"Path of Life"- A fresh start to my New Year

I recently celebrated another birthday. I'm another year older and wiser right? Ha! Birthdays are so cool aren't they? It's the one designated day/time of the year you get to celebrate and assess the beginning of your existence, the life you lead, and where your life will take you. That's of course, if you choose to look at it that way.

I look forward to a lot of "usual happenings" on my birthdays. Of course, I love the phone calls, especially the phone call race early on my birthday between my mother, father and aunt Sandy.  It's a toss up every year.  Ya never know who's going to get cha first reaaaaaaaallllyyy earrrllyyy in the morning!

When aunt Sandy gets me, she would always begins her call with the "Happy Birthday" song and sings the ENTIRE song.  I love it.  I really do. It's that moment when you realize you're getting the whole song sung to you that you laugh and giggle and awkwardly interject until it's over. It's so worth it though. The "Happy Birthday" song is a staple, right?

(Pictured above: Cousin Angela, aunt Linda, and the legend, the wonderful aunt Sandy)

My mom and dad would usually toss the phone back and forth. I'd like to think they're fighting for my attention.  My mom would references the day I was born. She would talk about how cold it was, how much she loves me, how long she endured labor, how her life has been changed forever since I was born. 

(Pictured above: Me and my mom, Anita, and additional family photos circa 1984)

My dad would usually interject with a, "Happy Birthday Annie." Fun fact- he calls me Annie. (Disclaimer: No one else does or should call me Annie. My dad has the exclusive rights to this nickname). Back to the point- he would usually remind me of how hairy I was the day I was born.  Thanks dad. Yes, I said hairy.  

(Pictured above: My mom and dad at Comerica Park, summer 2012)

On your birthday, it also feels so good to hear from friends- old, new, near and far.  Who doesn't love birthday cake, cupcakes, brownies, cards, balloons, Facebook messages, parties, and who could forget the presents? I got some awesome gifts this year. 

(Picture above: Birthday card from college roommate and dear friend Kate Tkacik)

I spent my birthday in El Paso, Texas, celebrating the wedding of one of my best friend's from college (see previous blog entry).  My dear friends in Eastern Carolina threw me a big ol' bash. We had a blast. I ate, laughed, drank, and was very merry. But I got something after my birthday that was more meaningful than ever and couldn't have come at a more perfect point in my life.

I now introduce you to my home team- my siblings Alex, Stefan and Salvatore. Sooner rather than later, you are bound to read about them. We are closer than any other human beings in this world. We know the meaning of the phrase, "Blood is thicker than water." It's how mom and dad raised us.

(Pictured above: Stefan, me, Alexandra, Salvatore, Christmas 2011)

In true sibling fashion, I received a package in the mail several days AFTER my birthday. I never expected or wanted a gift, especially from them. Alex and Stefan are college students, and Salvatore, better known as "Sammy," is in middle school. The older of my two brothers, Stefan, went to a local boutique and picked out two charm bracelets (made in America, by the way. Can I get an AMEN).

(Pictured above: Birthday charm bracelets)

When I opened the box, I noticed one charm had my initial and the other had a beautifully confused design labeled, "Path of Life." A meaning was given in the jewelry box, so I picked it up and read what it said:

"Emblematic of life's zenith and nadir moments, the Path of Life is representative of an infinite number of possibilities and expressions of love. Illustrating life's twists, turns and unexpected winds, wear the Path of Life Charm to proudly celebrate your own willingness to travel towards life's fruitful moments."

Think about that for a minute. How does it make you feel? What a fresh reminder that I have one big beautiful life, and can find good and opportunity in the roughest of times. It's not that I am not a positive person. But I'm human. I get downright confused on my direction some days. I wonder about my future.  Heck, maybe I even worry about my career. Where am I going? Where will I live? Who will I marry? What if this? What if that? It's enough to drive a girl crazy. But it is going to be okay, right? The gift, handpicked by my brother, reminds me the answer is yes. 

(Pictured above: Path of Life charm bracelet)

Alex, Stefan, Sam- thank you for the gift of remembrance this year. I can take this reminder with me everyday to have hope and faith and live this one life to the fullest. Thank you for being my rock and my heart. I love you.

I think we all need those reminders. So in true Catholic schoolgirl fashion, I pay that gift forward to you in this blog. I too wish you hope and excitement- whatever age you are, whatever stage in life you're experiencing, whatever hard times you face. I wish you the energy and motivation to get what you're craving from life. I truly wish you the "willingness to travel towards life's fruitful moments" with peace and faith. Kate, a good friend from college, gave me a magnet that says, "The best is yet to come." I remind you that it is. You have to act on it. You have to believe it.

So as you continue on your own "Path of Life" today, I challenge you to make it a beautiful journey.

"Forget the worry and simply live the beauty of this day." - Author unknown. 

Best to you,

P.S., thanks for the cash, mom and dad! A special 'thank you' to my aunt Mare, uncle Gaspare and aunt Paola. Thanks to all my viewers, family and friends who have made my New Year the best year yet.  Your support and love are priceless.  

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