New Year, New Attitude

January 1, 2012

 

A few major things happened to me in 2011.

1. I lost my Dad.

2. I lost a significant amount of weight.

3. I became a columnist.

I’m not quite sure how all three things happened at once, but they did.

 

I will forever miss my Dad, he was a beacon of strength in my life. And he was the ultimate believer in my writing.  He struggled with his own weight issues, and he would have been so proud to see me slim down and find the answer I have been searching for.

I miss him terribly, but I had to keep going, he made me promise.

Maybe watching my Dad slip away reminded me that time goes by all too fast.  And now being middle-aged and all, it seems to slip by faster than ever.  Many days of my last decade were not used to their fullest potential.  Many of those days I wallowed, I wasted, I wept through. Now I feel like I can no longer sit idly by and watch my life as the years pass.  I have been forced, if not willed, to engage in it.

So I found my drive again.  I found purpose and hope for brighter days.  And I feel really good.  I never realized just how crappy I felt until I really started to feel good again.  Funny how that happens.

I now understand what the food I eat does to me, how it makes me feel.  How it reacts in my body.  That is quite a discovery.  I know that when I over-carb I’m listless and bloated.  I know that salads packed with anti-oxidents like peppers give me energy.  I know that I can handle sugar if it’s in small doses like a square of dark chocolate;  but anything more than that feeds the sweet monster inside and makes me crave it all the more.  I know that lean proteins like fish, chicken and steak give me power and energy to make it through the day and if I skip them at a meal I start to lose strength.  And I know that combinations of alcohol, fat and carbs make me gain inflammatory weight immediately and it takes me a good week to undo the over-indugence of just one night. Not to mention it makes me feel kind of crappy.

My diet now consists of many more healthy, clean options.  Many more whole foods, herbs, vegetables and fruit, lean proteins and very little carbs and processed foods.  And, you know what?  I truly like it. I feel much more energized this way and I don’t feel deprived at all. I think the things that we in society think of as “treats” really aren’t treats to our bodies.  Those carbs we think of as comfort food, really drag you down.  The bad fats in fried and fast foods and sugar-y desserts we may covet cause inflammation in our bodies and lower our resistance to disease.

I wish it hadn’t taken me so many years to figure all this out, but now that I know this, I feel armed and ready to take on the rest of my life with good health on my side.

I’ve written before how I was living about 80% natural, that I had good habits for the most part but how there was still 20% of my diet that was questionable.  I think now I’ve increased that percentage to 93%, but I have a little work to do yet; it’s really hard to get past some of those life-long habits. But losing weight, eating healthy and making the connection between what I was eating and how it made me feel was a huge discovery.  In 2012, I plan on making that next leap to 100%.

My career path has been my other big attitude obstacle.  I have been so complacent in the last decade, figuring that most any job doing similar things would be nothing more than a lateral move, so why bother?  I have a decent job, ok pay, acceptable benefits…but what it lacks is room for growth.  And this year I discovered just how much “growing” really energizes me.

By going back to school and learning something new and challenging I felt my world open up again.  The ideas and energy started to flow back into my brain.  I no longer just thought about doing things, I actually did them and made accomplishments.  “Wanting” and “hoping” became a thing of the past and “doing” and “completing” have become my new norm. I’m proud to say that I have completed 3 semesters of classes, and have nearly a 4.0 GPA.

I also learned that by putting myself out there and trying, sometimes you get the answer you want.  Writing a column has been a long time dream of mine.  I submitted many articles to many papers and one paper decided to give me a shot. And 10 months later I pitched another idea, and they gave me a shot at that.  And then most recently, they asked me if I’d like to add another column, and now I’m writing a column at least once a month if not more.  That is pretty dang cool if you ask me.  And all I really had to do was ask.

Mostly I think I figured out that life doesn’t have to be all or nothing, we can do things in moderation – even to excess at times – but if we stay generally in the middle and persevere, we can handle the extremes.  Maybe it shouldn’t have taken me so long to figure that out, but it has finally, finally sunk in.

I think I must have a little angel sitting on my shoulder now.  When I feel stuck, he gives me a little shove to keep me going.  He dries the tears and wipes away the cloudy thoughts.  Maybe he gives me the strength to persevere, I don’t know.

But I do know one thing, attitude is everything.

 

Into the Light

October 30, 2011

 

 

I think I’ve been depressed for a long time.

Not the “can’t get out of bed, won’t do anything” kind of depression, just unmotivated and unhappy.

I felt like I was under a black cloud.  And the rays of hope could never quite get to me.  I was unhappy with my body, my lack of motivation, my energy, my job, my surroundings–but yet no matter what efforts I attempted to make to resolve my issues, nothing ever worked.

Life felt pretty hopeless.

But I never quit looking for the answer to my weight issues.  I read book after book.  I saw doctors of all specialties.  I tried and I tried and I failed and I failed.

I knew there was a solution out there.  I just had to find it.

But 15 years of failure take their toll on you.  My once happy-go-lucky demeanor was gone.  I looked in the mirror every day and as time when on, that person looking back at me became a stranger.

Trapped in some kind of maze, l knew I was in there somewhere.  But as the failures continued, every way out seemed further out of reach and just another dead end.  I didn’t want to go out anymore. I really didn’t want to see anyone or do anything.  I felt ashamed of how I looked and the lackluster person I had become.

My parents saw my sadness as did my husband and my close friends.  Oh, I covered it up as much as I could.  But I lost my spark, my humor.  I assured them all I was ok.  But inside I knew I was desperate.  I knew I needed a drastic change and I had to find the wherewithal to stick with it.

I prayed for help, for guidance, for strength and courage.  I prayed for a cure to my weight battle, one that would keep me slim the rest of my life.

The answers didn’t come quickly.

The thing that really woke me up was the economic crash and my subsequent losses at my job.  Then I was not only fearful, I was angry.  The anger went on for months and months.  My losses at work were not my fault, they were my bosses fault, in my eyes. I was bitter and pissed off at the world.  I literally held my arms outstretched and screamed…”What more God, what more can I endure?”   It was unfair.  Everything that had happened in the last decade seemed so misconstrued and I became a victim of my own self-pity.

I had to make some changes.  I set some goals.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and engaged in the world.  I took some classes.  I networked,  I stretched my mind.  And then, I found my voice again in writing.  With that I found passion and hope.

The days felt a little brighter, my mood lifted.  But my weight went no where. Although I was feeling better about myself, I was still uncomfortable in my own skin.

Then, the last straw to my fortitude…my Dad became terminally ill.

My life, whether I wanted it to or not, was going to change forever.  And I had no control over it.

I could either choose to face it head on, or wallow in self-pity.

I wallowed for a while.

But as I watched my Dad face his mortality, I learned something.

He faced his death with dignity and courage and laughter.  He was kind and giving and honest.  He was more forthcoming with his own feelings and shared more with me while he was sick than he had throughout my whole life.  We had lots of talks in those 6 months. And I, maybe for the first time, really listened.

Funny, my Dad was always kind of a lecturer. And as a teenager I sort of tuned him out.  But he didn’t lecture anymore. He talked honestly about his successes and failures.  About the chances he never too, about regrets and choices.

My Dad has always been very supportive and I always knew he was there if I needed him.  But I don’t know if I ever really knew him until he was dying.

And it took losing him to find myself.

It was like a fire was lit under me.  I started taking chances. I started reaching toward the light again and the clouds were finally starting to break.

I decided to go on a very controversial diet, HCG.   I didn’t listen to the nay-sayers, I believed it would work. I started feeding my body what it needed.  Clean food, no chemicals, no sugars. I stayed consistent.  I began to exercise, again, consistenly being the operative word.

My Dad was routing for me. I had to make him proud.  I promised him that I would deal with my weight issues and not stop till I had succeeded.  I promised him that when I met that goal, I would strive for another –a career that fed my soul.

Every weekend he’d see me, tell me how good I looked, how proud he was of me that I finally found the answer.  He’d say, “make sure the rest of the family gets in shape too, your sister, your nephew…teach them what you’ve learned.”

I’m hoping they will follow my lead.

Now 55 lbs lighter, the sun is shining upon me again.  I’ve emerged from the maze of darkness. I’ve traded in my bitterness and self-pity for kindness and motivation.  I feel alive and strong again.

Maybe my Dad’s spirt is with me, his strength of character and joyous nature seemed to merge with mine.

I almost feel happy…proud.  I look in the mirror and see myself again.

But I’m not suposed to feel happy, right?

I lost my Dad after all.

I feel a little guilty sometimes, like I should be mourning more.  And believe me, I am.  I look at his photo every day I think about what he would want for me. How he would encourage me and be happy for the little victories in my life.  And then I realize that I am honoring him by reaching these goals, and finding my laughter again. He didn’t want me to dwell on the pain.  He wanted me to be happy.

I feel strong now, confident.  I know I can do this.  I will be at my goal weight by spring. I’ll have completed several classes that will bring me closer to the kind of work I desire.

Then, I’m geting a makeover and a new job.

I will be renewd. I’ll have a second chance to do it right this time.

This next part of my life will be bright; and this time, the light will shine srongly upon me.

Only through the depths of darkness can we find ourselves and come into the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing…

August 14, 2011

I’ve been blocked.  That’s why I haven’t posted in my blog for so long.

When my Dad was sick and all I could think of was him.  And when he died, all I could think of was him.  And my Mom asked me not to write about it.  But that is all I could think of.

So I haven’t written.

……For a very long time.

I’ve been focusing on healing.

Healing my heart, my body, my soul.

Heart-wise – I’m still sad.

I still have days I cry.  I think about my Dad alot. I think about what he would say or want me to do.  I think about how he would congratulate my little victories and give me one of his charming smiles and a big bear hug that you feel for days after. He comes to me in my dreams.  He says he’s proud.  Even in my sub-concious he’s telling me he’s proud, that is so like him.

I’m trying to look at myself differently.

Maybe it’s just that I am different now.

My Father’s passing has changed me somehow. I watched him pass into the light. But still I feel his presence around me. I hear him in the Cardinals.  I feel him when I sit in his chair.  I kept a pillow with his colonge on it.  It makes me feel like I’m near him again. I hope that never disapates.

Time will heal.

I’m healing my body by loving myself with good nutrition, exercise and sleep.

I’m healing my soul by surrounding myself with those that make me feel good.  No more negativity, life is too short for negativity.  Only kindness to others.  No more complaining.

Positive thoughts and experiences will bring positive back in.

I breathe—breathe deeply–

Peaceful thoughts, peaceful words, peaceful heart.

 

 

Loss

July 4, 2011

You can feel loss in so many ways…

Loss of a loved one…

Loss of a relationship…

Loss of a job, house or object…

It does make you feel empty. It makes you feel sad, sometimes lonely and listless. There’s a period of mourning, sadness and pain.  Suposedly it’s replaced by the warmth of good memories and love.  That has yet to be determined for me.

I lost my Daddy recently.

I am profoundly sad.

Yes thinking about him makes me feel better, thinking of the good times, sharing stories of him, telling others how kind he was, it all helps…

Perhaps in time I will stop crying.

Perhaps I won’t feel so sad every time I think of him.

I know the loss will pass eventually.

He, himself, said, “Life goes on honey”…”I’ve lived a good life, had lots of adventures and love…we all have to go some time, now is the time for me, God’s calling me home…”

But I miss you Daddy…I still need you. You always made me feel like everything will be ok.  You were my beacon in the darkness.

And now I feel so lost…

 

 

Spring Prep for the Garden

May 28, 2011

This is my 4th column for the Zenith, the un-edited version.

 

 

Looking out the window you might not feel in the gardening spirit.  These drab, dreary, rainy days are not exactly inspiring.  And it’s not very fun working outside when it’s cold and the wind is in your face.

But, now is actually a great time to work your soil.  All this rain makes it easy to pull grass and weeds.  I’ve had my garden for about 14 years now, and I am amazed at how even though every spring I work very hard to clean out my beds, by the next spring I am inundated with grass again.  Why can I grow grass in my flower beds and not in the parts of my lawn that need it? Ah, yes, the ultimate conundrum.

 

So this weekend I plan to don my warm clothes, and rain jacket, get the tools out, and get my butt out there to get things started.  After all, in a few short weeks it will be time to plant and I want to be ready.

 

When pulling weeds and grass you must be sure to get the root.  If you leave it in there expect a whole new crop within a couple weeks.  The easiest way to do this is to get a pitchfork, a hoe or my favorite, the twist-action Garden Claw.  This tool is a must-have for me. You can use it while standing, it’s sharp, and the torque action you get when you twist it really loosens up the soil making it very easy to pull the grass and the roots. Not to mention, it gives you a nice little ab workout.

If your soil is really compacted, or you are starting a new bed, you might have to get a bit more extreme and use a tiller.  After many years of back breaking weed pulling, my husband suprised me bought me a tiller.  What’s even better is that he tills for me.

 

We work as a team, I point out the areas I want tilled, being careful not to disturb the perennials, and he works that area pretty deeply.  As he loosens up the grasses I pull them out.  We can get the beds cleaned out in just a couple hours.  We have about 400 square feet of flower beds so this is a great time saver.

 

Once you get the unwanted growth out of your beds, I highly recommend you do a few things.  Firstly take this time to amend your soil. You need rich, loamy soil for good growth.  And to get that you’ll need a few key components.

 

Compost, Peat, Vermiculite and Black dirt.

 

Compost is a natural fertilizer.  Adding it alone to your soil will give it much needed nutrients.  If your soil has a lot of clay add some peat moss as well, it really helps keep the soil from compacting.  Another great additive is vermiculite, it will help airate the soil. And lastly, black dirt, your base.

 

All of these additives together will give you a solid foundation for good growth.  Once you have a good base add an application of long acting fertilizer and an application of Preen (a weed inhibitor).  Preen will help keep the weeds at bay, but it’s not going to stop them from growing, your best defense is consisitency.  If you can, spend a half hour after work each night and pull some weeds.  It’s a great way to leave the work day behind and get some fresh air and exercise.  And yes, gardening counts as exercise.

After you apply your weed preventer, and get the dead leaves and debris out of your garden, apply a good thick layer of mulch.  Now you may want to delay this step until after you have moved or placed any new plants.  Because once the mulch is down the rest of the summer is just maintenence.

 

Mulch is probably your best defense against weeds.  I’ve tried several mulches from Cocoa Bean Hulls to Rubber Mulch to free Composted Wood Chips to bagged Cedar Mulch.  What I’ve found is that Cocoa mulch, although it smells really good and looks great, it doesn’t last the season.  It’s good because it breaks down easily and you can work it back into the soil, ultimately airating it, but if you have low-lying areas that gather water, it can get moldy.

 

Rubberized mulch has been popular in some commercial areas.  It’s cool because it comes in some vibrant colors, looks like shredded cedar, and is suposed to last forever, but I found two issues with it.  One, it floats.  So if you get a lot of rain and your planting area is not level, it can sort of float away and create a mess.  Secondly, it does not decompose.  So this type of mulch is best used for walk paths or rock gardens on level ground.

 

Composted mulch is a great money saver.  We are regular contributors to our local composting center and when you give, you can also receive.  We used composted wood chips to fill areas where we have lots of trees and shrubs.  It may be hard to take advantage of the free mulch if you don’t have a good way to haul it.  It’s sharp so it tends to break bags easily and if you don’t have a truck or trailer, you could be making lots of trips to the compost center.  The other issue we had is that it is not sterilized.  So along with your mulch you can get lots of seeds.  We have sprouted numerous unknown tree types by using this mulch.  If you have a large area and are ok with that, go for it.

 

Lastly, bagged Cedar mulch.  I have to admit this is my favorite.  It might not be the most eco-friendly option, but it does seem to work the best for our needs.  Cedar mulch comes in several colors, but in my opinion the dyed mulches can look really un-natural.  I just go for the plain old red cedar mulch.  It’s cheap, you can catch a good sale this time of year and get 5 bags for $10.  And considering I need a minimum of 10-12 bags for my perennial beds alone, it makes it affordable. Plus, the bags are something I can personally lift and work with.

 

With any type of mulch you’ll need to put down a good 3” deep layer to keep the weeds at bay.  Mulch also helps the soil retain moisture when the heat of summer persists.  Not to mention it makes your garden look clean and neat.

 

If you prep your garden early in the season, the rest of the summer all you need to do is water, weed, deadhead and Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Planning for Spring

May 24, 2011

This my my 3rd column for the Zenith, I guess I should have posted this two months ago when it ran.

I am so ready for spring.  But with this much snow on the ground I’m wondering just how long it is going to be before I can actually get out there and work the soil.

 

Last year March came and went like a lamb and April was a nice slow and steady warm up. By mid April I was ready to get out there and get my hands dirty.  This spring, we may not be so lucky.

 

The general rule of thumb is that the soil must be dry enough to fall apart when you clump it in your hand.  If you have a big mud ball going on–wait.  Oh, it’s safe to pull out some dead weeds or even new weeds and grasses, but don’t even think about working your perennials.  They are still utilizing all that water to prepare themselves for the new season, and most of them don’t like to be disturbed or even uncovered when there is still a chance of frost, so let the sun come out and warm up your plants and the soil for a few weeks before you start.

 

So what can an anxious gardener do this time of year?

 

If you haven’t started them yet, go ahead and get your indoor starter plants going.  But please keep in mind that the most important step in starting your plants indoors, is timing.  You want to make sure you time the germination of your seedlings right so that by the time they are ready to transplant into the ground, the ground temp will be warm enough to sustain them.  If you start too early you may end up with a leggy, tangled mess. So pay special attention as to which crops can go in colder soil, like broccoli or cabbage and which ones need the soil warm, like tomatoes and annuals, and adjust your planting times accordingly. Colder crops can handle a frost. With warm soil crops it is best to wait until the soil reaches about 65-70 degrees.  But remember, you have to harden off your new plants before they can go in the ground.  It could be June before you can do that, so have patience and watch your growing times for each variety.

 

 

Some of you may already have the supplies you need to get your seedlings growing, but some of you may be starting from scratch, so let me address the things you will need.

 

Firstly, space.  You are going to need a dedicated space to grow your seedlings.  A sturdy shelf works great.  But maybe more importantly, you are going to need lights.  Industrial-type florescent tube lighting is ideal for growing indoors.  These are going to need to be hung over the seed trays on an adjustable chain so that you can raise the lights as the seedlings grow taller. Then you are going to need seed trays, look for the types that have bottom-watering capability, they seem to yeild the best results.  You can find many that already come loaded with a decent loamy soil.  And of course you are going to need seeds. I like to focus on annuals as they can be quite costly to buy in mass as starter plants. And lastly you will need dedication.  Because you are going to have to water those seeds daily, give them alot of light, and make adjustments to the height of the lights as they grow.

 

I’ve had both good and bad luck starting indoors. The years that I really paid attention and made sure they were checked every day, the seedlings did pretty well.  The years I had a busy schedule and didn’t get to my plants daily, well you can guess what happened.

 

For a first-timer, do your research before you start. Know the up-front costs involved, as well as, the light, time and water requirements for your particular seeds.  This can be a fun project to get the whole family involved. Everyone can help in taking care of the seedlings.  And who knows, growing your own vegetables may just be the way you can finally get your kids to eat them.

 

 

If starting seeds seems a bit to much for some, you can take this time of year to plan your garden beds instead.  If you are starting a new bed, think of a snow-filled yard as a blank canvas.  Grab a stick, put on your boots and go play in the yard.  Draw out your garden borders in the snow.  How do you like the size, and location?  Will it get enough sun?  How does it fit in with the rest of the landscape?  What is the natural flow of traffic in that spot?  If the kids are used to running through the yard there, maybe it would be better suited off to the side where it won’t be mistakenly trampled.  It’s a fun way to visualize your project.

 

What else can you do this time of year?

 

This is a perfect time to go through your existing supplies, toss broken tools and expired chemicals. Or clean up your tools, organize them and clean out last year’s pots.  Make a list of what you need, and take advantage of early sales to get things like edging, soil amendments, mulch, fertilizer, start up juice, tools…buy these items a few at a time so you don’t break the bank all at once.

 

Now I might be alone here, but I have actually drawn a scale “floor-plan” of my yard. It’s proven to be a very helpful tool.  Because in March, when I’m gazing out my window, it’s hard to tell where all my borders are under a foot or two of snow.  Having a “land-plan” gives me a guideline to work from.  It shows me where I have available area to workand gives me an overall birdseye view of my lot.  I also keep a list of plants and a general layout of where I’ve planted them so I’m able to plan my next addition sitting at my dining table.

 

You can also take some time to do a little research on some of the new plants and hybrids on the market now. There have been great strides made in perennials.  Many are proliferous bloomers, low maintenence and disease resistant.  You will find many new varieties of roses, shrub roses and hydrangeas as well as cone flowers and day lillies.  Why just those few plants alone could have you in bloom all season long.

 

Think Spring!

 

Life is like a garden…

May 22, 2011

After a crazy, long, emotional winter spring finally comes. With it comes hope and energy, change and new growth. But right along with the good things comes pain and the loss of what can no longer endure.

My spirit is lifted with each new sunny day.  Each accomplishment and bit of success drives me toward goals and better things to come.  The sun warms the earth and welcomes the emergence of life. Yet I must also weather the storms and set-backs of my family. I must pluck the weeds of self-doubt and sadness and persevere even when I want to hide underground to protect myself.

When a flower outgrows itself it will not bloom. It will lay down and try to grow from within.  In order to revive it you must split it and replant it, giving it room to grow. I’m trying to grow, and there are days when I know I need to divide myself into many shoots.  One for school, one for career, one for physical health, one for family strength.  Yet all the while keeping my roots in tact to hold down my marriage and relationships.

The rain of life has been pounding so hard for so long it seems.  Never a respit, for another storm lurks just beyond.

For several weeks my garden has looked sad, ratty and unorganized. Much like my life and my spirit has been. But today some flowers bloomed, first of the spring.  And somehow the ratty mess I was not looking forward to tending, now looks pretty again.

It’s reaching for the sun…much like me.

 

 

Crazy Diet-But it’s Worked So Far

May 5, 2011

I have neglected my blog.  And I love my blog. 

Sorry. I was focused on myself this month.

I shook up my world in the last 5 weeks and did something a little crazy and a little controversial…  I went on a major detox diet.

I had to do something drastic to shake up my system to break my plateau.  And I’m glad I did.

It was amazing.

In 32 days I dropped 22 lbs and 22 inches. 2 pant sizes, a bra size, and a shirt size.  Even my shoes feel big.

It was hard.  Very hard. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

 A couple of days I cried because I wanted a potato with butter more than anything  else in the world.

The food was limited,  boring and repetitive.

No fats, no carbs, no sugars, no dairy.  Limited choices for veggies, fruit and proteins.  Small portions.  But good quality organic food.

I had success.  It was the first success I’ve had on any diet that I have done since the dreaded Deppo incident. 

I have to say though, I felt really good during it. I slept like a rock.  I had no indigestion issues whatsoever and I normally have issues with that. Not to mention,  my mental alertness and energy was fantastic. 

I’ve been searching for a way to reset my metabolism.  I know that something changed in my body when I did the Deppo.  For 15 years I have looked for a way to fix it.  I think I’ve found it.

But I’m not going to say what this whole plan is until I go through the rest of the phases to see if it actually is a permanent fix like they say.  Sorry but I don’t want anyone to do this if they don’t have to.

 Then I will have the solution for my book.

Veterans Memorial

April 10, 2011

Some of my family and I visited two Veteran’s Memorial Parks yesterday.  Us kid’s are planning to do a commemorative stone for my Dad at one of the memorials in town.  He’s a 20 year Air Force man and very proud of his service to his country.

Did you even know that there are several Veteran’s Memorials in your state?

I didn’t.

We went to a couple parks, the difference in the memorials was night and day.  One park in a small suburban town had a pitiful memorial in the works.  The few stones that were laid seemed haphazardly placed;  kind of just stuck in the grass as an afterthought.  There was a kiosk with the plans on site, but some how it didn’t seem dignified in front of the restrooms and strip mall with the Snap Fitness sign as a backdrop.  The flags atop the poles were tattered and faded.

It was kind of sad really.

My Mom called and talked to the planner for the project.  They said they had only received about $1200 in donations and at that rate it could be five years before the park was complete.
My sis-in-law had done the research and found that there are several parks like this in our state.  My Mom called around and talked to some of the park attendees.  One older Veteran was disgusted by his city’s park.  He said that it was a disgrace. People walked over the Vet’s stones without care or concern.  That the skateboarders ran rampant and destroyed the walls with their tricks.  That trash was tossed about and people didn’t treat it with the respect and honor that it’s Veteran’s deserved.  We were all saddened by that.  The thought that someone might disparage my Father’s stone was enough to stop my Mom from wanting to take part.

 

But then we went to a second park in a more affluent suburb of the cities.  This memorial was near city hall, where the officials that worked there would keep vandals and destruction at bay.

 

This park was beautifully landscaped, thoughtful and artistic.  There were thought provoking quotes along the walkway about patriotism and bravery.  It had granite benches and big potted flowers.  The flags were bright and in good condition and each branch of the military was proudly displayed.

Just being there, reading each of the stones, gives you a sense of respect. Men from all branches were represented.  One area had a dozen or more stones all with the same  last name. Each of those men with a family. Each of those men that gave their life, or if not their life, they gave years to the service to our country.  It made me very proud to think that my Dad’s stone would be placed there.  He would be honored as he should be.  It gave me some peace knowing that I could go there to think of him, and some how I knew that his spirit might linger there too.

 

We are planning to give this to him on Father’s day.  Hopefully he will be able to make the trip to the park to see it for himself.  I know this will touch him deeply.  I know this will probably be one of the best gifts we could have ever given him.

 

So think of your Veterans.  Think about all the years you gave your Dad  or your Grandfather a silly tie, or tools, or a wallet as a gift.  Save your money, and instead put it toward a commemorative stone in one of these parks.

 

It will be a gift that will live on for them and for you.

 

 

 

Little Pink Crutches

April 1, 2011

Yesterday, while I was at  work, I had a customer come in.

From my desk I heard her struggling at the door.  I got up to see what the commotion was and saw this petite girl fighting to get through the heavy glass door.  She had caught the bottom of one of her crutches and didn’t have the balance or strength to right herself.

I went over and held the door so she could clear the opening.  I asked her what I could help her with.  She was interested in starting her own line of clothing and was hoping I’d be able to provide her some information.  In my business I’ve had this kind of request before, many a time.  Few had ever been successful.  Many bit off much more than they bargained for.  She looked so fragile, yet so full of hope and optimism, that it really touched my heart. In no way did I want to express any skepticism.

She was a tiny little thing. She had blond hair and big blue eyes that shown through her stylish eyeglass frames. She had a nice smile and I’m guesssing is probably one of the strongest people I have met in a long time.  She looked as though she suffered from MS or Cerebral Palsy.  Her words were a little garbled, her hands a little shaky, but that didn’t hide her enthusiasm.  As she spoke I realized we had more in common then our hair and eye color.

She was also a graphic arts student, studying for her degree in art.  She loved working in Photoshop, but was perplexed by Illustrator, as am I.  She asked the right questions, I gave her some industry secrets.  She was hoping to design a line of clothing to sell in boutiques and trendy stores.  I couldn’t help but root for her.

We talked and laughed, we discussed art and the software that challenged us.  She told me about her ideas and I was impressed with the amount of thought that she had put into this concept.

When I had given her all the facts, she seemed satisfied and very grateful that I had given her some time.  “I’ve been many other places today, others, she said, haven’t been so kind.”  I couldn’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t be willing to show this polite young girl some compassion.

She had to call for a ride and I waited with her while her Mom came to pick her up.  I helped her with the catalogs and information I had given her, as she couldn’t carry them and maneuver her crutches together.  I opened the door and waited for her to get down the step.  I noticed how tiny her legs were.  Her thigh muscles were smaller than my arm.  She wore black and white checked high-top sneakers and pink and white striped socks.  She had leggings on, a pink hoodie and a wildly printed scarf. She had style, that was for sure.  I helped her into the car. Her Mom gave me a grateful nod some how both expressing doubt and hope at the same time.

As I closed the car door it was then that I noticed her little pink crutches.  Small and worn, bedazzled with glitter.  What else would a fashionista-to-be put on her crutches? I couldn’t help but smile.

I walked back into my office feeling both proud and ashamed of myself.  For I had been whining a couple days prior about the silly things that I wanted, but didn’t have. Yet I have the ability to walk, and the freedom to come and go as I please. I can sit still and concentrate when needed…all the things this girl fights to have on an hourly basis…I take for granted every day.

It was then that I realized that I had crutches of my own, only mine were bedazzled with self-pity.

A tear rolled down my cheek.

I called my husband to share my experience.  He had been whining earlier that day too. We took a collective sigh and realized how lucky we were.

If she could reach for her dreams with her limitations, there was no reason I couldn’t also.

So I put away my crutches last night and decided that today was the day I was going to start to reach, fight and struggle to get where I’m going too.

 

Next Page »

  • All my life I've waited for things to be right in the universe before I could really start living my life. If only I had the perfect job, the perfect home, was the perfect weight or had the perfect partner... then my life could begin.

    What I've realized now is that these challenges I faced were not obstacles holding me back, they were the steps in the journey that is my LIFE.

    Life has it's ups and downs, heartaches and joys. We need to appreciate each day, and do our best with what we have been given.

    It's not the destination, it's the Journey.

  • Chains of Harmony


  • Image Map