Goodbye 2013 with Gratitude

2013 started with a deep relentless carryover from the 2012 beyond borders heartbreak. I would tell myself and others that I was doing okay, however that was so untrue. I continued to find myself in a deep depressive state. My rheumatoid arthritis was going crazy. My positive persevering attitude was lost. The wicked RA reveled in the fact that I wasn’t stopping it from finding a place to hide within. It chomped at the inside of my hand and wrist joints in utter satisfaction and I let it. I was letting myself get beat by an aspect of life that wasn’t my failure or issue. I was doing the exact opposite of what my website was suppose to do: INSPIRE others to keep living this life the best they can at whatever odd.

Lucky for me, there were small defining glimpses of hope that presented themselves. It wasn’t until the beginning of August that I realized I was the cause of my self-destruction. Of course, when I thought everything was starting to look colorful again, the universe presented another obstacle: my house was robbed. There is no use of me giving you the precise details of this robbery, but what I do know is it taught me that I don’t need the vast majority of those material things. What I needed was to try and find who I was again, the REAL ME. The robbery slapped me right in the face and said “That will teach you! You have a life to live, so get off your ass and start being the person you are meant to be.” There you have it, my reality.

As you read previously, 2013 was a year of surgeries, rebound, profound growth, humble acceptance, and being the raw and real me. My stubborn and independent attitude always forbid me from asking for help, however in 2013, I learned about asking for help and how others really wanted to do just that: help me – their friend who would do the same! A humbling revelation that was so touching. With that said, I now have a list of Thank you’s I’d like to make. These are in no particular order, I am just saying them as they come to mind:

Lisa Rega: For the bags of groceries during my first surgery, the many many dinners, drinks (I’d list many here to, but that might make us look bad), events, movies, and Alex’s homecoming parties. More importantly the very frank conversations and the very caring suggestions. For Christmas Dinner 2013. Your love and support here or from the Cayman Islands has and continues to be amazing.

Pamela Maren: For your healing massages that have helped me combat some of the most trying times with this disease. For the Sunday brunch, walks in the park, coffee, movie, and always telling me that I am loved so much. and Wrigley!

Andrea Hill: For the homemade prepared food during my first surgery, my 38th birthday dinner at the Windsor, for joining the quantum cleanse 21-day journey in August, for allowing me to push you up the hill at North Mountain, for some raw and tough conversations, and for the movie with the kids.

Connie Woodward: For the exquisite caretaking at the beginning of my first surgery. Your continued love and support during the most trying time of my life. Your constant confidence in me. Giving me work when I had nothing. The many laughs and the easy friendship. The latest road trip through Prescott, Jerome, down through Sedona, and along 89A. You have a remarkable heart.

Gillian Manzanares: For the constant love and support throughout this past year. For always making me feel like I’m a part of a wonderful family. For the day after Thanksgiving and for visiting me after my second surgery. You are so very special and I love you so much.

Christina Dalhouse: Sharing your wonderful daughter with me since the moment she arrived on this Earth. The visit before my second surgery, the many conversations, laughs, countless facetime, and allowing me to be the best American Aunt to Sophia.

Dream Softball: For all the support and well wishes during my 2nd surgery recovery. For the most inspirational coach award and signed softball. This means more to me than you will ever realize.

Dave and Paige Schacher: For the amazing food that came in abundance over and over this past December while I recovered. For the sweet card and 3-pounds of gummy bears that my hips will be working off for months. Your thoughtfulness is incredible.

Robert and Grace Falk: For not only one lasagna, but for the other that I was able to reheat and eat. The salad, rolls, and sweet offerings of anything at all. You guys are a great joy to have around.

The Leland Family: Thank you for the amazing flowers in the hospital the day of my surgery. I appreciate all of you so much. You all smile the same and it makes the rest of the world brighter.

Tia Melnechenko: (It took me months to spell that last name right.) For the managing of my Canadian money, buying gifts for Jake from me, facetime, the impeccable amount of trust, legal writing, the 1,000+ text messages to tell me how awesome I am and encouraging me to believe it. For the sweet sentiment about how my greatest love is just waiting for me to walk in. For the most loyal friend I have ever had in my life. This list of encouragement could go on and on. I just thank you so much for being for TEAM DANI. I love you!

Tawny: For the plate of cookies. Sooooo yummy! Your sweet text messages after my December surgery.

Sukhwinder Hunter: For the continued love and support from Canada. For the picture you took of something so dear to me at the beginning of December. The encouragement and support to follow my heart and teach yoga. For being a blessing that helped me through so much in person during 2012 and then still remained a support 3,500 miles away. Your teachings are always with me.

Mary Flanagan “Mama Mary”: Sweet sweet Canadian Mama Mary. For the countless messages of encouragement and support. For telling me about your day, your week, or your month. For always remembering me during the holidays and spreading a smile across my face. For pushing me to do the 30-day hot yoga challenge because you knew how much it meant to me regardless of what the doctors said.

Dajana Graham: For a gracious and loving heart. For your sweet ear and amazing gift of sharing a part of yourself with me, so I could learn from my own heartbreak. Your strength is admirable and I am so honored to call you a friend. For the most amazing chili on the planet the day after my Dec 11th surgery. My brothers also say THANK YOU for the chili.

Paula Seggewiss: For the phone calls and text message giving me some of the nicest compliments on the planet. For the push that I need to start dating because the world is so lucky to have a partner available like myself.(FYI, I might be close, but it would take an awfully special person! lol) For the way you make me smile so big when you can joke inappropriately almost as good as me.

Paula Martin: You may not realize this, but your post on Facebook a few months back sharing a post about my health and my splints was off the charts for me. I appreciated it so much. The greatest gift about social media is its ability to spread the word about this disease through vast networks. We must connect in 2014.

Misty Roberts: You are sweet angel. For your open-heart and truth. Thank you for the compliments regarding how I inspire others. I just try to be me. Thank you for always sending me a sweet little note from time to time and more importantly for recognizing in your life that you continue to try to make it count. xo

McKenzie Powers: I awarded you the most touching phrase of my 2013. Only 4 of us knows what this really means, but it was so heartfelt and amazing when it came out of your mouth. It was around 10 PM on Christmas Eve and it was something like this: “Mom, Does this mean we can start having family day again?” after I gave you guys a couple gifts of thanks. You are a remarkable young woman and the world awaits you. Always be your best you!

Jessica Powers: For taking a risk and allowing your awesome self to be my friend. You are by far my newest friend and have become someone so important in the most recent weeks. Thank you for everything you did during my Dec surgery. Your heart is humble and so full of love that you share with those in your world. For the many smiles you have added and continue to provide in my world. For your stubbornness that reminds me to try not and revert back to being so stubborn myself.;) For loving the Moto Chicken Salad as much as I do. For never quitting a workout (yet?!) even when you have a fever! I am so grateful and honored to have you in my world.

Travis Bryant: For always being my best friend and having my back. I know you’ll never read this so I will keep it very brief.

Jayson “the ferg”: My other big brother and because you might read it: for the sweetest text messages you ever sent me during the month of July. We have never argued and you can be the sweetest thing one-on-one. What I do know is that you would protect me at whatever cost. Thank you for being my brother and caring in your odd way with your videogame.

Jody, Christian, Gabby, and Deigo: For the amazing chicken strips, mashed potatoes, homemade bread, veggies, and the dog walk. You guys are a family of God’s grace and it shows.

Andy Hill: For keeping tabs on me and constantly checking in after my robbery. You are a sweet man. May you be blessed in 2014.

Sarah Arp: For the reigniting of our high school friendship. For the many text messages that provided strength and encouragement. Thank you for always believing in me and wanting me to smile. You sometimes help me remember the little things that really count:143.

Jacques Barbey: For the most powerful and inspiring “pocket conversation” of 2013. For your beautiful wife, Raquel, and family. Thanksgiving 2013 was delightful with all of you in it. You all continue to inspire me to truly follow my dreams!

Blake Benveniste: For the awesome training in Moorpark, CA. For saying such thoughtful and kinds words about who I am. And for encouraging me to be the best coach I can! I cannot wait for Spring Training 2014!

Karin Burbach: For your endless ear at therapy. For telling me I am so capable to get through this. For the flowers and for observing my Dec 11th surgery. The surgery pictures are awesome. obviously you are so stuck with me in 2014, as I have one more surgery to get through. Thanks for being part of my health care team.

Mary Jane Rynd: For the belief that I can do and be anything in this life. For the professional encouragement and mentoring. For making me smile and always including me. You always give me the greatest glory for building the building you work in. I am humbled by your heart.

Maryam Thomas: For the amazing New Years dinner! I can’t believe all of you would come and hangout with me to ring in the New Year! It was so awesome to watch you in my kitchen. I want the vegetable recipes for sure…

My YOGA life:
The amazing women at Sumits Yoga Biltmore: Laura Sliman. Erin LaBow, Alex Stark – who gave me the greatest hug last Sunday afternoon xoxo, Kim Gaziano, Kim Ewan – who was the only gal to get her own blog post this year :), Julie Tuomisto-Bell, Amanda Kinnaird, Jamie Pratt – so sweet of you to recognize I was missing from practice and send me a note (You will do amazing things in Tempe!), Leslie Kelly, and the one guy Jordan Austin Levine. All of you have helped me through a very trying 2013. Not only do the instructors make a difference, but so do my yogi peers: Nicole Balducci, Cynthia Snapp, and Cassandra de Young (now an instructor). There are many more to name, but I hope you know who you are!

This list could go on and on. It’s hard to believe all the amazing people I have in my life. I am truly blessed! I hope that 2014 will continue to have all of you a part of it. It is with great thanks and love that I wish you all the very best as this life moves forward.

In Light And Love –

Make it Count by always showing gratitude to people in your path!

Ashley Stevenson