Think - Speak - Inspire

SJC

Samantha Jill Cote
11.27.92 – 5.29.11

I’ve been staring at this screen for quite some time.  Each year as this day approaches, I wonder what will come to mind, and what I could possibly write that could be much different than the previous year.  Regardless, I know nothing will ever fill the void of her absence. 

Do I sit with the grief and sadness? Should the day be filled with tears or laughter? Do I celebrate her life and the time we had together?  Do I swipe through old photos and reflect on the eighteen and half years she was here?  Do I think about everything that has happened in the past ten years since she’s been gone?  What could I possibly do to honor the person that she was and all that she would have become? 

I’ve grown to realize that whether you have someone in your life for 18 days, 18 weeks, 18 months, 18 years or 80 years, the power of the impact that the person has on you is not always dictated by the duration they are here with you physically.  There are events in life, especially the ones involving those leaving and entering this world, where we are transformed as individuals.  When we part ways with someone as they depart our lives, in any aspect, our very essence is often transformed. And when we bring new life into this world, we are in a sense reborn as a new version of ourself.  

Over the years, I knew that it would not necessarily get easier, and at times, things would actually seem even more heavy.  Seeing friends and family members, or even complete strangers move through their own loss and heartbreak would reignite the feelings and emotions.  Always wanting to empathize and be there for them, but also recognizing that each person moves through things differently.  And then, all the other loved ones I’d say goodbye to and navigate not having them here. 

Not having Samantha here for the big moments, like holidays and birthdays hurts, but more often it’s the ordinary moments when I miss her the most.  With everything that has happened over the past decade, one of the most difficult things has been experiencing life with Braylon without Samantha.  I think of the bond they would have.  I see so much of her in so many things that Braylon says and does.  

If you knew her, you know “how lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.  If you didn’t, here’s a portion of what I wrote ten years ago to try and capture just a tiny piece of all that she was and will forever be: 

“If Samantha wanted to do something, she would find a way. Being told she couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t was not an option. In a paper she wrote this past year at Worcester State she mentioned, “Some fears are worth taking the risk, meaning they can make you happier if you face them.” Samantha was not afraid to face her fears. That is, if she even had any. I can’t recall a time in which she was scared to try something new or was hesitant to take a risk.

As a young child, Samantha had her infamous “funny face” that would always bring joy to those who were with her. Over the years, she continued to find ways to make people laugh through her crazy ideas and creative mind. To some, she may have appeared as shy. Always remaining humble about the things she was good at, often left people pleasantly surprised to see Samantha’s talents and achievements. I remember when she decided to quit both dance and piano, because she would rather write her own songs and make up her own dances. Why should she have someone else tell her how it needed to be done when she could pave the way for herself? Always excelling academically, she also was a very skilled artist. I couldn’t believe how beautiful her drawings were, and that was just like Samantha to brush it off as if it was no big deal. 

Most recently, she decided she wanted to join the Nursing Program at Worcester State ensuring she could assist in bettering the lives of others. Her plans and dreams didn’t stop here, she tossed around the idea of opening a business together one day, because then we could do things our way – not having to answer to anyone else. Again, this was just like Samantha – she always had her own plan in mind.

Samantha has made me a better person. I’ve learned more about life from her than I could ever imagine. I know we all have our own stories with Samantha – stories of laughter and tears, successes and failures. All of these memories captured a special moment in time and now tell the story of the beautiful woman that Samantha has become. I will never forget any one of these moments and I ask that you all don’t either. 

Because Samantha lives on through all of us and I know she’s somewhere laughing at all of us, with that beautiful smile, thinking we’re foolish for crying. Because that is the way of Samantha – not allowing any time for being sad because she’s too busy living life to the absolute fullest and planning the next adventure.”

Think - Speak - Inspire

Ch-Ch-Changes

What I think about when I can’t sleep. 💤 💭

How could change not be necessary, when the systems and structures in our country were built by people to protect the people that looked and thought like them? 

How could change not be necessary, when entire industries profit at the harm and expense of entire groups of individuals? 

If it’s a learned behavior, then you can unlearn or learn a new one.

If it’s an entire way of thinking learned over years and years, then day by day one can continue to evolve and learn an entirely new way.

It isn’t always about “not knowing any better” People know what happens when you question and challenge people who hold power and authority. 

“That’s just the way it was back then”? That’s just the way it was back then because that’s how it was built and meant to be, and was passed on from generation to generation. 

Change isn’t often easy. It’s often met with resistance and failure despite persistence and determination. Change often comes with a lot of give and take, and the unwillingness to risk or lose so others can be seen, heard and valued.

Change means unfamiliarity and uncertainty. It’s scary and messy, but it is constant. 

Our mental and physical self changes every day. As kids we can’t wait to grow up and get older. As adults we reminisce on the way things used to be, but often still yearn for the future where things will be better and in turn, spend little time living in the present. 

We are sold products and services to help do anything possible to fight the aging process and prevent our bodies from changing. 

People can change because of pressure, shame, blame and guilt, but lasting change seems to happen when it comes from a much more positive place of inspiration, one with hope, vulnerability and empathy.

Something is ignited from within. Maybe it’s a single instance or a series of events. It may be from an incredibly low place, a breaking point, perhaps at a crossroads, where something gives that extra nudge to make the change. 

Change is inevitable.

Dine

Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Happy first day of spring!

I made this two years ago for Easter, and it was a huge hit.

Let’s cut right to the chase, and get to what you need, and what you need to do with the goods, once you’ve got them. This was a bit of mashup of a few different recipes I found.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box of Vanilla Chex
  • 1/2 bag, bag was 12 oz., of mini pretzels
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 12 ounce bag of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag of Cadbury mini eggs (I stick to Milk Chocolate, but you could use Dark if you’re into that)
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • A lot of powdered sugar (don’t hold back, boo)
  • Festive sprinkles, optional (if you’re extra, like me)

NOW, LETS GET TO IT

  1. Put Chex and pretzels in a bowl. I used a 4 gallon glass bowl and it was a little too small so I ended up putting some of it in another bowl (for mixing purposes)
  2. Put butter, chocolate and peanut butter in bowl. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Take out and stir. Repeat until the chocolate has melted completely.
  3. Pour the melted mixture on pretzels and Chex. Mix gently. 
  4. After the pretzels and Chex are covered. Start adding in the powdered sugar. I found it worked well to put a lid on the bowl and shake it. You want all of the pretzels and Chex to be covered in the sugar.
  5. I know some people put in large Ziploc bags (or even a trash bag – but make sure it’s not a scented one) 
  6. After that, I added the bag of Cadbury mini eggs and some pastel sprinkles (no real purpose except to be festive)

That’s it. That’s the post. You didn’t need to read a story about that Easter, this year’s Easter or any other Easter for that matter 😉

Product Reviews

20TIMinutes

20TIMinutes was founded, and is hosted by my friend, Tim McCarthy, and is a podcast that focuses on mental health with a sense or humor. 🧠😄

It airs every Tuesday on all major podcasting apps. 🗣

Each week, Tim has a different person do his introduction. A few weeks back, he asked if I would be interested, and I obviously say, “yes!”

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, that Braylon was also interested in being involved. You can check out just some of the outtakes below.

Battling to be the center of attention.

I was going through old photos on my phone, and I stumbled upon this one from December 2014. 🗓

Randall and I had flew up to Boston from Charlotte for a long weekend, and we had met up with Tim, and his awesome wife, Lindsay. 🍻

Lindsay, Randall, Me & Tim
  • I miss nights out with friends.
  • If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out his podcast.
  • Take a lesson from my buddy Tim, and don’t forget to tell people how you much love them. He often references that on his podcast, as he signs off with “I love you guys”
  • On the other hand, if you don’t actually love someone, don’t tell them that you love them… especially if there’s like a proposal involved. Things could get weird. 🥴
  • Back on a serious note… far too often people that you think might be receiving praise, gratitude and support, and just overall “doing well”, often aren’t, and you never know how powerful your small act of kindness just might be. 🤗

Bye for now.

I love you all.

*quickly checks my 4 followers to make sure that’s accurate 😬

Think - Speak - Inspire

Weight of the World

I hit a wall yesterday. 💥

The day before, I was non-stop from 6am-10pm, which isn’t uncommon for me, but guess it finally caught up. 😴

I always feel guilty about complaining because I know there’s SO many people that have it so much worse. I’m not necessarily referring to their situations with work, partners, children and society… but, what’s going on in their head – the sometimes dangerous expectations they set for themselves, accompanied by all the thoughts that they have. 🧠

I read an article this morning from Jeff Valdivia entitled Don’t Carry the Weight of the World of Your Shoulders, Just the Weight of the Moment. Spoiler alert, it concluded with:

“So, stop killing yourself by trying to carry the weight of the world. Instead, carry the weight of the present moment. All it demands is we be brave, be honest, be compassionate, and be kind. And these actions are always available to us. If you can do them in each moment, you have won, not just a better life, but a better world.” 🌎

On a lighter note, “A good conversation always involves a certain amount of complaining. I like to bond over mutual hatreds and petty grievances.” – Lisa Kleypas 🤣🥂

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It is Twenty Twenty One

Comfortable with being uncomfortable.

And there we have it. The first week of 2021. 🙄

Last year, I tried to find ways to slow down when I felt like I was going 100mph. To find piece of mind amidst all of the things that were out of my control. To lean on my people when I felt like falling apart. Learning how to ask for help rather than convince myself I could do it all myself. Trying to find patience as I realized I brought a mini version of myself into this world, and he’s already learned how to push me to my limits.

Perhaps, most importantly, becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Asking more questions, having difficult conversations and taking it upon myself to educate myself in new ways. Knowing the work is never done, and that the power lies in my own hands to stay informed and make a change.

Recognizing my privilege, specifically my white privilege, and rethinking everything that I was ever taught or told.

Once again, as I find myself rambling, knowing I won’t quite get it just right, the scale tips more towards saying something rather than remaining silent.

By not saying anything, you often say a whole lot.

Uncategorized

We Need One Another

I’ve spent a little extra time thinking and overthinking over the past 9 months.  

One thought, and it’s a big one, that I keep coming back to, is the fact that everyone has varying measure points for everything.  Seems pretty obvious, but let me elaborate.

What one individual perceives to be a hard worker, could be entirely different than another’s idea.  While neither perception is right or wrong, how each individual will measure their own work, as well as others, can be drastically different. 

Similarly, we all learn differently — different styles, different speeds — and with that, retain information differently. 

What makes one person upset, may or may not phase another.  

What causes one person pain, physically and / or mentally, may barely be felt by another. 

What one individual has experienced as the worst thing ever in his or her life, often times would be on an entirely different level of what another individual would have experienced.  For the individual who may have experienced something that would be considered by others to be trivial in comparison to what some other individuals have encountered, should still be able to sit with their emotions, move through the stages of grief and not feel guilty for doing so.  Being empathetic is important, but so is taking care of your own mental health and well-being.

It can be a tricky balance of focusing on yourself, while being empathetic and putting yourself in another’s shoes.  I’ve found the best thing that I can do, is to stop assuming.  Rather than spending so much time imagining what another person is going through and feeling, let them tell you.  I am getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I have by no means perfected this, and still have a lot of ways that I can improve on this, but I am truly trying to keep this more top of mind.

I just reread this post, What’s On Your Mind, Danielle? that I wrote on April 6th. I never thought that when I wrote it, almost eight months ago, that we would be where we are right now.  

But, we are. And we can either embrace it, fight for what we want and continue to show up day in and day out for ourselves and those that need us or we can give up, back down and let this crazy beautiful life just pass us by. 

Hang in there, friends.  

Think - Speak - Inspire

I Bet You Think This Post is about Ice Cream

A cinnamon bubble waffle with cookie butter ice cream, hazelnut drizzle, toasted fluff, and a biscoff cookie.

There are more days than not where I feel like I’m going to snap. And for most of those moments, I can almost always look back, and admit that it wasn’t that serious. Then, come the feelings of guilt, knowing how grateful I should be (and am) and telling myself that next time will be different. 🥴

And here I am. An hour or so ago, I quickly got Braylon out of the house (only after ordering curbside pickup of ice cream – I even got a second one “to go” for tomorrow), hopped in the car and immediately put on the remainder of the most recent “Unlocking Us” episode that I hadn’t finished yet. 🍦🔐

I (and for many people I talk to, especially women) have GOT to find the time to reset. For everyone whose home became their work, and you spend all sleeping and most waking hours there… yikes. I had already been working from home, but there’s obviously something quite different about this version, with the heightened stress, uncertainty and continued regulations for the “outside world” 🏡

Speaking of outside. Being outside has become such an outlet, even if it’s in my own backyard or walking around the neighborhood. As the colder weather approaches, I know I can’t let that go, especially with there being no end in sight for being able to have in person time look anything even slightly like what it used to. ☃️🎉

So, eat the ice cream. Listen to the podcast that makes you laugh until you cry, then makes you actually cry. Move your body. Get outside. Scream… or do nothing at all, and just breathe.💥🧘🏻

Do what works for you. When you can. How you can. Where you can. 🗓

And most importantly, remember your why…and what keeps you going. 💞

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I Need a Hug

I have so many amazing takeaways from the recent episode of Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast where she has both Emily and Amelia Nagoski on to discuss Burnout and How To Complete the Stress Cycle. 🔓🔥

I can not recommend it enough (PS – Brene Brown’s brand new podcast, Daring to Lead, launched yesterday — I can not get enough of this woman!) 🦸🏼‍♀️

For some reason when they were talking about the power of hugging, it was as if I had never heard it before. 🤷🏻‍♀️

That led me to reading an article on Healthline “What Are the Benefits of Hugging?” 🤗

  • Hugs reduce stress by showing your support
  • Hugs may protect you against illness
  • Hugs may boost your heart health
  • Hugs can make you happier
  • Hugs help reduce your fears
  • Hugs may help reduce your pain
  • Hugs help you communicate with others

Of course, the article details scientific evidence to back each of these, and I highly suggest you check it out!

What blew me away, was a quote from family therapist Virginia Satir who said, ““We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” 😮

The article was written in 2018 and notes that, “most Western people today — especially people in the United States — are touch-deprived. Many people live solitary or busy lives with reduced social interaction and touching.” 💯

WOW. This could not be more true to what so many people have encountered over the past 6 months or so. 🏡🔒

It got me thinking about how many hugs (and general contact) that I have with this little guy.  While I may be lacking in the sleep department over the past two and half years (with no end in sight), my oxytocin levels sure must be surging. 💞

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Trapped

Do you ever feel trapped, mentally and / or physically? 🙋🏻‍♀️

Maybe it’s in a physical space, a job, a relationship, thoughts in your head or emotions and feelings in your heart 🧠💞

Sometimes I spend so much time overthinking and running possible scenarios through my head that I become uncertain of what has actually even happened. 🤯

How do you sort through all of the noise from the information that’s thrown at you just about everywhere you look? 🗣👀

How do you find the balance of filling the yearning to stay connected (with minimal physical options available) and embrace all the positivity and promise that still exists and block out the rest? ⚖️🙅🏻‍♀️

If you’re still reading these ramblings, that most likely do not make complete sense… know that on days when you’re feeling all of the things or maybe nothing at all that that is exactly where you need to be – where you are meant to be. ✨💫