Love & Family & Building an Amazing Life from a Place of Gratitude

If you’re in the USA, I hope you enjoy the three-day 4th of July weekend. There is a special place in my heart for small town 4th of July parades and fireworks. They bring me back to my youth and are just the sweetest things.

Which, in addition to the fact that I just celebrated another birthday and watched my niece get married last weekend, could have me feeling pretty old right now.

And yet, I’m feeling empowered and very much HERE, as in present and alive. Maybe it’s the love and family high I’m still riding from the wedding. It was such a joy to celebrate with my HUGE family. (My mom, her nine kids, our eight spouses and 17 grandchildren!)

Sure, time is relentlessly marching on. That young mom in the picture is me with my first baby and niece. Twenty years later, those two beautiful babies are brilliant, accomplished, gorgeous women who continue to fill us with love and pride.2014-06-27 20.13.22
Some part of me wants to rail against aging, but I just can’t. Instead, all the love and positive vibes of my niece’s wedding have me focused on gratitude.

I’m grateful to be here to see another niece married, and grateful for my large, close family – any one of whom I could call if I needed anything and know they would come running.

Which brings me to my brother, the father of the bride. I’m beyond grateful for the moment I shared with him at the reception. After he spoke beautifully of his love and devotion to his daughter, I had to tell him, with tears in my eyes, how I wished I had had a father like him. He hugged me tight and reassured me that I always had a big brother in him. Which made us both laugh, because I’m his “big” sister.

IMG_66611And that’s the point, isn’t it? I had a lousy father, miscarriages, infertility and breast cancer. I’d be lying if I told you I’ve never felt deprived, unloved and just plain screwed. But, when I look around and see all the wonders of my life: husband, children, brothers, sisters, mother, nieces, nephews, friends, dancing at weddings, birthday kisses, fireworks, small town parades and the many other joys I’m so grateful for, I tear up a bit and laugh.

Enjoy and be grateful for the “little things.” They are the things that create live out loud joy and get us through the big things (like a lousy father, miscarriages, infertility and breast cancer.)

And, ultimately, they are all that matters.

In deep gratitude and wishing you much joy,


DSCN205712PS: Someone at the wedding had the brilliant idea of taking a picture of all nine of us – which I don’t think has been done since I was 14. My mom and niece joined my five brothers, three sisters and me. It strikes me that we hit quite a few of my simple secrets from You Can Thrive After Treatment and How to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment. We practiced gratitude, created a sense of wonder, took every opportunity to laugh, practiced mindfulness, and moved our bodies (there was a lot of dancing!)

Photo by Cris Woodbury (dear friend, sister and mother of the bride!)

Related Posts:

10 Little Things to Do with Mindful Awareness
Stopping to Recognize Live Out Loud Joy as You’re Living It

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