30 Days of Gratitude

Just a few more weeks until Thanksgiving and I know that we all have A LOT to be thankful for!  I started one of those trends running on Facebook where each day you recognize one thing that you’re grateful for.  I hope that I can remember to post something each day because I definitely have a lot of gratitude for some of the simplest things in life!

Here’s a recap of the past few days:

30 days of gratitude and thankfulness:
Nov 1:  I am thankful that my family & friends made it through Sandy safely!
Nov 2:  I am grateful for my health!
Nov 3:  I am thankful for Pine Valley & their ability to grow beautiful trees & provide our family with a great yearly tradition of tree tagging!

Nov 4:  I am thankful for an extra hour of sleep!                                                                             Nov 5:  Even though I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, I am thankful that my husband and I both have decent jobs to go to.

I no longer take my health for granted.  As I enter into the month of November, I’m once again reminded with all the “anniversaries” of the events that led to my diagnosis.  But something else has been taking up space in my heart over the last week – and is referenced on day one of my thankfulness – the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to the east coast.  I feel so lucky that my family and friends are all safe.  I grew up in a small fishing town along the Jersey shore – Atlantic Highlands.    Our sister town right next door is Highlands and was completely devastated by Sandy.  The victims of Sandy are my former classmates (both are such small towns that Atlantic Highlands & Highlands kids go to one common middle school/high school combo), friends, my mom’s patients and a town full of people determined to rise up and rebuild.  I have been monitoring the sequence of events from afar, mostly via Facebook updates and other social media outlets like Twitter and YouTube.  I cannot tell you how many times my eyes were brimming with tears.  I almost feel guilty when I climb into a warm bed each night – because I know that there are so many others in my town who will not have that comfort for a long time.

Atlantic Highlands and Highlands are built into a hill and both towns overlook the Atlantic Ocean and Raritan Bay – so there is literally a “downtown” area for each town.  Downtown Highlands was basically underwater after Sandy and the Atlantic Highlands harbor suffered a great deal of damage.  My parents are lucky – they happen to live up high.  The biggest concern for them were the trees surrounding their house and streets and thankfully they remained safe.  The other two areas that bring back a flood of childhood memories are Sandy Hook and the town of Sea Bright.  I’m not sure those two areas will ever look the same.

The glimmer of hope is the pride I feel when I read all those Facebook posts and see how the community is pulling together to help one another out.  The National Guard was stationed in Highlands and for a while, only Highlands residents were allowed into town.  My best friend’s sister (an Atlantic Highlands resident) was able to borrow a Highlands’ resident’s ID so she could sneak into town with a mobile mini-mart offering displaced homeowners hot coffee, hand sanitizer, food and even the sweatshirt off her back.  I know that there are countless others out there on the streets of Highlands making sure that their neighbors are taken care of.

Right after the storm, my parents escaped to their second home near the Poconos, PA.  They returned to Atlantic Highlands Sunday night and my mom has called me each day, heavy with emotions as she drives through Highlands and finds people who need help.  Even though, I have viewed countless pictures and videos online, I cannot fathom the emotion of seeing the devastation firsthand.

In addition to all the friends and families who lost their homes and belongings, there is also the loss of landmarks from my childhood and coming of age:  my high school (MAST) was located on Sandy Hook and now has to find a place to temporarily relocate, the beach clubs in Sea Bright where I was fortunate enough to spend many summers are basically gone, one of the oldest restaurants in NJ and where I spent my summers in between college waiting tables will have to rebuild, the beach where my husband proposed to me may not be open for the 2013 season and McLoones, where we had our wedding reception was lifted off of its foundation.  I am deeply saddened by every new bit of information that I receive.  And with this new storm on the horizon, the towns are yet again being evacuated.

I saw a picture posted on Facebook from one of my past favorite watering holes in Highlands – Off the Hook.  I think this picture of their sign sums up how determined and strong this town is.  I am proud of where I grew up and I feel extremely fortunate that my childhood home is still standing. 

As cheesy as it sounds, I’m “Jersey Strong” and I’ll always be a Jersey Girl (please note that one does not need to have big hair, long nails or a foul mouth to be a Jersey girl)!

PS – I know this post has absolutely nothing to do with Breast Cancer but the life cycle of a breast cancer blog will be another post, another day!

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