Friday, February 25, 2011

Do big things....

When I was freshmen in college, my globe-trotting cousin finally made his way home to Chicago from his sabbatical abroad. When he returned to the states, he brought beautiful musical instruments from Ghana, a tank top and headwrap for me from Mali, and serious case of malaria. The disease incubated in his system for months upon months until finally it decided to rear its ugly head and when it did it was really, really bad.

I remember walking to Evanston Hospital from campus because it was so beautiful that morning. I didn't really know that much about malaria or what exactly it did  to people besides make you sick and then eventually kill you. Once I finally got there, I sat in his room for a few hours while doctors came in and out to examine him. Some were actually assigned to his case, while others were so intrigued by his severe case of malaria that they just wanted to bother him like an animal at the zoo. When his dedicated doctor came to visit, he told me about how lucky my cousin was, how cases this far advanced are rarely seen in developed nations and that it took copious amounts of blood transfusions to save his life.

I have always donated blood when the school had a donation drive set up and I was happy to give what I apparently had plenty of. I never felt connected to my donation or really gave it a second though after getting my juice box and cookies. But the real life use of donated blood saved my cousins life. And that gave me a second and third thought.

I bring this up because, today,  I finally did something that I have been meaning to do for years, I registered with the National Bone Marrow Registry. Since my cousin recovered from malaria, I faithfully donated blood whenever I could because I understood emotionally how it can save more than just a life, but a family. And while my cousin desperately needed those transfusions, there was blood to be had. Thousands of people go without matches for marrow and succumb to any number of problems that could have been delayed or resolved.

Today, I am proud that I made a decision that shows that I understand that marrow donation is painful and cumbersome and I am still willing to save the life of a stranger. I am proud that I have not only the clear and open mind, but also a clean bill of healthy, that allow me this amazing opportunity. And that is a big thing!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Today is my second wedding anniversary with my cutie pie husband and all I can say is that marriage is not what I expected. I spent a lot of my teenage years watching my family members sit in unhappy marriages while disrupting their kids lives because they were too selfish to divorce or simply divorced selfishly and put their kids in the middle. I looked at that and said "No Thank You!" to marriage. As I got older, I found that I liked my freedom and ability to do what I wanted and not have to ask anyone else their opinion. I mean, come on, I am NOT asking a man for permission to live my life, okay? I was smart, working, living in the fast paced city of LA and dating and it was fun. But eventually a patient man strolled into my life and blew up the self-fabricated "sex in the city" version of my life. He was handsome, sweet, caring, and smart! And I do like me a smart man! Alas, it was supposed to be fun and convenient until he left for graduate school on the other side of the country. Seriously, who gets into committed relationships with people who are preparing to move? Well, apparrently I do. And I say all this not because I have it so awesome and everyone should take advice from me, I say it because it was so unexpected. We were dating, knowing that he was leaving in a few months and still moved forward.

Eventually, my spidey senses were tripped and realized that I had a good man. No, I had a great man. He loved me, cared about me, came  from a great family, wanted to work hard and be successful and eventually start a family. How could I pass that up? But marriage? Marriage was not in my long term plans. How could I plan to do something that I had only seen people in my own family fail at? I didn't want to change how amazing our relationship was and I didn't want to get bored. And on top of all that I didn't want to release my ambition or my ability to take care of myself. I was so proud that I lived on my own and sent money home for my family. I was not going to be one of those women, who went golddigging, depending  on and using men for money.  I didn't need to because I was smart, educated, and level headed. But love has a funny way of distorting things. Just because I was in love didn't mean that I couldn't still be smart or educated or self reliant- it meant that I didn't have to be those things alone.

Now that I look back on those feelings, it all seems so immature. But I realize that eveyone has fears about getting married and those were just mine. I now know that there isn't a prescription or dedicated form of marriage for everyone. My marriage is not the same as my friends' marriages. My marriage is not my family's marriage and does not have to be unbearable like theirs. I love my husband and I am glad that we work together to live the kind of life that we want. We don't make excuses for ourselves. We do the things that we want and that's it. Our marriage is what we make it.  All of the awful things that I understood marriage to be while growing up were completely countered by the amazing marriages my husband saw growing up.  He had the tools and the patience to work with me  so we could create something special and unique for us.

Marriage is a privilege and I feel blessed that I have someone who wants to share that privilege with me.

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, February 7, 2011

January and February and beyond...

2011 is already set to be a big year in the Gaines household! We were receently the subjects of an HGTV room makeover. (Stay tuned for airing details)YAY! We have decided to reintroduce "hustle" back into our lives after purchasing a home and making it comfortable. I am preparing for not only the GMAT but the inevitable conversation that I will have with my employer, where I try to convince him that it is to his benefit to pay for my B-school tuition. And finally, we decided that this year and probably next year are not the years for baby making... practice, yes, but actual baby creation has officially been taken off the table.

Now that January is over, do your New Year's resolutions still make sense? Are they still achievable? I know its only been a month, but January flew by and I am not sure that I made the most it. Sheesh, if January can go by that quickly, you know how fast the rest of the year can go. It's important those things we thought about at the end of last year and the beginning of this year stay relevant and part of current decision making processes. Everyday, I need to decide to act and not procrastinate. Everyday, I will have to make the choice to try something new, to be courageous, and every once in a while, I will have to accept that a result of trying something new may include failure(but hopefully not as often as success).

With tax season slowly climbing into view along with Spring, last year's winter declarations can easily fade into distant memories. I don't want my declarations to be meaningless. Nor do I want them to be things that can be put off until next year. Having the same resolution year after year, not only sucks, but means that I haven't intentionally grown as a person. Yes, we are shaped by things that happen to us, but I am talking about taking an active hand in the kind of life one wants to live. I don't want to be a procrastinator, so quite simply, I have to start acting and stop waiting.