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For Drew

Saturday, February 13, 2016

It was Valentine’s Day 2005 and I was called to the school office because I had received a delivery. I expected it to be from my parents or my Nana who always loved to send me beautiful flowers for Valentine’s Day. Instead I walked into the office to find a giant bouquet of a dozen gorgeous pink roses. I ripped open the card and read, “To my Sasha girl. Love, Drew”

Drew and I had only been together for about a week, so I was completely shocked and smitten by this lovely display of affection. But that was Drew. He didn’t do things in a small way. Our first kiss was this big, enthusiastic, movie-worthy kiss that at first took me by surprise and me made think, ‘Who is this Casanova?” But once I learned more about Drew, I knew it was just Drew. He lived big, dreamed big, and loved big.  

By some crazy, fortunate twist of fate, I was blessed to spend Drew’s last summer with him. He became my best friend and together we dreamed about our future – about going to KU. It was an incredibly happy summer full of traveling, cooking, debating for hours about books and politics, and mapping out our next chapter. Drew had this unquenchable thirst for knowledge and wanted to soak up every opportunity and experience life threw at him. I loved this about him, and learned to look at life in the same way. 

In August, Drew gave me a homemade kind of magazine about us with a timeline of our summer with all the people, places and memories we had experienced along the way. It was beautiful, and I still have it today. He included one of his favorite quotes in it from a Spanish poem, which is so very appropriate.

“Said the mosquito unto the frog from inside the vat; ‘tis better to die in the wine than to live in the water.’”

Fast forward one year to February 12, 2006, and Drew was gone. My world was completely shattered. I literally didn’t know how to function, and walked around campus blankly, filled with a deep sadness. Losing Drew was the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through. I couldn’t comprehend the world losing such a smart and talented young man. At my dorm’s front office two days later, Valentine’s Day, I was told I had a bouquet. I desperately wanted it to be from Drew like the year before. It was from my parents and it was beautiful, but I just sat down and cried. 

I struggled to make it through the second semester, and went home for the summer. Every day was sad and grey for a while, and I even wondered if I would be able to go back to KU. It was a long summer of healing, but finding that magazine with that quote helped me. I was living in the water. Drew would be so disappointed to see me sad and to let my dreams of going to KU slip away.  

I went back to KU and the next three years of my life were so happy, rewarding, and memorable. I got involved in my sorority, wrote for the newspaper, edited the magazine, won awards and scholarships, went to the Orange Bowl, watched the basketball team win a National Championship, made lifelong friends, earned two degrees, and met and fell in love with my husband.  I tried to take in all the experiences I could – thankful that I had been given the chance. I often thought of Drew, and wished he could have experienced college, too. He would have thrived, and loved every minute of it. 

Today I have a amazingly happy, wonderful, blessed life, with my greatest love and best friend, Mike. Together I’d like to think we live big, dream big, and love big, too.  I’m sad that Drew never got to meet the person he was meant to be with and to live a big, full life of his own. 

Ten years ago the world lost Drew. I don’t know why he chose to spend his last summer with me, but he changed my life forever and I’m forever grateful. 

'Happier' in January

Friday, February 5, 2016
Does this time of the year make anyone else feel a little blah? Unless you live in Florida, I think January and February can be tough months to get through sometimes. Mike and I joke that we never see the sunlight this time of year. We both leave the house before sunrise, we both work in offices with no windows (yeah, it’s a dream), and we both get home as the sun is setting. If you’re a vampire, it’s really a perfect life. Thus my skin is also Twilight-chic this time of year.

With the current gray, blas
é conditions I think it’s appropriate that I read “Better than Before” by Gretchen Rubin in January, and I’ve filled my commutes and runs with her podcast, “Happier.”  I knew I was going to love Better than Before because I find Gretchen a kindred spirit of sorts – we both have some alarmingly similar Upholder traits. If you read the book, you’ll know what an Upholder is, and you’ll know if you are one, too. (Most likely not – upholders aren’t a large percentage of the population.)  I loved Gretchen’s first two books about happiness, “The Happiness Project,” and “Happier at Home,” so much that they’ve completely changed the way I live my life, how I act, and how I spend my day. Did I just get a little Dr. Phil on you?

But seriously, they have.

While The Happiness Project and Happier At Home focus on tips and tricks to make your life, well, happier, Better than Before looks at our habits and tendencies and how those affect our happiness. A big takeaway from the book is that it’s important to build habits but we also have to know ourselves and ‘Be Gretchen’ (a big theme in the first book!) and know what we can change and what we can’t change. One of my favorite lines from her first book that she also uses frequently in Better than Before is, 
“What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you – and vice versa.”

In an effort to ‘know yourself better’ Gretchen provides a very interesting quiz in Better than Before to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or a Rebel. Take the quiz and find out what you are. It’s fascinating, and definitely helped me understand why I act the way I do, and how to form habits that are appropriate for me. 

In addition to devouring this book just like I did her others, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her podcast, “Happier” that she records with her sister, Elizabeth, a TV writer. For all the Type-A-ness that Gretchen is, Elizabeth complements the podcast perfectly with her relaxed demeanor, humor, and far from Type-A ways. It’s entertaining, and so informative. Give it a listen. 

Better than Before, and Happier have really offered some wonderful tips for me lately. I’d definitely give them ‘gold stars.’ (Again, if you listen you’ll know!)

In the words of Gretchen and Elizabeth here’s to going ‘onward and upward!’ 

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