“…I try to think of bad times.  Good memories are all I have.” -Avetts, One Line Wonder

I’ve always been a sucker for nostalgia. There’s something special about escaping into a memory and living in it even if it’s only for a few moments…remembering where you’ve been, the places, people and things that are near and dear to you and ultimately how they’ve shaped your life as it you live it. I have a beautiful library of memories that I keep deep in my soul and I find it so lovely when a smell, a song, a taste, a friend can bring those memories to life and take me back to that place.

Lately, I’ve been even more caught up in the magic of my memories. I don’t know if it’s the glorious hours that I’ve been spending hanging in my backyard letting my mind wander and the sun shine down on my face, or the heaviness and reality of this whole thing I have going on with cancer.  Or maybe it’s all the time I’m spending at my parents house and the drugs I’m on…but my sense of nostalgia is at an all time high and I’m loving it!

Last week, I was taking a leisurely stroll through my beautiful neighborhood soaking in the sights and sounds of the city…Mt. Washington…Pittsburgh and I’m all of a sudden overwhelmed by the smell of fresh cut grass and gasoline. The space between the city streets of Mt. Washington and the lazy barely paved roads of Washington County where I grew up couldn’t be further from one another. But the smell immediately takes me back to summertime in good old Southview, PA. I couldn’t help but smile as memories of long summer days, tan legs, neighborhood kickball games came flooding back to me. I had very vivid recollections of good times spent in the swimming pool and trampoline in our backyard, fishing with nothing but nets and our bare feet down at Galati’s pond, and riding my bike for miles upon miles. I can remember feeling free and happy and loved. For me, that’s the epitome of childhood.

I love James Taylor. For many reasons. His voice is like velvet and his music is mellow, comforting and peaceful. I’ve seen him live more times than any 29 year old should ever admit to. Other than having the voice of an angel, JT’s music is special to me because some of my absolute favorite memories of my entire life are tightly stitched to his Mudslide Slim Album (read up on music-evoked nostalgia if you get a chance…it’s fascinating). The summer of my junior year of undergrad at Gannon, I took a biology class that afforded me the opportunity to spend 2 weeks exploring Yellowstone National Park. At that point in my life, I had never been west of Ohio, so the vast beauty and greatness of the mountains and wilderness completely captured me…mind, body and soul. We hiked, camped, explored, animal-watched for 2 weeks straight. I experienced all of this with some very special people including one of my very best and most dear friends ever, KT. It was heaven to wake up in the wilderness and breathe in that brisk mountain air and have no idea what the day would entail and what we would see or discover. I met a new part of myself on that trip. Reminiscing makes me warm inside.

I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m thankful.  Thankful that round #2 with the big C and this medical leave has given me the opportunity to truly disconnect and escape from the stresses of everyday life and to reflect and focus on what makes me genuinely happy and what is important to me. It’s pretty damn great.