Story Time with Susie – Living Life with Intention after Loss

This past weekend was full of life, celebration, sadness, joy, tears…. I turned 30 years old this past Sunday. However, the weekend was not only about celebrating my birthday, but also remembering my brother Matt who died last year, just 3 days before my birthday. He had just turned 34 years old. I can without a doubt say that last year was the toughest time of my life. There was so much grief, sadness, and anger that came from this loss.

But as with most horrendous and life-changing events, it helps to put things in perspective. After starting the process of working through the initial emotions of his passing, I began to be more intentional about my thoughts day to day and how present I am in each moment – being sure to intentionally feel gratitude each and every single day.

So fast forward to this year – A year after his passing – myself alongside of my family made sure that we held space for us to feel the pain of him not being here, but also to celebrate who he was and enjoy a beautiful weekend together. My sister came in to town from Seattle as did my brother and his family from Rochester, and we spent a day doing all things that Matt would have enjoyed.

The Fam at the East Aurora Town Pool

We started the day at the East Aurora pool, which is where we spent our childhood summers. Matt LOVED water and being in the pool. That was followed by ice cream, cause… Well… We’re the Kushner family. We’re known for getting ice cream. We then made our way over to the cemetery to spend time with Matt and my Dad (such a weird but beautiful experience). Matt was ALL about family, so we finished our day enjoying each other’s company at my house and eating pizza and wings, which he always loved getting.

My sister and I at Village Ice Cream of Orchard Park

What saddens me the most is that we dedicated a day specifically to Matt, doing the things that he loved, but he was not here to experience and enjoy it with us. That just seems so wrong.

I want to start doing things to celebrate people NOW, while they’re here with me. I want to LIVE LIFE, not just to walk through the motions every day, then on my last day here wish that I had done more. Something I’ve made a priority since my Dad died almost 8 years ago, and definitely since Matt’s passing, is seeing my Mom every weekend. That and prioritizing staying active, cause when I move and push my body past its limits, that’s when I feel most alive. And I want to continue to do more of that.

Life is short. It truly is what you make of it. We can’t control a lot of things, but we can control our perspective on each day, so I encourage you to find gratitude in each and every day. (There’s always something to be grateful for, even on bad days.) I hope you move towards the things that make you truly happy and spend your time with the people who matter the most. Tell the people you love that you love them while you can. 

If this blog inspired you at all to take action to move towards a more intentional life, let us know in the comments a step you are going to take today to move in that direction. ♥️

Story Time with Rishone – The Year in the Rear View

Most of us would prefer Will Smith’s character from MiB, Agent Jay, to remove his neuralyzer from his black tailored coat pocket, put his cool, dark shades on, adjust the time knob to 1 year, instruct us to stare into the blue light as it flashes and wipes our memory of everything that took place right after the ball dropped for 2020. Then with an assertive demeanor explain to us that “2020” was a bad movie that shouldn’t have made it to the theatre but we all had to see it to prepare for a better 2021. However, as much as we desperately want 2020 to be a movie, it’s not, and looking at it in review is the only way to pave a new less traumatic experience for the up coming year.

We all started the year like any other. The 10 second count down started as our eyes focused on the digital numerical transition, 2020 made its way into this reality like the bride of Chucky. LOL, smh, ok, okay, I promise I’m done with all the movie references. 

2020 was a year that completely took us for a emotional roller coaster ride that never seemed to deliver the hands up and hair blowing in the wind exhilarating experience we were looking forward to. After the first 2 months of resolution setting and forgetting, Covid-19 made us see everything in the world a little different. It made jokes of our plans and laughed in the face of what we once considered normal. Due to that fact, we can no longer live each day as unconsciously unaware of everything that created headlines in 2020. 

First of all, so many of us lost members of our family that meant the world to us. As emotional beings we empathize with you and want you to continue to live even if it is hard without that person you valued so much.

Susie lost her brother during this time and I lost 3 family members (2 uncles and 1 sister in law). To be fair none were because of Covid-19 but for those who lost a family member, a friend, or a coworker to the virus or any other causes of death we empathize with the hardships you experienced in trying to be present for their last moments and facing all the emotional hurdles as well as pit falls you faced in properly laying them to rest. We know a gap already exist in your life because of it and it didn’t help to wrap it in feelings of frustrations out of your control. So we send our love and support for what you endured because of it and moving forward with your own life. 

For those that lost their jobs, their careers, their businesses, we empathize with you as we understand the fear and feeling of hopelessness you experienced not knowing how you would pay the rent much less feeding yourself or even worst your families. If you survived those 6 months of uncertainty and is experiencing something close to that again, we want you to know that it will be ok. As gloomy and as far fetched as a recovery looks beyond the horizon, the sun will rise again for you. It will take a collective effort as a family, a community, a country, a world, and a universe to recover but if even 60 percent of the world works at it we will make it through to better times. 

On the contrary, it proved to us that we can survive beyond the luxuries that we thought we couldn’t live without. It reminded us that family was more important than work. It reminded us to live life one day at a time and be more intentional about our relationships especially the one we share with ourselves. It forced us to question all the pacified truths and to seek more knowledge. It created discussions that were meant to be had for centuries on a global level about race and equality. Overall it taught us that nothing was important than the procurement of human life and that we have so much more work to make the world a place that we all can really live equally. 

As a business we failed and learned how to succeed in other ways. We became more comfortable with learning and doing. Recognizing that the only thing that held us back was ourselves and how we manage our time. We exhausted our creative energy and found joy in your support and positive feedback. Above all, we recognized that even in our struggles, and your own, we kept each other afloat because that’s what we were meant to do for each other. So we thank you for giving us smiles when were lost. We thank you for encouraging us when we didn’t quite deliver our norm. We thank you for showing up for us when showing up for your own lives was a challenge.

So Agent Jay can take his neuralyzer and stick it up his you know where, because we lived through a battle in 2020 to make it to 2021. Yes the scars still hurt, yes we lost many good souls, some of us even lost our livelihoods but we made it regardless. We survived and we are looking out onto the horizon renew, and refresh our lives. Make new goals, live more intentional, be present in every moment, and support each other through any challenges we are faced with. We are due for a reunion like Fresh Prince of Bel Air where everyone is invited, even the original Aunt Viv because difficult decisions need to be had in order to make a new prosperous path. So bye bye 2020 and hello to new 2021. We are happy and ready to meet you. 

Story Time with Susie – What being Thankful for 30 days has taught me

Can I be real with you guys? This past month has been especially challenging for me emotionally. As you may know, my brother passed away in June of this year, and my dad died back on December 31st, 2013. For anyone who has ever experienced such a loss, you may know that certain seasons, music, and smells can put you right back in that place of loss and bring the most intense emotions. It’s definitely something I’ve been experiencing as the weather is getting colder and the sky becomes increasingly darker.

But I know I’m not the only one to be feeling all the emotions these days. It’s fair to say that 2020 has certainly shed a new light on our lives. It’s unfortunate but true that hardships, and even devastation, help to give us new perspective on our lives. When we gain new perspective, this can lead us to feeling gratitude for what we do have. And I can absolutely say that the loss and pain I’ve experienced has caused me to reflect on all the wonderful things and people in my life. With that, I’ve certainly been holding on even tighter to everything that I’m grateful for, trying not to take any of it for granted.

Now if you’re not aware, Rishone and I just wrapped up the Thankful Days of November, where each day this past month, we put up a story on Instagram sharing something specific that we were thankful for from that day.

Here are my 3 main takeaways of things I learned about this process and myself over these past 30 days of intentionally expressing gratitude.

  1. Sometimes thinking of things that I’m grateful for don’t always come quick or easy. Now I know that I am a very blessed person. I have everything that I need and more. Not to mention I have an incredible support system through my family and friends. But at the same time, I realize that thinking of something specific that I’m grateful for on any given day doesn’t always come naturally. On some days, it really took several minutes of deep reflection to land on something to share. But what that tells me is that I need to do this more often. It has to become a practice, just like anything else – Expressing gratitude is a skill that we can grow through practice. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing moving forward; I plan on restarting my daily, written gratitude practice.
  2. I had many challenging days that I felt heavy and down overall. On those tough days, I realized that it can be really hard to think of things that I’m thankful for. But those are the days that it’s most important to be in a state of gratitude. As you force yourself to reflect on the wonderful things in your life from that day, it naturally pushes you into the direction of a better mood. So even when you don’t want to feel grateful, just do it.
  3. When I’m grateful for someone else, I should tell them! First off, it always feels good to genuinely compliment someone else and express gratitude for them. Second, you will instantly lift the other person’s mood, especially when you’re specific about why you’re grateful. And the world needs more of those high vibes these days.

With all of this being said, for anyone wondering how I’m doing emotionally these day…. I’m not gunna lie, it’s still an everyday struggle. But actively working on feeling and expressing thankfulness on a regular basis has definitely helped.

We hope that you were able to take part in our Thankful Days of November, and that you can use this past month as a launch pad to push you forward with your own gratitude practice. Whether it be something you write down, share on social media, think in your head, or tell someone else… We encourage you to make this a practice for yourself. Like I said above, this is a skill that the more you do it, the easier it’ll come to you and the less you need to actively think about it. Cause I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to get to a place where I simply live in a state of gratitude and that’s my vibe throughout the day. Who’s with me?

Let us know in the comments what you thought about our Thankful Days of November! And if you didn’t get a chance to participate with us last month, let us know if you have a gratitude practice you’re working on.