Yes. We all have them.
Right now, I’m having some delays in posting, mostly due to midterm season.
Expect my return shortly :)
It’s true. This blog is completely and totally unfocused.
But that’s okay. I want it to be this way.
Blogging, for me, is a release. It’s a place where I can just write about whatever strikes me that day. Sometimes it’s family. Other times, it’s recipes. No matter what I put in here, just know that it’s coming right from me.
However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not open to suggestions.
Sure, this blog is personal, but it’s also meant to entertain and inspire you. So please, tell me:
I’ll take any and all suggestions.
Thanks to my mother’s decision to bring me into the world at the ripe age of 18, I was lucky enough to have 17 wonderful years with my great-grandparents. I can remember spending most weekends at their house, playing with my great-grandfather out in the courtyard of their apartment complex. It was a small green patch but it was enough to have countless adventures in. When I was called back to the house, I spent time sitting with Nanny to watch The Rifleman or make some sort of craft. On Saturdays, we would bake. On Thursdays, I’d wear Nanny’s red cardigan and we’d make the 15 mile per hour trip down to the grocery store. After school, Poppy would help me do my homework – or at least pretend he knew what I was working on. Memories like these are some of the most special moments in my life. I remember my great-grandparents each and every day and I’m thankful for all of the things they’ve taught me. Here are just a few:
My great-grandparents were so special. They would have given you anything they could to make you feel at home. However, when it came to accepting gifts, they wanted only to have time with those they loved. To them, family was the most important thing in life. Because I grew up in their love, I now treasure my family more than ever.
2. Be humble.
For how much my Nanny and Poppy may have given me praise, I knew that behind it all, they were teaching me to be humble. I can’t even begin to describe how they taught this. All I know is that they were two of the most humble people I’ve ever met.
3. Show compassion.
Whether it was a little bird or a whiny kid with a scraped knee, my great-grandparents showed compassion and understanding. They indulged my attempts to save animals I found. They picked me up and dusted me off when I fell down. They listened to my thoughts and feelings. They softened any blow.
4. Share your feelings.
When my Nanny was sad or upset, she told me. When my Poppy felt nostalgic, he shared his memories. Both my great-grandparents were open and honest when it came to thoughts and feelings. This honesty encourages only the deepest of love and understanding.
5. Love deeply.
Love was inherent in every fiber of their beings. It was shown everyday. It was present in every action. It was behind every laugh, smile, hug, kiss, or scolding. They loved the way that people are meant to love. They were loved in all the best ways people are meant to be loved.
6. Don’t be wasteful.
Nanny and Poppy grew up during the Depression. They knew what it was like to have and to have not. They knew what it meant to be fortunate. They never wasted. They always saved. These are two principles that I keep with me always.
7. Surround yourself with good people.
My great-grandmother loved to tell me about when she was young, how her father had told her, “Show me your company and I’ll tell you who you are.” I realize now more than ever that I am shaped by the company I keep. I stopped choosing people who made me feel anything less than myself. I surrounded myself with friends and family I loved and wanted to share the best moments of life with.
8. Open your home.
For my great-grandmother, it was most important to make sure that her company was well-fed and comfortable. Now, I love to play hostess. I love baking and cooking and sharing good conversation with people I invite into my home.
9. There’s always room for cookies.
Nanny was a great baker. I will always miss the taste of her chocolate chip cookies. No one makes them like she did.
10. It’s your day.
My family always jokes about this because whenever I would misbehave or mouth off, my great-grandparents always replied, “It’s her day.” Well, while I may have gotten away with bloody murder, this phrase did teach me something about achieving my goals. I can always take advantage of the time I have at hand. I can do anything and be anything I choose. I can just be Mandy and that’s okay. It’s my day.
About two hours ago, I returned from a lovely mini-vacation. It was much needed.
Earlier this week, as Brent and I both spent some time panicking over various projects to complete, it was decided that it was time to take step back and just breathe. We both needed something to take our mind off of the stresses of paying rent, doing homework (in my case at least), and tackling household chores. So what did we do? We made a date. We were going to just leave Scranton this weekend, if only for a few hours.
After some contemplation, and debating over whether or not to just start driving somewhere and see what happened, the idea of Cooperstown, NY came up. I’d never been there before, save for when my mother was pregnant with me. I’d also been looking to make it up there at some point this year. We made our minds up. We were going to Cooperstown.
I fought and finally booked a room at the Best Western, which as Best Westerns go, it wasn’t too shabby. Smelled a little funny though. We had a McNuggets (not my first choice) and popcorn picnic in the room while watching a series of bridal shows on TLC. It’s been awhile since we’ve watched TV at all, so it was a nice change. A good night’s sleep and a missed continental breakfast later, we were headed into Cooperstown.
We started off with some eggs, bacon, and wheat toast at T.J.’s after finding the Cooperstown Diner quite packed. Breakfast was good, but it gave me heartburn for the rest of the day. We paid the bill and started walking up and down the main street there – I’m not sure of the name – and poked in and out of a few shops. Like most tourist traps, it was expensive, but worth looking.
Lucky for us, Cooperstown was having its annual Fall Festival complete with1,000 lbs. pumpkins, a farmer’s market, and scores of stands selling homemade salsas and chili. Can you say, “awesome?”
We watched a few of the pumpkin weigh-ins, including one from Rome, PA that reached over 1,000 lbs and then walked across the lot to Doubleday Field. There was a game going on but it wasn’t your typical match up. Instead, it was just a group of friends wearing uniforms from their favorite teams and playing for fun. Yes, on a perfect autumn day. That’s what baseball is all about – and I’m not a huge fan of the sport. It was beautiful to watch. Much like a dance.
An inning or two and then it was off to the Hall of Fame. I wasn’t sure of what I should expect. Either way, I wasn’t disappointed. The exhibits were interesting, the pieces of history well-displayed, and the crowds were polite. Who could ask for more? I will say this though: I’m not a fan of how baseball is today. Granted, a professional sport is a professional sport, but there’s something so wrong with the way things are now. Back then, being a ball player was all about having love for the game. It wasn’t about the insane salaries, or the steroids, or the chance to marry a Victoria’s Secret model just because you got invited to the same parties.
I remember hearing stories my great-grandfather told about what it was like to play in the minor leagues and in the service. He was a third baseman. Earl “Arky” Rozelle. He was phenomenal. One of those great Scrantonians. His career ended with a bum knee but the legend lived on through his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Every time I played catch with him, I got to share in something special. Later, I would play catch with my Dad. I was a horrible player. Just ask Dad, he’ll tell you the stories about me picking dandelions in the outfield. I had no motivation to succeed at softball when I played, however, it was the love of the game that maybe – just maybe – made me like baseball, if only for a moment. I liked having something special that I could share with two very special people in my life. I’ll never forget what it was like to play catch in my backyard with my Dad or in the courtyard at the apartments with my great-grandfather. On those days, I might as well have been the Babe.
Our tour of the museum lasted about two hours – time that I spent thinking about my Dad and my Poppy. Because of them, I wanted to spend the day there. Thank you.
After the Hall of Fame, Brent and I continued our vacation – and my walk down memory lane – with a visit to the mouth of the Susquehanna River, which was only a few feet away from the museum, across a footbridge. The lake was clean and clear and looked positively delightful dotted with boats. I built a small sand house (didn’t have enough space or sand for a castle) and left my mark in Cooperstown.
On the way out of town, I kept looking for something to bring back for my sister, Brianna. I wanted to maybe give her a chance to feel what I felt when it came to baseball. No t-shirt or toy did the memories I had of playing catch with Dad justice. Thankfully, I made one more stop on our way out. I found a ball and mitt that could fit her. $16.95 well spent. I hope you enjoy it Brianna. Maybe when you get a little older, Dad, you, and I can take a trip back to the Hall of Fame, and you can think about how special it was to play catch in the backyard with someone you love.
Just think about it. It’s been three years since you’ve done something. Sure, it went by quickly, but a lot of time and action and emotion and excitement passed through during those 1095.726597 days.
For me, three years ago was the start of my college career. It’s fitting that I’m taking some time now, as a senior, to look back on it. I wouldn’t change anything, but if I could have gone back to three years ago, I would tell myself these three things:
1. You don’t know everything.
It’s cliche but it’s true. When you’re 18 and just starting out, you don’t think about all of the things that you don’t know. I’ll admit it. I approached a lot of situations with a “know it all” attitude. Granted, that same attitude helped me experience a lot of great things, but it probably hurt some people in the process. I’m sorry and I’ll try harder. I don’t know everything there is to know. In fact, I think life is a huge learning process and the only constant is change.
2. Make time to have fun.
When I started at Marywood, I was all excited for the chance to really prove myself and learn something. I found out pretty quickly that my college education is only what I put into it, and in many cases, I chose books over parties. My classes weren’t always going to teach themselves. Sometimes, I just had to learn it on my own and look deeper if I wanted the right answers. Being your own teacher can be great, but it’s taxing and confusing.
I’m a little sad that I didn’t do more things with my friends or had those wild and crazy experiences that everyone talks about for years to come, but I’m glad that I got to spend time with a lot of very special people. I met some friends that I know I’ll have for a lifetime. For that, I am forever thankful. You guys (and gals) rock.
3. Don’t settle.
This is something I have to remember for a lifetime. Settling is one of my worst fears, especially when I know I’m settling on something big. We’re not talking about settling for the cheese danish because they’re out of cherry. We’re talking about settling for a job or a boyfriend or a place to live or a dream. I’m young and in love and have plenty of opportunities to do what I want now. I just have to stop and remind myself of that when I get scared or feel anxious about change.
What are three things you wish you could have told yourself three years ago? Why?