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Soooo have you guys heard yet? It’s only the greatest news to come from Pixar since Toy Story 3…which, yeah. Wasn’t that long ago. Whatever.

Finding Dory—the much-anticipated sequel to Finding Nemo—has finally been announced and set with a 2015 release date! At this point, you should probably watch Ellen be hilarious.

In case you didn’t know this about us yet, We are prone to bouts of nostalgia and sentimentality. So, of course, the news of this movie set me off. I thought about watching Finding Nemo for the first time with two little girls whom I babysat, and whom have since become like sisters to me. (Oh, and also they have since become teenagers—Yuck). Alas, I digress.

More importantly, Finding Dory sent me back about two years to a very special and inspirational night. While I was at Western, I was lucky enough to have a group of friends silly and wonderful enough to dress up like this:

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It was Relay for Life 2011, and our school is known for nothing if not its eccentric school spirit (oh, and also over-drinking and rich girls). Teams often dressed up in the hopes of winning the award for most-spirited (a title we claimed that year), but more importantly, everyone gathered with the common goal to raise money for cancer research.

For those of you who don’t know, Relay is a yearly event wherein teams sign up to walk from 7 PM to 7 AM in support of those with cancer. The idea is that each team must have at least one member walking at all points through the night—the tagline being the appropriate Cancer Doesn’t Sleep, So Neither Will We.

Our team always took the matter of creating a theme very seriously—always sure to incorporate what it was we were walking for. In 2009 (a year I didn’t attend) it was superheros; 2010 it was Tight and Bright to Win the Fight, and last year, we entitled our Disney character theme When You Wish Upon A Star.

But surely our best was Dory’s inspirational and ever-relevant theme of Just Keep Swimming.2

So we donned our swimming gear, made shirts and fins for the occasion and, around 3 AM when fatigue set in, entertained our fellow walkers with sleepy but boisterous renditions of Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, what do we do? We swim, swim!

1It was perhaps that night when I realized just how amazing my group of friends was.

In my experience, it’s not terribly easy to find people who—in the course of twelve hours—will dress up like idiots, sing and ‘swim’ around a track, will have very in-depth, philosophical and intricate conversations (*cough* Marilyn *cough*), leave you to your own thoughts when necessary, and then hold each other through the tears that inevitably fall at Relay.

It hit me the other night that the announcement of Finding Dory occurred in the same week that we all would have gathered this year for Relay if we were still all at school together. Of course, that made the nostalgia increase tenfold.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to let you in on another little bit of my crazy. Since that night, I’ve made Just Keep Swimming my go-to motto. (What’s a motto? I dunno what’s a motto with you? –important Lion King interlude).

Too busy? Just keep swimming. Scared of all this change? Just keep swimming. Have no idea what your life is going to be? Just keep swimming. Stressed? Just keep swimming. Angry? Just keep swimming. Lost? Just keep swimming…

Missing your friends? Just keep swimming.

Yup. Slightly crazy.

Seriously though, you should try it, too. And if all else fails, sing the song. (It’ll get stuck in your head for days and leave little room for whatever was troubling you!)

And if you’ve never participated in Relay for Life, I encourage you to do so. You won’t regret it. They are some of my best memories from those four years of my life.

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Just keep swimming, folks!

Much love,

-A

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