The Summer of Awesome – Day 34

And here we are!

Exactly 2 months later and The Summer of Awesome featuring The Book of Awesome is coming to an end!

I can honestly say, I thought I would have given up at some point. 😛 I didn’t think I’d have the discipline to actually go through reading – and writing – about each of the 201 topics, but I did and I’m pretty proud of that. It was much harder to force myself to write about something that I didn’t have to submit to a professor or that had deadlines and it was even more hard to force myself to turn my computer on in this day and age of Smartphones.

If I continue to write (which I am definitely hoping to), I think I’ll have to make a proper space to do so, though, because trying to write on a laptop without a desk… isn’t exactly helpful for my old lady back.

Kudos to any of you who actually took the time to read my rambles, and more than that, THANK YOU for doing so! I appreciate the support, even if it was just a click here or a skim there. And I hope that somewhere along the way I managed to entertain you with my anecdotes and silliness.

So, here we go, the final four…

(197) Driving through your old neighbourhood and stopping to see the house you grew up in (pg 371)

I have lived in three houses in my life (and one apartment when I went away for school for eight months).

One house I don’t really remember all that well because we moved when I was still in kindergarten. I have vague, dream-like memories of this one… Things that I am never actually sure are real, until I ask my parents or siblings if I was remembering things correctly.

One house was literally my childhood home. We lived there for ten years from when I was in kindergarten, all the way up until Grade 8. We moved to my current house when I started high school.  I have fantastic memories of this second house – playing outside in the sprinklers, running around playing hide and seek with my friends and cousins, finding my first budgie – Joey – outside on the fence one day, and many, many other wonderful things.

We’ve lived at our current house for twice as long, but maybe because I was already a teenager by the time we moved here, I am not as emotionally attached to this one. (Probably doesn’t help that circulation is awful and it’s always too hot in the summer – I am boiling right now and freezing cold in the winter.) I do have good memories though, mostly tied to my niece, nephew and Indy.

Funny enough, my “childhood” home, the one I lived in for ten years, actually isn’t far from my current house at all… I see it pretty regularly, but… it’s not the same.

I don’t mean that in the sentimental, “Times have changed, and I’ve grown” variety – I mean, literally, the entire house looks COMPLETELY different.

One of the families who moved in over the last (almost) 20 years, changed the entire facade; it’s made of brand new bricks and isn’t even the same colour. Trees that I remember from when I was a kid have been torn down and, instead, a huge fountain was put up. (My dad once promised me a fountain… he never put it in, then years later I saw that someone had. How strange is that?)

I have relatives and childhood friends who’ve told me that they’ve gone down my old street, kept an eye out for my house and weren’t able to spot it anywhere. That doesn’t surprise me at all given how much it’s changed! I’ve even taken my cousin with me, pointed it out to her and she didn’t believe that that was the house where she used to sleep over and we’d always play.

In some ways, it’s sad, seeing your childhood home get so revamped and changed, but on the other, it retains your memories, because you realize no one will ever have the exact same experiences there that you did.

Part of me does wonder if my name is still written anywhere in the house, though… Goodness knows, my ten year old self tried to leave my mark in various places. 😛

(198) The last day of school (pg 374)

I’ll let you in on a little secret, kids may love the last day of school, but…

Teachers love it more.

Don’t get me wrong, as a student, there’s nothing like the last week of school leading up to that inevitable freedom, but when you’re a kid, your only responsibilities are your own; that is – you’re in charge of your schoolwork, your projects, your homework, your own well-being…

As a teacher, you’re in charge of marking everyone’s schoolwork, everyone’s projects, everyone’s homework and, most strenuous of all, caring for everyone’s well-being!

That can get tiring and stressful and believe me when I say, teachers deserve – and really look forward to – that two months off (which, in truth, really only works out to about six weeks, if not less, between planning, workshops and having to go back to set up and prep the classroom).

And what’s on the opposite side of the love-spectrum from the last day? You got it – the first! Luckily, here, that was about two weeks back, so I can assure you, the countdown to June 2018 has already begun… 😛

(199) When you’re right near the end of the book (pg 376)

Whether I’ve loved a book or hated it, when I reach the last few pages I get really antsy.

The type of antsy will depend on how I felt about the book:

If I didn’t like it – I’m just eager to be done and am skimming through as quickly as I can to say I finished it (e.g. The Hobbit, I threw it in the air when I got to the last page).

If I loved it – I’m eager to hold on to the characters and don’t want to get through quickly, but at the same time, I want to see how the story ends (e.g. The Help, I loved it so much that I watched the movie almost immediately after I finished and am glad to say I enjoyed that just as much).

Since I also like to keep lists of books I’ve read, that’s another reason I get antsy, just knowing I am a few seconds away from adding yet another book to my list!

For anyone curious, The Book of Awesome is my 6th book read for September – as I go by “Finished” date, instead of start date; my 49th book for the year; and my 321st listed on my GoodReads “Read” list, which, generally is made up of books, comics, plays, short stories, etc. that I have read from age 13 onward. Slowly, but steadily, making my way to that 500 book goal!

(200) Smiling and thinking of good friends who are gone (pg 378)

This story about Neil Pasricha’s friend was so bittersweet because you could tell where it was headed from the title. Such a sad story, but he was lucky to have such a wonderful friend in his life for the short time that he did.

Given my (relatively) young age, I’ve actually known a few too many people who’ve passed away, including some childhood classmates and friends. Two particularly come to mind for me, because now I sometimes work at my old elementary school and am reminded of them often.

One of these friends passed away from cancer, just after high school, and it was quite a significant blow because I had just seen her when we were doing our grad photos about two months earlier and she seemed to be doing quite well, much better than she had been… I remember when my sister told me my childhood friend had passed away, it was really hard to take in and believe.

She was so sweet, always happy to chat. We were close friends when we were very little, I think she may have actually been one of my first friends in kindergarten or grade 1; I remember her from way back. She was such a sweet girl, so incredibly beautiful, inside and out.

Another friend passed away a few years ago from, I’ve heard, complications from pneumonia. He and I hadn’t really seen each other in person or spoken for years.  This wasn’t for any reason, just circumstances of not seeing each other as you grow up and grow apart as you do, but as children, he was one of my closest friends and I has such amazing memories of him.

He, my best friend and I were a little trio for a long time. She used to go to daycare with him and a lot of my family used to work and volunteer at the daycare, so we all got to know each other very well. I always have this one very distinct memory of the time my best friend got this ludicrously bright pink puffy coat one winter and he and I made her run to the complete opposite side of our school yard, just to see if we could still spot her… and we did. We laughed so much (much to my best friend’s dismay). I also remember that he was very afraid of my brother and would hide from him…

While writing these stories, and thinking back on these friends, I did tear up a little, but smiled too. You really do remember how lucky you were to have such wonderful people in your life and hope that that little bit of time you were in their life, that you added something special for them too – a kind word, a hug, a memory…

It’s hard to lose friends, especially at such a young age, and so unexpectedly. Life’s truly not fair and doesn’t often make sense, so I’ve learned we need to cherish what we have when we have it.

(201) Remembering how lucky we are to be here right now (pg 382) 

Just like I said – cherish what you have when you have it!

I’ve read and learned a lot about the importance of gratitude in the last few years. It can get way to easy to complain about all that’s wrong and take for granted all that’s right in your life. I, like most everyone, have easily fallen into this trap.

And I’m not going to pretend it’s easy either, especially when you’re feeling down. A lot of books on self-help, spirituality, philosophy and the like suggest listing out things you’re grateful for, to foster more gratitude, but I’ll be the first person to tell you that when you feel crummy, those things may not be on the forefront of your mind and sometimes they might feel really forced.

What I tend to do is, start small – think of one thing that (usually) makes you smile, even if you don’t feel like smiling. Then think of another, and another, and so on, until, eventually, you might start to feel a little bitter, even if just one out of the bunch gets you remembering something good. It’s not a quick fix for depression or anxiety – I, unfortunately, don’t know that there is even such a thing anywhere – but at least it helps you to swap your thinking a bit more.

And so, at the end of all this, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to read this book and take on this project. It may have just been for my own sake, really, just to get me writing and remembering some awesome things in life, but it’s been fun to do.

Even though I had to push myself to actually write at times, I really do feel like doing this reminded me how much I like writing. Sure, I still need to practice at it to get past the bad habits that texting and social media have now ingrained in me, but at least I got started in some way!

So…

Thank you, followers and readers, for coming along!

Thank you, friends and family, who may not have even known I was doing this – and probably most still don’t – and contributing a lifetimes’ worth of memories and anecdotes that I’ve been able to include along the way.

And thank you, most of all, to Neil Pasricha, for writing The Book of Awesome and inspiring me to write on my own blog again.

And now…

On to the next project?

that_s_all_folks__by_surrimugge-d6rfav1.png

*One last note: If there were any big mistakes or typos anywhere along my way, sorry for that! I tended to just write and write and write, without any actual editing or re-reading. Maybe that’s something I’ll have to think about in my next go-round with the whole blog thing… 😛

 

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