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Unfortunately sometimes it takes tragedy to remind us.

Tragedy to remind us of all the great aspects of our lives.

To remind  us of the amazing people we are blessed to know.

To remind us of how good we really have it.

To remind us to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us.

To remind us that we should always live for the moment.

To remind us that we never know when we won’t have the chance to hug a friend again, to kiss our nieces & nephew, to laugh with family.

Life is far too short. And this recent tragedy in Newtown has reminded me how many people probably don’t know how much they mean to me.

So in honor of those 26 victims, 20 of them young children who barely had a chance to live their lives, I want to show my love and appreciation to the people in my life.

I’m blessed to have so many amazing people in my life.

Parents that love and support me through it all. Mom & dad, I love you. Thank for all you have done for me and for everything you have taught me through love & tough love over the years. I wouldn’t be the driven young lady I am, without you guys. I’m lucky to have you guys as parents.

A brother who is proud of me, (I think!). Patrick…thank you for being a great example (even when I detoured from your good child path), thank you for loving me even when I strive to antagonize you, and thank you for just being you.

Godparents who have always embraced me as family even though there is no blood in common. David & Brenda, thank you for being the aunt & uncle by meaning, for loving and supporting me even when my career path went in a direction that you didn’t fully agree with. I’m lucky to know that I can always confide in and have your support.

April, you are my big sister by meaning. From our ice cream dates back when I was in 4th grade and you were using my bedroom while paging at the SD Legislature to me loving your kids as if they were really my nieces and nephew you have always been there for me. Even when you are busier than imaginable, you find the time when I need you. I can’t imagine my high school years without having had you to confide in about the crush of month or during college about me chasing my dream of working in the political world. I don’t know if you know it, but you’ve always been a mentor to me and I probably never would have realized my passion for politics if it wasn’t for you putting me to work at the SDDP office back in the day!

Haleigh Rose–my princess, Keeleigh Rae–my spitfire, Wiley Jacob–my cowboy, and Oakleigh Ann–my little monkey. You four are my little bears. My nieces and nephew by meaning. You are the sunshine on a cloudy day. All it takes is hugs & kisses from you four to make everything better. I will never forget the first time I held each of you. I am thankful for having you four in my life every second of the day.

Amy Jo. I don’t think I would ever guessed the first time I met you how big of a part of my life you would be. You are one of my best friends, ever. You get me even when I don’t get myself. You know when I need a good dose of common sense and also know that sometimes I need to fall to truly learn a lesson. You put up with all my craziness, you listen to my ramblings when I don’t even make sense to myself. I’m so thankful that you are my best friend and that despite the four hours between us, we’ve gotten close than ever since we left Vermillion. I love you bestie! Don’t ever forget I am always here for you even if it’s from four hours away.

Kelcy. You are my little sister by meaning. You provide me with sanity when I’m in Pierre. You allow me to feel like I have another niece in CJ. You get me more than makes sense given our age difference. You are an amazing mother and I’m so glad to have been able to grow through seeing you grow. You embrace everything put in front of you and kick ass at life. You know when I need to smile and just how to make me smile. I love having you as my little sister by meaning. And let’s be honest. No parents could have handled us as biological sisters.

Bre. I don’t think I would have ever guessed that we would remain this close after we left Vermillion. However, I have to say those two years that we lived together were probably my two favorite years out of the six I was in Vermtown. We had so many laughs together. I’m so glad that we’ve stayed close and that I was able to be a part of you and Jackson’s big day and see you guys grow as a couple and as parents to Ky. And Ky man oh man. You have one smart girl, but boy are you guys in for trouble if she’s anything like you two! 😉 Love you and your beautiful family so much.

Bets. We haven’t known each other all that long, but I couldn’t be happier than having you as a roommate. You’ve embraced my craziness. Don’t make too much fun of me for my disaster of a bedroom, and we’ve had many a laughs together. I can only imagine what more may come for us as roommates!

My Twitter ladies….Leah, Erica, Kristin, Sara, Ashley, Elin, Holly, Michelle, Michelle, and so many more. You all started out as strangers I met on twitter. Then I got the chance to get to know you through twitter, tweetnmeets, meeting in person, and some even listening to (reading) my email novels. I’m so thankful to have you all in my life. You’ve all changed me for the better even if you don’t see it. I’ve grown so much since my graduation with my MA…and you all have played a part in that in one way or another.

Kim—thank you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime in helping with WEFest last year. You are an amazing and passionate lady who I’m proud to know. Thanks for all the fun that WEFest provided and the friendship that we have. I can’t wait until our next encounter, wherever it might be!

S4SD team. The S4SD team became a part of my life in 2006 when I interned with the campaign and it continued to be a vital part of my life when Tessa, Catherine, Betsy, and Stephanie took the leap of faith and hired me straight out of grad school into a dream first job. Every single person that was a part of team S4SD shaped me. Together we faced a hard election, but made so many memories and all grew as a team and family together. While 2010’s campaign didn’t end the way we wanted, I’m still so honored to have been a part of the team and met all of you. I look forward to continuing to see all of you and hope that soon enough I can visit the DC crew.

H4ND Fargo Crew….my oh my. What a great 9 or was it 10 days I had in Fargo? I learned a lot about myself that week. I had a lot of fun and met some amazing people. Spending a week in close encounters with like-minded people helped me to realize how much I love my job and how much more I can learn and do with my passion. I’m happy to say I walked away from the week in Fargo with far more than the campaign win. I learned about myself and made a great friend who has shown me that there is far more out there for me than I ever realized. Here’s to a reunion in the near future without the 10 hours+ a day on the phone in the mix!

PP. I never realized how much I could really do with my passion until I got this job. I have grown so much in the last four months. To have them believe in me has helped me to believe in me. I love working somewhere that I am so passionate about and if change one person’s outlook on our organization I can say I will be so proud. I’m proud of my coworkers across the affiliate and country for fighting the good fight. I don’t think most will ever know how much PP means to me, but I only hope that the little glimmer I’ve seen in my interns’ passion is just the start of what I can do for PP.

Bry…we may fail at staying in touch, but you are always there to support me when I need you. I am so glad to have been able to be a part of your grad school journey and I can’t wait to see you graduate and get married. You are truly an amazing young woman and one of my biggest cheerleaders.

Roby & Pecheny, while I may not see you nearly enough you both remind me of what I loved the most about the house. Your smiling faces every time we get together and our ability to pick our friendship up after months a part makes me so happy. Thanks for all the girl talk we’ve had, and all girl talk dates yet to come.

Jessica, you’ve embraced me and all my passions and truly treated me as family from day one. I am so glad that our grandparents chose to marry each other so that I was lucky enough to have you and Travis as my cousins. I am so glad that we have turned a family relationship into a friendship. Thanks for being there for me and supporting me.

The rest of my family, while I may not have named everyone, I am blessed by a great family. Even those who I may not have good relations with have helped me to grow into the person I am today, and I truly am thankful for having them in my life through all the good and the bad.

All of my twitter friends, real life friends, sorority sisters, and other people who have or were once a part of my lives. Thank you for playing a part in my life in one way or another, even if we aren’t the closest, I am sure our encounters helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Thank you all for being a part of my life. For allowing me to be a part of yours. For changing me, embracing me, supporting  me, challenging me, and loving me.

I am blessed and it shouldn’t take a tragedy like this to remind me of this.