Pause to Feel Your Breath, It Won’t Be There Forever

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Here is one of the mistakes people often make: they invest all their time and energy getting somewhere, aligning the dots so they can achieve the thing that in and of itself won’t really make them happy.

Achievements look good on paper, resumes, CVs and perhaps in the first 2-3 minutes when you meet someone new and try to impress them.  But listing  what you achieved won’t connect you to another human, in fact, it will most likely keep you at distance. This isn’t because the achievements are unworthy, but because reading any type of list doesn’t really evoke an emotion and move another.

I have been a victim of this myself for so long and even with all the beautiful moments of feeling in touch with my inner spirit, with the divine, I fell for the urge to express myself through the number, the zip code, or the 15 second pitch.  I have wasted countless hours trying to figure out how to speak about myself that impresses people the most.  Just today I was intimidated to share my real truth with a friend and had an insight: maybe I intimidate people in this way too.

I am not even done looking for ways to impress the world.  Though now, I have a fancier word for it: I am anchoring myself in what is already true about me so that people are willing to look, listen and buy what I have to offer.  

All this is going through my head tonight as I am trying to go to bed, beat, tired, with skin breaking out, messy hair, sick husband next to me and kids finally asleep after being sick for 2 weeks.  And then it hit me, and I admit – not for the first time:

 What is up with the crazy chase?  Where are we heading while mindlessly ordering presents for people we barely even talk to?  Why are so impatient, we can’t even give people space to respond in their own time because we know it takes a second to send a text and we feel entitled to their time?  When will we fit in all the things we want to do? Who can help us and when and why isn’t that already happening?  The list goes on.

Can we just stop for a moment to notice and show gratitude for still breathing, to feel our breath and appreciate the magic of it being there whether we consciously choose to inhale?  What if we take that breath and look around, appreciate the path that led us here, acknowledge where our chest feels tight, affinity is lost or even to just allow ourselves to imagine what it would look like if we knew, and owned, that we are truly the creators. 

I am allowing myself to feel what it feels like to be exactly here where I am: car noise outside, sound of a heater kicking in, someone on our floor closing the door loudly.  My boys are asleep, my husband is out and I am going to end here so I can go rest too.  Can you stop to see what is already all around you too?  

The Way Out is Through

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Triggered by some of the international news, I wanted to share some wisdom that not only helped me overcome some huge obstacles in life but that helped countless people I know overcome some really harsh realities.

More than a decade ago, I attended a course in which, reflecting on my life, I realized that I have the ability to own all the choices I made in life whether I was aware of it at the time or not. This wasn’t an easy switch to make, but it was a complete state change for me.  Once you get that no matter what happens to you (which you cannot control), you can choose how you react to it, you lose the desire to dwell in being a victim of your circumstance.  To clarify, you can be a victim of the crime because something physically did happen to you (this is a legal terminology) but you don’t have to be a victim of the freedom to choose what you do about it (fight for justice, walk away and focus on something else, go to therapy to release it, etc).

This is much easier said than done.  We are complex beings and mostly, we are really not choosing unless we are intentional about it.  What is determining our feelings and thinking is, in large, not just a response to what already happened to us, but the cultural conditioning we were raised inside of.  Said another way: nobody thinks clearly by default, everyone is always seeing things from the filter of their own past, conditioning, environment etc.  Our conversations in life are, for the most part, like one constructed ego arguing with another about who is wrong and who is right.  The truth is always, both are right to feel and think how they think because their conditioning is valid, but both are wrong in reality because neither is really coming from an actual source of who they are and arriving at their conclusions freely.

This is a massive “mind-bend” if you ask me.  If we know that we are so pre-programmed, how do we get out of it?  It is a bit like that Chinese toy that looks like a cylinder in which you can stick your finger in each side.  When you try to pull your fingers out, the cylinder tightens and your fingers get stuck.  To get unstuck, you need to push your fingers inside towards one another, contrary to logic in a way, and that widens the opening of the cylinder and lets your fingers free.  Said bluntly, “THE WAY OUT IS THROUGH.”

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In the past 15 years or so, having done so many self reflective types of work on myself and having gone through the grinder with it, I realized:  the work on ourselves is never done.  We never really arrive at the enlighetment or top of the mountain that doesn’t instantly takes us back to feeling the impact of our ego or seeing the bottom of another mountain.  Working on ourselves is like dealing with dirty laundry, it’s never done.  You do a load and fold it up/put away and then you go to bed and put whatever you wore back into the bin to pile up until you can wash your clothes again.  If you are thinking you can just stay naked to avoid that, notice you would be a victim of laundry being done which doesn’t really give you a lot of freedom to do other things now, does it?  (I just went there myself btw.)

It is impossible to always be perfectly ON, “woke”, clear and so on.  It’s just not how humans are designed and how life works.  But there is a real difference between knowing we are flawed as people and letting the people off the hook.  It is not ok to hold people against the standard we set for them (Example: being annoyed at your man for not bringing you flowers you never asked him to bring you, expecting him to read your mind that he should do this or that for your anniversary when that was neither your request nor something you did in the past that would prompt him to think of it).  However, it is ok to look at people in organizations, roles and jobs that have a set way of operating and hold them to their standard (Example: when Whole Foods tell me they would deliver food between 12-4pm and they deliver it at 5pm, I call them on it and ask for some compensation for their impact on my day and time.  I don’t do that because I am mean, I am holding them to the promise they made and nothing other than that).

We have to allow this to be a learning curve for all.  Everyone will at some point in their life be late even if it was impossible to them to avoid it (tragedies happen, circumstances can be beyond our control).  It is up to us to own that regardless of what caused our lateness, that we were late.  Trying to gain sympathy for the unavoidable, while completely human and legit, cheapens this bond to our promise and if we let ourself go down that rode, there is no coming back.

With the most recent work on self-discovery, I realized that even most emotional of events, if we don’t release them, can hold us hostage.  This is such a difficult conversation to have because people are so protective of their wounds – and rightfully so.  I think that over time, we covered up so much of our personal pain that when someone asks us to let it go, it is like asking us to give up the only thing we know.  If that is all we know, we grow comfortable with it and start defining ourselves accordingly so any disturbance to it or other people’s suggestion to let the pain go feels like a real threat.  It feels uncomfortable and unsafe, as unknown usually is.

Letting go of pain isn’t that simple because if we simply just let it go, we bypassed the enormous lesson that pain can bring us.  We ignore it’s lesson.  If something bad happened to us, we can’t avoid that it happened.  We have to mine for it’s wisdom or we forever become a victim of it.  Is it true that this tragedy means this or that?  Of course not, but it’s a powerful way to reframe it and file it away such that our life doesn’t become about avoiding similar thing in a future.  And, while avoiding same thing from happening is wise and part of learning, if we focus on avoiding  X, then our life consequently becomes about X and avoiding it.  Our brains are designed to do just that, to mine for things that feel unsafe whether or not they are that in reality.  If they “seem” unsafe, we will worry about them just the same.  This is a great way to protect ourselves, but I ask, do you want to live a life of protecting yourself or actually being free and alive?

We can’t replay the pain or let it go, not at first.  I truly believe, and evidence in my life has shown me clearly, that we have to allow ourselves to experience it and to experience it fully.  To discover wisdom in adversity, tragedy or pain we feel around it, we need to allow it.  Allowing something to be drops our guard and resistence to it.  We can see where we feel it in our body.  Is our chest feeling tight, is there a lump in our throat, do we feel tongue tied or paralized from the waist down.  Where is the pain, or more specifically, where is the sensation you feel?  If we stay curious, plugged in and aware, we will inevitably feel peace in this process because when we don’t resist life, life just IS and when life just is for us, we are free.

Again, this isn’t easy and it’s not a one time deal.  I wish it was because I would write a manual and give people the key to living life powerfully.  It doesn’t work that way.  Life is not about arrival, about having something but about being something moment to moment, about discovering something day in day out and about continually arriving into the present moment because the truth is always and only in the present moment, in the NOW.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a very outgoing, bubbly, and a go-go-go type of person. I can talk miles an hour and be in that mode for days to come, and yet, I do my best work when I take a breath and light a candle and take a second to be where I am, to collect my attention from looking at the past or the future and see what is actually right in front of me.  Having 2 small kids definitely teaches me to be more present because when I am not, I am instantly reacting and getting resentful.  When we don’t feel good, it’s a sure sign we are not present.

I wrote this because I see news all the time and how some people take advantage of the tragic things that happened to them in the past.  Writing to anyone directly isn’t ok because they are not asking me for my view nor are they a request to change.   But I do feel compelled to share these things.  They are not of my own creation, but the years of learning and practicing things in my life and with my clients.  As with everything, wisdom doesn’t come from us but through us and that should be liberating for all of us.  We can see ourselves as being in a flow allowing us to channel the good and work through the debris.

Thank you for reading this to the end.  If you are pulled to do so or struggling with something that seems like an obstacle that cannot be overcome or feels to you like a real fork in a road, talk to someone, allow someone to witness you and share their wisdom or how they see it.  You don’t have to take their word for it, but stay in the inquiry.  We all make up things and see it through the filter of our own experience but when we see the filter, even for a moment, we can go beyond what is predictable and get into the magic of the unknown.  And if you have nobody that can listen to you in such way, write to me and I will support you through it as I did myself and many people in my practice.

Gratefully,

Marija

Roles We Play and Dreams We Set Aside

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I audited an advanced acting class last night here in New York City.  The class was highly recommended by a friend I trusted and so I went to check it out with no expectations.  But little did I know, my mind was flooded by memories.

The moment I decided, I was not going to be an actress was a moment my grandpa said: “you will be an actress like your mom.” I didn’t think he was a fan of my mom at the time, so I figured: I’d rather be liked.  The thing about decisions like these, that we make in childhood, are that they dictate what is possible for us but we are mostly unaware of them unless we deliberately look at why we are stuck where we are stuck.

Fast forward to school days, I was in drama and loved it.  I even played a daughter to a now accomplished actress.  We were both rewarded for it.  I loved being on stage, but even then, I knew I had to find something that would have higher approval ratings.  Naturally, I started college as Pre-Med.  I never really knew what I wanted to become.  I think I was searching for titles that sounded good more than I was searching within for what would have me come alive.  A year or so into it, I was sitting with a friend in front of the school realizing: I really don’t want to be a doctor.  The next day I switched to Film Production / Media Studies Major.  Luckily, I already did all the hard requirements so I spent the rest of the college years invested in a subject that was of interest.

While still acting in numerous student projects, and fully enjoying it, I couldn’t admit that I liked it.  Flashback to a moment my uncle told me I was someone who constantly asked for attention.  Needless to say, I tried to tame that part of myself with all my might. I succeeded, in part, because I really stepped into the “behing the camera” personna and enjoyed it.  Even when I worked on 2 film projects after college, I closely worked with actors and was often asked to go in and be in the scene.

Hitting a dead end, in a way, shortly after college and graduate school when I was completely out of money, near expiration to my student visa and in absolute solitude, invested more in my eating disorder than anything happening around me, I took my first transformational class.  It made sense as I was already exploring yoga before that, but sitting in a weekend class with 100 other New Yorkers, I really got to see: I made everything up.  Things are not at all the way I see them.  People in my life maybe judged me, but that still wasn’t enough of a reason for me to react to that judgement and live my life to please them.  Little by little, I started reflecting on my whole life and numerous decisions I made as a child or young adult which prevented me from living my life fully self expressed, passionate and present.

Thanks to this work and my consistent expansion, I have created such a beautiful life: family I adore, business I am proud of and space for myself to heal all the broken pieces I felt I carried inside.  All along life was happening and I felt like an actress playing her part.  In fact, all that film and acting training I got in college came in handy with the transformational personal development work I was doing.

And then, out of the blue, as I was judging bad acting on one of the TV shows I was watching, the voice inside of me was nudging me to explore why I can be such a judgemental bitch at times.  Reflecting back, speaking to my husband who is likewise a coach, I realized, I may have given something up a time long ago afraid that I would never succeed.  This hit me as a ton of bricks because, honestly, I am already pretty busy, I don’t just raise my children, coach people and write, I also sing, draw and do yoga to name just a few favorite things…and yet, I could no longer do nothing about it.

That’s the thing with transformation, you reach insights that don’t even seem like a good idea. As someone who does her best to walk her talk, I at least have to lean into these insights and give it a shot. And that is how I ended up in an advanced acting class, feeling so humbled, shy, really dealing with the knowing that I don’t really know.  Sometimes, regardless of how masterful we feel we are in one area of our lives, it is when we explore the unknown that we learn the depths of what we are really made of.

Sharing this to see and ask if there are dreams you put on hold or set aside? Are you willing to maybe take a class or explore leaning into it even a tiny bit to see what you learn about yourself?

As always,

with gratitude for reading,

Marija

10 Tips on Traveling with Small Kids Gracefully and on a Budget

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My family lived between Montreal, New York, and a few cities in Florida before we settled back in New York so, we travelled by plane quite a bit.  My kids are 6 and 3 and they have almost visited as many countries as my husband and I.  In a process, I realized a few things that made a huge difference in our travels overseas and I wanted to share it with parents who plan to travel.

  1. Always pack light: Travelling light saves us money as most airlines now charge for checked bag or heavy carry on.  Besides that, when we travel light, it’s easy to opt for public transportation that often gives us an experience of someone who lives in a city and saves us money (Ubers though often beat the price of regular car service or taxi so if you have an application, my advice is to check and compare).   We should absolutely bring all the necessities but eliminate the extras because it’s also nice to be able to buy something you really love and bring it home and people who pack tight usually end up having to buy and check extra bags.  If you travel on a budget, this will be both stressful and costly.
  2. Invest in direct flights: When I travelled alone, having a connecting flight or a lay over was never a problem.  Most adults can have a glass of wine, read or kill a few hours before getting on a next flight and have flexibility to reset if there is a flight change.  When you are with small kids, this is a huge inconvenience and I think it’s worth the expense when buying a ticket and avoiding having any chance of possibly missing the next flight.  What we love to do instead is to stay in the city we would normally have a lay-over in and give ourselves a day or so to do a proper visit.  Our time is far more valuable than extra cost of flying directly.
  3. Travel late at night: We made the mistake once to fly early in the evening thinking kids would sleep.  If the flight is under 10 hours, consider that it would take kids a little bit of time to get settled and fall asleep.  What was far more effective for us was to arrive at the airport early for a late-night flight.  We would have dinner at the airport, take time getting through security, let kids run around and get tired and then settle them to sleep even before we board the flight.  It worked.
  4. Perks of traveling with kids every parent should know about: When you travel with kids, you are allowed to bring in more liquid than 100ml due to children’s special needs, milk, formula etc.  What you must do, however, is present it to the security and allow more time for them to check it.  For those of you who travel with a baby under 2 years old, not only that you can avoid paying ticket by choosing to buy “infant in a lap” option but you can call the airline for overseas flights and request a free bassinet so baby can sleep.
  5. Pick a hotel/airbnb that offers free breakfast: The best stays we ever had were those that offered free coffee and breakfast in a morning. It’s not just about saving money, which is a nice, it’s that knowing you can have a breakfast first thing in the morning and offer choices to your kids allows you to wake up at peace and have some peaceful morning time before the day begins, you go on to explore or travel further.  We are a family of 4 so sometimes we even go to breakfast separately so we can each have more peace starting our day.
  6. Find the nearest grocery:  We always look for places with kitchenette or at least small fridge as that allows us to avoid restaurants with small kids.  But even in places that didn’t have a way to store food, we would always find the nearest grocery store and stock up on snacks, water, juice, wine if you wish, and fruits to avoid having to purchase things on the go.  Being prepared saves us money but also reduces potential stress of having to find things in areas where that is not likely.
  7. Check out all the FREE things in that city and be sure to see if they are kids friendly.  We get to see the best of the city when we walk around, use public transportation, or even better walk from place to place.  You will really get to see how people live and get to play with the natives in a way you cannot when you go from hotel to event to restaurant and back to hotel
  8. Be willing to change things last minute:  Parenting is not always easy but some things are best to be flexible with.  That said, we always have things in our calendar that are “sacred” and we don’t consider missing out on those.  What helps for motivation often is buying tickets in advance and allowing plenty of time before and after so you don’t feel like you have a packed schedule while on vacation.
  9. Always purchase travel insurance – may you never need it.  Contrary to what I expected, insurance is relatively inexpensive and it gives you freedom to let your kids be and not freak out around the smallest things or mishaps that could happen while away.
  10. Take lots of pictures:  Time goes fast and it’s always powerful to reflect back on things that you may have not been truly present to because you were accountable for making sure kids were ok.  So go out of the way to snap pictures because they will remind you of the good times and be a memory you can cherish for years to come.

Hope that this is helpful.  Traveling with kids is not always easy but I find it’s worth it and while I sometimes even complain or wish I can change the duration of my travels or the way we did it, I never ever regret actually doing it.  Bon voyage to all!

Why Apology Doesn’t Always Make Things Better and Yet It Can

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Triggered by seeing a Good Morning America host make fun of 6 year old Prince George, mind you, an heir to the throne of the long standing British Monarchy, I have found myself worried that people will see my comments on social media and disregard it as yet another troll fest.

Here is what happened:  An anchor Lara Spencer reported last week that Prince George has a very busy schedule in Fall taking all kinds of classes, among which is ballet.  She made a remark that he had to give up playdough and laughed about his interest in ballet, adding that she wonders how long this interest of his will last.

Here is why I requested of the ABC station, and chairman of it Rober Iger that she be suspended and taken off air:

  • she normalizes making fun of a child who is just 6 years old
  • she makes fun of boys being interested in ballet which sounds sexist at best
  • she gives herself permission to comment on children of another culture
  • she is disrespectful of the title and position this particular child
  • she goes on to apologize about it by saying everybody should do whatever they want, as if that is her place to do, we don’t ask her for negative feedback but also she is not qualified to give us initial motivation
  • lastly, she goes on air to say she was stupid thinking that will gain her sympathy and continues to tell us what she did this week as a response to what happened, which is really great but it makes no difference in the lives of all of us offended.

I don’t personally care about this anchor in particular and I am not on purpose holding a grudge.  I am merely pointing out why she offended so many of us and shining light on what she would need to repair.

Any apology, to be effective, doesn’t just need to be sincere.  It is also not enough when a person feels bad, on contrary, them putting their emotions in the space makes the person offended deal with other people’s emotions and not their own.

For the apology to work, the following should be true:

  • The apology has to be genuine, done because one can see the things from the other person’s perspective and not just because they don’t like that they mess up
  • The person who offends us, ideally, needs to get the full scope of what they did, because if they don’t get that, then they are not addressing the impact
  • They have to be humbled, they have to be willing to accept that they broke our trust or what the promised, or the safety of how we once used to listen to them
  • They have to give us space to digest what happened, along with their apology and then patiently wait for the dust to settle
  • Lastly, they can take action to repair the relationship they have with us rather than build the case for why they made the mistake, said in other words, the apology is about the victim not the offender and it has to be honored as such

This is just a basic mechanics of the apology.  The other day when I was riding a train, the person across from me was opening a bottle of soda that went all over the train and onto my espadrilles.  While I certainly don’t want to hold a grudge and know this was an accident, I was blown away but how much they insisted they were sorry, not allowing me the process to have my own feelings, one of which was: it really sucks to have my feet wet.

People often apologize in a very ego fashion, they can’t stand that anyone can think less of them so they show their remorse.  As children, we were often rewarded for feeling bad for our mistakes so it’s the conditioning that has been passed on us from past generations.  Regardless, the only thing that really works is not being sincere (this is all about being a good boy/good girl) but being powerful and willing to withstand that our actions have impacted another in a negative way.  When we can allow space for that, we allow space for something to be and in the space when something can be, we can actually feel peace, freedom and ultimately, resolution.

So next time you offend someone, instead of apologizing profusely and repeating your “I’m sorry’s” on a loop, say it once and ask how you can repair the damage caused.  You may or may not be able, or be committed, to doing reparing work, but at least this will allow you to be straight about it and then let the other person heal on their own terms.  At the end, that’s the least you can do for people you offended.

Please share with me how it felt to be on both ends of messing up and how you dealt with it in both situations as well as: did you feel good and powerful in the end?

Grateful for your comments and shares

Marija

You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be

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Ever catch yourself being  hard on yourself?  Expecting you have done more, better, different?  Feeling like you “should” be elsewhere instead of where you are right now?

I think it’s a common thing for people because despite my knowing better, I still experience it in my life. And with that knowing that we are exactly where we need to be, my mindset shifts and has been shifting lately in discovering the body of work I have done in my life time.  And trust me, it is a body of work, I am not  being pretentious.

You see, before I became a US citizen last year, and a legal resident in 2011, I have been struggling to belong living in New York and doing  all kinds things to make my way through college, graduate school, leadership programs, spiritual work: Reiki Master program, Vipassana mediation retreats,  Sivananda Yoga… I have been continuing my education just so that I can live here and have been told by so many kind older people that there was a light in me I often failed to see myself.  Somehow not having my green card in my hands, money in my account or anything published except for my Master Thesis, made me feel that none of the work I’ve done mattered.

Unlike today where we can zip everything into a digital file and have virtual instead of physical clutter, I carried some of my drawings, video tapes, keyboard and art supplies wherever I went.   At some point, in my anger around things not working the way I wanted them to work, I even  burned all my journals I have been writing since I was 8.  Also, the pictures from Disneyland from when I first came to USA as an exchange student where I was 30-40 pounds heavier than now (and heavier than when I was pregnant with either of my children), were lit on fire, because I didn’t want to remember myself in that way.  In short, I stripped all the fat from what I was doing so that I can be free to live and move and make sense of who I was and what I was doing next.

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I look at people who are influencers nowdays, and ,without calling any names because I believe it is their  right to do as they  please, I  wonder, why  is so much of what I see created today  lacking real substance and real content.  We didn’t have access to internet and technology that allows you to make  a movie  on your  actual  cellphone, so even praciting our  craft was far more expensive than it is today.  Which meant, we were often silent unless there was  something important we wanted to say.

That said, I do think there is a beauty in the way we grew up.  I think that my generation and those who came  before us are here to preserve the soul of humanity.  As much as  everything  is moving to this work on a  fly and embracing  our imperfections,  I think people  are having a  harder time creating a real connection and anxiety is running rampant.  You have to be able to create connection in reality and be at peace with yourself before you can  ever do that online.  Nothing will ever come ahead of human touch,  ability to be with  another, enjoying the nature and experiencing real peace.

And while I look through all my work that has survived my moves, decluttering frenzies, self-criticism and just mere convenience, I am certainly reminded that I carry a message for people who are still able to appreciate the work I do with each person individually.  I think there is a lot for us to learn and I am a fan of  technology but I definitely believe that we need to continually work on our relationship with ourselves and connection with others.

Proud Mama of a School Boy

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Later this morning, my son will have a ceremony to complete his Kindergarten and  officially become a 1st grader.  My emotions are running wild.  His  year was an adjustment for me and if I was to do it all again (which I will with my younger boy) I will definitely do my best to surrender more often.

Parenting can push our buttons in the most expansive of ways.  This year, it has pushed mine.  However, it also allowed me  to heal and appreciate not just the  work my son has done, but the work that I have done when I was his age as well as now  as his mom.  It helped me heal my inner child and do work to embrace my own past and see things from a different point of view.

Because all of us parents do what we think works, I insisted that my son complete his homework as soon as he came home from school, washed his hands and changed into comfortable clothing.  He had to read a book per day for school, and he read at least three.  His spelling tests were on Monday, he  mispelled a word  once the entire year and it was a silly mistake he often makes when he writes B instead of D.  We dealt with every issue that came our way with compassion and honest communication with him and his teachers.  We were, hands down, among the most involved parents.  The result of it is: his scores are all exceeding expectations, and he can easily do second grade reading and math, among other things.

All of this would be in vein if my son didn’t do his part.  “You can take a horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink.”  This year, I have had my butt kicked so many times to learn this lesson and understand that smart and independent kids will not just obey.  They need to understand why something is the way it is and what is expected of them, and they will remember, compare and challenge integrity of things and people because they are inheritely wired to be honest humans.

In some ways, I don’t know why I am crying except, possibly, to release the tension, the intention and attention that has been 100% tuned in to my son’s success without compromising everything else that happens in life. I can appreciate summer break in a whole new way because I think our bodies do need to stop, refresh and reset before they create a new project or see another mountain to climb.

All in all, I am sitting  here in the dark of the night and  quiet of a household with a husband and 2 boys sound asleep to just allow my emotions to settle, to pour my heart onto these pages and remind myself to appreciate every moment.  In our world  where things can happen with a push of a button, I think we often forget that things are not built over night, but rather take consistency of time and effort.  It feels beyond awesome that I know we gave our all but also see the wonderful result of a job well done.

Thank you to God/Universe for giving me this gift of being a mother, for partnership of my husband and everyone that supports us on this journey, my mom probably the most but also our family, friends, teachers, doctors and even random strangers.  Thank you for the beautiiful  and kind boys and the opportunity to raise them.  Thank you for the opportunity to  celebrate our hard work this year and acknowledgement for all the work nobody even sees that we do, but that we relentlessy do every day of the year.