Birthday love: 2 on the 25th

I love this week in July.

I love it because two of the most remarkable women in my life are celebrating their birthdays this Friday.

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That being said, it’s only natural that I should write a mushy, full of sap post in honour of these incredible blessings I’m so lucky to have – you’ve been warned.

Tania – a very long time ago, a time before Michael and rings and bridesmaid duty, you and I determined through a series of events and discoveries that we were probably the loves of each others lives. Since then, you and I refer to each other as just that.

Love of my life – I have watched you grow, change, love and learn. You have taught me what true class and grace is. You have also taught me what a backbone is and more importantly when and how to use it. You have been there for my very first firsts, laughed with me at the funny ones and held my hand through the worst of them – you have never failed me. You are my ride-or-die chick.

I hope this beautiful year ahead of you brings you more joy than you know what to do with. I hope your heart is always full and I hope you know just how much you mean to me. Happy, happy birthday my beautiful friend! I’m so very looking forward to this weekend of celebrating you!

Chantelle, Tania and I celebrating last year

Chantelle, Tania and I celebrating last year

M – God blessed me with you as a bonus to loving your dad. That’s the coolest gift I’ve ever received and I am so thankful I hit the jack pot in bonus love. Your brilliance was and is hard to hide and I knew from our first few encounters that you are a very special person with a very big heart.

You are destined for great things and it makes me so proud to say you are my family. You have taught me so much about life and helped me grow an incredible amount as a person. I am so grateful to call you my daughter and even more so my friend. You mean the world to me, beauty.

I hope on this birthday – besides soaking in the Southern sun – you can feel how loved, wanted and celebrated you are. Happy, happy birthday our beautiful girl. I hope this year is incredible for you in every way possible. (P.S. I miss you and want sushi. Come home now?)

M and I <3

M and I ❤

I’m so very lucky.

~ Toni

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Dear 16-year-old me

Dear 16-year-old me,

This is the year that you change high schools (by choice this time), the year you start grade 10 as the new girl again, meet and fall in love with two of your still-close girl friends, meet and fall in like with a few boys and then finally meet and fall in love with your first serious boyfriend. He will teach you that laughter really is one of the most important things in life and also that saying goodbye to people you love is hard, but sometimes completely necessary.

Michelle, myself, Katey

Michelle, myself, Katey

I want to tell you that you should be a little more sure of yourself, you’ve got more to offer the world than you give yourself credit for and you shouldn’t put so much weight on the negative influences you’ve faced. I want to tell you that your anger was so, so wasted and it took some joy out of what could have been even better moments. I wish I could tell you that if you could have been a little softer, a little sooner, you might not have been so quick to cut people out of your life. But, you eventually get it in your own time – go you!

You will know by now that your curves – especially your boobs – can and will be both a curse and a blessing. You will one day embrace them for both sides of the coin, especially when it comes time to attend court for your first speeding ticket…don’t worry, he lets you off way easier than the cop did.

You will kick yourself when you realize you should have thanked your big sister sooner for stepping in, every time, without question, whenever, wherever and however you might have needed her – she kind of raised and saved your ass…a lot. (Seriously, thank you, Julia.)

Where would I be without you?

Where would I be without you?

You don’t know it yet, but you are about to make the bold, almost stupid, decision of not attending college directly after high school – I want to thank you for that. Seriously, good move. You get to meet the next great loves of your life – your future fiancé, the man you will marry and his beautiful children – because he remembers you years after your stint in the automotive industry is over. He’ll contact you on a site called Facebook (which I won’t even attempt to explain to you) and the rest is history.

Future You still doesn’t fully understand the feeling women are talking about when they say they “can’t wait to have a baby!” and that’s still okay, but stay open. Try not to let the influential voices in your life dictate this one for you – it is a choice that only you are allowed to make as you are the only one who will live with the results of that choice. And when women who don’t understand your indecisiveness about it make you feel small and ashamed, please don’t let them get into your heart. Not wanting or wanting children of your own does not shape the woman you are and the quality of life that you will have. Those women can suck it.

I wish I could find some way to tell you to be kinder and to go easier on your mama (not that you would have listened, you mule). She has always been your biggest cheerleader and your biggest defender – whether you believe me or not. One day you will be blessed to count her as one of your best friends and won’t ever be able to make it up to her for all the heart attacks and aches you’ve caused her. No matter what path you will choose – even the decisions you’re not proud of (there are eventually a few, trust me) – she will never leave your side. She’s also kind of the best example EVER for a mother’s love and will unknowingly provide the strength and wisdom you need when you become a step-mom.

mama and me

Mama and me

Also, it turns out there is a way to get what you want out of life without fighting and building brick walls at the first hint of heartache. You don’t have to be so ready to fight for your life at a moment’s notice and you will learn the hard way that people will only love and care about you when it’s good for them too. You will also learn that if you continue to make it impossible, they will walk. And some never come back.

Please don’t stop painting. I guarantee you will regret it.

You foolishly will stop running when you begin your first full time job. Thankfully, somewhere in your mid-20s you will fall in love all over again – with the freedom you feel mid-stride, heart pumping, legs aching, sweat dripping, telling yourself just one more kilometer, every kilometer, until you feel satisfied. It’s an even more amazing and rewarding relationship the second time around. ***Bonus hint: this rule DOES NOT apply to all relationships…but you’ll learn that one eventually too.***

Yes, you still cry easily – when angered, when happy, when sad, when overwhelmed, when frustrated, when elated…even commercials do you in. You don’t yet fully love this trait so innate to you, but you get used to it. Eventually. I hope.

You should be warned that people will tell you whatever you want to hear to get what they need or want from you. You learn this rule the hard way a few times (See a theme here? Donkey.). However, be grateful that it still has yet to harden your heart and you learn to always hope for the best from people, every time. The good thing with this is you’re a lot happier this way and more in tune with your gut feel about people or situations.

16 year old me

16 year-old-me

You still have an amazing circle of people that love you and want only the best for you – you have just become a whole lot more appreciative of them and almost hyper-aware of how incredible your friends, family and loves are.

Please, try to remember daily – you are so blessed. Never forget what God has done for you.

Love,

~Toni