…is celebrating not only with family (who I of course love spending the holidays with, regardless), but with my “extended” family…my friends.

I was lamenting to my sister Jess the other day that this year, more than any other, I feel the closest with my friends than ever, and have a very specific set of whom I’d call my best friends. The friends I can count on two hands (or less) that I always enjoy spending time with, laughing with, sharing moments with, and sharing (and supporting) during the tough times too.

Friendships are hard. Let’s face it.

They take some work to define, some time to establish trust, and friendships are truly a commitment you need to honor. But, it goes both ways. It shouldn’t change when you get married, or meet a new significant other. Of course, friendships can adapt to changing forces in your life, but they shouldn’t be neglected, just like any relationship. But I’m proud to stand behind my friendships, as I value them so much. They are an extension of my family, truly. And I think that adds so much to life, doesn’t it?

I’m so thankful for my friends – you know who you are (I hope!) – and you’ve been my rocks, my support, my humor, and so much of my life this year. And I am so looking forward to ringing in the New Year with almost all of you (and those that cannot make it, you’ll be there in spirit!), because 2011 is going to knock the socks off 2010, I can feel it. For all of us. I just know it.

Friendship…‘if you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder, if you want a hug, I’ll be your pillow, but anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me.’

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Seriously, is 2010 thisclose to being over?

As I look back at 2010, it’s really hard for me to capture my favorite moments of the year, but I plan to do that, as this year as turned into one of the best years of my life…something I never dreamed possible so soon after my divorce.

As part of that, I wanted to look back at some of my favorite posts of 2010 (here’s my list from last year – some of these continue to be my all-time favorites!):

  1. My blog series on my divorce: Probably one of the hardest things I have ever written, but with the most reward. The comments and feedback (emails and on my blog directly) were simply amazing.
  2. There’s Gotta Be Someone for Me Out There: My dealbreakers (and this list also ties in). And man, Doctor Boy fits all of these. Realizing that now as I re-read that post. Wow.
  3. Happy Birthday To Be Determined!: My blogoversary post was fun to write, and also tied back to some of my favorite posts and reasons why I blog.
  4. “When the world whispers ‘give up, Hope whispers, try it one more time:” One of several posts on Nala’s illness this year that I cried through writing (this was the other one) and knowing now that she is SO much better, my heart sings. I remember writing this and just praying so hard for improvement. Wow.
  5. “If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden:” One year anniversary of my Nonna’s passing. I still miss her every single day, but can feel her all around me. Always.
  6. My Man Audits (I and II) – these are just funny. Give ’em a read (perhaps gives new appreciation for finally finding love with Doctor Boy, no?
  7. Maine, if you were a man, I’d marry you. Wow, I already can’t wait to get back to Maine this summer. Absolutely my favorite memories and posts this year were about Maine. Brings me back to that happiness instantly.
  8. Sometimes all you need is family and a lot of faith: I wrote a lot about my sister Jen’s illness after she had my niece Isabel and this post makes me cry every time I read it. I was scared, I was worried and my heart was breaking for my sister. Looking back now, I am eternally grateful for her health now and my dear niece Isabel, well, I just love her to pieces…cue, next favorite blog:
  9. An Open Letter to my Niece Isabel Ann: This post is probably one of my top 3 favorite posts this year. I love her so much and the instantaneously love I felt for her will never, ever wane.
  10. Defining the Feeling and “Can I ask you a Question?”Two defining moments for me this year, beyond all else. I found love. Finally. Yes, this is it.
  11. And my bonus favorite post this year? My “I want” post – is still my all-time favorite post for the sheer fact that I got some of the best feedback I have ever gotten from you all. Thank you. Always.

It was so hard to pick some of my favorites because each and every post I write, I write with purpose and with meaning. I love to write, I love to share my story and I love, love, love all of the feedback and this blog family that gets bigger by the day.

2010…well, she had a fair share of ups and downs by as this year slowly comes to a close, the ups far outweigh the downs, like whoa.

…you need to bloom where you are planted (even if it’s not where you want to be planted all the time).

…you need to embrace contentment (and not just look around the corner for the next challenge, level, etc).

…you need to realize the good friendships vs. the toxic ones. embrace the good ones. tightly.

…that it’s the little things. like a phone call “to hear my voice” (swoon) or a skype chat with a bloggy bestie 🙂

…to take it one day at a time, not one week, or one month. stop ‘can’t wait-ing’ and just live.

…that differences of opinion aren’t always bad, they’re just a new way of thinking.

…that a picture of your niece can make the difference between a “meh” Monday and a better one.

…that the warmth in your heart – that overwhelming warmth – is love, love you haven’t felt in years.

…that prayer is powerful, as is faith, and if you can believe, you can conquer.

…that a good ab workout can make you feel taller.

…that silence isn’t always a bad thing.

and that getting through the day is sometimes ok, too, rather than loving it (since let’s face it, we can’t always have a good day, right?).

And that sometimes, just sometimes, life can feel pretty damn good, even with bumps and bruises along the way. It’s what makes us who we are, stronger, better, happier, more resilient and more appreciative of life’s blessings.

Sometimes. You just need to put pen to paper and see it. Believe it. Life’s good. Life’s very, very good.

Well friends, I must say, I had an amazing Thanksgiving and feel so thankful to have so much goodness in my life. It was a blur of a day, but a beautiful one at that.

First up? Wild Turkey Run in Salem and it was frigid.As in 30 degrees and major wind chills. And the entire route was by the water. As in, smack dab next to it. Needless to say, I couldn’t feel my ears, I couldn’t feel half of my face (the side facing the wind) or my legs. But I made it. I passed sections that were part of the Wicked Half marathon route, and it brought back flashbacks (some good, some bad!) and had a really tough side cramp. But Doctor Boy stuck by me the entire time and made sure I was okay. It felt awesome to share this with him, a race I’ve done for a few years now on Thanksgiving. One of the many things I love about him is being able to share in things that mean a lot to me (and vice versa) like running, and races (from time to time!). Thankful.

Next? I headed up to Maine to spend the day with my grandparents (who I thank God for every day that they are in such great health) and my mom. It was a quiet, small gathering, as my sisters were with their in-laws (we’ll all be together for Christmas though, which is exciting!), but it was wonderful to have so much one on one time with them. They genuinely care about my life, they wanted to hear all about Doctor Boy, and they are just the best. Thankful.

From there? I headed back home and to Doctor Boy’s parents’ house for dessert. I was slightly nervous as his uncle and brother and sister-in-law were there too and I wanted it to be good and fun and natural and not awkward. And it was! I was welcomed by his father who said “there she is! come in! come in!” which for some reason, made me smile and feel so happy. My heart swelled. I felt welcomedThankful.

Waking up this morning, Doctor Boy said my coming last night meant the world to him. He was so happy and said he can tell his family really likes me. That meant the world to me. I don’t think he is “used to” having someone in his life that wants to spend time with him and his family (perhaps his ex didn’t…), so when he says these things, I am still surprised, because of course I want to share these times with him. Isn’t that what love is all about? Thankful.

It’s been a great holiday so far, and as I sit here looking at the new Christmas tree I got today (and of course couldn’t wait to put it up!), I’m feeling thankful and excited for the holidays to come.

On this Thanksgiving, it’s hard for me to put into words just how thankful I am to be where I am in my life, at this very moment. Incredible.

Even more incredible is looking at my post last Thanksgiving and at that point, feeling so thankful for MY life and what it had become, only one year after being in such pain and sadness that Thanksgiving 2008. Who knew it would get better and better to this point today? Sure, this year has had its fair share of ups and downs, but it’s truly been the year of me, and to now include love within that life blows my mind.

So, the quote I’m using today, really does sum it up, for me, and for you, I hope, as you piece together the good in your lives, despite whatever bad may be brewing as well:

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

What am I thankful for this year?

…my family, their good health, and our closer-than-ever bond (cue sisters!).

…my beautiful niece who I don’t think I could love any more than I do right now. She’s amazing.

…stability. in finances (somewhat), job, and personal health (these things we take for granted, sometimes, don’t we?).

…my friends. they’ve been my stability and my sanity. And always will.

…Doctor Boy. Enough said.

…my cats (yes, my cats!) and their health, especially Nala’s.

…happiness. Through and through.

…challenges and pain. Mentally and physically (cue half-marathon this year on the physical pain side..and challenge side).

…the potential that lies ahead. I know there is more to come, if I work at it, and that’s thrillling!

Be thankful. It’s a powerful feeling. Happy Thanksgiving all!

 

Today’s quote Friday quote is one I’ve been harboring for awhile, but it’s one that I want to throw out there, in part to the Universe as I feel it is absolutely one of the best and most real quotes there is about friendship and also in terms of how I view my friendships – exactly like this.

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.”

I think that friendships have their ebb and flow, and there is a time to embrace, and a time to step back and sometimes, a time to walk away (as I have had to do in the past, as I am sure many of you have too), as hard as that may be.

I value my friends. Very much so. As much as I value my family and my sisters, I value my friends. I treat them with respect, I encourage, I support, I love, my friends. And all I ask is for that in return. Sometimes it is easier said than done, and sometimes there’s a level of communication that needs to be part of that to make sure those levels don’t drift away for no good reason.

I also think everyone has a right to step back and find themselves. See what makes them tick. See what makes them happy, what makes them mad, what makes them sad and what makes them want to be the person they want to be. I’ve done this in the past, to a certain extent, probably as I was getting through the toughest parts of my divorce. I just wanted to be alone. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want a hug. I didn’t want my friends to say “you’ll get through this, you’ll be better off, it’s his loss.”

I just wanted to mourn.

It was what I needed and the friends that stuck by me regardless of my that are my closest friends today. Some of those friends have surfaced as the ones that really “get” me. They know what makes me happy, they share in it, and if they don’t, they can still embrace it (like working out. not everyone loves it, but if you can accept that it’s a big part of my life and I love it and stress out when I don’t work out, then that’s kosher by me!).  I’ve never ever felt more valued to my friends and I’ve never valued my friends more than I do right now and that is a part of my life I would never change. They give my life light, they make it sing, and I love them (you know who you are).

So, my friends, this is my art of timing. In silence, or support, or embracing your destiny.

~~

It’s been a crazy week, and I am really looking forward to the weekend. I had an in-and-out trip to Chicago yesterday (4 am wakeup was a blast – NOT – but at least I was able to sleep in my own – okay Doctor Boy’s – bed, right? He even dropped me off at the airport and picked me up. And not only did he pick me up, he came in and waited for me by the escalator in the terminal.

total.

utter.

swoonage.

~~

Life is good.

Embrace it, embrace your friends, and have a wonderful weekend all! I will be celebrating “Friendsgiving” with my girls tomorrow night, as our annual tradition, so this post feels particularly fitting (even though some of my favorites can’t make it, you’re there in spirit!), and an evening tonight with Doctor Boy.

Cheers!

More and more I feel as though I am exactly where I am meant to be in my life, and it is such a powerful feeling.

In catching up with one of my bestest (formerly known as BDF or best divorced friend but as she’s now re-married, we’ll stick with Ames, to avoid confusion!), I realized (thank you!) that I really am very lucky to be where I am in my life. And maybe “luck” isn’t the right word here, but to feel what I feel for Doctor Boy, and to feel as though I am smack dab where I should be in my life, in my friendships (strong, devoted, close) and in my family (loyal, loving, strong), well, I can’t help but just keep saying it…this is where I am meant to be.

And I feel like I need to keep reminding myself of that – that I am finding my place, and that I have the man, the friends, and the family to prove it – because in a way, I don’t think I’ve really “let” myself  let it sink in.

Until last night.

Laying in bed next to Doctor Boy, about to drift off to sleep, as he had just finished telling me how much he loves me, and how much he is looking forward to experiencing life with me, it hit me fully in the face. Looking into his eyes, not feeling an ounce of hesitation, I was in my place. Right there.

And I uttered “I love you” and drifted off to sleep. With a smile on my face, and my heart full of happiness and love.

~~

I caught up with Pete today, after a few weeks of not really connecting with him. I kept meaning to, but we just haven’t had a chance to. (lately, I’m the first to contact him these days, so figured that might be the case now, too.).

He had been seeing someone but turns out they’re no longer dating, and he’s again back in the cycle of singledom, wondering what his next step is. He seemed a little down, but I wondered if maybe it was because he’s still struggling with what he wants in his life right now.

I wonder if hindsight hinders him. Or helps him.

I wonder if he things he made a mistake (I don’t think he did).

And while it makes me glad that he’s happy for me, but in a way, it also makes me sad.

Is that weird?

(more on this topic later…)

~~

It was the kitties’ annual checkup tonight. And while I know Nala has vastly improved since she was near-death a few months ago, a sudden fear crept in me that maybe she wasn’t as heavy as she felt, or as chipper and playful as she is. But when he weighed her, I was floored.

10.3 pounds!!!

She was 5.5 pounds in July 5.5. And she’s basically double that now, and on top of that? She’s .1 bigger than Kayla (and she hasn’t been as big as Kayla since they were kittens!). I was thrilled. I wanted to jump up and down.  The vet even said “I didn’t think she was gonna make it, wow.”

Blessed.

I saw Jen and Isabel yesterday at my dad’s (where Doctor Boy met my dad for the first time…brought him a Cuban cigar, which my dad loves. I think they are BFFs now. Just kidding, but a good seal of approval!). yesterday.

I guess I didn’t realize how much I missed them in the week since she moved home. I was so excited to see them, and holding Isabel, kissing her head and laughing as she cooed, was just about the best thing in the world.

Both are healthy, both are doing better.

Blessed.