How Do I Love Thee? … An Honest Valentine To My Husband

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I’m generally not one for sappy sonnets and generic, grand gestures, but I do like to tell my husband how much I love and appreciate him on this day. He’s not perfect — far from it, actually — but he’s prefect for me in many ways and for many reasons. So despite the fact that he is a rather private person, I am dedicating this Valentine’s Day post to him.

A note to my husband: Remember, there’s always room for improvement (said lovingly, of course!).

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways …

I love how you make our bed every morning … but I wish you wouldn’t leave your shoes in the middle of the bedroom floor.

I love how you carry the folded laundry upstairs for me … but I wish you’d put it away sometimes (just your own stuff would be fine).

I love how you always put the toilet seat back down … but I wish you’d remember to always flush, too.

I love how you fill my gas tank after you borrow my car … but I wish you’d move the seat back so I can reach the pedals.

I love how you handle waking our oldest in the morning (waking a teen is like waking a bear!) … but I wish you’d remind him not to take a 20-minute shower.

I love how you put our youngest on the school bus a few days each week so I can get to the gym earlier … but I wish you weren’t still in bed when I left (I’m jealous!).

I love how you call me each day to check in … but I wish you could meet for lunch sometimes, too.

I love how you call me each night before leaving work to ask if I need anything brought in …but I wish your timing was better so you didn’t interrupt dinner.

I love how you eat whatever I cook … but I wish you’d eat more vegetables.

I love how you help clear the dishes after dinner … but I wish you wouldn’t leave your glass on the counter all day/night.

I love how you follow my insane “everything has a place, so put it away” craziness … but I wish you wouldn’t leave your coat on the back of the bar stool each night.

I love how you are passionate about sports … but I wish you weren’t so passionate about sports.

I love how you joined the gym for me … but I wish we could go together more often .

I love how you love me despite all my flaws, idiosyncrasies and nagging … but I wish you’d tell me more often just how imperfectly perfectly I am for you (okay, this one’s a stretch — but it’s okay because I already know it’s true!).

We may not always be on the same schedule and we may not always see eye-to-eye, but you are my lobster. My voice of reason. My North Star. I will always love you because you make me a better person. Happy Valentine’s Day!

My hubby and me … I guess opposites really do attract.

– LJDT

2017, Take 2 … or 12, But Who’s Counting?!

If you read my last blog post, then you know that at the beginning of the year I wasn’t exactly feeling the whole “New Year’s resolution/new year, new me” thing. Despite having just returned from a relaxing vacation in Jamaica, I was feeling stuck. While everyone else was posting inspirational quotes and memes on social media, I was whining and complaining about pretty much everything. I knew my negativity was spiraling out of control, so I gave myself a pass and claimed the first few days of the year to be a mental detox week. Then, after a week of outrageous bitchiness, I declared January 9 the new January 1. Finally ready to tackle the new year, I pushed the reset button and started over again … and then again … and then again. It was bad. I couldn’t string together more than two days at time when I didn’t lose my shit over something trivial. Pretty much, I was a hot mess most of January.

But 2017 is the year of the #nastywoman, as well as the year of the rooster (the most highly motivated animal in the Chinese zodiac), so I am not giving up.  I am resetting the 2017 button yet again and going to finally be that better version of myself. I know, I know … You’ve heard me say this before. But this time, I’m older and wiser. This time, I’m more dedicated and enlightened. This time, I have a plan because a goal without an action plan is just a wish.

Step one: Declutter my life. Get rid of whatever doesn’t bring happiness. For me, that’s everything from old files and outdated clothes to bad memories and toxic relationships. Score one for me and the local consignment shop.

Step two: Practice mindfulness. Slow down and breathe. Meditate every day. Listen better and react more rationally (less emotionally and selfishly, as per my usual M.O.), like a real adult.

Step three: Stay connected. I’m a better version of myself when I’m in synch with my husband and when I get time with my girlfriends. More of that in 2017!

Step four: Forgive quickly. Shit happens — Get over it and move on. Cut myself more slack when I mess up (daily) and give people the benefit of the doubt more often (hopefully, people really aren’t all assholes).

Step five: Try something new. Step out of my comfort zone and take a few risks (like zip lining in Jamaica). Push the limits and challenge myself, even if it’s scary.

Step six: Don’t back down. Say no without guilt. Fight for what I want and push back when needed, without being an asshole about it.

I’m going to attack this plan like I do my gym goals — with patience, practice, hard work and determination. Some days I’ll kill it and some days I won’t. But I’ll keep trying because where you focus your attention is where you focus your power. Hopefully, each day I’ll get a little closer to becoming that badass, zen chick I know I can be. I just have to take it one day at a time.

Okay, enough of this sappy, inspirational crap. Next post, it’s back to sass and sarcasm … You’ve been warned!

– LJDT

Putting 2017 on Pause

Happy New Year! It’s January 3 and I’ve spent the better part of the past few days contemplating what I should post. I wanted it to be inspirational, original and profound. I wanted it to be funny, sassy and smart. I wanted it to be great. Instead, what I’m giving you is simply timely, truthful and probably a bit lame.

The thing is, I’m not really feeling the whole New Year’s Resolution thing this year. At least not yet. I know I want to be calmer, kinder, and less uptight. I know I want to more patient, more forgiving and a better example for my kids, but I’m just not feeling it. At least not yet. If I wasn’t post-menopausal, I’d say I was PMS-ing this week because I’ve been cranky, moody and downright mean. We are only three days in to the new year and I’ve already failed all my resolutions — Not good. Should I throw in the towel already and admit defeat on day 3? I don’t think so. I’m changing the rules instead. I’m pushing the pause button on 2017 and labeling this my detox week. For one week, I’m giving myself permission to continue writing 2016 on my checks and bitch, curse and scream guilt-free to clear my system. Then come January 9, I’m getting my shit together and staring anew. 2017, here I come … just a week late.

I know, I know — It sounds like a load of crap. A weak excuse to complain and not stick to my resolutions. Maybe, or maybe I’m on to something. Who says resolutions have to begin on January 1st? Every day is a new day, right? I’m a realist. I’m not in the right mindset yet to act on my resolutions, so I’m letting this negative streak run it’s course and I’ll start fresh next week. If 40 is the new 20, than January 9th can be the new January 1st.

My 2017 do-over starts next week … who’s with me?

– LJDT

Ten Things I’m NOT Thankful For This Thanksgiving

As the clock strikes 12, it is now officially Thanksgiving — a day to express gratitude for all that we have. Like everyone else on social media, I, too, am grateful for my loving (albeit sometimes frustrating) family, my lifesaving (but too far away) girlfriends, my (overall good) health and all my worldly (and mostly unnecessary) possessions. But at the risk of the inevitable backlash from those who can’t read sarcasm or appreciate my sass, I’m going to take a different approach to this week’s holiday. Instead of posting a long, sappy and, frankly, generic and expected, list of the things for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving, I am going to tell you about a few things for which I am not.

  1. I am not thankful for those stubborn 5 lbs. that keep finding their way back to me every few months … but I am grateful for my strength.
  2. I am not thankful for workouts that include thrusters, power cleans or manmakers … but I am grateful for finishing them.
  3. I am not thankful for food allergies and the digestive woes that accompany my autoimmune disease … but I am grateful for my newfound love of squash and eggplant.
  4. I am not thankful for teenage (and tweenage) moodiness … but I am grateful for glowing teacher reports (I guess they save their crappy attitudes just for me).
  5. I am not thankful for my husband’s long work hours … but I am grateful for his paycheck (and his dedication).
  6. I am not thankful for my twice (sometimes trice) nightly pee breaks … but I am grateful for a bathroom en suite.
  7. I am not thankful for always feeling cold … but I am grateful for hot tea and long sleeves with thumbholes.
  8. I am not thankful for hectic schedules … but I am grateful for carpools.
  9. I am not thankful for deadlines … but I am grateful for having paid writing and editing gigs (keep ’em coming!).
  10. I am not thankful for the far distance between my family and me … but I am grateful for them driving here to spend Thanksgiving with us.

I could go on about a dozen more things for which I am not thankful … prejudice, racism, long lines at the grocery store … But for every minor annoyance, I probably have two or three things for which to be grateful. Here are two of my favorites:

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Thanksgiving, c. 2008

Happy Thanksgiving … Eat, drink and be grateful!

– LJDT

My Country ‘Tis of Thee

I had planned on not posting this week because after Tuesday night’s election results, no other topic seemed relevant and frankly, I didn’t want to talk about it.  We have a new President-elect and while some people are celebrating, others are protesting.  Nothing I can say here will be different from what you’ve probably already read in your Facebook and Twitter feeds over the past few days, so I wasn’t planning on adding to the deluge of social media commentary.

There’s an old adage that says you shouldn’t discuss religion, politics or money with company because it’s impolite, not to mention uncomfortable, emotional and personal.  I generally follow that thinking and, as such, my blog is not a platform for political or religious debate.  Whether or not the toilet paper should come over or under the roll and if November 1st is too early to start preparing for Christmas — Yes, we can argue about that (although the correct answers are over and yes, respectively).  But who should be President?  No.  SIDE NOTE: I won’t be discussing my sex life or in-laws here either for two simple reasons: (1) My parents read this and if you ask my dad, he’ll tell you that I’ve had sex exactly twice, resulting in my two sons, and (2) my husband reads this and I’d like to remain married to him.

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Weird Al speaks the truth!

So back to the discussion at hand.  If the election is the only pertinent topic this week and I said I wasn’t going to discuss it, then why am I still posting today?  Because today is Veterans Day.  A day to recognize, honor and thank the men and women who serve (or have served) in the U.S. Armed Forces to protect our rights and liberties as Americans.  I will shamefully admit that I usually take this day for granted.  Other than not getting mail delivered, it’s usually just an ordinary day for me.  But this year, after all that’s transpired this week, it feels different.  Today, Veterans Day made me stop and think: This really is the land of the free because of the brave.  The land of opportunity, of democracy and of hope.  And my hope — the one that I shared with my children — is that human decency prevails.  That we start spreading love instead of hate.  That we treat everyone fairly and with respect.  That we fight for the people who can’t fight for themselves.  That we learn and grow from our differences.  And that we truly become “… one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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My little guy speaking this morning to his school about the history of Veterans Day. Based on all those wrinkles, it’s clear I exercised my right not to iron.

– LJDT

Back To (Middle) School, Again

At this time last week, I was slinking out of my son’s middle school, trying not to look like a bad parent. Last Wednesday was Parent Visitation Day, a day when parents are supposed to shadow their children, attending classes and getting a feel for how their days are spent. I had not planned on going because I thought my big shot eighth grader wouldn’t want me there. Okay, that’s only half-true. I hadn’t planned on going because Wednesdays are a great heavy lifting day at my gym and I didn’t want to miss it, plus I had a writing deadline and, oh yeah, I just didn’t want to go. Two years ago, when middle school was a new experience for our family, I spent the entire day trailing my son … From 7:30AM to 2:30PM … It was brutal, and yes, I blogged about it.

But to my surprise (and slight disappointment), my 13-year-old did want me there. So after a quick morning workout at home and an even quicker shower, I arrived for my first (technically second) day of eighth grade.

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That’s me at the end of eighth grade with my besties, Kerin and Carin. Yes, we are holding hands and yes, that is a big, white bow in my hair. Don’t judge!

Despite arriving a few minutes late and with my hair still damp (pulled into my trademark messy top-knot bun with headband, as usual), this time around I did it right. I wore comfy leggings with riding boots for maximum comfort to accommodate all the sitting and walking. I came prepared with a fully charged iPhone and a notebook to scribble notes for this blog post. I brought two large cups of green tea plus a big bottle of water to help me stay alert. And most importantly, I ditched school after morning classes to avoid the cafeteria disaster. Two words, people: Older (and) wiser.

Later, while I casually ate my lunch at home, I read through my notes and reread my blog post from two years ago. Not unexpectedly, my commentary was nearly the same: The school is still a depressing rat maze, it’s still easy to pick out the sixth graders from the eighth graders, the chairs are still super uncomfortable and I’m still tardy. That said, I did make a few new observations this time around. Specifically,

  • most moms dressed to impress; I was showered and out of my workout clothes, so I guess I was, too
  • geography is pretty boring (today’s lesson: cartography = snoozefest!)
  • I don’t remember much from geometry class
  • middle schoolers don’t pee (at least not before lunchtime)
  • my son is pretty popular in the middle school hallways, and so am I 🙂
  • my kid, while a pain in the ass most days at home, really is a good kid

After attending six classes in four hours, I can honestly say that I am not cut out for school anymore. I am too fidgety, uncomfortable and uninterested (except for Honors English class). Plus, I pee too often. So while I’m still bummed about missing last Wednesday’s workout and I’m certainly not looking forward to doing this again next year when my younger son hits middle school, I am glad I went because it seemed to make my son happy … And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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My eighth grader with his buddies: Too cool for school. Oh wait, that’s not what they say anymore … They’re on fleek.

What boys looked like when I was in the 8th grade.

For comparison, here’s what boys looked like when I was in the eighth grade back in the 80s.

– LJDT

My Vagina Monologue

A warning to my readers with virgin ears: Today’s post uses obscene and salacious language. Please read at your own risk.

Growing up, I had a cat named Mittens. She was gray with white paws that looked like winter mittens, thus her name. My grandmother called her Cat, Fuzzy Cot and Pussy Cat, but never Mittens. My dad, who did call her by her proper name, also frequently referred to her as a pussy cat, and as a little girl, I, too, labeled many kittens pussy cats. “Josie and the Pussy Cats” was one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons and I even had a Pussy Cats lunchbox one year. But somewhere along the line, I became uncomfortable using that terminology because the “P” word took on a whole new meaning as I grew older and more worldly.

My childhood bestie, my kitty cat and me, c. 1978

My childhood bestie, my cat and me, c. 1978 — back when it was okay to say pussy cat.

“Don’t be a pussy,” was a pretty common expression used by high school boys when I was growing up (and it still is today). The less vulgar kids used the term ‘wussy’ instead when they wanted to call a guy out for being a wimp, but pussy was definitely tossed around pretty freely and without much blowback. Sure, boys may not have used the phrase in front of adults because it was akin to saying shit or some other minor curse word, but it wasn’t like dropping the “F” bomb … Until it was used to describe a vagina. Then, the word went from being mean and uncouth to lewd and pornographic.

When did pussy develop a double entendre? When did it turn dirty? And who decided anyway? It’s the same as so many other frequently heard foul words used (by men, mostly) to mean vagina. I’m talking about innocent words like beaver, clam, box and snatch — to name just a few. Seriously, WTF?! All of these words have real, chaste definitions that are completely unrelated to female genitalia. But thanks to some perverts, I can no longer perform a snatch move at the gym, dress as a beaver for Halloween or call my friend’s kitty a sweet, little pussy cat without thinking of vaginas.

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The funny thing is, most of these words — beaver, box, etc. — don’t really offend me. I kind of just shrug them off as bawdy and go about my business. I’ve even jokingly used some of them (and others) myself in comfortable settings. I am far from a prude, but I think we’ve now gone too far. As a mother raising two boys, hearing the word pussy used by a Presidential candidate and the media is just too much for me. I do not want that word to become commonplace. I do not want that word to become acceptable. I do not want that word to come out of my sons’ mouths, so I am taking it back.

I know, I know. Sounds hypocritical coming from the mother who admits to cursing on a daily (hourly?) basis in front of her kids, but that word, when used in that way, is misogynistic and hateful. Much like the unspeakable “C” word and the forbidden “N” word, I’d rather hear my kids say f*%@. [Side note: In my opinion, a well-placed “F” bomb is descriptive, but when used as a verb, it’s just crude.]

I don’t know who befouled the word first (it was done long before Donald Trump spoke of grabbing it), but I’ve decided that whomever it was isn’t going to win. I am reclaiming pussy, as well as beaver, clam, box and snatch. From now on, they will only mean what they were originally intended to mean: a cat, a rodent, a mollusk, a container and to grab something (also an intense Olympic barbell move, for my fellow gym rats).  I can’t stop people from using these words in profane ways, but I can stop making the association in my own mind. I can also teach my sons that these are not respectful words to use when speaking about women.

So join me in bringing innocence back to the word pussy because a vagina is not a small, furry pet. It’s just not.

Oh, and guys … If you want to reclaim (D)ick, cock, pecker, balls and nuts, I’m all for it. Just don’t forget wiener so we can lose the stigma associated with singing that old Oscar Mayer wiener song … “Oh, I wish I was an Oscar Mayer Wiener …” Try getting that out of your head now!

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Thank goodness there’s no female equivalent to the wiener mobile.

– LJDT

To Sit or Squat: That Is The Question

I don’t consider myself an expert at anything.  I mean, I’m good at a bunch of things, really good at a few other things, even really, really good at one or two things, but a true expert at something?  Probably not — unless you count my extensive familiarity with public restrooms.  As the owner of a small bladder, a sufferer of an autoimmune disease, leaky gut and IBS, a cardholding member of the “childbirth-ruined-my-pelvic-floor” group and someone who drinks over a gallon and a half of water daily, I make it my business to know where the best public bathrooms are at all times.

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Public restrooms are my jam!

While incontinence is one of the joyful gifts of motherhood and aging, my small bladder issue has been around since I was a kid.  Case in point: Each summer, my sister, parents and I would pile into the car and drive from New York to Massachusetts to spend a few weeks with our cousins.  Apparently, my sister and I requested frequent pee stops along the way, resulting in a family “joke” that the Dewey girls know where all the good bathrooms are between NY and MA.  As a child and definitely during my wilder (read: intoxicated) college days, I’m sure I was less discriminating than I am today.  Thankfully, I’ve matured — even though my bladder hasn’t.

Over the summer, my Facebook feed was flooded with articles about public bathrooms:  How you can’t catch STDs by sitting on a public toilet; how toilet paper over a soiled seat isn’t helpful; even a plea from another blogger for everyone to just sit down already.  Ummm, NO.  As a frequent public urinator and opinionated blogger myself, I stand firmly in the squat camp.  Or rather, I squat firmly.  Either way, you get my point.

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This is not too far off from the truth … and yes, I also use my foot to flush the handle.

Yes, sometimes I experience a rogue stream that has a mind (and aim) of its own.  Sometimes when I’m rushing, my squat is too high and I splatter a bit.  Sometimes on leg days or double workout days, my toilet hover is shaky and so is my stream (I blame my trainers, Kim and Mike, for this).  And yes, sometimes there’s even an unfortunately timed need for a public bowel movement.  But none of this means I’ll be sitting on a public toilet seat anytime soon, despite what a fellow blogger and various columnists recommend.  The solution isn’t to sit on a dirty, public toilet (even though studies prove many other surfaces carry far more bacteria than a public toilet seat).  The solution is simple: LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE STALL.  Turn around, face the toilet and make sure you didn’t leave a mess in, on or near the bowl.  And if you did, CLEAN IT UP.  Wipe the seat.  Flush the toilet.  Pick up your tampon wrapper and toilet paper.  It really is that simple, ladies.  Basic hygiene + proper bathroom etiquette + common courtesy = PROBLEM SOLVED.

You’re welcome, America.

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Make Bathrooms Clean Again!

– LJDT

My Tuesday Truth

Sometimes, the universe is trying to tell you something.  Sometimes, you have to listen very closely to hear it. Sometimes, it smacks you in the face.

This morning, as I got the boys off to school and prepared for my day, I had the TV on.  I never have the TV on.  Really — Never.  It was tuned to Good Morning America and, while I was mostly ignoring it, my attention was grabbed when I heard Michael Strahan introduce a mommy blogger.  Intrigued — and frankly, a bit envious. How can I get on GMA as a mommy blogger? — I stopped to watch.  Ilana Wiles was talking about her new book and how she is embracing being just an average mom with an average life.  No labels, no judgement, no Pintrest-worthy family photos, crafts or meals.  Mediocrity at its best and not feeling bad about it.  Her trick is to maintain a selective memory, i.e., choosing to remember the positive and letting all the other crap fade away.  I feel ‘ya, sister!  I say it all the time to my girlfriends and I write about it in this blog, but I don’t always live it.  I compare, I judge, I complain, I bitch.  All too often, I focus on the negative instead of the positive.

Later in the day, I had a scheduled phone consultation with a holistic health and wellness coach.  She asked about my concerns, my goals and what’s holding me back … Um, where do I start?  We only have an hour, right?  So we talked about my autoimmune condition and my related food needs, my workout routines and writing schedule, my daily challenges and current coping mechanisms.  I told her how I start my day with a few yoga stretches and mindful meditation, but that zen feeling is gone as soon as the kids are up — Then it just snowballs from there.  When I confessed that I often feel burdened and overwhelmed, I was forced to face a few self-truths that I’m not especially proud of.  Like my unusually high standards for both myself and my family.  Add in the guilt I have for feeling unsatisfied, resentful or ungrateful at times, and it’s not a pretty picture.  Her advice was to release the guilt by changing my language and cutting myself some slack.  I need to practice using kinder, more positive words to frame my world so that I can begin to change my mindset.  Once I do that, I’ll feel the shift.

Wow!  It sounds corny, but when I hung up the phone, I felt lighter.  More at peace.  It was as if I was finally given permission to be nicer to myself.

The universe was sending me a message today and I heard it, loud and clear.  Hopefully, I remember to listen tomorrow.

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– LJDT

The Circle Of Life: When A Beginning and Ending Collide

Yesterday was the first day of school for my boys. Eighth grade and fifth grade, respectively — Their last year in middle school and elementary school, also respectively. And from what I hear, it started the same way that last year ended … With each of them chasing down the school bus before it left our neighborhood. Sigh! At least they’re consistent.

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First day of 8th grade — Yes, he ran after the bus with his shoelaces untied (photo courtesy of my husband).

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Pre-bus chase smiles on the first day of 5th grade (photo courtesy of my husband).

I, too, am consistent. Last year, I cheaper out went green and sent the boys to school with the previous year’s backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes and unused school supplies. I did buy them new underwear and get them fresh haircuts as part of a family tradition, but this year, I didn’t even do that. I know, I’m a horrible mother. I did replace their moldy, torn lunch boxes, but other than that, the start of the 2016-17 school year looked a lot like the end of the 2015-16 school year. At least that’s what my husband tells me. I don’t really know for sure because I wasn’t there. I was in Boston.

As my boys were saying hello to their new teachers, I was saying goodbye to one of mine. Virginia Delaney was truly a remarkable woman who taught me, through her life example, that it’s not your situation or circumstances that define you, but your attitude. She lived life to the fullest every day, laughing, joking and making the people around her feel loved. From the outside looking in, she lived a storybook life: Married for over 60 years with 5 children, 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, all of whom loved her dearly. A world-class traveler, veteran theatre-goer and the consummate hostess, my Aunt Virginia was simultaneously sophisticated and casual. She was a true beautiful soul. But beneath all the joy was a fair amount of darkness. From caring for a husband with Parkinson’s Disease to six separate battles with cancer and a few other challenges along the way, my Aunt Virginia never let on when she was sad, angry, hurt or grieving. Her approach was to always remain positive while fighting like hell. She was as tough as nails and as sweet as they come until the very end.

We all have our burdens to bear in life and Virginia Delaney had her fair share. But she handled every one of them with grace, dignity, class and strength. My father, her youngest brother, is the same way. I only hope that it’s hereditary because this is a life lesson I want to master and pass on to my kids. You may not be able to change your situation, but you can always alter your attitude about it.

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Yesterday was both a beginning and end for my family and me, filled with both great excitement and even greater sorrow. But if I know my aunt, she would want me to focus on the joy instead of the sadness, so that is what I’m trying to do.

Rest in peace, Aunt Virginia.

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– LJDT