No. 91: Jackie O.

I’m pretty sure we took this at the Brooklyn Flea – but I could be wrong! Jackie has a better memory for these things 🙂

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent, a time which symbolizes, among other things, light. How appropriate that this time reminds me of my former roommate, friend, and “Spiritual Running Buddy,” Jackie O. Jackie loves Advent, and through her passion for this time of year, I have grown to love it as well.

Jackie and I met because Craigslist is run by wizards, and we quickly discovered that not only were our fathers close mirrors of one another, but were destined to be roommates. Let me tell you about the moment I knew our friendship was sealed. I had made a comment about a moment in the obscure and so-bad-it’s-good film adaptation of The Babysitter’s Club. Immediately, Jackie fell into role alongside me, pretending to be Stacy, who was having an episode with her blood sugar because of her diabetes, as Luca, her crush from Switzerland, panicked.

Truly, it was meant to be.

My first year in New York was one of the most challenging I’d ever faced, and Jackie was one of the only reasons I didn’t catch the next Bolt Bus to New Jersey. She listened while I angrily criticized the city she loves so dearly, understood when I was not in the mood to talk, watched Project Runway when I needed a break. We shared our love of Trader Joe’s, a good bargain, and ruminated about life our coffee over breakfast each morning. We worked out together, missed our families together, laughed louder than usually appropriate in public places. She saw me through that first year, and on the other side, I was able to stand tall because she had helped me up when I was afraid to stand.

I cannot sum up into words the incredible force that is Jackie O. She is strong and brave, putting herself out there fearlessly at each audition she attends. She is fiercely loyal, protecting those close to her and standing by those who need her most, even when she herself is grappling with a challenge. She has a deeply inspiring faith, one which in which she is not afraid to ask questions or love fearlessly, both in the darker and lighter times. Jackie is abundantly joyful, lifting any karaoke room, get together, or trying moment into the best part of your day. She has an infectious positive energy which leaves you feeling uplifted any time you speak to her. I’ve heard it remarked by people having just met her for the first time: “She loves life more than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Jackie is a light worker in this world, my friends. And so, I am doubly blessed when Advent time rolls around.

Jackie, I am so blessed to count you among my closest friends. Thank you for being there three years ago, today, and tomorrow. Love you, running buddy!

No. 90: Report cards.

Goodness knows that I am exhausted by you, but for your many flaws- you hold a mirror up.

Which kids do I not know as well as I should? Who am I proud of? Who needs my love and support this year?

The answer is right in front of me.

And so, for the opportunity to get to know my students and myself more: thank you.

No. 89: Uncle Jim.

It never occurred to me that it was strange to have a close family friend that you called “aunt” or “uncle” that was not biologically related to you. What’s even stranger is when you have no idea that this aunt or uncle is not actually a blood relative, only to put it together much later.

Such is the case with Uncle Jim.

Uncle Jim has spent every Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with my family since my mother was in elementary school. I always assumed that he was simply more distantly related than my other relatives, and it was not until middle school that I discovered or put together that he was not on the family tree. He so effortlessly fits in to the Grady family, it never occurred to me that he was not legally a part of it.

Uncle Jim has been friends with my grandparents since the 1960s. He’s a tall man, and I remember thinking when I was a little girl that he must be at least seven feet tall. He’s come to see so many of my shows and we’ve shared so many conversations –  Uncle Jim is a tireless student and can talk about nearly any topic with nearly any one. He loves to learn and grow, and whether he’s exploring facebook, practicing yoga, or asking me a question about work, he is always keeping his mind and body sharp. Uncle Jim has a chair reserved at our house on family holidays and I love hearing about his walks or trips to the library after I share about my latest adventures with him. I also think of Uncle Jim for at least a few days after our time together, over my coffee or tea: he makes a delicious scone that I have to convince my Mom to part with, and I savor each time I can enjoy it.

He spent a small, quiet Thanksgiving at our house yesterday, and I realized (embarassingly) that I perhaps have not shared with him, until now, how grateful I am to call him family. Because that’s what he is to us: family.

We love you, Uncle Jim. And I’m so happy you spent Thanksgiving with us! (And that I can enjoy some of that delicious scone tomorrow with my coffee!)

No. 88: Thanksgiving.

Perhaps it seems redundant to be thankful for Thanksgiving, but today, I am. I am grateful that there is a holiday which inspires people to start a conversation about what they treasure. Sure, it is not always perceived as such- with commercialism and Black Friday always creeping its way into the public conversation- but Thanksgiving is a moment that asks us to slow down and reflect.

So today, I am not just thankful for one thing or five or five hundred things. My heart is full of gratitude for gratitude’s sake. I am giving thanks for all that I have and asking for the strength to remember that all days, at all times I have a wealth of reasons to be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

No. 86: Bloomsburg University.

Dear Admissions Staff,

Thank you for being my sister’s first college acceptance. You boosted her confidence this morning by showing her how this waiting game is going to soon enough pay off. Not to mention the fact that you clearly have great taste: she is an amazing kid. Your motto is “a great place to be you,” and that really speaks to her individuality and uniqueness.

Whether she attends your university or not, thank you for recognizing great students out there like my sister and inspiring them to make a difference.

Yours Truly,

A Proud Big Sister

No. 85: Finding a Flow.

It is actually September when I am writing this post, and because I insist on having the proper number of entries: here I am, posting for November of last year on a date I accidentally skipped. (My blood type is A+. I am actually type A down to my blood.)

In yoga tonight, we were encouraged to find flow. Flow: motion, the opposite of flow being resistance. Where do we find resistance? Where do we hesitate or tighten when we are meant to find subtle motion?

If we resist and if we hang on, we must exert energy and emotion. What I don’t realize is often the things I am holding on to are tiring me, and are more exhausting, than perhaps movement would be. I cling to my habits and patterns of thinking and when they require change, I fight with dear life to hang on to them. (My sleep patterns when I travel abroad are a testament to this!)

What if we invited change, instead of resisting it? What if we invited the possibility and potential into our lives through change?

I wonder…