Sunday, May 20, 2012

Highs and Lows

I'm back....

What a week. There is a local radio station where they shared highs and lows of the week or weekend. This is my post, sharing my highs and lows this week.

This post will have nothing and everything to do with RA, life, and love.

It started with an extreme high on Sunday, my first "real" Mother's Day (I'd get cards from my "furry" kids") and the first weekend day with no homework even though my official "last class" was Monday night. I was done with grad school- attained my goal of getting my Masters in HR after 4 long years!!! My wonderful husband had new lights on the patio which are beautiful to celebrate this. (pics to come as I didn't take any in the moment)

Then Tuesday morning hit. 6am text from my Mom, call me as soon as you get this. Oh sh**. My heart sank. I called, she was crying. I thought about my Great Aunt who is 98 years old. After a minute she shared the news, but I didn't believe it. My beautiful 26 year old cousin Ashley was in a tragic car accident and died, a beautiful story on her life can be viewed here

There were many ups and downs during the week as you can imagine. Ups seeing family and remembering good times, seeing the outpouring of love on her facebook page from all over the world and pictures. Downs, well, you can imagine the downs.

The last time I saw Ashley was at Christmas. She stopped by my parents as she was in town from MA where she had moved 6 months before. We talked a lot about her writing, teaching, and courses at UMass. She was so happy and excited to be out there and talked about how much she loved teaching and writing!!

The last time I saw Ashley, Christmas at my parents.
Ashley and Me at a wedding, we danced all night!

Fast forward to Saturday, Graduation Day. I thought about not going, and then knew I needed to. Ashley had so many adventures in her short life, backpacking through Europe, studying abroad in Italy, love of music, beautiful art she created, love of photography, her creative writing, and she was so passionate about all these things she did.

She'd want me to celebrate the accomplishment of one of my passions, getting my Master's Degree! So we celebrated by attending the ceremony (only teared up a few times), a wonderful lunch, and went to a gathering of family and friends to celebrate Ashley's life. She would've loved it, her family and friends together on a rooftop patio having drinks and sharing good memories.

Graduation Ceremony!

My Family

My Mother-In-Law was so great and came to the ceremony too!

Graduation! It was windy and hot- 95 degrees!

My amazing husband!

My family, had to ditch the robe to show the baby bump!

So as I reflect back on the ups and downs this week, it makes me question a few things. Do I have the right priorities set today? Am I living life to it's fullest like Ashley did? What if I watched less TV and spent more time doing what I am passionate about?  What am I passionate about?

As I was looking through pictures this week I found a letter from my favorite Pastor from my high school graduation. I was so glad I kept it and cried after reading it. The middle section had advice from a 27 year old writer named Nate Dybvig in 2001 which was the commencement address he wish he would have received.

Here is what he said:
  • The first rule of life is that it is not fair. The sooner you learn that, the better of you will be. (This is one I think many of us know all too well. Life has dealt many of us some bum cards, like health problems, death, financial problems, etc.)
  •  The most successful people in life are passionate about their work. (So true. How often do we stay at a job we hate because of money, etc.)
  • Keep life in perspective. Higher up the ladder of life, there will always be people you believe to be less qualified than you. But remember there are probably people below you who think the same of you.
  • Question religion. Don't allow it to be an inherit trait, but rather seek a spiritual path on your own terms.
  • Stop worrying about what others will think. Similarly, stop judging the actions of others. (I need to put this on a post it note somewhere I will see it everyday)
  • Network. In today's society, who you know means just as much as what you know, and who knows you is more important than both of them combined. 
  • Get a library card.
  • Spend more time developing a creative art (I need to do this, been thinking about this even more since Ashley...)
  • Tell your family and friends repeatedly that you love them. 
  • If your job sucks, quit. Life is too short to be doing something 40 hours a week that you detest. 
  • A strong work ethic will help you advance when business is good and will keep you employed when it is not. 
  • Always look at animal crackers before eating them. The day you stop seeing them as the tiny creatures they were created to be is the same day that you are officially ordained as an old fuddy duddy. (Love this one, more accurate than stop and smell the roses and I was dangerously close to fuddy duddy status)
  • And finally, live every day as if it will be your last because, eventually, you will be right.
A few others I would add:
  • Discover what you are passionate about and do that, a lot. 
  • If you have to disappoint someone, choose wisely who you disappoint (good reminder for me, work or family?)
  • Every man dies, not every man really lives. (Ashley really lived. I hope I can say the same thing about myself when the day comes)
  • Hug your loved ones. Everyday. Tell them how much they mean to you. 
  • Dance. Sing.

A poem, by Ashley Goetz:
all of your existence is saved in a boxful of dreams
you will watch them some day
in the theater of life where you will see every embarrassing moment
every gasp of ecstasy
every meditation to the sun
every glance of human life
every composition of your life
a screenshot of your humanity
and will connect to the web of feeling that can be captured in light particles
and projected in a halodeck
recreated in your minds eye
-Ashley Ellen Goetz


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. And as sad as it is for all of you, she lives in a wonderful place now and it is all of you that still feel the pain and sorrow of the loss. I love your tribute to her and I have no doubt you will always celebrate her life through yours. She may have only been on this earth for a short time but it is obvious to me that she left large footprints on this earth and on the hearts of many.

    1. Thank you Deb for your kind words.