To My Community, Thank You

To My Community, Thank You

It's the season of being thankful; thankful for our parents paying our bills, for close friends stopping by, thankful for homecooked meals -- this year, I'm thankful for my community.


I was born and raised in a small, poor community. Most of my friends haven't even heard of my town, so I keep a map saved in my photos so it's easily accessible in a pinch. Lubec is the Eastern most point in the entire United States — and, another cool fact, it's the closest point in the states to Africa.

Besides my college town, Lubec is the only place I've lived, and I'm so grateful for that. Even though Lubec's median income is below the poverty line, I've learned so much about giving.

Every year around Christmas, my town holds a toy drive. There are boxes posted around town where people can drop off gifts for families or kids that aren't fortunate; there are several opportunities in the winter for people to drop off lightly used winter jackets, gloves, mittens, hats, and so on.

When somebody in the community gets sick -- you bet we're having an online Facebook dessert auction to raise money to help pay for their care.

When my grandmother was sick with cancer and needed help paying for her treatments and travel costs, the people of Lubec rallied together and raised a good chunk of change for her. Maybe a week later, the community came together and did the same thing for another older gentlemen battling cancer.

When I was still going to school to become a physical therapist, a local woman said to me, "If you need help paying for school, let me know! We'll hold a fundraiser. We'll have you taken care of."

I don't doubt that one bit.

I was fundraising to go to Washington, D.C. my senior year of high school, I raised six-hundred dollars on a Yankee Candle fundraiser. I hung out at my workplace with a table and a horrible, handwritten sign. If I remember correctly, three-hundred dollars was directly from donations, just from that one fundraiser.

I left a donation bucket up at my workplace. I saw people drop twenty dollars in it, others would tell me to throw their change in the bucket.

The thing about living in a small community is that people give what they can and they don't expect anything in return.

This is the biggest reason why I am so thankful I come from such a small, tight-knit community. If you're struggling, if you want to do something super cool like go to Washington, D.C.; if you need a ride to a doctors appointment, someone will surely be able to help you out. Need someone to pick up your meds? As long as you can get them the cash, you can count on them.

There have been lots of times I've needed a ride after school, and my mom couldn't come to get me on account of her being at work. Sometimes coworkers will offer, and the only thing they ask for in return is "a bit of" gas money for the trip to Machias (which is thirty miles away).

I'm so grateful for my community; they have all shaped me into a person willing to do what I can within my means, whether it be buying a friend dinner or lending a compassionate ear.

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Dear Mom, Now That I'm Older

A letter to the woman who made me the woman I am today.

Dear Mom,

Now that I'm older, I definitely appreciate you a lot more than I did as a kid. I appreciate the little things, from the random text messages to constantly tagging me on Facebook in your "funny" photos and sending me pins of stuff I like on Pinterest. Now that I'm older, I can look back and realize that everything I am is all because of you. You've made me strong but realize it's okay to cry. You've shown me how a mother gives everything to her children to give them a better life than she had, even when she's left with nothing. And, most importantly you've taught me to never give up and without this, I would not be where I am today.

Mom, now that I'm older, I realize that you're the best friend I'm ever going to have. You cheer me on when I try new things and support me in deciding to be whatever person I want to be. Thank you for never telling me I can't do something and helping me figure out ways to be the best woman I can be. Your love for me is unconditional. They say true, unconditional love can only come from God, but mom, I think you're a pretty close second.

SEE ALSO: An Open Letter To The Cool Mom

Now that I'm older, I don't get to see you as much. But not seeing you as much just makes the times I do get to see you the absolute best, and I look forward to it every time. Now that I'm older, I'm not going to live at home. But, I promise to always come back because I know the door is always open. Your house is always going to be my home, and no other place is going to be the same.

Now that I'm older, I realize how much I miss you taking care of me. I miss you making me dinner, making sure I was doing well in school, and taking me to endless appointments. I miss you waking me up for school and then waking me up again because I didn't listen the first time.

But, Mom, now that I'm older, I can see all that you've done for me. I can look back and see how big of a brat I was but you still loved me (and let me live) anyways. I can understand why you did certain things and frankly, you're one bada** of a woman.

To have you as my mom and my best friend has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. So, Mom, now that I'm older, thank you, for everything.


Your Daughter

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This Is What Being Away From Home Taught Me About My Home

... It's ok to make plans with people besides your mom.


My home, for as long as I can remember, has been my safe haven. No matter how many arguments my family and I got into, I always knew my home to be a place where I could feel safe, at peace, grounded, and most importantly, comfortable.

This is why, when I decided to embark on a journey to Israel, 6,000 miles away felt like I was traveling into space. I felt as if I couldn't move forward without my mom by my side, reminding me everything is going to be okay. The relationship that my mom and I have is a special one, and knowing that I was not in close proximity to her created much-unwanted anxiety for us both. Knowing that while she may have only been a phone call away, that she wouldn't be able to come hold me if I needed her to, was something I really struggled with.

While I was away, I had hoped that my excitement for the trip and the adventures that were to come would keep me grounded and sane. Unfortunately, as the days went on, I became more and more homesick. However, I was able to learn some really important lessons in terms of the importance of my home, and sometimes the need to escape it.

The new friendships I made showed me that sometimes it's okay to make plans with people besides your mom (only partially joking).

The new foods I tried showed me that there are so many different types of foods that my chef of a mother hasn't even heard of.

The new experiences showed me just how important it is to step out of my comfort zone, even if doing so means I have to be 6,000 miles away from the comfort of my mom's arms.

There are hundreds of thousands of things that this trip has taught me, but it especially taught me that life exists away from your home as well. While it is natural to want to stay close to the things that bring you comfort, it is also essential that you allow yourself to grow.

I couldn't be luckier to have had such an incredible experience abroad, but I also couldn't be luckier to have been able to come home to a mom that was waiting with open arms and open ears.

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