How I'm Different From My Siblings

Different But The Same: Navigating My Life as One of Three Siblings

I couldn't be more different than my two siblings, but on some levels we're more alike than I thought.

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I am the oldest of three lively, loving and faithful siblings. My sister is seven years younger than me and my brother is nine. Two of us shared a room growing up, and the other lived just down the hall. In a lineup, we're unmistakably related. We share the same nose from our grandfather, the thin hair of our great-grandmother and the thick Italian eyebrows of our mother.

Deep down, we're all cut from the same cloth. Our moral compass, foundation and background are the same. We'd answer alike if you were to ask us our favorite childhood memory, how an elder should be treated, what to say and do at the dinner table and what is essentially right and wrong. All three of us are driven academically, hunger professionally and seek to mine the most good out of every day. Yet, on paper, we couldn't be more different.

Take my sister, for instance. She's the librarian at our local elementary school. We can't go to the local diner, the swimming pool or even walking down the road without scores of children recognizing her, running up to her and giving her a bear hug. There are entire circles of people who only know me for who I am in relation to her. I'll admit, when she first got that position, I went the entire summer long feeling as though I were walking in her shadow, though I eclipse her by half a decade of experience. There's a reason she's so well-known and loved, though. My sister is unfailingly kind, generous with her time and attention and genuinely invested in the young people she serves. She devours books, classic television shows and the family homeplace she shares with her high school sweetheart turned husband.

Then, there's my brother. He was in middle school when I got married, so our time together as adolescents was shorter, but we're more alike than it may seem. It's from him that I got my love of folk music, thrifting and antiques. He's an avid environmentalist and programs coordinator for our local arts council. In a world obsessed with smartphones and tiny screens, he takes walks with his fiance with a dictionary in hand, discovering new words and worlds as they travel. They hike every weekend, hole up and work on crosswords at their tiny cottage in the woods and spend all the time they can in their favorite mountains. In fact, they will likely relocate there or to the west coast when they tie the knot this September. He's outdoorsy, worldly and hyper-aware of how every decision he makes affects the world.

That bring us to me. Though I'm older than both of them in age, I feel as though I fall right in the middle of my brother and sister in terms of our interests and ideals. Like my brother, I love being outside and spend as much time in nature as possible. Yet, as the mother of two, I depend on disposable diapers and eat off paper plates to save time and money. Like my sister, I love nothing more than curling up with a great book, but as a technical writer and proposal manager, my life has me behind a screen more often than not. I read on my laptop into the wee hours of the morning, though like her, I spend many hours reading board books to children myself, though it's in the comfort of my home and not the local library.

At our core, we're wildly unique but I love the common thread woven between all of us. I love that our parents treated us all the same and made sure that what they did for one, they did for another. We all grew up feeling cherished, protected and loved beyond measure and for that, I'm eternally grateful. As we grow older together, we're learning from each other, exploring each other's interests and cultivating our own personalities in the process. It's a beautiful thing, doing life with these two. Thankfully, we all live within three miles of each other, so we get to unfold daily mysteries together on a regular basis. I couldn't imagine a better way or place to live.

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Bonnaroo Is Unlike Any Other Music Festival

4 days of camping, 150 performers, 10 stages, and the most incredible experience you'll ever encounter in the middle of Tennessee.

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The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes place in an enormous 700-acre field -- nicknamed "The Farm" -- in Manchester, Tennessee. Festival-goers from all over the country fly, drive, or walk into the festival to experience 4 days of music, activities, and food. This past weekend was my first time going, and I can without a doubt say that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. One of Bonnaroo's common sayings is "Radiate Positivity," and the 4 days spent there are factual evidence of the saying. At Bonnaroo, there is no stress, no worry, and not a care in the world. People of all kinds come together each year to celebrate life, love, and music without judgment. Each person's authenticity was something I noticed as soon as I stepped foot into the festival.

You can embrace your true self without apology. Each person is there to lift you up, too.

The atmosphere is much different than anything else I have experienced before. Even when my friends and I felt tired, or if the sun was just too hot to bear, we still did not mind being on our feet for hours on end. We enjoyed being exactly where we were, despite the minor inconveniences we may have faced -- like sitting in 5-hour traffic to get into the campground! I may sound crazy for saying this, but time truly did slow down while we were on The Farm.

My friends and I pulled up to the campground at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning as The Farm buzzed with people. We were too excited to go to sleep, so we spent the morning exploring the place instead. Day or night, everyone was alive with smiles that were contagious. We heard the words "Happy Roo!" from friends and strangers alike.

No matter where you came from, everyone was family at Bonnaroo.

One thing I noticed this past weekend was that everyone was there to help one another. If we needed help with setting up our tent, our neighbors who camped next to us were there to help in seconds. If someone tripped and fell, three people would be there to help the person up. If someone needed a few bucks for water, there was someone in line who was more than willing to cover the cost. I felt so at home there, as if I was a part of this community consisting of all types of people. I felt like I belonged there.

Alongside incredible people and a fulfilling community, there was stellar music as well (of course!). Headliners such as The Lumineers, Post Malone, and Kacey Musgraves rocked The Farm with new and old hits that hyped up the crowds.

Each performer reminded us that Bonnaroo is a safe place and does not discriminate against any person.

Hearing these words so often gave me so much hope for this world and the changes we can make. Bonnaroo is known as a Music and Arts Festival for a reason because it also promotes and sells eco-friendly living and handmade creations all throughout the festival. The activities that are available to attendees set the festival apart from other music festivals.

Bonnaroo connects us all through music, acceptance, and love. I can't wait to go back next summer!

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The Beauty of Releasing Anxiety Over the Future

What you learn when you learn you don't need to know it all

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I come from a long line of women who worry. We stay up late at night wondering if we got it all right that day. We stress over the details and sweat the small stuff more than we should. Surprisingly, for the amount they fret, my sister and mother are the epitome of calm. They're collected and graceful, whereas I'm a constant bundle of nerves wound tighter than a brand-new yo-yo.

This year, however, I resolved to change all of that. I determined that 2019 would be the year I released all the anxiety and fears around the future. It would be the year I stopped concerning myself with matters of tomorrow and focused instead on the beauty and blessing of today. We're only six days into this new year, but I have already felt that gigantic weight lifted. Why, you might ask, did I choose this particular year? I will turn 32 this April and I've had plenty of turns around the sun to think about getting it right. I've had time to relax, time to recharge and time to start anew.

So, why this year? Put simply, I can tell this is going to be one unlike any other. We're moving out of our home in the next few months, in preparation to begin an enormous remodel project on a nearby family home. As we do so, we're going to be living with my in-laws, our oldest starts kindergarten in the fall, and we're both planning to ramp up our careers by taking on new challenges.

In short, I could easily approach these new obstacles with a jittery heart and nerves that are shot before the day even begins. Yet, each day has its own struggles and if I were to look at this year as a whole, I'd be overwhelmed by the extent of it all. Between school, sports, work and this project, there is no shortage of concerns to worry over, issues to fret about and worries to wonder on. It is for this very reason that I'm stepping out on faith and giving the headaches over, relinquishing the lock-tight control I once held over my own day-to-day chaos.

The thing is, I can see where it's all going. I can already see our dream home that will sit on the lot behind the cornfield. There are two creeks on the property, a sod field in the back, and Japanese cherry blossom trees that I can't wait to watch come alive this spring. I have dreams of eating popsicles on the back deck while the sun goes down in the summertime and I can see the kids running in the huge, open front yard, the one that takes us 10 minutes or more to walk up and down the driveway. I can see the measures we are taking to make the home as energy-efficient as possible paying off with lower power bills. I know the garden we plant in two years will be our biggest and best yet.

I know this will be the home my children remember growing up in. We'll take prom pictures here and first dates will end on the front stoop. Still, the process of getting there, of going home, is a long and laborious one and I could easily crawl under the covers and seek to escape from it all if I think about it for too long.

Instead, I'm getting up early in the mornings these days. I'm having quiet time to reflect and recharge my faith. I'm reading more text and devouring fewer screens. I'm taking more walks (another resolution) and spending at least a little bit of time in nature every day. I'm looking my children in the eye when they speak to me rather than rushing by them on my way to the next, more important thing. I'm making a gratitude list at the end of every day with five things that blessed and inspired me. I'm going to bed earlier and sleeping more deeply, my heart fuller than it's ever been.

I'm releasing my ambition to plan every day to a tee. I'm letting life happen and enjoying the ride of letting go.

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