Before I leave for my trip, I need to say thank you to some people who have made this possible, however they aren't the only ones. So many coworkers, friends, and people I've met have encouraged me as well and I would not feel confident doing something this crazy if they hadn't.
If you've listened to my silly ideas, let me teach you, jammed out with me, or donated to or shared my project, I am also extremely grateful to you.
THE COUPLE WHO STARTED IT ALL
Gary and Joan Moore, long time friends of my parents, gave me my first ukulele when I turned 12. I'd never even seen one before. Although I didn't get around to playing it for a few years and accidentally spilled a bowl of cereal inside of it one morning (that was a bad day), I eventually learned "On Top of Spaghetti" and was hooked.
I can't find the words to show how grateful I am to them for bringing this beautiful instrument into my life out of the blue. They're both very active in the music community in Staten Island where they play in a band called Allergic to B's and spend time bringing arts access to youth in the area.
Growing up with four brothers (from left to right - Avery, Stephan, David, and Ryan) ensured that there was never a dull moment. For all the times we fought over the best cereal, the tv channel, the front seat, and who got to name our next pet, there was another time when they took turns to care for me after my after my knee surgery, dropped me off for work, or held me as I cried. I don't say it a lot, but I'm so glad I didn't have a sister and wouldn't trade a single one of them (except maybe for Jack). Thanks for teaching me how to love unconditionally because if there's anything I thought I couldn't forgive, it would be Ryan fingerpainting in my library books when I was 10 and Stephan dating my friend in middle school, but I've gotten over those things (kindof).
My parents Paul and Michele have always pushed me to be the best I can be. They guided me and set amazing examples of what it looks like to be a genuine and compassionate person, making sure I was aware of the bigger picture when growing up. They're not too happy that I left a teaching career track last year, but I know it's just because they want to make sure I'll be secure in the future. I want them to realize that it's because I feel secure that I finally feel confident enough to act on my dreams. You are the best kind of people.
She is hands down my favorite being on this planet. This strong and beautiful 91 year old woman has taught about being forgiving, staying positive, and that you're never too old to be a little ridiculous. I could try to go on, but the words to describe how much she means to me elude me. Basically, she's hilarious and amazing.
Classic Nora Quotes:
At Thanksgiving - "Are you going to take the stuffing out of its A@$ or what?"
A pep talk - "If you think positively, positive things will happen to you."
When she saw my first tattoo - "Well, that's not going to come off. Too bad."
After I eat garlic - "Good luck getting a boyfriend now. I can smell you from a mile away."
WHOEVER IT WAS THAT CAUSED MY SKIING ACCIDENT
Four years ago I obliterated my ACL skiing for the first and last time when I tried to avoid someone in front of me on the trail and fell. I had been an avid runner and was crushed when I had trouble just walking in the months before and after my surgery. That summer, I worked as a 2nd year tutor counselor for upward bound while healing physically and emotionally. The year before I had taken students on runs and hikes, and that summer I could barely walk up the stairs. I had to be creative to connect with students in other ways which is where ukulele came in. I started playing more, and they wanted me to teach them. I bought a second uke so I could teach more kids. One week, a student came back with a ukulele she had gotten over the weekend. I realized how much I loved teaching and how much joy it brought to others. That's how I decided to start The SUNY Plattsburgh Uke A Dooks when school started in the fall.
Without my injury, I don't know if I would have realized how much I loved teaching others how to play. So thank you mystery skiier. And don't feel bad, I'm all recovered now.
Last but not least, I need to be super mushy and thank my boyfriend Louis Rassaby, who has helped me with so many things that I can't list them all, but most of all has not for one second tried to talk me out of this even though I'm leaving for an unspecified amount of time. He's awesome. Also, he designed my amazing business cards. #sorrynotsorryforembarrassingyou #cellolele