Sunday, January 17, 2016

Five Years Ago

January 19, 2011. Five years ago this week and exactly one month from the day I graduated from Clemson, I overfilled two suitcases with much more than I needed and traveled to live in a foster care home for Native American children in Lame Deer, Montana. Being the invincible twenty-two year old that I was, I felt more than prepared for the winter storms and motherhood that awaited me. 

This weekend, for the first time, I reread my blog that I wrote while living in Montana. While I felt ridiculous becoming emotional at my own written words, I was taken back to a precious, exhausting time that I will forever cherish. Reading between the lines of my thoughts, I was elated with happiness yet also noticeably exhausted. Being a mom was hard. Through all the mentions of fevers, timeouts, vomit, and naps, I also wrote about gratitude, perspective, and His overwhelming presence. 

Now, five years forward, my heart yearns for the simplicity of that charming yellow house. While our paths were once so incredibly intertwined, we now are only memories in each other's lives. My baby boy is now nine years old yet to me he will always be in his onesie pajamas flapping his arms like a bird for me to fly over the baby gate we had installed to keep his little sister from crawling up the stairs. I can feel his warm little hand in mine as we ran from the dragadiles (dragon meets crocodile of a creature that only lives deep in the snow of Lame Deer.) I deeply yearn for my heart lying on his bottom bunk while I rubbed his belly to fall asleep sharing his Spongebob blanket. 

I never felt so exhausted as I did then both physically and emotionally. Looking back, I was eager to go. I wanted to be twenty-two again. Yet, I was so in love with where I was. I miss that home. Those moments in time. Rarely does a day pass when I don't think of my sweet boy in our yellow house. My, has my world changed since then. For the longest time, I battled guilt. Guilt for leaving. Guilt for the times when I wasn't fully present. Guilt for the nights I spent longing to be back in Clemson for my second semester of senior year. Guilt for putting my own future ahead of his. 

While I keep up from a distance and conclude that he is well, so much of who I am is for that little boy. He's in every student I teach. Every time I smother Henry with my love, some goes to him. I see him in each overly energized little boy bouncing down the city sidewalks. Whenever I feel drained to my utmost core, he is what pushes me onward. While we may never be together as we were in those first three months of 2015, he made me who I am. He inspires me to want to be a mom again. To selflessly love others before myself. To be the very best version of who I am, for him. 

- Danielle

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year, Same Me

Happy New Year!! It has certainly been a lengthy while since I sat down with the intentions of writing a blog post. Truthfully, I started the blog with the hopes of joining the Carly and Mackenzies of the blogger world with my carefully curated Instagram feed detailing the highlights of my life and my sponsored posts of fashion goodness. A year and a half later, that’s simply not me anymore. I toyed with the idea of putting together a Christmas wish list for Santa and providing a holiday tour of my winter wonderland apartment, but really struggled finding the excitement I used to have to prepare such posts. In reflecting (or overanalyzing as I do with everything) I’ve realized that the joy I once received from posting on the blog has been replaced. I’m in a different spot and one where I feel truly happy.

Twenty fifteen was an unexpectedly bold year. I started a new career path, moved to a new city, started and ended a relationship, and truly found happiness within myself throughout this whole process of uncertainty and changes. It’s a privilege to love what you do and for that, I’m grateful. It was a risk and I was terrified but with much encouragement, it was a risk I decided to take. I left the comforts of Charlotte and moved to New York City, which is quite terrifying on so many levels from these things called bed bugs to navigating the subway system. NYC and I did not have the best of starts and I questioned myself for the first little bit. Fortunately, once the weather cooled, I found my peace and now I’m still in my honeymoon phase with the city. (I’m sure once the polar vortex arrives, I’ll be seeking a temporary separation of some kind.)

In a recent review, I was asked where I saw myself in three to five years. I answered truthfully, “I have no idea.” A year ago this is not where I would have predicted myself to be and thinking futuristically to three to five years from now seems a bit too intangible. Which leads me to my motivation of sitting down to right this post. This year, I want to be here. Where I am. Enjoying each moment.

I love not knowing what’s next and as much as I adore planning, I’m quite certain it will all work out exactly as it should when the timing is right. While I’ll inevitably be asked “what’s next?” in respects to my career, relationships, and personal goals… For now, I’m enjoying the uncertainty. I absolutely love my school and I’m excited for the year to come when we will have our first class of seniors applying to college for Fall 2017.  I’ve become a bit more adventurous with my dabbling into the dating scene and have enjoyed a few dates recently. While this means slightly fewer date nights at home on the couch with Henry, I’m finding it all fun and Henry makes up for the lack of snugs by now sharing my pillow at night.  And for personal goals, I did qualify for the 2016 New York City Marathon, which means I’ll be doing a lot of running this year.

I’m not too sure what’s next in terms of blog posts, but I’ll share when the timing feels right. In the meantime, enjoy a few of my favorite snaps from the end of 2015. (I don’t post everything to Instagram. Shocking, I know.)

NYE in Times Square. While I'd like to think I'm resilient enough to stand outside all day waiting for the ball drop, I had a family friend who kindly escorted my friends and me to the center of Times Square at 10:30 PM which was quite lovely and I may have wanted to pretend I was a celebrity. 

I've developed this new hobby of dog photography. Thus far, Henry and Leonard have been my only two muses. 

We took the students to Chelsea Piers the day before school let out for the winter holiday. I attempted to show off my skills in the bating cages and successfully made contact with one ball. 

The same family friend as NYE scores us incredibly seats for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  All of my happy squeals were in full force that day. 

We had a Thanksgiving Potluck at school. While I didn't get a dinner plate, the desserts were incredible. 

In November, we took the whole school a college trip to Philadelphia where they visited Villanova, Swarthmore, Haverford, Temple, Bryn Mawr, and UPenn. I spent the day at Villanova where students volunteered for the Special Olympics. 

Also in November, I hosted a panel at our school for the junior class with representatives from Barnard, Columbia, Cooper Union, NYU, Syracuse, and Trinity. The students helped prepare decor and questions for the panel and they were described as "the most attentive audience ever experienced." 

Looks like I'm spending a lot of time at school which I am and I completely love it.