My Eighth Annual Cookie Swap

Yesterday was a hard day.

Yesterday was a great day.

I’m thankful that the two can co-exist a bit better than they could a few months ago.

I woke up yesterday giddy with excitement for having all of my favorite women in the same place, and I went off to the gym to burn off some of the anxiety about throwing the *perfect* party.

I ran my heart out on the treadmill and left endorphin-wasted and happy and sweaty.

But then, alone again in my apartment, I felt so alone in the world. I thought about the time my mom had come to my cookie swap three years ago, and the other times I’d called her to tell her excitedly about how well it had gone playing hostess, proud of her teaching me to entertain and open up my home (or fave gym, same thing) to the people I loved.

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And I spent hours that I should have been cleaning and prepping sobbing and on the phone with my aunt and a dear friend who lost her parents young.

The other guests were set to come over at 2, but my gem of a BFF came over at 12:30 to help me finish the party prep.

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I’m not sure we had enough cheese?

Cookie Swap Preppy Runner

Llamas and cookies?

Preppy Runner Christmas

Although I started the day sad, my cold little heart grew a few sizes feeling warm, cozy and loved in my apartment with the, um, roaring fire and friends from different walks of life all gathered in one place to celebrate the holidays and eat and drink a little too much.

 

Just before my mom died, my dear friend Shannon told me my friends would help put me back together after falling apart, and yesterday, I got a wonderful taste of that.

I’m proud of myself for still holding the party, but I’m also proud of myself for not knowing where I’d be emotionally and scaling it way back and inviting far less people than I have before.

Feeling All the Feelings

Sitting in a cozy little gallery in Brooklyn yesterday, I found a piece of myself I hadn’t realized I was missing.

I’ve had this blog for almost nine years.

I have a journalism degree.

Yet I have a hard time calling myself a writer the way I have a hard time calling myself an athlete, despite the fact I have now run seven marathons and more than 30 halfs.

At this massive crossroads in my life, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and attempting to find that sweet spot of what makes me happy and can make me money.

My brain feels like it’s going in a million directions at once, but I keep coming back to two things: I want to help people, and I want to use my voice.

My voice and my words are what I have.

And yesterday sitting in this gallery, I felt more alive, more ~present~ than I have in a long time. 

I’m in a NYC Motherless Daughters Facebook group, and they hosted a grief writing workshop.

I wrote about my pain.

I felt my pain.

And I felt support from strangers united by the grief that usually feels so cold and isolating. 

I discovered things I didn’t know I was feeling; tears silently ran down my face as I listened to these other women share their stories of loss and wondered how they read my mind.

I left and walked out into the bright mid-day sun feeling energized and sad all at the same time. Feeling supported and alone at the same time when I realized that all I wanted to do was call my mom and tell her how powerful the morning had been.

Later that evening, I was in a grocery store picking up ingredients to bring pigs in a blanket to a friend’s Hallmark movie watching party when a blog reader came up to me and thanked me for sharing and told me she was so sorry to hear about my mom, could she give me a hug?

I left the store feeling grateful that my words have been powerful enough that a (very sweet and lovely!) stranger came up to me in a grocery store.

Nutcracker

Today, I went to see the Nutcracker. Seeing it with my parents was one of my favorite holiday traditions, and not seeing it these past few years when my mom was sick was a stark reminder of how much our lives had already changed. As I attempt to figure out this ~new normal~, I’m trying to figure out which traditions to keep/continue and what new traditions to start.

I asked my cousin if she’d want to see the Nutcracker and make it a girls’ afternoon. She, her sweet little baby daughter Lexi, and my aunt all came to see it, and I let the big fat tears roll down my cheeks as the music brought back memories, but I also let myself enjoy a new tradition with family and be grateful for these new memories.