Do you every look at your life and think “This is NOT how I imagined it?”.
I do. I sometimes think to myself “What if THIS wouldn’t have happened?” Or “Where would I be if I would have______ (Insert dream here)”.
Right now it’s 7am in Prague, The Czech Republic and I’m sipping coffee while Jason sleeps in the other room. It’s quiet and I’m reflecting on the fact that my Great Grandmother, Mary, came over to America from what was then Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. She knew no English and was put on a boat at the age of 14 to go and find a new life in America.
I can’t imagine the will power it took to leave her family when she was so young. It must’ve been terrifying and thrilling at the same time. And because of her bravery, here I am. Sipping coffee in the land she left behind.
I think of the people who came before me in my family. My mom, a single mom with 5 kids making ends meet. A woman who woke up day after day unsure how we’d get bread of milk on the table. My stepdad, an entrepreneur who married my mom when he was 55 to spend the next 20 years providing for us. My aunts, who have given me endless hugs, birthday cards and supportive messages to push me through tough times. My older sister (by 18 months) who learned all the algebra just to be my tutor and teach it to me a year later. My Great Grandfather, who came over from Hungary and worked in the steel mills in Pittsburgh. My Grandfather on my dad’s side, who fought in WWII in Strausburg France and was given the Purple Heart for being shot in the head (and surviving!!!) as he tried to rescue his friends while in combat. My Grandmother on my dad’s side who year after year sent my mom checks for our birthdays. My Uncle Rob (8 or so years my senior) who came to every single graduation ceremony with big hugs and smiles, so proud of me.
This is the day my mom brought me home from the hospital to meet my big sister, Vanessa:
My stepdad, Tony, took us to cut down a Christmas tree every year. I’m thinking this is around 1994:
Here we are in 1997 with our matching turtlenecks and chins resting on our hands. Very casual:
And just a few years ago:
My amazing aunts:
I’ll never, ever take for granted the path that was laid out before me so that I can sip coffee on the couch. I’m so grateful for the people in my life who believed in me. My friends all over the world.
Friends from my teens in Pittsburgh who make me belly laugh to this day (Jerzie!). Friends from college who supported me as I found my own voice for the first time (Fox, Lerd, Ham and Drey). Friends from my years working in Pittsburgh who worked by my side during my first career days as an early 20-something as we navigated being young and being professional – which can be a tough combo in your early 20s (Bekah, Corinne, Julia, David). Friends from dog parks. Friends from online meetup groups (LB!). Friends from work in California who gave me pep talk after pep talk as I often felt like an imposter in Silicon Valley (CrayRay, Tells, WhitBiz, Bre). Friends who curled up on the floor with me as I wept and dried my tears as I stood up tall (Kimmie). Friends who got me through tough times by sharing their own truths (KLove, Madelion, Mitch, Mike, Param, Holly, Joe, Sichy). My bosses who believed in me and understand that my personality has its benefits in corporate America.
Me and my friend since I was 16, Jess, dancing at a club on stage in our 20s:
My college girlfriends in Andrea’s wedding:
My friend, Laura, who was my first friend in CA:My friend Rebekah on her wedding day: My dear friend, Corinne, who I met in 2002 at work:My West Coast sister, Kim:
So many friends, I can’t put them all on this post! 🙂My sister, Larissa, for always always being on the other end of the line – no matter what. For welcoming me into her world of motherhood as I created a bond with my little nieces. My brother, Adam, for understanding so much of my own pain. My brother, Garrett, for making me laugh and for listening as I lecture him. 😉
Here we are being awkward in the late 80s:
My nieces (Ezra, Rori, Callie and Evie):
(Shout out to my 11th grade guidance counselor who said to me “Have you ever thought about going to college?”. She knew I could do it, which made me believe I could do it too).
So many people who have believed in me and trusted me. I could write this list for days and it’d be HUNDREDS of people.
Normally, I would have a big party with all my friends and family around me as I celebrate the last 40 years. But, somehow it worked out for me to be on this couch in Prague. Life has a funny way of turning out exactly how its meant to, despite our best efforts at trying to control its direction.
We were walking around with these views yesterday and its all I could ever want at this point in my life.
Cheers to turning 40. Cheers to the twists and turns that life brings. Life isn’t at all what I thought it’d be, it’s better.