Celebrating Something Special
Today, I am celebrating something. A celebration I never thought I would be celebrating. Two years ago, I made the easiest yet most complex decision of my entire life. On the eve of my 3-year anniversary of living and working in New York City, I packed up my belongs to move back home to live with my mom after she was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer. Since the first day I arrived back home, my plan has always been the same: help mom get better.
These past 2 years have been challenging. Before I even moved back home, friends and some family members tried to persuade me to stay in NYC. It’s a complete injustice to think of my current situation as anything but a happy one. I chose to be here and I am more & more thankful every day about that decision. Being the caregiver to a handicapped individual is tough but the daily joy it gives me outweighs that. I love my mom and would do anything to help her. And in all reality, my mom helps me just as much, if not more, than I help her. We make a good team!
During the time my father was being treated for brain cancer, I believe I subconsciously realized & recognized the ever-present need to be positive. My day-to-day life is very foreign to some of my closest friends and even family members. I try to remind myself every day that everyone has their own battles to fight and conquer, so I try my best to be an encourager to everyone I talk with and meet. This is especially important because it forces me to recognize and celebrate even the smallest of my mom’s personal victories since I moved back in with her. And I believe this attitude has allowed both of us to grow stronger to each other and also stronger with our faith.
So what’s next for me? I will continue to assist my mom with her continued recovery for as long as she needs me to be with her. She is doing wonderful! God is good!
What about my life? This is my life! Truthfully, I have never been concerned or worried about “my future” because I have never viewed moving back home as “putting my life and career on hold”. Remaining positive and happy with mom has helped her recovery just as much as it has helped me become a more happy and positive person. Yes, wonderful things happened for me while I was living in New York City but equally wonderfully things have happened for me while living in Wilkes-Barre Township, Pennsylvania.
One of the hallmarks of my move back home so far has been the continuation of NYC Smile 4 Me. My smile mission continues to grow and evolve every day, and I am so proud my mom has been able to be an integral part of its recent past. Momma Boh has graciously joined me as a co-host for a few #SmileStory interviews including Kristin Chenoweth and Hayley Mills. (And I am also thankful for my support system here at home and back in NYC that allow me to make the occasional trip back to film smile interviews in the city.) We were featured in a 5-page article in Guideposts magazine. And somehow, with everything else going on, we managed to plan & execute 2 completely free community-wide Smile Day celebrations in northeastern PA. It has been so special to be recognized, alongside my mother, by our local mayors & governor and even President Barack Obama for these Smile Day events!
Condoleezza Rice says that, “Life is full of surprises and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns in the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure-do it well, enjoy it-and then, not now, think about what comes next.”
I will continue to embrace life’s surprises and serendipity. And I will continue to realize that I am exactly in the right place where I need to be right now. And I most definitely will continue to smile.