Sunday, January 28, 2007

I am blessed.

'What goes around comes around.'

'You reap what you sow.'

For the most part I've always believed these things. If you are a good person, and do good things, good things will happen to you. If you lie and cheat and steal, it'll catch up to you and knock you to the ground.

There are times when I get dragged down by things going on in life, and it's not so easy to believe. I start thinking that it doesn't matter how hard I try, good things will never happen to me.

This is not one of those moments. Nope...Karma has totally outdone herself. In fact, I think I owe her now, cuz what goes around came around threefold.

This year has been immensely difficult for me to get through. But the bumpy road was smoothed over quite a lot by the extraordinary friends that I have been blessed with. They are the reason I say Karma has totally outdone herself. Most people have one or two close friends....I have several.

I do NOT want to think about where my life would be without them. They are the reason I get up each day. They are the reason I strive to better myself. They are the reason I have love and joy in my heart.

It's been nearly five years since I met Natalie....we met though work. At the time I worked at Walgreens, which was still located in the mall. Natalie was the manager of Claire's. Our mall doesn't have much in the way of food, so most people would come to Walgreens for their lunch or break-time snacks. That's how we started talking. It was no time at all before I started referring to her as my best friend. In the time we've known each other, we've gone through a lot....I've gone through two boyfriends, and lots of heartbreak....she's gotten married, bought a house...changed jobs a time or two.... Strangely enough, we're not at all alike in a LOT of ways....but somehow it's a nice mix.....our friendship just works, and it works well.

She was asking me this weekend if I could pick one word to describe her, what would that word be. I've thought about that question for two days now....and one word just isn't enough. There is no one word in the English language that sums it up. In fact, I can't even think of the right words to properly conclude this I'll just move on! :P

So, a little over three years ago, I met Erik and we started dating. Yeah, I may have a lot of resentment towards him, and he may have not been very nice to me, especially in the last year....but you know what he did do for me that changed my life forever? When I was getting more and more interested in becoming better at photography, he's the one that told me I should find a forum to join. So, one day, I typed in 'photo forum' in Google, clicked on one of the first search results, and joined up. If you'd have asked me then what that forum would mean to me in three years, I'd have never been able to guess what it's become to me now.

Chase started The Photo Forum a little under a year before I joined up. He's also the first friend I made online. And it's funny, because before that, I would have told you that I didn't think it'd be possible for me to make a true friend online, without ever meeting them. It's been three years, and boy has that notion been blown out of the water. :P Chase has been one of the people I have turned to time and time again when things just seem to be piling so high on top of me that I feel like I'm going to drown. He always has an encouraging word to help me feel better about whatever is weighing me down. And even when I am coming to him with the same problem over and over again that I can't seem to get past, he'll be there to listen each and every time, and to remind me that I have people that care about me.

I have an older brother, and we don't have a bad relationship...but it's never been as close as what I'd really like. I think Chase has taken that spot. He's very much like a big brother, and I pray that nothing ever happens to change that.

Along those same lines....I now feel like I have a big sister, too. I've known Alison for a few years, too, but only recently did we start to talk more and become closer. She's someone I can talk to about some of the things that others wouldn't understand. She understands, and she always makes me feel like I'm not as abnormal as I previously thought. She helps me to realize that it's ok to feel the way I'm feeling sometimes...and that I'm not alone.

And she's also one of the most amazing mothers I've ever met. Watching her interact with her children, and to listen to her talk about them puts me in awe. The love she has in her heart for those kids is one of the most pure and beautiful things I have ever seen. I hope when I'm a mother someday, I can be even half as good at it as she is. She, like Chase, has become not only a highly valued friend, but someone I look up to as well.

Oh, and did I thank Chase for installing chat on the forum yet? Yeah, I have a hell of lot to thank him for in that respect. If he hadn't done that, I'd have never gotten as close to Joe, Sky, and Stu as I have. to describe Stu....he's definitely a unique one. :P He started popping up in chat over the summer. He kept us endlessly entertained with his over the top and off the wall type of humor. (That's humor, without a 'u'). After a time or two of talking one on one in MSN, we quickly discovered how alike we are in a lot of ways. We've both gone through similar things, and the way we feel afterwards and how we deal with those things is eerily similar as well. Because of that, we seem to be able to understand each other better and can sympathize with one another at a higher level than I can with most others. And if no one else can make me laugh when I'm feeling down...he always can. We have not met in real life yet, but I look forward to that day more and more as time goes on.

Did I mention Sky yet? No? Well he definitely can't be left out here.

Sky came aboard in my life as part of the original chat crew. At 19, he's the youngest one here in my list of people that I have been blessed with....but that's something that's easily forgotten about. I've always thought he was a bit 'beyond his years'. He's also someone that I admire for a lot of things. I admire him for the photographic talent that he possesses....and for the fact that he's smarter than I probably will ever be....and I admire that he's already experienced so much of the world. He'll have life by the horns by the time he graduates college, of that I have no doubt.

I've considered him a friend since we started talking a year ago, but here in the last few months it's solidified into a friendship that won't easily dissolve. He's another friend that's hard to find words to describe. But I can tell you for sure he has a permanent spot etched in my heart, and I hope we never lose touch.

I guess that' about it.....

....isn't it?

You didn't actually think I was going to leave out Joe, did you? BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That's a good one.

If it wasn't for Joe, I wouldn't have had the courage to end a relationship that was very bad for me. If it wasn't for Joe, I'd have never gotten on a plane for the first time, sparking my love for travel. If it wasn't for Joe, I wouldn't have been brave enough to venture into the Windy City alone, exploring not only the beautiful metropolis of Chicago, but also un-chartered territory in my own soul. I feel I've grown more as a person in the past year than I ever have in any other given year of my life, and I feel that a large part of that was nurtured by Joe.

Because of him I am learning to not be afraid....of taking risks.....of doing things for not be afraid of life in general.

He's taught me that not all friends run away from you when you are a complete mess and falling apart. Some will stay, steadfastly...never wavering...and help put you back you mend the cracks and make them stronger than they were before by putting little bits of themselves into every weak spot.

Because of this I have been better able to recognize and appreciate these qualities in my other friends, as well. I have the confidence now to see that I really am a good enough person that people would do these things for me, and be there for me....and I no longer think in my head 'they are only doing that because they feel sorry for me'...or some other line to make myself think I'm not good enough to actually deserve it.

I have the confidence now to let myself be proud of my accomplishments.

None of this would have happened without Joe as my friend. I would not have been able to end my bad relationship if I didn't have faith that he would be there, every night for at least a week, on the other end of that phone to be there for me...even when there'd be minutes at a time of silence because I was trying not to cry.

And I'm learning to stop apologizing for being me. I don't have to do that...did you know that? I didn't...but I do now. I still have to be reminded at times, but I'm getting there.

I'm not even going to TRY and think of where I'd be without him. Part of me already knows, and it wouldn't be a very happy place.

After going over everything I just can I not be blessed? Maybe my family life wasn't the greatest growing up...maybe I didn't have very many opportunities in life....but none of that matters now. That was then and this is now, and right now, I'm just about the richest person alive.