Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Instead of doing my typical "Valentine's Day Date Outfits" or "7 Gifts for your Valentine," I decided to change it up. Today I celebrate one of my very favorite holidays by sharing a little about the people I love and who have made my life special every single day, not just on February 14th. 

No matter who you're spending the day with -- your significant other, your dog, your family, or your friends -- I wish that it is a day filled with warmth, happiness, and a full heart. Here's to celebrating the love in the world every day!

This guy walked into my life two and a half years ago and totally threw me for a loop. His kindness, respect for others, and personal drive make me proud to be his girlfriend. He has seen me through some really rough days where most people would have walked away. But he was there, ready to listen, dry a few (ok, many) tears, and even drive me around in his pickup truck just because I needed to get out of the house and didn't want to be alone. He stuck by me until I was ready to be in a place to be there for him as well.  Now, almost a year into our relationship, I can't imagine our life any other way. You're the best Jon Ryan, and I'm so appreciative for you.

I decided to get Ruby Louise so that I would have a companion when I moved down to South Carolina. But this little girl has become so much more than that! She brings a smile to my face every day and I honestly believe that she was a little gift, sent to help heal my heart. Even though she barks for attention, sticks her whole face in the water bowl, and occasionally leaves little surprises by my bedroom door, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Ok, I had to throw this one in because, seriously? I can't even. JR and Ruby - my two little babes.

I have a very high standard to live up to in a relationship. Perhaps I have questioned relationships in the past because I have such a great example in which to compare. My parents don't have a perfect relationship, but they love each other, they respect each other, and they stick by each other through everything. I can only hope that I have half as much happiness that they have had. This is a picture of them celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. It's not the best quality picture, and my mom might even joke about me including it in this post, but I couldn't write about Valentine's Day and the people I love without including them. Plus, I love how happy they look!

I am lucky enough not only to have amazing parents, but also two sisters who are my best friends. Trust me, there have been screaming matches over AOL time, stealing clothes, and who gets the car on a Friday night. But I know that no matter what, the only two people I will ever be able to turn to and rely on are my two beautiful sisters. We are all so different, yet very much the same. And I hope that the best parts of them show up, even a little bit, in me.

Now, I have two sisters already. But this group of girls is honestly the next best thing. These girls are my YABs - I met them when I moved to Milwaukee and we immediately clicked. It is so rare that a group of ten girls get along so well and feel so connected. After a few years in Wisconsin, many of us scattered to different cities for various reasons. But, without a doubt, whenever we get together, we act as though nothing has changed. I love these girls like family and am so #blessed that they are in my life.

More sisters? Could one person be so lucky!? My sorority sisters are the funniest, smartest, craziest group of girls I know. And there are a few more very special ones who could not make it to Vegas for this picture! Without a doubt, I will always have a shoulder to lean on, a full drink in my hand, and a college memory to laugh at. 

One of the benefits of living in various cities and having attended a few rounds of school is that I have four solid friend groups to call on. But before college, Milwaukee, and grad school, there were these girls. The faces in this picture represent some of my longest and dearest friendships. And though we no longer live right down the block from each other, we keep in touch and spend time together as if nothing has changed. Forever young, forever free. 
My best friend, my free bird, and my Cali girl! Taylor and I have known each other for over 17 years and I know that the next 17 will include her by my side. She is one of the strongest, bravest, most beautiful souls, and I so admire her spirit and sense of self. I don't know where I would be without her tough love and loving advice.
And finally...the girls who saw me though case competitions, final exams, and job interviews. This group is full of bad ass women who will undoubtedly go on to run the world. No matter where I am or what's going on, I know I can pick up the phone and call any of them for career advice, debates on Bravo tv shows, or wine and restaurant recommendations. I admire so much about each of them and I hope that I have inspired them a little as they have inspired me.

Now, things change. People move, grow, and adapt. I am not pretending to have perfect relationships with everyone pictured above, or claim that we have remained as close as we could have. But the point is, each person has played a role in my life and has shaped me into a person who is capable of love, appreciation, and respect for others - and for that, today and every day, I am grateful. I have a lot of love for many people who have played various roles in my life, and today is about celebrating all of them. For the cynics out there claiming that Valentine's Day is a holiday devised by greeting card and candy companies to capitalize on the materialistic nature of American society (umm, what?), here is what I have to say: Any holiday dedicated to celebrating the love in the world (past, present, and future) is a-okay in my book. 

Love to you, love to your family, love to your friends from all walks of life. 



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