Apple, walnut Gorgonzola ravioli over sautéed spinach and portobellos - and every last ingredient came from the #publicmarket #rochester #yum

Thanks to the lovely @annesherman, I have a watermelon accent nail! #fancy #nailart #summer

How to talk to short people #truth #shortpeopleproblems

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Little Benjamin Sauer died last night. 

When I first read the news late this afternoon, I immediately found myself choked up in that “barely holding it together/on the verge of sobbing” kind of way.

I was still at work, so I said a quiet prayer and hoped that I’d make it through the final few minutes of my day without anyone at the office needing to talk to me. It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to utter a single word of response without involuntarily releasing the flood of tears silently swelling behind my eyelids.

How does one explain to her all male colleagues that she’s a blubbering mess of emotion after reading a newspaper article about the death of a boy she’s never met? 

How could I explain that despite having no personal relationship, Ben Sauer and his family have brought me closer to God and taught me to understand and appreciate the world around me in a whole new way?

I couldn’t, so I squeezed my eyes tight, rallied through the last few minutes, and got into my car to drive home. It was then that I let myself cry.  

Baseball great Jackie Robinson once said, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."  

Ben Sauer is undoubtedly one of the most important five year olds to ever have lived. 

His mom Mindy’s blog, Blue 4 Ben was initially created to keep close family and friends updated on Ben’s condition and ask for prayers. I’m sure that no one could have anticipated what ended up happening within a matter of days.

The WNY community rallied behind the Sauers and introduced Ben - and his story - to people all across the globe. In the weeks that followed, the support, love, and prayers just kept coming. Ben’s big brown eyes and infectious smile captured the hearts of more people than we’ll ever know.

Our hearts broke for his parents Andy and Mindy, as they fought what seemed to be a losing battle - all while balancing the needs of their very sick little boy with those of everyday life, Ben’s two healthy siblings, and a baby on the way. 

Through it all, they never lost their faith. They may have questioned it - but it was always there. That’s no easy feat. Especially for adults. 

Cancer is a horrific disease. It invades our bodies, steals lives, and robs us of the ones we love. Worst of all, it doesn’t discriminate. Young, old, healthy, or not. 

My grandma’s body was overtaken and defeated by several forms of it in her early 60’s. That same year, my Aunt Susan left four small children, including a newborn, without their mother when cancer took her life. She was in her early 30’s. 

Their struggles and legacies were what led me to volunteer at Gilda’s Club for many years. I spent most of my time there in Noogieland, a program designed specifically for children dealing with cancer. I learned so much from the kids I encountered in that playroom. Some of them had cancer themselves while others had parents or siblings with one type of it or another. Reading Mindy’s commentary on how Ben and his twin brother Jack reacted to everything that was happening reminded me of them - and their sweet, innocent acceptance.

It’s incredibly hard to make peace with the fact that such a horrible thing can happen to such pure, undeserving children. We want to be able to explain things to them. Give them a reason. Help them make sense of it. 

But more often than not, like in sweet Ben’s case, they end up teaching us. Helping us make sense of things. Giving us hope. 

Throughout my years of volunteering, I couldn’t help but notice that the kids who believed in God and came from families who regularly attended church always seemed to be a little better equipped to handle the tough stuff. It’s not that cancer made any more sense to them, they just weren’t as afraid of what might come next if they couldn’t beat it. 

I have to admit, I haven’t felt terribly close to God in recent years. After reading Mindy’s posts and becoming invested in Ben’s story, however - I had no choice but to pray. I’ve prayed harder than I have in a long time. I’ve started to look at everyday things in my life in a new light, and I have learned to be more appreciative of what - and who - I do have. Time included.  

Today I mourn the loss of such a young, beautiful soul - but at the same time I am grateful for all of the amazing experiences he was able to have in his short time here on earth and I am beyond amazed by all of the lives he was able to touch. 

Even more so, I’m comforted knowing that the tears I cried this evening were both happy and sad - because I really and truly do believe that after having made the world a much better place, Ben Sauer is in an even greater place - one where he’s free of pain and surrounded by more love than any of us can ever imagine.

My thoughts, prayers, and love go out to his family and the entire Buffalo community during this insanely difficult time. 

Made cute little cupcake sized apple pies for my Dad’s birthday tomorrow! #anticakedad #triedoneforqualitycontrol #itwasdelicous

Quad Party 2014!! (at The Old Toad)

#tbt to 28 birthdays ago - when my dad was a hipster & I was so terrified of the clown, I refused to let him put me down.

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This is a photo from my twentieth birthday party.

Today I turn thirty - and I’m a much older and wiser person - who isn’t even freaking out (much.) 

My twenties were great to me. I learned a lot, changed a ton, lost some friends, found myself, learned the true value of family, and experienced both great sorrow and even greater joys.

Although I’m not exactly where I thought I’d be (back when I was young and thirty sounded so old) I’m in a really good place. And for that I am very, very thankful.

To commemorate crossing over into the next decade, I’ve compiled a super trendy list of what the last ten years has taught me, using mostly clichés:


17 Cliché (Yet Very Important) Truths I Learned In My 20’s 

  1. It’s Not Easy to Make A Living Doing What You Love - But It Is Worth It. Working a job you don’t inherently care about is no different than marrying someone you’re not really into. It’s settling – and it doesn’t have to be that way.

  2. Confidence Is The Sexiest Thing You’ll Ever Own. This one took me a while – but it has honestly made all the difference.    I can only hope that I never ever un-know it. 

  3. People Are Inherently Selfish. And that’s okay. The sooner we understand this, the sooner we can use it to motivate, understand, and empathize with them. 

  4. Your Career Is Really, Really Important – But It’s Not Everything. Your company does not love you as much as you think. Everyone is replaceable. Even you.

    Learning this one was hard. Knowing it has been life changing. 

  5. Your Parents Are People Too. SO cliché – but so worth mentioning. I personally believe that the moment you come to realize this particular truth is the defining moment during which you really and truly grow up. It’s weird and you think about it a lot at first – but once you get it, you can be a much better friend to them and vice versa – and that’s a really beautiful thing.
     
  6. Sometimes You Just Need To Go Home. When this happens, please do it. Whether it’s for a visit, or for good. There’s a reason for that longing and the sooner you give into it, the happier you’ll be.

  7. You Can’t “Fix” Other People. I learned this the hard way. Most of my twenties were spent “dating” “broken” men that I wanted to fix, rather than focusing on fixing myself. Lame, right?

    The older, much wiser me is finding that the people who can (and will) love you best don’t need to be fixed – because they are accountable for fixing themselves.

  8. Looking Down On Someone Else Says Far More About You Than It Does About Them. We tend to look down on other people because they don’t have things that we haven’t earned. For the most part, intelligence, good looks, and socio-economic status are undeserved gifts. Be humble. It’s so much better for everyone.  

  9. Everything in Moderation: Including Moderation. Eating, drinking, profanity, and being reckless are a few of my favorite things – but too much of any one of them could be really bad. So, I practice moderation – which is great until I need to toss the rules out of the window and live a little – which is also a wonderful thing, in moderation.

  10. Expectations Are A Bitch. At their core, most heartbreak and arguments are simply a result of some unmet expectation(s).

    Learning to manage what other people expect of you and explicitly clarifying what you expect of them could be the most productive thing you ever do.

    Once you understand that, you’ll start to realize that half of the time you were upset, it was because someone didn’t meet an expectation you had that they were never aware of. How unfair is that?

  11. The Success of Romantic Relationships is Dependent on 3 Basic Factors: Okay, so this isn’t really a cliché – but more a theory that I’ve been developing. It’s weirdly simple but when you think about it, it makes a whole lot of sense. Even better, it’s helped me make sense of a bunch of things that I don’t think I could make peace with otherwise.  Here goes…

    For a romantic relationship to work you need to have these three things. The first is chemistry, the second is good timing, and the third is for both people to ultimately want the same things. If any of those three things is missing, it’s just not going to work. Denying this will only delay the inevitable.

  12. No One Really Has It All Together. Some people certainly have it more together than others, but we’re all just trying to figure it out. Be kind and forgiving – to yourself and others.

  13. Putting Hard Things Off Doesn’t Ever Make Them Any Easier. And they certainly don’t just go away. If you don’t do laundry, you’re going to run out of underwear. If you don’t break up with someone now, you’re going to have to do it later.

    As our friends at Nike so wisely advise, just do it.

    Nine times out of 10, you’ll be glad that you did.

  14. You Either Win Or You Learn. Sure, we all screw up and make mistakes – but when we can learn something from our mishaps (like why it was wrong or what not to do), not all is lost.

  15. There Are Only Two Types of Friends. Ok, this one isn’t really a cliché either – but it is important and true. Knowing which friends are which type is a really good way to avoid drama. There is:

    1. The type of friend where if you’re apart for a long time, nothing changes

    2. The type of friend where if you’re apart for a long time, everything changes. 
       
  16. Say What You Mean & Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want. No one likes games and drama is for the birds. Just go through life being brutally honest and very frank – with yourself and others. It’s so much easier that way.

  17. Being Grown Up Isn’t Half As Fun As Growing Up. I can’t take credit for this profound (albeit slightly emo) piece of wisdom. It’s actually a song lyric from a little tune called “Here In This Diary” by a whiney pop-punk band known as The Ataris. My dear friend Beth Ward and I used to listen to it on repeat in our dorm rooms – and while we certainly loved it, I don’t think we fully understood it then. We couldn’t have.

    The fun part is, now we do really get it – and we’ve still got some growing up left to do.

It’s cute how they say “cookie” like it’s possible to have just one. #reading #cupoftea #milanocookies #monday