Monday, September 18, 2006

Happiness

There are so many things going on in our world today that are negative and terrible and that often take a front-seat in the news and in our minds that I thought it might be nice to take a few minutes to think of how much we still have to learn and be amazed about (and happy and thankful for) in our world! I'll start:

I learned today that a new species of shark was found in the waters off Indonesia. This shark evidently walks on its fins across the ocean floor. If that is not cool, I'm not sure what is! If you want to read a short article about this and other discoveries, click here. Last year I went on a sailing trip from Long Beach to Catalina Island (I'm going again twice in the next couple of months) and on this trip I was mesmerized by the huge kelp beds that I swam and snorkeled through. I hate seaweed, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this at all. However, moving in and out of these huge, flowing walls and being surprised by all kinds of fish at each turn, I couldn't believe I hadn't done this earlier in my life! Happily, I came face to face with several beautiful fish, mostly the Garibaldi, an awesome golden, orange fish that heavily populates this area. I also met a few gorgeous jellyfish that were so beautiful I couldn't stop watching or following them. They move so gracefully in the water! I have always loved the water, but this experience just gave me a whole new appreciation for it and I am always looking forward to my next opportunity!

Another thing I'd like to share is how proud I am to be part of one of the greatest families ever! First, I'd like to share just how darn proud I am of my "little" brother, Tom (Tommy, to me). He has worked so hard to achieve his dreams and last week he finally was able to proudly stand beside my Dad in the same uniform that my Dad and Grandpa wore for the Grand Rapids Police Department. I know this has been a long, tough road for him and I am so proud of him for keeping his eye on the ball and a positive attitude throughout. Way to go Tom! Beside my brother are my parents, two of the most amazing people I've ever met. I am so proud to be their daughter! They work so hard at everything they do and they ALWAYS have time for their family - which no matter what, has always come first. I know a lot of people who cringe when they realize they are turning into their parents, and even though I joke about my quirky sense of humor (thanks Mom) and my growing love of Builder's Square and "measuring 20 times to be sure to cut once" (thanks Dad), I am more than proud to find myself growing up in the image of my parents! My sister Nicky is equally amazing to me. She is an awesome Mom who is also the best sister I could have ever asked for. We didn't always feel this way and we didn't always get along, but as we were growing up we ALWAYS looked to my mom and her sisters and hoped that we too would, one day, have that same wonderful, close relationship. I am happy to say that, even though we live far apart, I feel we do have that relationship now and I couldn't be happier. My nephew, Curran, amazes me daily. He is so happy, honest and helpful and such a great kid to be around that I feel inspired each time I see him or a picture of him and realize he is growing up to me such a magnificent young man. His mother has A LOT to do with this, but so does his Dad, my brother-in-law, Nate. Nate has been such a great role model for Curran and, with his love of life and his easy-going nature, seems to constantly put a smile on both Nicky and Curran's faces, and for that, I am forever grateful! I remember one Christmas when Curran got one of those mini-Jeeps that are so popular for kids. The first thing he did was to take a "tool", climb underneath it, and "fix it"! We have a picture floating around somewhere of Curran's little legs sticking out from under this Jeep and it is so precious! Next to Nate is my Grandma Warwick, my Dad's mom. I can't say enough about what she's done to inspire me over the years. A few years ago we vacationed in Cancun (yes, and we sipped margaritas by the pool together!) and on the plane she told me she once wanted to be an airline attendant. I loved that I learned something new about her that vacation and my respect for her and all she devoted to help keep our family (her kids, grandkids and my Grandpa) a happy and healthy family never ceases to amaze me. I only wish that, someday, I will be half the golfer that she is! :) Also in the picture is Keri, who is as much a part of our family as anyone else. She and Tommy have been - close - for a long time and I know that we all hope that they continue to grow together and lead happy and healthy lives. The only flaw I can find with Keri (but still love about her) is that she kicks all of our butts in the Christmas Craft!!! Anyway, that's my family and I have been thinking a lot about them lately. I love you guys!

I'd like to also say that I am always, always thankful that I have Mike in my life. Even though being apart is difficult (it sucks actually, no matter how you spin it), we try and make each other laugh and smile as often as possible. Sometimes we do this by telling each other (or emailing) silly jokes (A Grasshopper walks up to the bar and the bartender exclaims, "Hey, we have a drink named after you!" To which the grasshopper replies, "No Way!! You have a drink named George?!?"), or sometimes it is remembering old vacations and looking ahead to new ones, or sometimes it is just by calling each other a silly nickname. Regardless, we are constantly trying to make this deployment easier on the other person. I am lucky to have someone so considerate and loving as my boyfriend - seriously, you gotta love that mug, don't you?? Mike's family is also amazing and has pretty much adopted me while he's been gone. It's great because they live only a short way away from here so we get to see each other often and we talk often as well! Actually, I see all but his sister Erin who is following her dreams and working as a guide for tours all across Asia - how amazing is that?? Erin keeps in touch via email, but my blog is banned by the Chinese government - how funny is that?

Ok your turn now...think of all the things that you are proud of, thankful for and amazed by and enjoy the rest of your week!

I love you Mike!

4 comments:

Kym said...

Colleen!
What a great entry! I feel like I know your entire family. You are so right, sometimes with all the "bad" stuff going on, we do forget what's MOST important!

I hope you're feeling better.

Keep in touch!

Kym

Anonymous said...

We think that you are just as wonderful and we are just as proud of all the things you have done in your life. we love you and miss you. love, nicky, nate, curran and sidney.

Anonymous said...

Colleen, what a beautiful tribute you wrote about your family.
It was not hard being a mom to such great kids. Even though High School years were a bit challenging for us.
We as well are very proud of you and all you have accomplished. As difficult as it was you made it through and have accomplished your dreams. I will print this out for Grandma. She will be thrilled to read all of this.
Dad is trying to get the news coverage I think from Channel 17 for you. If it comes before we travel out there I will mail it off to you.
Tom looked so handsome didnt he?
This was the first time I have seen him in his uniform. Pretty impressed.
I also got a very cute picture of Curran wearing Toms police hat. But you know me and computers, I do not know how to send this off. So I will do the old fashione way, get it developed and mail it off to you.
I have been keeping up with the blog as much as possible as our DSL has been out quite a bit lately.I spoke to tech support today and it turns out it was due to the modem being next to the computer. So that is moved now --well see what happens.
I am off to get hair cut/color and a ink jet for the computer so I can print this out for Grandma.
Thank you again for all your kind words about your family. It means so much to me. And Mike thank you for all you are doing as well. Our prayers are with you both.
Love Mom

Mary Lou said...

You make a good point, Colleen. Barb and Paul, if you're reading this, I know you're very proud. We're looking forward to spending more time with you all!

Since you've got me thinking about all of this, yes, there are times when I don't want to read another headline or listen to another newscast on TV or radio because it's just too difficult or too much to bear. This is when we have to dig a little deeper to find those nuggets of "random acts of kindness" that we know take place every single day all over the world. That's why, among other reasons, I'm looking forward to the anthology just out this month entitled OPERATION HOMECOMING. It's a collection of poems, e-mails, journal entries, and short stories written by those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and were "doing incredible things on a daily basis" all the while enduring "personal hardships and the uncertainty of day -to-day life during war. . .", as quoted from one of the authors.

I've learned to keep those we love close and to value time spent together as a gift. It's what keeps us going during the tough times. Colleen and Mike have already figured this out. My colleagues at the school where I teach and my students are a constant source of inspiration. I treasure our (mine and Terry's) extended and immediate family even though we're flung far and wide at the moment. I'll be the first to admit, we're a cast of characters; however, we're there for each other when it counts.

I could go on and on (see what you started, Colleen?), but the last thing I'll mention is the peace and tranquility that come from my frequent 7 a.m. or 5 p.m. walks on the boardwalk along the nearby ever-changing ocean. I can't help but be awed by its beauty and all that surrounds it.

Thanks for allowing me to reflect. Hugs to you all.