Tag Archives: Cousins

Family Fridays: No Matter What

“Cousins are usually the first friends we have as children. No one will understand your crazy family like your cousins do. No matter how long it’s been, cousins can pick up where you left off. They are your heart, your soul and understand you better than anyone.” 

All of my cousins have a special place in my heart. Cousins can offer an outside perspective that parents and siblings often can’t. I am fortunate enough to have the greatest cousins ever, in particular an older cousin who has become my big sister over the last 13 years.

AmandaAt 10 and 13, neither of us were sure of anything. We were young and impressionable, without any care in the world. We spent the majority of our weekends together, took vacations together and grew up side by side, there for each other whenever necessary. Now at almost 23 and newly 26, life certainly has changed, I’d like to think for the better.

As kids, we were too mature for our age, over-thought things and were hypersensitive. As adults, those qualities are still there but we’ve grown up and learned to manage ourselves, each other and our families. I’ve seen Amanda grow up, be successful (the girl is already getting her second Master’s degree!), fall in love and genuinely be happy, a foreign concept for us at 18. She works hard and has earned the right to be happy and to live her own life; that’s kind of difficult with our family. I am constantly inspired by my cousin, her ability to fight for the things she wants and the way she lives every day to the fullest.

As we grew up, things that we couldn’t control changed. Our once seemingly perfect family has changed It has been a challenge to stay sane and keep our relationship grounded. But, from a young age, we stood by the ‘no matter what’ principal. No matter who said what, no matter what happened, we trusted one another. Today, that hasn’t changed. It’s something we believe in and will follow forever.

There are so many songs that have turned into anthems for Amanda and I. The list is long and continues to grow. However, one song consistently reminds me of my cousin and of everything she’s taught me. There have been so many lessons learned but most importantly, Amanda has taught me to live everyday, to make myself happy first and to not waste it.

Family Fridays: Reverse Mentoring

Within the last week, I’ve spoken with some of my younger friends who were seeking advice. The schoolinspire year has ended and many of them were contemplating next steps to take during the summer. I enjoyed our conversations and they generated some mentoring concepts that inspired today’s post.

Sometimes mentoring can seem like such a formal process. In my opinion, mentoring is a fluid process, a mutually beneficial relationship where both individuals, who are proactive in bettering themselves and each other. Taking this into account, anyone can be a mentor. It is true that someone older than you might be of more help. But everyone has different experiences to share. Case in point, my almost sixteen year old cousin, ToniAnn.

TonToniAnn’s Sweet 16 is tomorrow night and I know she is extremely excited. So I am! ToniAnn and I have a great relationship: we trust each other and can talk about almost anything. I pride myself in having this type of relationship with all my younger cousins. Within the last several months, ToniAnn has lost forty pounds and looks incredible. She has inspired me to get healthy and it never give up no matter how hard life gets. While seven years younger than me, my amazing little cousin has mentored me and called me to take action in my own life.

Sometimes we don’t look to younger people for advice because we don’t think they’ve had the necessary life experience to understand our situation. This could be true in specific situations like I’ve never been married so I can’t give my married friend specific advice on her marriage. But I can listen, which can be almost just as helpful as providing advice. If we restrict ourselves to only using older people as mentors, we will limit the guidance we receive. We need to be open to all perspectives including ones of those younger than us. ToniAnn has proved that age is just a number; anyone can inspire.

Motivation Mondays: Evita on Broadway

About two weeks, I went to see Evita on Broadway. Growing up, I was lucky enough to attend shows and have grown to love seeing them live. But, this performance was different. My fabulous cousin Christina was playing the lead Eva Peron aka Evita. I was so excited I could barely sit still during work that day, anticipating nothing short of an amazing performance.

playbillI’ve seen Christina perform before on Broadway in Sister Act. I saw her in the Marvelous Wonderettes, an off-Broadway show as well as several of her performances at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia. My favorite was watching her play Belle in Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Disney movie. She was also beyond awesome as Glinda in the National Tour of Wicked. The list of fabulous accomplishments goes on and on but the best role Christina plays is cousin.

While we haven’t grown up together since day one, Christina has been a part of my life since I was about ten. She grew up in Long Island and attended Wagner College in Staten Island, where my other fabulous cousin also went to school. She was and always will be one of us, which is why are stardom is even better. She is a living, breathing example of hard work paying off. She took her dreams and made them a reality. She is humble, always thanking her family and friends for their support. She is everything all of us can hope to be one day: successful and living out our dream.

Watching Christina light up the stage as Eva Peron was nothing short of magical. She was absolutely amazing and left me speechless. This is my cousin, who I goof around with at family parties. There she is, singing her heart out on Broadway and signing autographs for a huge crowd outside the theater. What a completely surreal experience.

As you can tell, I am super proud of my cousin, of all her hard work and of her ability to staychristina real and humble. I didn’t write this post today to brag (well, ok maybe a little), but to remind everyone that dreams do come true when you believe in them. Christina embodies that statement and proves that with passion, dedication and hard work, anything is possible. I am so proud of you Christina and cannot wait to see what’s next!

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