Monday, March 13, 2017

This is Me

I’m a wife, stepmom, NaNa, Pitbull lover, cousin, niece, sister and daughter in law,  best friend and neighbor… I’m also everyone’s favorite Aunt Janet!  I’m a Photographer!  I love to shoot families, pets, births and beautiful vistas(“shooting families”  just doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean).  I will jump at any opportunity to travel, meet new people and make beautiful art. All of this and a little sunshine makes me happy.... this is me... in a nutshell!

I'm all about my relationships.  I know so well that through no fault of our own, relationships come and go.   I know the value of the relationships I have each and every day.   I've had and have many wonderful relationships that have changed  over the years due to this thing called life.  Today I focus on the relationships I have here and now.

I am a wife.  My first and most incredible relationship is with my husband, Jay (or as I like to call him, "Jay Cruz"... has a ring to it, don't cha think??).  Jay Cruz started hanging out at our house with my brother, Andrew.  As time went on, he was there more and more.  I thought he was there because of Andrew.  Tracy and Andrew were quick to point out it may have started that he came around because of Andrew, but it was clear to them he was there for me!  

Jay Cruz was one of my brother's greatest gifts to me.   He is my rock, my everything.  We met, let's just say when we were mature adults!  We got all of our experimenting, craziness, ups and downs out of the way, then Andrew introduced us.  We've been together now for 15 years. What a 15 years it has been.  Good, bad and ugly.   The ugly has come from the garbage life throws at you.  We've stood together through it all.  I love this man with every cell in my body.  He makes me smile, he makes me laugh, he always makes me feel alright! Jay Cruz makes me a better person.

I am a step mom.  My stepson, Josh is one of Jay's gifts to me!  While I have many young people whose lives I am a part of,  I have only one person in this world I get to call my "son".    I love him to pieces.  He is a kind, sweet, thoughtful young man with a heart of gold.   I love the relationship we have.  It is one of a kind and it is uniquely ours.  

I am "NaNa".  My niece and nephews have given me the joy of being "NaNa" to their  seven little ones (as time goes on, I'm sure that number will grow).    These little people are my sunshine.  There is nothing that makes my heart melt as it does when I hear them call me "NaNa"!  They bring pure joy into my life.  

Pitbull lover...yes, I'm a pit bull lover.   I don't even know how that happened.  Well I do and it's all my brother Andrew's fault.   I love blaming things on him.  It's not often I can do this given he passed away 8 years ago, but when I can, I do!  
The day I bought my house, I was so excited because I could finally get a dog.  I wanted a little Doxie so bad.  Andrew knew this.  One day he came home and announced that he found the "perfect dog" for me.   He even put a deposit on her.  He was sure she was the dog for me.    Andrew was a "dog man" so I trusted him.   A few  days later we went to get her.  She was a little black pit bull.  What didn't he understand about I wanted a "little Doxie"?  Well, let me tell you... I quickly fell in love with my Sadie girl.  He was right, she was perfect for me.  She was my soul dog.   Sadie was with me through some of the worst days of my adult life.  Then, at 13 years old, after getting me through those days,  she joined Andrew and his pack.  My Sadie girl was one of a kind.   When she was gone, I knew I could never replace her... a few days later I saw "My Little Red Rose",  Rosie.... she is no Sadie Girl, but she is a sweet, pretty, little lovable, licking pit bull.  She's one of a kind. So much for Doxie's!  Thanks to Andrew,  I love, I mean LOVE my pit bulls!  

I am a cousin and a niece.   My parents left this world as we know it at a very early age,  my brother and sister did the same, leaving me a sibling-less  orphan.  I am lucky to have grown up with a close extended family.   Birthdays, holidays, Sundays and fishing days, to name a few were all spent with aunts, uncles and cousins.  We have all moved to different corners of the country over the years, but thanks to Facebook, email, snap chat and so on, (as well as occasional cheap airfare) we have found ways to stay connected.  These are the people who have known me all of my life and still love me!  They are my roots.  I need roots.

I am a sister and daughter in law.  I have to say I have the best in laws anyone could ever want.   They were another gift from my Jay Cruz.   He brought me into the family and they welcomed me with open arms.  My sister and mother in law are two of the strongest, kindest, most loving women I know.  Knowing them, it's no wonder that Jay Cruz is Jay kind and loving.  I married into an amazing family!  Is that not the greatest thing?  

I am a best friend and neighbor.  I grew up in a place where you knew your neighbors.  Kids played out front,  we came home at night when the street lights went on.   We didn't have TV's with 5000 channels, video games or texting.   Life happened on the front stoop.    We knew our neighbors.  
When it came time to buy a house, I wanted a neighborhood like where I grew up.   I found my little place in the world and I think I hit the neighborhood lottery!  My neighbors are the best.  We all know each other, can count on each other and actually talk face to face now and again!  It's a great place to live and I call it home.  

I have many friends, and some are better and closer than others.  I treasure all my friendships particularly my friendships with Chris, Cindy, Joyce, Maurya & Cristine. They have been by my side through the good and bad.  They know the best and the worst of me.  They are always there for me.    They are incredible women and I am proud they call me friend.  

Let's talk about Tracy.  What can I say?  He is the best!  I can't explain it, he just is.  He's a gift from my brother.  Some 20 years ago Andrew brought him home.  I met him early one morning in my basement and he's been a part of my life ever since.   As time has gone on Tracy has become family.  He has stepped in where Andrew could not be. I know he will always be there for me.  To top it all off, he and Jay Cruz are also the best of friends!  

Not to be outdone by Andrew and his gifts to me, Tracy gave me Kosti.  Konstantin to most, (to formal) Kosti to me!  He is my best girlfriend, partner in crime and confidant.  Life is good.

Okay, then there is life as "Aunt Janet".  I'm not sure if I am really everyone's "favorite Aunt Janet" but it sounds good if I do say so myself!  

My Mom and Dad were my everything.  While I only had them but a very short time it was the best time.  They gave me the gift of  life, love,  family,  friendship and of respect for life.  I learned so much from them during my short time with them and in the legacy they left.  My personal mission in life it to be someone who justifies their short time on earth.
My parents gave me my sister Carol and in a round about way, Andrew.  After my parents died, Carol and her husband David gave us a home and a family.  They didn't have to do that, but they did and never complained or looked back and wish they hadn't.    
While we were still living with them they began to have children of their own.  First Jason, then Kristen, Mark and Michael.  I was their Aunt Janet!!!  Wow!!!     While I was, am their Aunt Janet, they have never called me that (I really never wanted them too!).  They all always  do introduced me however as their "Aunt Janet".   While they don't call me aunt Janet, all their friends do.  It is hilarious!   I love when I'm in a store and I hear, "Hi Aunt Janet"!   To this day, I'm known as Aunt Janet to many.  So why not be everyone's favorite Aunt Janet?   It's a good thing to be.  Aunts can be best friends, confidants, like a mom without the day to day responsibility.  Aunts are loving and nurturing.  Aunts are the best! I try to be the best Aunt Janet there is!
...Me and the roles I play...

Stay happy, remember that life is good, people are good.  Love each other.
Bad things don't need us to do a thing to happen, they just happen.  We need to compensate for the bad  that happens by loving one another and being kind.   

                                                                     Hugs from,

                                                                             Your Favorite Aunt Janet


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