a “two-week” plan.

My need to have plans was because I didn’t like living in the present so escaped to the future.  But when the future became the present, I would escape further into the future.  I learned the hard lesson that the I need to be in the present because the future that you look forward to may not be there.

I do notice a change in how I choose to live in my life.  I choose to spent less time worrying.  I choose to surround myself with good people and let go of those who treat me poorly.

I choose to try to experience as much as a I can because we aren’t all guaranteed to make it to old age.   Bryon didn’t even make it to middle age.

But I have spent the last two years existing, trying to live even if, at times, I was just going through the motions.  I can’t stay in this state forever.  I am going to need to choose how I am going to live the remainder of my years.

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And I have no clue what the future is going to bring.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #29

It’s Friday and it is time for some Good Vibrations Gratitudes.  And usually, this is a fun post giving thanks to all the good things that happened to me during the week.

But this weeks post is going to be a little different.  I hope you “bear” with me.  (See what I did there?)

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The truth is that my heart has been pretty heavy this week.

On Monday morning I heard the song Fire and Rain by James Taylor.  Obviously, I had heard the song many times before but for some reason, the song stuck out to me.

I had arrived home and saw that I had a message from my friend Charlotte.

(You met her here).  Charlotte is an old friend from high and Charlotte is not her real name.   I try not to use the names of the living in my blog so my friends get blog names.  Her name is Charlotte because that was her French Class name and we sat next to each other in French class and she got stuck with me as a friend.

The text from Charlotte had devastating news.  She had heard that a high school friend Allison had passed away.  Being the detectives that we are, we looked for clues on social media.  We had nothing definite but I felt it in the pit of my stomach.

Finally, in the evening, we saw a post from her brother confirming the news we were fearing, that she had passed away.

Allison and I were friends in high school.  I always wondered why a girl who was so cool would want to be friends with the socially awkward, hyperverbal girl with a Boston accent (I had moved from the Boston area to Maine the summer before high school).

Obviously, we graduated from high school and lost touch in college.  It was an era before Facebook.

I saw her once in the mid 2000’s.  I was at Mass at our towns Catholic Church, St. Joe’s and she was there with her father.  We ran up to each other after Mass and hugged.

And I hadn’t seen her since.  We lost contact again.

I reconnected with her on Facebook shortly after Bryon died.  She came back into my life during my darkest days and she was my biggest cheerleaders when I was trying to pick up the pieces of my life.  I could always count on her to like all my lame pictures on Instagram.  I don’t know if she realized how much her kindness affected me.

I know I was just a drop in a bucket of all the people she touched and helped but I am really going to miss her.

It just doesn’t seem fair.  A group of us high school friends started talking about taking a trip to Quebec City to recreate the shenanigans from our French IV trip in 1996.  Now when we go, she won’t be there.

I was hoping to meet up with her.  I was in her area this spring and I thought about seeing if she was around but it was a bachelorette weekend.  It was busy and I was there for my friend who was getting married.  I decided I would try to meet up with her next time.

This is a harsh reminder that we don’t always get a next time.

Today is her funeral and I am sad that I won’t be able to attend to say good-bye.  I thought about it.  It would be doable if I dropped my daughter off at daycare when they open.  But being her only parent, I get nervous traveling three hours away.  What if something happened?

I thought about taking my daughter out of school that day and bringing her.  I asked her if she wanted to go to Pennsylvania for a funeral and or stay here and go to school.  She chose to go to school.  I can’t blame her.  She’s a few months short of 4 and has already been to more than her fair share of wakes and funerals.

I asked again, this time changing the inflection and tone of my voice to be all excited and I asked her if she wanted to go to Pennsylvania for a funeral and then I changed my tone to boring and asked if she wanted to stay here and go to school.  She still chose to go to school.  I can’t fool that girl.  She is so smart.

As one last Hail Mary, I looked at the map to see how close Bethlehem, PA was to Sesame Place.  Surely she would want to go to a funeral if we could do a side trip to Sesame Place but it was too far out of the way.

I wanted to go to support her family.  They are good people.  Her father had been our high school principal and her mother was a nurse.  Her siblings are great too.  I know they are going to have some dark days ahead.  Though I know that my presence wouldn’t lessen their pain. Not at all.

I admit, after my grandmother died, I thought I was unable to feel grief because I survived Bryon’s death.  But Allison’s death has hit me harder than I thought it would.

I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because I am close to two years out from Bryon’s death and some of that numbness is going away.  I am starting to feel again.

Maybe it’s because with Bryon’s death, I was so involved that I didn’t get the opportunity to sit back and reflect about my own mortality at a young age.  I was too busy surviving and existing.  But with Allison’s death, I am removed enough to reflect on the fact that she is my age and she’s gone and people aren’t supposed to die this young.

I have been lucky that I have been able to lean on Charlotte and another friend.  We have all been leaning on each other.

But it leads me to another question- why does it take someone’s death to bring people closer together?  Why can’t it just be normal human behavior to appreciate people as a baseline? Why do we need to wait until a death and trauma to realize we care about people?

Then I started to wonder why the people with the brightest lights seem to get extinguished early.  Like Allison.  And Bryon.

At least I know that Heaven (or the Fifth Dimension, or the other side or wherever spirits go when they leave this world) must be a beautiful place.  Because people like Allison and Bryon are there.

(I did ask Bryon to give her a hug. So when a tall, handsome, smart and hysterically funny man from Upstate New York gives her hug, I hope she is not alarmed.)

So why am I writing this in my Gratitude Friday post?

I am writing about this because my heart feels heavy and I just don’t feel like writing and posting pictures of the scrunchies I saw in Wal-Mart even if I am grateful and excited that 90’s fashion has made a comeback.

When someone dies too soon, it is easy to dwell on the loss, but I am choosing to be grateful.

I am writing this post because I am truly grateful that Allison was in my life.

For befriending the socially awkward girl with the Boston accent and making her feel cool.

For the memories.

For sharing all her adventures on Instagram and letting us follow her along.

For being a light.

For filling the world with love.

For being an inspiration.

For sharing the struggles she overcame with honesty and grace.

For being a good example on how to live.

I am also grateful for this reminder to appreciate those in my life.

I am going to end this with the Prayer of St. Francis.  It feels fitting because she lived the message.  And because she loved animals and St. Francis was the Patron Saint of Animals.

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Allison’s obituary

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #28

Today is Friday! You survived the week!

Do you know what this means?  It’s time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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

  1.  Friday means Chinese Food for lunch. 

    It’s my own weird tradition.  I must do it a lot because they know me at my local restaurant.  I used to be a strictly sweet and sour chicken combo person.  But I decided I needed to try new things so now I am strictly a pork lo mein and egg roll person.IMG_20180713_133921

  2. Movie Date
    My daughter went on a movie date with the boy she says she is going to marry.Since she is only 3 and her “fiance” is only 4, the date was chaperoned by the moms. Kind of like the Duggars except the kids are allowed to hold hands and they are allowed to hug to.  Not that weird, awkward side hugging that the Duggars do.

    Annnnnd…I think I just totally outed myself as someone who watches the Duggars.  Oh well.

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    Moving on-

    I am not going to lie.  Part of the reason I get the large popcorn is because the picture always makes me laugh.  We never finish it.  She usually spills it on the floor.  Along with the M&M’s.

    What can I say?  I am a sucker.

    We saw Incredibles 2.  My daughter refused to nap beforehand.  She had trouble focusing on this movie.  I think she was more excited about the idea of the movie than the actual movie.  Oh well.

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  3. The staff at the movie theater who have to clean up after my kid. 

    Most of us probably take for granted clean movie theaters.  So thank you!!!images

  4. Taco Tuesday with friends 

    A time to catch up with dear friends. and eat yummy tacos.No pics.  I am sorry.  What can I say?  I suck this week.

  5. Personal Growth 

    I value any time I get to read and write.  I am working on self love and feeding my soul.I saw on Facebook that my friend Roda at Growing Self Blog had bought The Untethered Soul.  That book has been sitting on my nightstand for a really long time.  (My “to read” pile is ridiculous).  So I decided that now would be the right time to start it.

    I mean, if all the cool kids are doing it…

    I decided to start it because Roda bought it.  And should and of the subject matter come up in her blog, I wanted to be prepared.  I didn’t want to feel like the blog reader equivalent of Elle Woods on her first day of law school.

    The book reminds me of The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle where you only need to read a little at a time because the information is a lot of digest.  A lot of “Wow” moments.  The good news is that the chapters in The Untethered Soul are short so you can read a chapter a day if that is your speed.  (It’s mine!)

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What are you grateful for this week?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #27

Today is Friday!  Okay, it’s barely still Friday but I am going to work with it.

You survived the week!

Do you know what this means?  It’s time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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

  1.  Saturday at my bestie’s house.

    My bestie Kimmy moved away.  Luckily not too far.  My daughter and I took a drive up to the North Country to visit.  It was a day filled with fancy cheese, boxed wine (for the mommies), apple juice boxes for the littles, mac and cheese bake and buffalo chicken dip.  It was nice to spend time with Kimmy and see her new house!

  2. An evening with Robin Brillantes

    My daughter and I met up with our friend Robin Brillantes for dinner at Chipotle.  It was great to catch up.

    We then went to a local park so my daughter can burn off some energy.  She has been so hyper at bedtime and on this night, she went right to bed.  I guess we need to add in more activity.

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  3. Seeing the turtles

    I never knew there were turtles in our local park.  That was a pleasant surprise!

  4. Gymnastics and dance.

    Summer classes have started. I don’t have any pics but her dance pics came in so here it is.  Picture of a picture.

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  5.  All the positive energy the Universe has been sending me.

    The other morning, the Universe was sending me some happy music which put my in a high vibrational energy.  Thank you Universe.

What are you grateful for this week?

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You are free!

We all spent time worrying about things that we can not control.

You can’t control the weather.

You can’t control the temperature or the humidity.  You can’t control the rain or snow.

You can’t control the economy.

You can’t control the government.

You can’t control the housing market.

You can’t control the stock market.  Or the global market.

You can’t control the currency exchange rate.  Or the tax rate.

You can’t control politicians or, ultimately, who gets elected.  You can’t control the political climate.

You can’t control what laws get passed.

You can’t control television ratings or if your favorite show will get canceled.  You can’t control which movies Netflix will remove next month.

You can’t control your family of origin.  You can’t control how you were raised.  You can’t control your family history or your genetics.

You can’t control your past or where you were from.

You can’t control when someone you love dies or when you will feel grief.

You can’t control other people.

You can’t control other people’s intelligence.  People are free to see the world how they interpret it.

You can’t control if people take your advice.  That is up to them.

You can’t control other people’s decisions.  People are free to make good and bad decisions based on the knowledge that they have.  Even if you do not agree with these decisions.

You can’t control people’s loyalty or honesty. You can’t control other people’s values.

You can’t control if people lie or tell the truth.  You can’t control people who manipulate those around them or people who always play the victim.

You can’t control how other people treat you.  People are free to treat people how they see fit.  People are free to hurt you, exclude you and not take your feelings into consideration.  People are free to talk about you behind your back.  People are free to treat you sh*tty.

You can’t control if people forgive you.  That is up to them.

But you, my friend, are free.

You are free to cancel your Netflix because they took away How I Met Your Mother.

You are free to vote for whoever you think the best candidate is and you are free to get involved in whatever issues matter to you.

You are free to associate with those who love you and make you feel better about yourself.  And you are free to disassociate with people who have a negative impact on you.

You are free to hit “reply” or “add friend.”  You are also free to hit “unfollow” or “unfriend.”

You are free to give advice but the recipient can choose not to take it.  And you are free to choose what advice you take from others.

You are free to set your own boundaries and you are free to enforce those boundaries.  You are also free to let people disrespect those boundaries.  The choice is yours. People will only treat you poorly if you let them.

You are free to walk away.  From toxicity, manipulation, and negativity.  You can control just how much bullsh*t you are willing to deal with.

You are free to re-evaluate your life at any stage.  You are free to keep what is working for you and you are free to leave behind what isn’t.

You are free to authentic and real or shallow and phony.

You are free to not give a f*ck about what people think.  You are free to do you.

You are free to invest in your hobbies and interests.  You are free to follow your dreams.

You are free to sell everything you own.  You are free to blow your paycheck at IKEA.

You are free to travel the world or be a homebody.

You are free to cook a gourmet dinner.  You are free to grab dinner at McDonalds.

You are free to give and receive love.  You are free to choose who to give love to and who to receive love from.

You are free to smile and laugh.

You are free to let go of past hurts and anger.

You are free to forgive those who have wronged you when you are ready.  But be careful because you are also free to let past hurts consume your life.

You are free to remember those who have passed however you want to remember them.

You can’t control what goes on around you but, ultimately, you are free to choose how you react to it.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #26

Today is Friday! You survived the week!

Do you know what this means?  It’s time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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

1.  Surviving the flash flood.

I was driving on a major road in Albany and out of nowhere, I massive thunderstorm hit.  This major road was flooding.  I have never seen anything like it.  I admit, I see the flash flood alerts on my phone but never knew they actually happened.  I have been driving since I was 16 (turning 40 later this summer) and have spent all my winters in Maine and Upstate New York.  I have driven through blizzards and ice storms and I had never been so scared.  For a minute, I thought my car was going to get stuck.

Luckily I made it to where I was supposed to be.  I was on that same stretch a few hours later and all that water was gone.  I will always heed those flash flood warnings from

2.  That the heatwave finally broke.

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3. 3rd/4th of July Fun

My daughter and I were lucky to spend the 3rd and 4th of July with close friends.

 

4.  Those who continue to help me.

Widowhood doesn’t go away after one year.  I am thankful for those who have stuck around and continue to help me whether it is putting in my A/C unit (I don’t know how I would have survived this week) to helping me sort out Bryon’s belongings and such.  Thank you!

5.  The spare key.

I locked myself out of the house but luckily there was a spare key.  And for that I am thankful.

What are you thankful for this week?

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