What Are You Thankful For Today?

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The month of November can mean something different to each person you meet. Halloween is finally over (I never understood that holiday anyways). Christmas shopping season is now more acceptable than it was in October. Fall colors are disappearing as cold air has arrived and crisp winds have taken place. Messages of thanks are appearing from people that might not have shown thankfulness all year long. Darkness appears earlier in the day and the snowflakes become a more common occurrence in the daily forecast. Most people call Christmas their “favorite time of year” but for me, my favorite “holiday” is November 1st through January 2nd. What can I say, I dare to be different.

This time period is my favorite “holiday” because it encompasses all that is great into 2 short months. The gatherings are endless, the food is delicious (hopefully) and the reasons to be thankful are plentiful. It’s a two month period that is filled with family drama, get away trips to my best friends house, phone calls with friends I’ve been determined to catch up with this year and so much more. It’s the time of year you can truly slow down and enjoy the moments that life provides you. It’s a period of time that ends with the old and welcomes the new. It’s a season of traditions and one that I have enjoyed for 10 years is ringing in the New Year with my two best friends by my side. On December 31st, I typically sit down and think of at least 50 things that have happened to me (both good and bad) throughout the past year.what-if-you-woke-up-today-with-only-the-1

But this season begins now….with the opportunity to reflect on thankfulness. When was the last time you truly sat down and thought about what you were thankful for? Think beyond the material possessions that you bought at the mall last weekend or the items that fill your closest but instead focus on the feelings of the season, the reason we are here and the mere fact that you’ve got things to be thankful for. Think about it….what if you woke up tomorrow morning with only the things that you were thankful for today? What would you have?

November 1 – the ability to speak freely, knowing that true friends respect you for your opinions and will continue to love you.

November 2 – it’s simple –the love of baseball. Not just my beloved Redbirds, but I’m thankful for the game, the legends, the heroes and the ones who come to the diamond day in and day out because nothing beats a night at the ballpark. Nothing beats the love of the game.

November 3 – the flexibility that each day brings me.

November 4 – time to reminisce about the past and be part of a team that has always included me as one of their own.

November 5 – napping on a Saturday afternoon

November 6 – despite not seeing each other everyday like we used to, the ability to pick up right where we left off with old friends is something that I will always treasure.

November 7 – time with my Dad in the great outdoors.

November 8 – the right to have an opinion, share that opinion and live in a country that is free because of the democracy we have and the selfless acts of so many.

November 9 – the ability to find common ground with people, even if it is over a simple picture on the wall of a happy place that we share – Busch Stadium!

November 10 – for the ability to connect with people and share my story especially to the people who have influenced me since the beginning.

November 11 – all of the true heroes in life; everyone that has served our country and is currently serving our country for the freedom we all enjoy and sometimes take for granted each and everyday.

November 12 – simply having friends who have never left your side, despite distance and time – nothing has changed.

November 13 – laughter.

November 14 – the teachers throughout my life that always made me write. They made me write journal entries, stories, autobiographies and so much more. It didn’t matter what it was, thank you for making me simply….write.

November 15 – honesty from life long friends.

November 16 – anxiety because it means I care, right?

November 17 – sleeping pills for the restless nights.

November 18 – not caring about being alone at the movie theater.

November 19 – comfy pants and cold medicine.

November 20 – an amazing team mate that provides endless encouragement and motivation and always pushes me and challenges me to think differently and continue to improve.

November 21 – SNOW!

November 22 – a family that works together and friends who help out in the time of need.

November 23 – friends who continuously open their door (and their couch) for me with a moments notice.

November 24 – waking up to some of my favorite kiddos wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. Oh and for turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes!

November 25 – friendships that are truly priceless and the ability to never stop laughing, never stop giving and always having a lending ear and hand when I need it and giving it when it’s needed.

November 26 – leftovers!

November 27 – time with my mom, Christmas shopping!

November 28 – Open, honest dialogue with those that I work with and for farmers who “get it!”

November 29 – a queen sized bed all to myself!

November 30 – simply catching up with friends I haven’t talked to in a long time and looking forward to the next 31 days filled with so many friends and many more memories being made!

 

 

The Family I’ve Chosen For Myself

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Nieces and nephews are two things that don’t exist in my family and quite frankly, we’re okay with that (at least I think we are). But not to worry, I have the honor and privilege of being “Aunt Eileen” or “Miss Eileen” to so many of my friends children and because of this – I am blessed. I wish I could spend every waking day with each of you because I truly believe I learn more from you than you do from me. So this note today is for them, for the kids of my friends that have truly become family over the years.

To the “nieces” and “nephews” that I’ve chosen for myself, as a friend of your parents this is my promise to you:

  • I promise to be the other adult in your life that as you grow older you’ll realize that you’ll need.
  • I promise to show you that you’re good enough and that you should never be afraid to fail.
  • I promise to never stop playing alongside you until you’re too old for play dough, toy trucks and farm toys and even then I promise to let you have your space because you think you’re “too cool.”
  • I promise to be by your side when you need it, to be there when the negative things happen in life including heartbreak and loneliness.
  • I promise to always be in your corner, cheering you on at soccer games, football games, cheerleading, dance recitals, 4-H, FFA, school competitions – you name it, I’ll be there.
  • I promise to be there when you need a hug, a shoulder to cry on or just someone who understands those crazy parents of yours.
  • I promise to help you find happiness and understand the importance of the little things in life because you deserve nothing less.
  • I promise to help you realize that life is best spent by living it to the fullest.
  • I promise to leave you with hugs and kisses each time I leave your house.
  • I promise to cherish the moments we have together from these days when you’re young to those when you’re older and wiser.
  • I promise to be that “get-away” house when you become a teenager and need to simply be in a place that can be your home.download
  • I promise to be the “cool” aunt that isn’t in the family tree.
  • I promise to never judge you and always listen to you with open ears and open arms.
  • I promise to always be a simple phone call away when life gets tough or when you want to share your exciting day with me.
  • And while I can’t promise that life will be perfect and easy, I will promise to love you unconditionally until the end of time because you are the light in my friends’ eyes and have become the family that I’ve chosen for myself.

College Friends: Soulmates?

Most everyone who knows me knows that I made a pretty big move this past spring and moved back to my hometown to take an opportunity of a lifetime to pursue my passion of being an advocate for agriculture. Since moving home, I’ve had the chance to begin to catch up on 7 years of living in the Midwest, specifically with friends that I feel I’ve neglected for so long. Think about it, you move away from everything you’ve ever known for nearly a decade and you lose touch with so many people that were part of your life in a variety of ways and all of a sudden, you’re back in your hometown, living in your parents’ house and essentially having deja-vu of your high school days. But for 7 years I missed so much – birthdays, holidays, weddings, births, deaths, Sunday dinners and so much more.

As I’ve grown older I have quickly learned that befunky-collage3my circle of friends may decrease but the value of my friends certainly increase. I’ll admit, my high school days were filled with a social calendar that was filled from now until Christmas and nothing was going to come in between me and whatever activity was going on each day. But today, things are different. Yes, I may have a social calendar that is still full, but it’s filled with friends wh
o have stuck around, friends who have truly seen me hit rock bottom and proved our friendship was worth something to them.

My days are now filled with my soulmates. Have you ever thought about that before? Having a soulmate is not just about falling in love, but I truly believe that your friends can be and are your soulmates as well. I’m blessed and honored to have many soulmates in my life and quite honestly, soulmates that have come and gone over the years as well. How many of you keep in touch with every friend you ever had in high school. As sad and honest as it is, I’m pretty sure none of us do. There’s the occasional
“like” on Facebook or high school reunion or Homecoming football game, but I firmly believe that the majority of our friendships begin in college. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my friends that I’ve grown up with and that have been part of my life for 20+ years but there’s something about college friends that is different.

College friends are the ones who get to know you as you become an adult. befunky-collage2They are the ones you pull all-nighters with, celebrate your 21st birthday together, see you through your first college love and are there for you when it doesn’t work out. Your college friends are the ones who have similar interests because you’re sharing the same major. They are the ones you live with, eat with and simply experience life with for 4 straight years. They become your soulmates and as soon as graduation hits, life changes. But one thing remains the same – a strong bond of friendship that spans the distance across New York State and beyond.

Throughout my travels I met some incredible befunky-collagepeople but none as remarkable and life-changing as my college friends. When I was sitting in church a while back, the pastor asked a question that got me thinking. He said, “Make a list of the 5 friends that would be there for you no matter what.” So folks started thinking and writing down names pretty quickly. But me, I challenged that way of thinking. I wanted to think about 5 people who would have my name on their list. It got me thinking about life and friendships a little differently. How have I treated my friends? Would there be 5 people in my life that would consider me one of those top 5 friends that they would call. This perspective made me re-evaluate how I treat my friends, how I spend my time and how I simply live life.

Now I’m not going to sit here and name names because I’m bound to forget someone but please know that everyone that I’ve come across in my life has made an impact on my life in some way shape or form. And to those friends that I’ve visited with since my big move back home this past spring – thank you! Thank you for allowing me back into your life after being away for so long and for never letting distance come between us. And to those that I haven’t seen yet – don’t worry! I’m not going anywhere anytime soon so our paths will cross because the world is small and soulmates shouldn’t believe in distance or excuses.

My writing isn’t perfect but my story is!

63175-demi-lovato-quote-every-life-has-a-purpose-share-your-story-andWell here it is, at long last, my blog! There have been days when I’ve contemplated whether or not I should start this blog but with support from some great friends I met in Wisconsin, here it is!

Whenever I’ve started something new in my life, I have always wondered what other people will think but for the past year, something in me has changed. Something has clicked and I am living life for me, not others. This blog is a true testament to that feeling and that way of life. Who knows how many people will sit down, read my thoughts, share my story or even be inspired by what they read. It is my goal to simply make a difference in the life of those around me, to share my personal stories of the roller coaster ride I’ve called life and to inspire and motivate others to continue to live life to the fullest with no regrets. I hope to share stories from the struggles and challenges I’ve faced head-on and overcome, the successes in my life and how you can find success and happiness too, along with simple stories of friendship, traveling the open road and the relationship with life itself and how powerful and beautiful the world truly is all around us.

I’m not saying that my life is perfect because it’s far from that and I’m not saying that I have all the answers because I still have more questions but what I am saying is that we all have a story to tell. We all have a passion deep within us and we all have the drive, somewhere deep inside, to make our dreams come true. So while my grammar and writing isn’t to the caliber of The New York Times, I’m here making my dreams come true each and every day and I hope you can realize, before it’s too late, that you have the power to do the same.

So you might ask yourself, just as I have in the past few weeks/months, why in the world is Eileen starting a blog? The answer is simple. I have a story to tell and it’s a simple story – I’m a farm girl who is proud of her roots, never forgets where she came from and is enjoying life one day at a time by living it to the fullest potential. So while my writing isn’t perfect, my story is because it’s what I make of it every single day of my life.