Strength.

It’s been two weeks since my last post. And what a crazy two weeks it has been.

First of all, a quick update on my weight loss goals. I weighed in yesterday and finally reached the 15 pound mark. While I can’t say I’ve been doing this whole Weight Watchers thing perfectly, I can say I’m pretty happy with myself so far. I definitely see changes in my day-to-day eating habits. And I am so thankful for this warmer weather – it has really helped motivate me to step up the exercise. Later today I hope to take the bike out. {Although, holy mosquitoes and allergies!}

Last week I had a lot going on, one being my five-month-old nephew Isaac having skull (yes, skull) surgery. This was a necessary step in helping to fix a condition he was born with, craniosynostosis. It was through this experience that I was reminded of the importance of faith, prayer, and the value of a strong supportive family. As I sat in the waiting room of the surgical floor on Tuesday morning and saw that nearly our entire family had taken the day to be there to support my sister and brother-in-law, I was so proud to be part of such a loving supportive group. Isaac is doing well now, he got home on Friday and is full of smiles. And I cannot say enough good things about the care he received at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. They are truly amazing.

Isaac

One thing I definitely want to mention is how much I admire my little sister’s strength through this past week and continuing into his recovery. I can’t imagine what she was feeling as she handed Isaac over to the doctor before the surgery and then just waiting. When I stopped into visit and I watched her look over her precious baby in that bed, wanting to hold him but knowing he was more comfortable in the bed…and then rocking him as he cried, obviously in pain. Elizabeth, if you’re reading this…I am truly in awe of you.

And to all of you…thank you so much for your prayers. The power of prayer is very real and this week was once again a testimony to that.

I have a pretty big week coming up again, one I am completely sure that will be A-MAZ-ING. I’ve been getting ready for the arrival of my dear friend and amazing mentor, Beth, from Atlanta. I mentioned this a couple of posts back, but she gets here in less than 48 hours and I could not be more excited. I am feeling VERY blessed and so darn lucky that she is willing and able to come all the way here, and I am beyond grateful for her faith in me in this role at GVSU. I’ve been busy preparing for the workshop on Wednesday, even making homemade magnets for those who are attending. That was one of my many projects this weekend and I was happy with how they turned out. I also assembled flash drives and lanyards for the follow-up piece we will be sending out to those who attended.

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Tell me what YOU are excited about this week! Or maybe something that happened last week that you want to celebrate. I’d love to hear it!

Cheers!

*Danielle*

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Gratitude.

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{I have not been to a Weight Watcher meeting yet this week—I will post on that soon}

Today I want to write about gratitude.

As you might know, I’m literally in the business of giving thanks. I’ve been called the “university hugger” because I have the lucky job of helping to show people the impact of their gift to Grand Valley State University and to make them see how completely grateful we are for their support.

Gratitude is something I do not take lightly. I try to live it every single day in my professional and personal life. It’s not hard…it’s not something we should feel forced to do…it should be a habit. It’s so easy.

Two words: Thank You.

We all like to hear these words. However, I don’t think we get to hear them enough. We’re all busy. We’re all cramming so much into our days and nights that we probably miss a lot of little things that happen and we should be thankful for. I heard someone say that it is not necessary to say thank you for something that is expected, such as completing a project at work. I disagree. If you see someone has put forth great effort to get the project done on time and exceeding expectations…what’s the harm in saying thank you? Just remember that while it should be sincere, gratitude doesn’t have to be a grand gesture.

Yesterday I had a particularly frustrating morning dealing with car issues. I pretty much let it get the best of me and as I was sitting in the mall food court sulking and having a true “woe is me” moment, I pulled out my reading material I had put in my purse in anticipation of some waiting for my car to be fixed. One thing I had brought along was my Jesus Calling devotional (which is amazing, by the way). I read the devotional for yesterday and decided to peek ahead. This was in the reading for today, April 29:

Let Me teach you thankfulness. Begin by acknowledging that everything—all your possessions and all that you are—belongs to Me. The dawning of each new day is a gift from Me, not to be taken for granted. The earth is vibrantly alive with My blessings, giving vivid testimony to My Presence.

Hmm. Well played, God.

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Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

Needless to say I took that as a sign and found a few things I could be thankful for. My health. A roof over my head. Food on the table. Thankful that I have a car in the first place. Thankful for my job that allows me to have such things. Thankful for my education that helped me acquire the skills needed to do my job.

Most of all, thankful for friends and family who support me 110 percent.

No. Matter. What.

What are you most thankful for today?

Make it a great week, friends.

Warmly,

Danielle Josephine

The Little Things.

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I got an email from my sister today, asking when I would be posting my next blog entry. The first thing I thought was, “well, someone’s reading it, I guess.”

Then I wondered how it managed to be Wednesday already. The days seem to be passing by even faster lately, and I often wish there was a pause and rewind option. Maybe someday there will be an app for that.

First, let me get to the reason I started this blog in the first place. I guess the obvious reason was to keep myself accountable for my Weight Watchers and report my progress along the way (down 13.5# by the way). As for WW, it’s going pretty well. I do have to be honest and say this past week has been horrible as far as tracking my food intake. And I can tell. I had a couple of rough days and I’m back at it. So thankful for the great weather outside – it’s MUCH more motivating than cold, dark, gray, and rainy.

Yes, I started the blog as an accountability thing. But as I looked deeper into it, I think I needed to start this blog because it really forces me to sit down and reflect on what is happening in my life and the lives of those who I care about. When I sit down in front of the computer to write, I look back the days since my last post and really think about what excitement I’ve had, the good things that have happened, and then take the things that weren’t so good and figure out how to make any changes necessary to avoid them in the future. So I guess in some regard, this blog is like free therapy. And who doesn’t love a good weekly trip to the therapist?

The past few weeks, things have really picked up steam at work. GVSU is having an exceptionally busy year as far as events go. I just passed the 1 year mark in my job and I’ve been learning some things about myself, including the fact that I’m not as patient as I would like to be. Don’t get me wrong – I think as a general rule I am an extremely patient person. But when I get fixed on a vision, on an idea…I want it to happen YESTERDAY. So I’m practicing the art of patience. Baby steps. And when my desk looks like this, it’s time to step back and take a deep breath.

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One thing I am especially excited about is a workshop I am planning along with my dear friend Beth from Georgia Tech. Beth does at Georgia Tech what I envision myself doing for GVSU down the road, so she has been an INCREDIBLE mentor and support as I navigate this position I am in with trying to make the changes I want to make. She’s coming to GR for 3 days next month and I’m thrilled to get to spend time working with her and learning from her and ecstatic to show her around the city.

So. I titled this post “The Little Things.” I came up with it because in the midst of all the craziness, in between the 8:00 meetings and the deadlines and the time spent trying to keep up with everything… this last week we’ve been reminded once again to appreciate the little things in life. We truly need to remember to stop and smell the flowers…like these from my dear friend Jenn at Modern Day Floral & Events.

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The little things to me are encouraging text messages from a friend…a few moments of laughter during a stressful day…catching up with a loved one you have not seen in a long time and then wondering why you put it off so long…

One of my favorite little things is escaping my office for my lunch hour to spend it with these my niece and nephew. That 45 minutes is just the burst of joy I need sometimes to rejuvenate myself for the afternoon.

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Another one of my favorites is taking time to write…for fun. I write a lot at work but I love when I can sit down with my laptop or even just pen and paper and write…a blog post, journal entry, or a letter. >Yes, I still use the Post Office<

What are the little things in life that make you smile? Are you making sure to take every opportunity you have to enjoy those things? I truly hope you take some time this weekend to stop, take a deep breath, and put the to-do list aside for even just a few minutes to do something that makes you happy.

Thanks for stopping by…and for reading. I appreciate it!

Warmly, Danielle

Today.

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(Note: I wrote my usual weekly update yesterday after my meeting…but today, everything I wrote seems irrelevant. I’ll be posting again soon. But because I know people want to know how I did, I’m down 1 more pound for a total of 11.6 pounds)

Today there was tragedy in Boston. Tragedy no one can explain.

Today there are families who have lost loved ones and are filled with sadness on a day that was supposed to be filled with celebration and accomplishment.

Today there are 2 more angels in Heaven…two people who woke up this morning just hoping to have a fun day at the Boston Marathon. One of those is an 8-year old. THIS makes me angry.

Today, hospitals are overwhelmed with patients who have devastating injuries. These people were there to run a race they’ve been training for, to cheer on a loved one who was going to reach a major milestone in their life, and giving up their time to volunteer and make sure this day was perfect for all those who were there to take part.

Today, I am sad. No, I did not know anyone personally who was there. But I, like so many others, feel a connection because this could happen anywhere. It’s sad, scary, and maddening.

But today I also know that God will give peace to all those who need it. He will wipe their tears. He will comfort the mourning. He will give strength to the injured, to their families, and to the doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen, paramedics…all those who are working together to help the city of Boston rest easy tonight and going forward. I know this because I have faith and I have experienced the Lord’s work.

I’ll leave you with this bit of scripture…and a reminder to never ever take anything or anyone for granted.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1-11 NIV)

*Danielle Josephine*

12 Years.

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Aunt Tudi & me, Easter 1978

When I was born and it came time for me to be baptized, my parents chose my Aunt Tudi to be my Godmother. I’m not sure how they made this decision, but it was the beginning of a very special bond between my aunt and me. She was a source of encouragement, a person I could share anything and everything with, and she was an excellent role model.  And she had a smile and a laugh that were both so completely contagious.

And twelve years ago, on March 8, 2001, I said my last goodbye to my Aunt Tudi.

My last memory of her is a good one. It was late in the evening after I had finished my class. She had been moved to the Hospice home about 8 days prior, and they told us we could come visit whenever we wanted. I had decided that night I would go spend some time with her. I knew that any time I could spend with her was precious. And I can remember this moment like it was yesterday.

You see, there was one thing that we had always talked about doing but never got the opportunity. Both of us loved Barbra Streisand and we had this agreement that if she ever made it close to here, we would go. So, I went to see her that night with a DVD of a Streisand concert in my hands and my laptop in my bag.

There were a few people in her room when I arrived but they did not stay long and soon it was just me. I let her know I was there and what I had planned for us. The docs had told us the hearing would be the last to go, so she would be able to hear what was going on in the room, even if she couldn’t respond.

I sat at her side that night, and as the DVD played I had this incredible feeling that she was really listening. It’s hard to describe. I just felt this presence in the room. And as I began to pack up to head home, I sat down next to her, held her hand, and told her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. And then I said goodbye.

Less than 48 hours later, she took her last breath and left this earth for Heaven.

This entire experience changed my life. Yes, it left me with a lot of grief, anger, and I tried to search for a reason that all of this happened. And now, twelve years later, part of me still seeks an explanation, but I’ve learned a lot. My relationship with the Lord is stronger than it has ever been. I think as my Godmother she’d be proud of me. I have so many times where I want to call her up and tell her something fun that happened, talk to her about things that are going on…but something tells me that she knows.

If you knew my Aunt Tudi, what is your favorite memory of her? I’d love to hear.

Until next time…

 

Reset.

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It’s Saturday evening and I’m getting ready to unplug for the day and get ready for the week ahead. Tomorrow is going to kick off a new week and hopefully a new chapter in my life. I would like to call this chapter, “Time to Get This Under Control.”

Aaah, yes. Focusing in on my health.

If you have known me for a while, you’re probably thinking “yep, heard that before Danielle.” Trust me, I know.

Tomorrow afternoon I will be attending my first Weight Watchers meeting. I’ve done this before and it has worked for me, but as soon as I stopped going to the meetings, the whole concept of counting points was “out of sight, out of mind.”

So I thought I just put it out there on this blog, in case anyone is actually reading it – and you can all just keep a good thought for me and help keep me accountable. I don’t mean slapping the food out of my hand, but any helpful tips are welcome. My plan is to blog once a week after my meetings. Writing has always been a great outlet for me and I plan to use this blog as an aide in attaining my goals.

So there you have it, folks. I appreciate my friends and family so much. I hope you know that. Until tomorrow…

Inspired.

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Room Shot

Ambassador Ballroom, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

This image was taken yesterday at the most beautiful wedding I have EVER seen. It and the history behind what is in this photo inspired me to sit down and write tonight. I’ve been working at Modern Day Floral for several months now, and yesterday I got to be a part of a set up for the first time. Watching the transformation take place was unbelievable.

I’m inspired by my dear friend who spent the last year working with these clients and their families in making sure that the day was everything they dreamed it would be. Her creativity, determination, persistence, and ability to take the tiniest spark of an idea and turn it into a masterpiece are just a few of the things I admire in her. I have seen the hundreds of hours she put into this particular event and could not have been more proud yesterday as I saw it all come to fruition.

I was in complete awe of the way so many people came together to make this transformation happen. This team is a machine. Everyone brings their own talents to the group, and they do their best work every single time. Watching this happen yesterday and being a part of it brought true meaning to the saying from Aristotle, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

As we begin a new week, I leave you with this. I was reading one of my all time favorite books, “Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People,” by Rich DeVos. One particular phrase has always stood out to me: I believe in you. It’s so simple, just four words, but wow can they make a difference. When all is said and done, knowing that we have people in our lives cheering us on, we can do anything we put our minds to. Keep those four words in mind and don’t hesitate to say them. Sometimes that is all people need to hear.

To all my friends…whether you are planning and designing some of the most amazing events you have ever worked on…or if you are in the midst of an unbelievable amount of work that may seem overwhelming at times…or if you are at a point in life when you just are not sure how to move forward…I believe in you. I have complete faith that whatever you put your mind to, you can accomplish.

 

 

An Open Letter To My Nephew

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My dear nephew,

My name is Danielle, or as you will know me…Aunt Danielle. Today is “Auntie’s Day” and it was just yesterday I learned that I would be getting a nephew, so I felt it only fitting to make you the subject of my blog post today.

Let me tell you a little bit about that cake up there. You see, yesterday we (lots of family and friends of your mom and dad) all gathered at the house you will be living in when you arrive. Your mom and dad wanted to share the moment of finding out whether you would be a boy or girl with everyone they love. (this is something new people are doing, they used to not find out until the baby actually arrived) So your mom, dad, and your big sister Brynn cut into this cake yesterday and when they saw it was blue, we were all beyond excited. You have a lot of people already waiting to meet you, including me. Your arrival is still months away, but I can’t wait to hold you in my arms. You will be showered with love by so many who already adore you. Your mom (my sister), your dad, and your big sister Brynn will be busy getting ready for you to make your entrance into the world.

I have to tell you, I’m a little nervous to have a nephew. I hope I will be a good aunt to you. As you will find out when you get here, this family tends to be dominated by girls 🙂 There are a lot of pink and sparkly things around. And while I’m nervous, I’m also very excited. It’s a new adventure in our family to have a baby boy. And it gives us all a good excuse to start shopping for “boy stuff” so that when you arrive you don’t get a bunch of ruffly, pink things.

So, nephew of mine. I can’t wait for you to get here. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms, read you books, see you experience things for the first time. I can’t wait to teach you new things. Until then, I will pray for you and for your mom and dad and big sister as they wait for you. I love you already.

Love,

Aunt Danielle