Throwin' it back in gratitude

I actually like clichés .  I like that a cliche has been made a cliché for a reason, because that reason is usually a good one.  The only unfortunate part about clichés is we've been nearly programmed to ignore them well, because...they're cliché.

I'm swimming in clichés today.

There has been a lot - and I mean a lot - of tragic happenings in my Facebook world and in my more immediate world.  And this has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with people and families.  And after another sudden event this week, I paused and thought you really and honestly have to take the time for the ones you love for tomorrow is never guaranteed.

So, I spent some time in thankful prayer the other night and scrolled through pictures of our last few years.  I scrolled and scrolled...and scrolled through hundreds of memories some of which were painful to recall and some that made my eyes well up with tears of joy.

There are times when I mindlessly look through pictures in attempts to find a throwback picture, but I rarely, if ever, take a second to recall the moment and sink into a moment of gratitude.

I thought I'd share some of those pictures.

Throwback to February 23, 2014 - my 24th birthday.  I was (really) pregnant with Ella.  I spent a bulk of the day crying.  Man, I hated being pregnant. Those 9 months taught me so much though.  And it was being pregnant that forced Tim and I to work hard.  That hard work got the ball rolling for a financial plan, a step up for my husband in his career, and a promise to myself that I'd start writing and wouldn't stop.  Those months were some of the hardest of my life, but they were undoubtedly some of the most rewarding.

Throwback to our Urban Pi days.  When we were living in our second apartment in California, Tim picked up another job which meant a couple 12 hour work days during the week and work on weekends.  So we decided to budget pizza night out every Friday at our favorite pizza place in San Diego.  It was a 20 minute drive - nothing when it means good gluten-free pizza - that allowed us to decompress from the week and feel a little normal in our otherwise difficult-to-navigate situation. (Here I'm seen trying to show Ella how to wave...)

Throwback to when Ella was getting ready to go on her first plane ride and visit to Alaska.  In June 2015, Ella went with Tim to my sister-in-law's wedding.  She met a lot of her aunts and uncles for the first time and got to see the never-setting sun that presents itself during the Summer months!  (And mom got a mini staycay.)

Throwback to the days we spent at Del Mar (in San Diego).  Every now and then, we would take a Sunday and walk around the town and catch some rays on the beach.  I remember this day specifically.  I was battling postpartum depression and severe anxiety, and it felt good to be out in the sun.  It didn't always feel that way.

Throwback to the day we drove almost 2 hours to see the Cannon Beach in Oregon.  This easily made my top 3 for favorite beaches.  There's not much to say except it was simply magical.  Washington and Oregon are home to some of my absolute favorite places.

Throwback to when Archie was a little, little one.  Archie is my little ham.  He is the one who, as an infant, needed to be cuddled to go to sleep and the one who will come up and give hugs and kisses and stick out his tongue.  He's a little cutie who loves big.  Having Ella and Archie so close together has been one of the biggest blessings to our family.

Throwback to our business trip/vacation to San Diego and LA last Summer.  If you didn't know me, this would look like nothing more than a picture posted to recall Summer fun.  If you do know me, you know this picture shows one of my biggest accomplishments as a parent and victories in overcoming anxiety.  I took care of the kids while Tim worked, and I made a (hard) effort to do everything I could to get out of the hotel room.  And I did.  Taking the kids to the pool on my own and driving a massive SUV in a place where I'd had had multiple panic attacks were moments of perseverance paying off.  (It was the night before we left for this trip that I decided to go back on medicine for anxiety.)

Throwback to April 21st, 2015 -- Ella's second birthday.  I was so excited for this day.  We were moving on her first birthday, so we weren't able to celebrate.  For her second, I got a balloon, made her a cake, and had her cousins come over -- a real birthday party.  It was the first for our little family.

Throwback to June 21st, 2016.  The first day in over 2 years that I drove by myself into a busy area without having a panic attack.  I hate how trivial this looks, because it felt like the mental equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest.  Up until this day, I couldn't drive anywhere without my body completely shutting down in physical panic.  Drenched in sweat and shaking, I more often than not would turn around shortly after leaving and needing my husband to go with me.  Now, I drive to and from work every day.  This is one of my biggest accomplishments of the last few years.

Thank you, God for the good, the bad, the bright, and the dark and ugly.  Every moment has worked to shape our story.  We've been tried, tested, and successful, and I'm so thankful for all those days, even the ones where I didn't want there to be another.  You've been so good to us having allowed us to go through so many difficult days.  I like the person I am now having come out on the other side. Grant me the grace to wake up with every ounce of gratitude that I should, to be a light to those around me, and to never take a loved ones' presence for granted.



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