My Auntie Arlene has always been an unstoppable force, and if I ever needed more evidence of that, this weekend would be it.

Auntie Arlene is my grandma's sister, and most of my extended family still lives in Milwaukee. I was very close with my grandma, so since she passed in 2011, I've lived vicariously through my Auntie Arlene.

She has every reason to want to crawl into a hole right now; her husband, my Uncle Dan, passed away just a few weeks ago. He had been in bad health for quite some time. At the time of his death, they'd been married for 63 years. 63 YEARS!!! And here I was feeling good about myself and Pat for being married for 7 years!

via Arlene Miller

Back in 2011, a little more than nine months after the loss of her sister (my grandmother), she lost her son, my cousin David, to cancer on Christmas Eve. We all used to go camping together near the Wisconsin Dells every summer. Here's a picture of us from Dave's cancer benefit that was held in March of 2011. I was in town with my Irish dance school, and we were honored to be able to dance at his benefit.

via AJ Clark

Even after all of this, my Auntie Arlene has continued to life her life to the fullest. I'll never forget, the year after in 2012, I was in the Milwaukee St. Patrick's Day parade with my dance school. I saw Auntie Arlene in the crowd, drinking a beer and dancing with my extended family. I ran up to her and gave her a big hug and, as always, was amazed at her positive attitude. She was keeping it together for her family, while having a great time as well.

Thank you to my cousin Vicki for allowing me to share these photos; she, my Auntie Arlene and more members of my extended went on a pub crawl over the weekend. And this photo sealed the deal for me - she pole danced. My 83-year-old great aunt pole danced in a party bus.

There are a million quotes about living life to the fullest, but these in particular remind of my Auntie Arlene:

Stop existing and start living. 

When writing the story of your life, don't let anybody else hold the pen.

Life is about doing things that make you happy, not the things that please other people.

Enjoy the little things in life, because someday you'll look back and realize that they were the big things.