Don’t Forget

The other day I was eavesdropping on a couple next to me (don’t act like you don’t do it). The lady sat down next to her husband and was reminding him to take his medication, asking him if he remembered to pack Kleenex, and telling him about the long list of to-do’s she has waiting for him back at home. He kept saying, “I won’t forget, I won’t forget, I won’t forget.” And that got me thinking about all the little things I don’t want to forget, the things that are so small, yet so important to me that I couldn’t stand not remembering. Not menial things, but things that from day-to-day, we all tend to forget about because they’re overshadowed by paying the bills, memorizing work presentations, and buying Christmas gifts (still have to do that…)

I want to remember all the little things in my every day.

To listen. Be curious. Remember birthdays (without an app). Remember things I’ve read, or movies I’ve seen again and again.

To memorize the pattern of freckles on his chest. Memorize poems. Memorize prayers.

To be spontaneous. Cheerful. Positive. Ambitious.

Be funny. Be happy. Be graceful.

I want to remember memories and special moments that helped carve me into who I am.

To remember how frigid the river felt on my toes. The feeling of sunshine on my shoulders and cheeks. The names of mountains and backcountry trails.

To remember the color of the towels in the bathroom. The price of ice cream at the corner store down the street.

To be adventurous and daring. To do things because I want to do them, not just because everyone else is.

To remember the sting on my knees after falling off my bike again and again and again.

To remember things we ate, special camping foods and birthday foods and “just because” restaurant outings.

To be honest and sure. To take photos and write everything down.

I want to remember who I am and where I came from, no matter where I am in life now.

To remember your hometown streets. The memories made there. The nicknames. The sunburns.

To remember to call and to write.

Remember the last time I saw you, the words we shared, the glances, the tears.

Remember the smell of lilies and gardenias. Remember to say “thank you.”

Remember to keep going, going, going.

I don’t want to forget to remember.

Twenty-four today

I’ve felt this summer day 24 times.

And while so many things have changed over the years, I’ve never felt so much like myself as I do right now in this very moment. 

This morning, I was standing on my balcony thinking about everything I’ve done in the 24 short years I’ve been on this planet. I tried to look at my life from an outsider’s point of view, racking up all of the things I’ve accomplished, trials I’ve overcome, friends I’ve made and lost, places I’ve been to, dreams I’ve had. I stood there on my balcony and I felt a tremendous sense of pride for myself. I don’t give myself enough credit, so today, I’m letting myself feel all of it. And it feels great.

Before getting ready for the day, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror. Self-analyzing. Me at 24. Me not wearing a trace of makeup, with hair messy from a good night’s sleep. The corners of my eyes that wrinkle and cheeks that puff up when I smile. The millions of freckles that seem to outline the bed sheet markings on my body. I breathed in, and I breathed out. I’m alive, and I feel alive.

I’ve spent 24 years with myself and I still learn something new every day, I come to terms with and fall in love with a new part of myself all the time, and that’s gotten so much easier as I’ve gotten older. Something in me is just much more appreciative than when I was younger. I’m getting somewhere. I’m making progress. I feel like I’m officially an adult. I’ve done so much since my 23rd birthday. I moved out of my parent’s house, moved across the country for a job, got promoted at that job, met my boyfriend’s parents, traveled a lot, felt highs and lows, and ultimately grew into the person I am right now. And I really love this person.

And I think for the first time, I realized that my birthday doesn’t have to be significant to me, it doesn’t have to be some huge ordeal filled with celebration and outrageous gift-giving and party-throwing (although, both are nice).

As I sat with myself this morning, I realized that a birthday doesn’t mark an age, but a time. A snapshot of a time I’ll look back on when I’m older and say, look how young, look at the smile in my eyes, remember that little apartment, remember how stressed I was over silly little things. I’ll look back at this time and wonder how I got from here to there, and I’ll realize I did it all because I’m strong-willed and confident in myself.

Thank you God for giving me 24 glorious trips around the sun! 

I had tea with Michelle Obama

What do you do when you get an email that reads: “First Lady Michelle Obama invites you to a conversation about the health of our nation to be held at the White House”? Scream.

I’ve visited the White House a few years ago, but I never got to go inside. Let alone be on a list of attendees for a special event with the First Lady. The journey there from my apartment was hectic because DC’s metro system has been having major issues lately, so I took an uber in and out of the city.

As soon as I got there and drove by the National Mall and the outer gates of the White House complex, I started to get really excited. This is where all of our American presidents lived and walked. This is one of the most historic places in the United States. It took me a moment to wrap my head around the fact that I would actually be going inside instead of standing on the outside of the gates.

As soon as I got through all the security, I was greeted by some staff and all they said to me was, “Welcome to the White House, all the rooms are open, go explore before the First Lady arrives!” …Um, did they really just tell me to “go explore” the White House? By myself? Yep. So off I went.

I was so humbled walking the halls of the White House. It was so hard for me to think that so many world leaders walked these same halls. There’s so much history in this one building, and for me to be able to visit was an amazing experience.

When it was time for the First Lady to come out, my heart was racing. I got a seat in the front of the East Room, and I was shaking. It didn’t fully hit me that I was in the presence of such an important American public figure until after I got home. Some things she said that will stick with me:

“You’re all such powerful messengers. You have such an incredible platform. Just the few of you in this room alone reach millions of people. Just take a look at yourself, and don’t ever doubt the difference you can make.”

“I hope that you will use your voice — continue to use your voice and your influence to inspire and support others. If we all keep working together, I know we can keep making a difference.” 

“I really want to thank you. This was the reason why we wanted to have you here — we wanted to reward you in some way for the hard work that you’ve been doing out there.” 

“There is power in this room. There is power in individual voices and you all are showing it every single day. And I could not be more proud of all that you’ve achieved.”

“I really, truly look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead. So enjoy yourself, and God bless you.”

I’m so grateful and humbled to have had this opportunity. This was a day that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.