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  • Cheryl

Today I leave for Arlington, Virginia, as I have on this weekend almost every year for the last ten years. Tomorrow morning, my family and I will bundle up in the warmest layers we can find and join thousands of other volunteers in helping to place more than 200,000 Christmas wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers, veterans, and their loved ones buried at Arlington National Cemetery, as part of National Wreaths Across America Day.


This week's "Anything But Routine" episode talked about Wreaths Across America Day - I hope you've had a chance during this busy holiday lead-up to take a few minutes and listen. Even better, I hope you're able to take a break from holiday preparations and join in tomorrow morning at a military cemetery near you that's participating in this event - you can find the full listing of participating cemeteries at wreathsacrossamerica.org.


Last year, my family and I participated in the first Wreaths Across America Day at Grandview Cemetery, in my hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It was wonderful, and that may be where we end up helping out in years to come. But there's something about Arlington I can't put into words. And not just Arlington itself, but Arlington after the volunteers have completed their task, and whichever way you turn, as far as you can see, are white tombstones with cheery live bough Christmas wreaths and red bows, no matter where you look, is beautiful, and touching, and humbling. Not to mention heart wrenching in the newer sections, where family members themselves decorate the fresh graves of soldiers lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places. Photos, and handwritten cards, and mementoes, and personal Christmas trees and ornaments - so many things depicting the collective grief of families celebrating the holidays one member short, and in some cases more than one. I always wind up crying when I walk through those rows. It makes being able to lay wreaths at the graves of those who no longer have family to visit and do it themselves that much more meaningful.


I'm glad we're able to make it back to Arlington this year. It's one of my favorite family traditions, and it feels so good to be able to do something special for those who did so much more that place a wreath somewhere for us.


If you're participating in Wreaths Across America Day tomorrow, or if you have in the past, leave a comment down below and let me know - I'd love to hear about your experience.


Have a great weekend!


Cheryl

Just a fraction of the thousands of volunteers at Arlington National Cemetery on Wreaths Across America Day


One of the many trucks specially painted and donated by trucking companies to transport the wreaths from Maine to Arlington


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  • Cheryl

The holiday season officially kicked off last week - I hope everyone in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving! In the days following Thanksgiving Day, I got the farmhouse completely decorated for Christmas, and I mean COMPLETELY - for the first time ever, there is holiday cheer in every single room, including the bathrooms. My love commented that I’ve gone a bit “over the top,” but even he admits that the house looks great and feels cozy. Since I spent the holidays last year dealing with biopsies, a lumpectomy, infected incisions, and then the worst cold of my life the week before Christmas, I couldn’t exactly enjoy the season, so I’m making up for it now! And this year in western Pennsylvania, winter actually started on time, as opposed to the last however-many years when we didn’t see cold and snow until sometime in January - I’m currently looking out over snow-blanketed fields and wearing fuzzy socks and Santa slippers in front of the fireplace. I don’t know that I want it to last long, mind you, but with the house all decked out with lights and garlands and Christmasy things we only get to see once a year, I’m not all that bothered by it yet. It feels festive. So far, at least.


This is also about the time of year I already start looking ahead to the New Year and the changes I’d like to make to my life, the new things I’d like to try, the old things I’d like to do away with. I’ve spent the bulk of this week thinking about that. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, necessarily, but the New Year always feels like fresh opportunity to start over in so many ways. There are always things I want to change in my personal life, and this time around, there are things I want to change in my professional life, as well. Some things are currently in the works - how they’ll turn out, I don’t know - and other things have been put on the back burner for far too long. And there are always new ideas, too. It’s not like there’s ever anything stopping me from changing things up ANY time of year, but there’s something about a new year, a new calendar, that makes it feel more official and “right,” and definitely more motivating.


So the 2019 holiday season is promising to be a good one, and the 2020 New Year is shaping up to be a great one. With so much to look forward to, I’m going to settle into my bright, beautiful-looking farmhouse and enjoy every day of the next few weeks, the last of the old year. I hope you’re enjoying them wherever you are, too.


Have a great weekend!


Cheryl


Happy holidays!

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For those "Anything But Routine" fans in the U.S., next Thursday is Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving, I was facing a lumpectomy and waiting for more test results that would determine the course of my breast cancer treatment, stressed to no end from all the interminable waiting that had taken place since my diagnosis on October 2. Thanksgiving 2018 wasn't the best Thanksgiving I'd ever had, and I'd told my love I wanted to have *another* Thanksgiving dinner when I was finished with treatment, whenever that happened to be. He agreed. And so next week will be our *second* Thanksgiving of 2019, the first one having taken place at the end of March of this year.


The March Thanksgiving dinner was a good one, but things were still a bit raw after the preceding months, both physically and emotionally. So this coming Thanksgiving will be my first "normal" Thanksgiving since 2017, and there is truly so much to be thankful for.


It's so easy to watch the news or just glance over the headlines and feel like the world is coming to an end, or at least civil society as we know it. And it's true that there are so many bad things happening out there, and they keep happening with no sign of letting up - as I said in the pilot episode of "Anything But Routine," bad things and negativity have become routine. And as I also said in the pilot, this was exactly what prompted me to create "Anything But Routine" - to focus on the good things, the positive, so as not to be bogged down and fearful and pessimistic over the state of the world today. I try to find these things every day, not just at this time of year, but it makes me especially excited for Thanksgiving, that special day to be with loved ones who are also thankful and happy.


And let's face it, the awesome food only adds to the specialness. :-)


Reasons I'm thankful, grateful, and blessed this year: I'm fully healed from all my surgeries and radiation, with no complications, and there's no sign that the cancer has stuck around or returned. My family is healthy and whole. My love continues to love me and stand by me and believe in me and cheer me on and make me laugh and encourage me to pursue my dreams. I'm back to regular exercise at last and am getting stronger every day. I've made new friends. "Anything But Routine" is halfway through its third season and continues to bring me so much joy to work on. And I'm about to embark on a professional venture I never, ever thought I would get to do (more on that later!).


We're still about six weeks out from the New Year, but 2020 is already shaping up as something be excited about, and I can't wait!


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, wherever you are, and I wish you nothing but countless blessings.


Have a great weekend!


Cheryl




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