Monday, December 17, 2012

Random Acts Of Kindness Or Whatever I Find Myself Writing About

Amazing isn't it?  I just looked and my last post was on September 8, 2012.  That means in October, November and this many days in December I have not posted.

I know why.

I have been living, and, as funny as it sounds, that has taken a certain amount of absence, reflection and finding the words to say what it is like to "dare" to live and leave cancer behind, leave "waiting" behind...

What does that mean?  Leave "waiting" behind?

I knew my dad was going to die.  I just didn't know when.  He was 99 years old in September of 2011.  I could tell he was getting more frail.  I could tell he was different.  The biggest indicator was something simple.  He didn't order pancakes at Perkins Restaurant anymore. 

He had eaten pancakes from the time he was a little boy on the family farm.  Everytime we went to Perkins he ordered pancakes.  It was an event just to watch him eat.  He had the buttermilk three.  There was one big ball of butter that he saved for the last pancake.  He had four, not three, pieces of bacon, syrup and decaf coffee.  He had a hard time lifting the coffee pot to pour his coffee.  He had bursitis in his shoulder.  When he lifted his fork to his mouth he held his arm with his other hand.  I would pour his coffee and remember all the times we would be on vacation and eat breakfast out.  It was always a favorite time for me to eat breakfast in a restaurant with my dad.

So, that is what I have been busy with.  I have been busy in my mind.  Sarah's cancer is past.  She is good.  She does her, now six month, blood draws and is busy with her life.  My dad......and I sigh....died December 10, 2011 at 99 years old.  Am I over it?  No....I can say that with a resignation that I feel in my heart.

I have dreamt about him the last two nights.  He loved coming to my house for Christmas.  He loved my tree and my decorations and being with family.  I missed him last Christmas, but this year, for some reason, feels like the first Christmas he is not with us. 

I am making my way through Christmas this year.  I am trying to find the magic I like to bring to the season and to my family.  Christmas is my favorite season of the whole year. 

Today, I was driving home from the post office.  I had packages to mail and the line was long.  I told myself I would give myself an hour to mail two packages.  The fellow behind me said to his daughter...."This could take up to a half hour."  I said, "That is long enough to make a new friend."  I told them I had given up to an hour to be in line.  They said, "Wow."  I said, "Well, if it takes less than an hour I would be happy and lucky, and if it takes an hour, I would be right."  I ended up having a lovely conversation with the fellow behind me and I was the better for it.  I left the post office with a smile and a wish for a Merry Christmas!

Now, for the random act of kindness part. 

I was driving home from the post office and I saw a woman pushing a grocery cart with bags of groceries on the path along the lake.  I drove on past and then turned around.  I drove back to where she was and stopped across the road from her and asked if she needed help.  She paused and then said, "Yes."  I pulled my car into a driveway and went over to her.  I asked where she was going.  She told me and it was still another mile or so.  I told her I couldn't get the grocery cart in my car but I could get her groceries in and could drive her to her apartment.  She didn't have mittens on or a scarf or hat.  She looked near frozen. 

Once we got in my car, I turned the heat up and could see her shaking from the cold.  I drove her to her apartment complex, got her groceries out of my car, carried them to the elevator and watched them while she went up to get her own cart and bring it down so we could load them and get them up to her apartment. 

Her name was Cheryl and she was legally blind.  She had tried calling someone to help her and noone was home, so she headed out walking.  She must have walked close to six miles before I came across her and stopped.  I am glad I stopped.  I know the human spirit is able to do things, but I am glad I stopped.  I am glad I trusted my intuition and turned around. 

In March of 2013 I will turn 70 years old.  My daughter, Sarah, shared a blog with me recently that talked about doing one random act of kindness for each year you are alive.

Well, I can't do 70 random acts of kindness in one day, or even in one week.  So, I am going to start my journey of doing 70 random acts of kindness today.  Each day between now and March 16, 2013 I will be doing random acts of kindness and will work at meeting my goal of 70 by the end of March 16, 2013.

Therein, lies my story for is past, present and future.

I miss you dad...more than you could ever know.

I am grateful for your good health Sarah and that cancer is in the past.

I am grateful for my life and the ability I have to still be the Christmas magic for my family.

I am thankful for all I have, and whatever I can give, in whatever ways, to be a kind person each and every day.

This was a long post but that is okay. 

I will post my random acts of kindness as I go.  They may require some creativity but I like that.

Merry Christmas everybody.  May your days be blessed in ways you couldn't even guess.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

It Is Late

It is late.

I am up alone.

I am listening to my CD of Ireland sounds....birds, water, a train as it travels along the Irish coast....all set to the Ireland Orchestra.

It makes me breathe differently.

It makes me relax.

It makes me reflect.

Reflect on life, death, and all that happens in between.

There is a change happening.

Inside of me.

I suppose we all go through changes.

Some are by choice.

Some are imposed.

Perhaps it is good to welcome change no matter how it comes.

I will see if I can put some of this music on so everyone can hear it.

Maybe it will take others into a place of relaxation, deep thoughts and feelings.

If so, I am glad.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Just Thinking

I wish I knew what I wanted to write, but I don't.  I think I am caught between wanting to review the last year and wanting to enjoy the present.

I think they are related. 

It is the first time, in so long, that I am not thinking/worrying about something related to cancer.

Sarah is two years out and doing really well.  For a while, in the last year, we were concerned that my other daughter, Kara, might be having symptoms of lymphoma.  We have finally found someone who took her symptoms seriously and she has been cleared.  My daughter-in-law, Sara Beth, had a mass behind her lung that needed to be surgically removed and biopsied.  She has been cleared.  No cancer! 

How do I say it?  How do I say that I don't have to wonder or worry anymore? 

What I know is, once cancer has touched your life, you don't go back to a pre-cancer world.  You know you are no longer invulnerable.  You learn....I think I am still to go about life without cancer being at the center.

I am sitting in my favorite chair listening to a beautiful CD of Irish nature sounds......birds, water...even the sound of a train as it travels the coast of Ireland and I am feeling so thankful for my life.

I am still wanting to review the last year.  I have had so many thoughts of my dad, who died in December of 2011.  He enters my thoughts so many times. 

When we were in Ireland recently I visited a cheese and fudge shop at one of the tourist sites.  They had a whole room of cheese that was aging.  My dad was a cheesemaker.  How he would have loved seeing that.  I bought a magnet of the cheese room.  I bought it for him.  I bought it for me. 

I have things I want to write about.  I might be getting ready to do just that.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Welcoming Myself Back To Posting

It has been so long since I have posted. The time since I last posted has come and gone in a flash. I think there was a reason for that. I tend to trust myself. Since I last posted, I have discovered there have been changes to this blog. You know, there is always something that is new and improved. With a smile I say I am a creature of habit and don't like change. I will have to get acquainted with the new format if I am to write from my heart. I have lots to say. I have lots to share. Today has been a day of reflection on so many things. I will write again.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Very Important Wednesday Night And A Slideshow Of My Dad's 99th Birthday Party

Last night I was looking at pictures, videos and slideshows I have stored on my laptop. I found this slideshow I made of my dad's 99th birthday party in September, 2011. I thought I had posted it on my blog, but it doesn't seem to be the case.

I wondered if I should watch it.

Was I doing ok enough to watch it.

I decided I was.

About two weeks was a Wednesday night...I was alone for the night...Tom was at choir practice...and I had watched the video of the ballet (my previous post) a number of times....

That video touched me so found and opened the closet door of so many feelings over the last two years...feelings I simply haven't had time to has been too busy and too full....I handled it all...some might even think I was amazingly functional...

And, I was....I did everything that I needed to....things came one on top of the other...each and every one was anything but emotionally was nothing emotionally neutral about the last two years....

On that Wednesday night...the night I was alone...alone in my house...sitting in my chair in the basement...out it came....

I didn't plan it...I didn't know it was going to happen....

I started to scream...I screamed loud and long...I screamed from a place in me that I didn't know came from the depths of me...there were no words....there were no thoughts....only screams...and then it stopped....I cried some tears....and then it was over...

I have felt different ever since....

I watched two other videos online that affected me too. One was the video of Ben Breedlove made prior to his death. If you haven't seen it, you can type Ben Breedlove into google and it will come up. I also watched a video of Ben's sister giving a eulogy at Ben's funeral. She talked about a conversation she had with Ben the night before he died.

In essence, what she learned from Ben, who had courted death a number of times in his young life, and even visited heaven...died and came back..was that heaven was beyond description, filled with peace and calm, and a place he didn't want to leave. He said to his sister, something to this effect..."Heaven is God's gift to us and our being alive and living life is our gift to God."

I thought about that. And, I knew that my mom, dad and Briana...all who have died in the last two years were in a wonderful place. I knew they were safe, whole and happy.

I thought about Sarah getting cancer. She is two years cancer free now. I thought about everything in life that has been given to me. I thought about that I am alive. I thought about how I live my life...and I mean LIVE my life...not just be alive.....and how that is my gift to God.

I kept saying over and over to myself..."I am alive...I am alive...I am alive..."

I am alive and how "I be alive" is how I give my gift to God.

Life has been different ever since the night I screamed. It just is. It doesn't change.

It feels like I have been in a dark tunnel for two years and on that Wednesday night screamed the door of the tunnel off, walked out and closed the door behind me. It is the only way I can come close to describing what I experienced.

It is possible for me to look at pictures of my dad now. I haven't been able to since his death. Some bring a tear, some bring a smile, and I often reach up to my laptop screen and touch his face with tightness in my throat. I GET to hear Sarah's voice. I GET to hug her. I GET to go to lunch with her, and I GET to listen to her plans for the life she GETS to have...

And, I GET to thank God for this new life that I GET to have. That new life comes with a sense of gratitude... a sense of freedom and a newly understood sense of responsibility. Yes, responsibility...responsibility to be thankful on a daily basis and live MY life to the fullest and give it as a gift.

I guess that was a lot to write about.

And, now there is the slideshow of my dad's 99th birthday party. His younger brother, Ernie, (95) was there and we did a joint celebration for the two of them. The cast of players at this party was his brother, daughters and their families, cousins, nieces, nephews, the social worker who has known my dad for years and gotten him involved in some senior activities etc., and two of his neighbors...lots and lots of family and people who loved him. In one group picture Sarah is holding up her phone to represent our son, Adam, so he and his family (they live in SC) could be part of the party too.

Some of the pictures with lots of people in seem to be the same picture, but they aren't. In each similar picture you can see different people laughing because of what was being said or faces that were being made. I have to tell you too...the last song, Tennessee Waltz, was my mom's favorite song. I can watch it and feel warm and glad the family got to do that. Family was his world. I love you dad. Thanks for the life you gave me. Love, Judy

Monday, January 23, 2012

My lia sophia Party and So Much More

I have always loved watching my kids grow up.

I have always loved watching my kids evolve and become who they wanted to be.

I have learned that I could never have planned their lives for them.

I have learned that their hopes and dreams belong to them.

It has been like watching an adventure movie, with twists and turns, changes of scene and new characters showing up. (And, I love all the characters!)

My daughter, Sarah, is almost two years out now from being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is hard to believe that two years has gone by, but it has. Life is broken down into three parts now. Life before cancer. Life during cancer. Life after cancer. Who you are in each of these thirds is different. All you have to do is look at pictures and you can see the outward and visible differences. What you don't see is the inward and invisible differences.

Sarah has started something new in her "life after cancer" third. She doesn't necessarily understand why she is loving what she is doing, but she is. Somehow, it excites her and makes her feel good. Somehow, she knows it is a forum for helping women. She is following her heart and responding to what feels right for her.

Sarah has become a lia sophia jewelry consultant. She went to a lia sophia party last year to support a friend. She agreed to host a party to help out that friend. I was at Sarah's party and agreed to host a party to help Sarah out. Sarah agreed to become a consultant so she could do my party.

This is making me laugh. If you are following this, I am glad.

The point is, Sarah is loving being a lia sophia consultant. It is fun. She loves the jewelry. The jewelry is beautiful and can be worn so many different ways. One necklace can become two or three different looks depending on what you want to do with it...wear it long....wear it doubled...wear it doubled and twisted...combine it with another necklace for a totally different look...slip part of the neckace into one of the seems you get multiple necklaces for the price of one.

Sarah didn't aspire to become a jewelry consultant. It came as a direct result of helping out a friend. And, she knows there is something here that God is using her for. Little did she know, it would become a new thing, a new love, in her life.

It is not always up to us to know how we can or will affect someone else's life. Sometimes we just have to pay attention and say, "Yes." And, the rest will come. If we follow our hearts and do our part, we will know soon enough why we are doing what we are doing.

The party I had at my house on Saturday was such great fun! It was a small group. It was Sarah, my daughter Kara, Sarah's friend Kristi, and me. We abandoned some of the regular presentation and went straight to looking at and trying on the jewelry. It was like a bunch of girls doing "girl stuff." It was intimate. We talked and laughed. We took the time to pay attention to each other and say what looked good and what wasn't working. It is funny, but jewelry is not a "one type fits all."

Below are pictures of some of the jewelry. Sarah is still building her inventory. It will take time. But, there are catalogs to look at and a lia sophia website to visit. In fact, two other friends of Sarah's "came to my party" via the phone. They just talked to Sarah, told her what they wanted and Sarah could fill out the form. They ordered as though they were guests at my party, but did it by phone.

I can say that many of the things are even more beautiful in person. Some of them just make your jaw drop they are so pretty. And, the truth is, it is easy to feel pretty when you wear this jewelry. You just do. addition.....hostessing a party is easy and fun! And, there are bonuses for hostessing a party. There are FABULOUS bonuses for hosting a party. Hostess prices on many of the pieces are really good. I got four beautiful pieces of jewelry at the bonus price. I will take pictures when I get them and post them. I just might break into song here any minute!

"I feel pretty...I feel pretty...I feel pretty and witty and gay." la la la.... are the pictures....starting with Sarah.

The seven bracelets on the right come as a set. They are beautiful and can be mixed and matched with the gold one on the far left. The gold one on the far left also comes in the other metal colors. You can wear them all at once which makes them look like a cuff bracelet or break them up. Totally cool!

This chain is gorgeous. It has gold, silver, hematite, copper. It can be worn long or doubled or some of the chain can loop through one of the bigger links for a totally different look.

This necklace is stunning. It was one of the jaw-dropping pieces. In this picture it is doubled and twisted and catches the light so beautifully. And, yep, this is one that I am getting. In fact, the chain in the picture above, is also one I am getting. And, I am getting the seven piece bracelet set too. Shhh...that isn't all of it! I am getting more!

Yep, I will have a few pictures to share in a week or so.

Thank you Sarah for letting me be a part of this new adventure in your life. I am going to stand back and watch you evolve. I am going to watch and I am going to listen as the inward and invisible differences come to light. I will be right there, as this next third of your life takes shape, and it becomes clear how lia sophia will become an avenue for touching and helping other women.

I know, from my years of living, what appears on the surface is not necessarily the sum total of any life experience.

Yes, I am going to watch

Yes, I am going to listen.

It is the inner journey that tells the meaning.

I am just so lucky. I am just so very lucky.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In The Arms of the Angels

Oh, how I hope this works. At the bottom of this post is a link to click on to hear this most beautiful song sung by Sarah McLachlan and Josh Groban.

I got this in an email today from a site I have really enjoyed. It is so beautiful and gives me some peace with the passing of my dad.

I wasn't expecting to feel the grief, the way I am, as I took my Christmas decorations down. I realized that once Christmas was over, there was nothing between me and the grief anymore. So, I started to feel.

I also realized as I looked at pictures of my mom and dad, that so long as my dad was alive, my mom was still here too. Now, it feels like I have lost both of them.

My mom died in 2001. I know it makes no sense. But, that is the way it is hitting me.

Who am I to question life?

Who am I to question death?

Last night, as I lay in bed, I got an image of my mom and dad as they were in a picture from long ago. It made me smile and brought me some peace.I wonder when the images of my dad will go away. Perhaps, never.

I find it hard to look at pictures. And, when I look at videos, it is his voice that I love. So, in the arms of the angels, my dad is pain free and holding my mom in his arms.

Please click on the link below to hear this beautiful song.

Love, Judy