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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Light That Shines From Within

Lucky girl. That's me. It's taken me a while to realize it and a well deserved period of feeling sorry for myself a couple of years ago but the truth is, I'm quite fortunate.

It became crystal clear after I went to dinner with my friend Judy a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about the recent death of her mother and the time Judy got to spend with her a couple of months and weeks before her death. Judy and her mother were especially close, even living together for the past several years. She told me that she felt fortunate that she had 54 years with her sweet mother and was able to leave her job a couple of months ago when her mom received her fateful diagnosis. Judy said she couldn't imagine what I went through having lost my husband and the pain I must have experienced. I told her that of course it was hard and painful but I know that there is always someone who has or is experiencing something much worse than what we have or currently are going through. We both agreed and talked for a while about that before she told me how lucky I am to have the family that I do. I was filled with some sort of warm, deep light and love when she said that. Kind of like a slow burn, it took a couple of hours for the thought to fully ignite within me. I couldn't sleep that night for all the thoughts spinning in my head. It was almost a dizzying realization that hit me.

My life is far from perfect but it's okay because it's mine. I live alone and get lonely sometimes. But I answer to no one and enjoy the quiet solitude in my home. I don't have anyone to "take care of" and cook for.  But after a lifetime of living for others and putting myself last, I put myself first now. I often barely make ends meet and it's often a case of running out of money before I've run out of bills. But I manage and I budget and I even make sure I have enough to have fun and enjoy my life....even if it means other areas suffer. (And that's okay because those decisions only impact me) I hate that my kids don't have a father and my grandchildren don't have a Grandpa Al. But I've got strong, amazing children who are carrying on and keep their father's memory alive. And my grandchildren know who Grandpa Al is even though one only met him a couple of times as an infant and the other two never got that privilege.

I am strong, I am happy. And I am very lucky.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Slow Burning Epiphany

I recently went back to Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo, Mexico for vacation. It's the place Al and I went for our 30th wedding anniversary. I half expected to feel a little melancholy while there, especially when I'd be at some of the same spots we enjoyed back in 2008. 

But it was a different hotel, a different beach, the city had changed and I had changed. I'm happy for the life I had with Al and the lessons I've learned along the way. I have three of the most amazing children because of him and I am who I am today because of him. And you know what? I like me.

My entire married life was devoted to my husband and children. I was one of THOSE women. I catered to their every need and put my own wants and needs on the back burner. Shit, who am I kidding? They weren't on the back burner, they were poured in airtight containers and put in the freezer.

This is going to sound a little strange but I'm learning to put myself first and come to understand that it's okay to be selfish. It's my turn. My time.

Now, this is not a sudden epiphany. For the last year or two I've slowly been discovering myself and that I deserve to enjoy my life for me and no one else. Forever a people pleaser, I'll admit it is a little hard to not care what people think of me. But I'm working on that. 

My vacation was out of this world. I was happy and full of excitement for what each day would bring. I zip lined, I rappelled, I swam in cenotes, I snorkeled in a lagoon, I snorkeled with sea turtles in the open water, I came face to face with an ugly old barracuda. I drank rum straight out of a freshly opened coconut with a hairless dog by my side. I swam with whale sharks 18 miles out in the middle of the ocean. I read, I swam, I ate amazing food, I drank way too much alcohol and I did it all with some of my favorite people.

While out on the town one night we stopped at a little place called The Beer Bucket. That place not only holds very fond memories for me but it also holds a special memento ~ Al's old truck license plate. You see, The Beer Bucket used to ask people to bring in license plates from all over in exchange for a free t-shirt so Al dug his old one out, dusted it off and put it in his suitcase back in '08. 

So when we approached that wall and saw it, a tear did roll down my face. It was a tear full of laughter and memories, maybe just a touch of sadness, but full of love and happiness.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Four Years and the Love Still Shows

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that this much time has passed. As time goes by people come in and out of our lives, things change and life goes on. I work daily on moving forward and making changes in my own life and building my future. I've always been one of those odd people who really like change. Change makes us stronger, better and more appreciative of the things that came before.

Although I'm working hard on those changes there is something I hang on to that is so near and dear that I never want to lose it. Perhaps it's a bit unhealthy but it happens so in my mind, it's obviously very necessary for the both of us. That is the connection and communication I get from Al. Still. Four years later, it's still here. Not as frequent or as strong as in the beginning and I know he is moving further and further away from us all. But when it's important, he's here.

Very recently something truly upsetting happened that was painful for my immediate family. It's difficult to explain and I'm not ready to put the whole story out there. Al's son Peter, who my husband met for the first time just  hours before his death, came in to our lives and was welcomed as family. Things have a way of happening for a reason and Peter walked out of our lives just as suddenly as he entered. Just this past July he delivered a long distance slap in the face to my entire family and returned the small box of Al's ashes we gave him and told us he was severing all ties with our immediate and extended family and to not attempt to contact him. Although this was the best news we could have received for a number of reasons, it was hugely disrespectful to send those ashes back as if they were nothing.

A family member who didn't quite understand what caused the rift and uneasy feelings we had towards him recently reached out to him in an attempt to bring him back in to the fold. She was doing what felt right to her to tighten the family ties. My daughter Lesley called me last week and was very upset about a dream she had. It had been a very long time since she'd dreamt of her father and the dream that woke her that morning was awful, unsettling and caused her a great deal of anguish. She dreamt that Al was alive and :Peter was living with me and Al. Peter was drinking heavily and he and Al were having a horrible fight, yelling and screaming at each other. It was a tension filled dream and she awoke very upset. A few miles away at my house, I woke that very same morning and went down the hall towards my living room. Half way down the hall something hit me like a wall - a smell. An awful, sickly sweet smell that I immediately recognized. It was the smell from the hospital during the worst of Al's hospitalization leading to his death. It's a smell I'll never forget and it was there in my house that morning.

Later when Lesley and I spoke we talked and learned of each other's experience and the incredible timing of it all. It was that morning that Lesley learned of that family member's attempt to contact Peter. I can only make sense of it one way. I believe Al was showing his displeasure over the situation. He knows and was somehow witness to the entire Peter situation and the ugly feelings that arose from his time here. He has never shown a negative sign to any of us, ever. All signs from Al have been positive and uplifting but this was different. It was ugliness and he was using what means he has to show us that he wasn't happy either.

I can't close this post with such a negative thing. There is so much positive in my life and I'm thankful for it. Today my daughter Lesley had her very first student nurse experience in a real clinical setting with real patients. It's quite ironic that on this date, the anniversary of her father's passing in Peppi's House - the hospice at Tucson Medical Center, Lesley was assigned to Peppi's House for this experience. She was there at the exact minute he passed 4 years earlier in that same small facility. She was honored to bathe and prepare for the family, the body of a woman who had passed just moments prior.  She touched people who were actively dying just as she had laid her hands upon her father just those short years ago.


And finally, as I was leaving my house today to go to Alison's to meet her for our annual remembrance lunch I spoke to Al under my breath and said, "I guess you're not going to show me any signs today. That's OK - I love you." I climbed in my car, turned the ignition and as my dashboard lit up the time displayed was 11:11.  I smiled and said, "There you are."


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dog Days and a Sign He's With Al

"A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his." John Grogan (Marley & Me)

My bond with my dogs, especially Raider, is strong. Ray and Sylus have gotten me through the worst time in my life by being my comfort, bringing me laughter, love and loyalty every single day. They sleep with me, they follow me around and anxiously wait for me to come home at the end of the day. But the bond between me and Raider was tighter than with Sy. Ray always wanted my hand on him and was a bit of a baby.

Raider died last Sunday and before I tell you the sign I got from Al that Ray was with him, let me tell you what happened to him.

Raider started throwing up undigested food 5-6 hours after eating and it went on for a week. Our vet took blood and treated him with meds for a pyloric spasm condition that stops food from entering the intestines. Labs came back indicating his liver/kidneys were functioning normally. He was on the meds for a few days and he was keeping his food down. 

He was fine Friday when I got home from work and all evening. Saturday morning he was fine – he ate breakfast and then I was gone all day from 6:30am-6:30pm on Saturday but he was great when I got home. Just his normal self. He ate dinner and was perfectly normal all evening long. Went to bed at 11:30 and put him on my bed. I woke up around 4am and he wasn’t on the bed. I found him in my closet which is where he goes when he is scared (thunderstorms, fireworks, etc). He wouldn’t come out and I figured he just didn’t feel well so I went back to bed. At 5am he was standing by my bed so I got up and helped him on to my bed. He had a lot of difficulty getting up there. Tried to sleep a bit but he was next to me and breathing strangely, not panting, just very strange, intense breathing. I had an idea of what was going on from when Al was in Hospice and you learn about the different stages of breathing as someone is dying and I definitely recognized it but didn’t want to believe it. Then I touched the pads of his paws and they were really, really cold – another sign. I just stayed with him and kept stroking him and talking to him. Around 7am I knew for sure what was happening and that he was dying so I called my daughter Lesley (she lives 5 minutes away) and she said she was coming over. I called my other daughter Alison as well and while I was talking to her, his breathing changed to the final stage which is like a fish out of water; slow, infrequent gulps. He only did that about 5 or 6 times and then was gone.

The girls came over and we arranged to take his body somewhere and my son-in-law and his brother moved him from my bed to the vehicle since he weighs....weighed....over 100 pounds.

I feel lucky that he died at home, in his most favorite spot with me by his side. My guess is that it was cancer, possibly a large tumor that was preventing his food from leaving his stomach. I didn’t have to make the decision to put him down, which is awful. I knew enough about what was happening to not take him to the emergency vet and have them invade and scare him.

That night as I got in to bed with only Sylus near me, I spoke out loud to Raider telling him I loved him and that if it's possible for him, I'd love to have a sign at some point that he's OK now. I shed a few tears and then settled in to go to sleep when all of a sudden an incredibly warm, comforting sensation was felt on the top of my ear that was facing up towards the sky. It didn't feel like a hot flash or anything but felt exactly like a warm ray of sunshine coming down on that exact spot. A moment later as my eyes were shut I could see s small, bright white light far off in the distance. I opened my eyes to see what it was and the room was dark. I closed my eyes again and within a moment or two the small, bright white light far off in the distance reached out to me again.

I truly believe that this was my sign. I'm not sure if dogs can actually emit this kind of energy like people who have passed can so I have a feeling it was Al giving me what I needed to assure me that Ray was fine and quite possibly with him.

**OK, now I know it. I just finished typing this out and looked at the time on my computer. Yep, it's 11:11

Monday, November 11, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 10

I planted a very small container garden this past spring/summer and was pretty hopeful despite a lifelong brown thumb. Granted, the two different varieties of tomatoes died within weeks but that made me even more diligent in taking care of my green charges. Well, at least for a few months. But then my busy work and social schedule pushed its way to the forefront causing me to pay less attention to my little garden than I should have. It probably doesn't help that the plants are on my front porch and I rarely use the front door.

It seems my plants have been a little forgiving and are thriving quite well. I've been told mint is virtually
impossible to kill so its survival shouldn't be surprising. But my dwarf peach tree is still green and still has plenty of leaves on it. My dwarf pomegranate tree is getting quite tall and has about a half dozen fruit on it.

It brings a smile to my face when I look at those hardy, thriving plants....when I remember to look.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 9

My daughter Lesley was accepted in to the nursing program at Northern Arizona University (Tucson satellite location), a huge accomplishment especially since only about 20 applicants make it in each semester. I'm incredibly proud of her and it is hardly a simple thing.  But because of her acceptance, my simple thing occurred.

She asked me to babysit Isla and Clark while she and Trevor went out to a celebratory dinner. We played, had dinner together, I gave them baths and then we settled in to watch a movie before bed. Clark (21 months) was more interested in reading books on the floor so Isla (one month short of turning 4) and I sat on the couch together and watched Cinderella.

My heart was full as she held my hand through the entire movie.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 8

After spending the day outdoors in the beautiful fall weather, I spent my evening with my two daughters and some friends as we had a little fun celebrating Alison's birthday.

Alison's beloved dog, Bodi was put down very recently after an aggressive bout of cancer and she is still very much devastated. I wanted to do something special for her birthday that also honored her love of Bodi and I finally figured out what I would do. We were going to spend part of her birthday celebration at a local paint & drink studio so I signed up for an open studio session prior to her party. I came in with a few photos of Bodi and the owners of the studio helped me figure out how I might best represent him on canvas with my limited ability to paint.

When we arrived for the paint party, Bodi's framed portrait sat among the other painted canvases that lined the wall near our table. Alison and her guests were looking at some of the works of art when she spotted it. I had been harboring many doubts and fears about giving her this gift. What if she just gave that smile and said something like, "Cute."? But she actually loved it and there were tears and hugs between us both. It was the perfect gift for my daughter.

Simple, heartfelt gifts can be better than spending great amounts of money and can touch someone in a way no store bought gift can.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Simple Things Makes for Great Things - Day 7

I'm trying hard not to make this November series a "thankful" one but more of an appreciate the little things series. Same thing, you say? Kind of  but kind of not.

I appreciate an adventurous spirit in people and take a certain pride in the fact that I'm up for most adventures and will try most anything. I wouldn't call myself a daredevil by any means just someone who likes to have fun and try new things. I think what holds me back on truly living "out there" is a lack of funds. What is it they say...you and me both?

I can add another check mark on my bucket list because today I got to put on a protection sleeve (not a full body suit) and get attacked by an enforcement canine. It wasn't a full on attack and the dog only had about a two foot space in which to "attack" me so I didn't have to worry about getting knocked down. But I sure felt the force of that dog! And luckily his handlers called him off within a few seconds.



But you know, we only live once so why not make it an EXPERIENCE!?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 6

Don't you just love that feeling when a song comes on the radio and suddenly you're transported back to high school? You're in a car with a group of friends driving home from the beach with the windows down, the smell of suntan oil in the air and you're all singing your hearts out.

I've been listening to the music of my youth lately: Aerosmith, Foreigner, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, Boz Skaggs, David Bowie... It sure makes my commute home go by really quickly. I just roll the windows up, turn up the volume and sing the songs as if I'm on stage. Sometimes it's hard to keep from moving my head and arms around but I keep myself in check knowing that the person in front of me is probably watching in their rear view mirror.

Music isn't really a little thing for me, it's been a constant companion throughout my life and has seen me through the best and worst of times. Turn it up!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 5

Sometimes it's the littlest thing that can make your day. I often pass a newspaper vendor on the corner of a large intersection near my home. It's a popular place for these guys and this man is somewhat new to this particular median. He waves at busy commuters as they pull up to the red light anxiously awaiting their turn to make a left and get on their way. But it's not a blank wave with no emotion, simply put out there to try to sell more papers. His has a genuine feel.

I used to ignore the waves just like a lot of busy people in the morning. But lately I've been looking him square in the eye as I approach and return his wave with a smile and a wave back to him. And he smiles. And it makes my morning.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 4

Never, ever did I think I'd ever say this but I'm really looking forward to the change in weather and lower temps. I love living here and am crazy about our summer months and the ridiculous heat it brings. Crazy...I said it. A couple of things come to mind as to why this might now appeal to me. First and foremost: menopause. I'm always warm, often hot. It's kinda nice to feel relief without the aid of air conditioning plus it will be a huge benefit to my bank account. No more running the A/C constantly.

And who isn't looking forward to boots and scarves?

I'm thankful for the little bit of relief I feel when the cool evening air hits. But let's be clear here, I am still not a cold weather fan. I might let you call me a cooler weather fan. Maybe.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 3

Last night we had a brief, unexpected light rain shower. I opened my door to go outside with the dogs before going to bed and took it all in. The cool air, the light feel of soft drops on my face and the smell. Ahhh, the smell.

Every region has their own unique smell when it rains and I've only experienced the scent of the western United States and Mexico. But when I was growing up in southern California, the only smell I associated with rain was worms, slightly fishy smelling worms. It's so different here in the desert; the air is fragrant with the scent of creosote. It's the smell of summer, rejuvenation and home.

I really am thankful for simple things like the smell of my desert home.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 2

Mothers. Daughters. Sisters. Coworkers. Friends.

I spent my day with a large group of women that encompassed all of the above. We all had a project to complete which was the real purpose of our get together however the part I cherished most is what I'm thankful for. Relationships....female relationships....I guess you can call it sisterhood.

There is something to be said for these relationships and how complicated yet simple they are. We can talk about the most intimate things and bear our hearts on our sleeves without fear of ridicule or repercussion. We can also laugh and poke fun without fear of hurting one's feelings. It can be a delicate balance at times.

I love the bond I have with my female friends, coworkers and family members and am thankful for the relationships we have and continue to build upon.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Simple Things Make for Great Things - Day 1

Sometimes I find it difficult to push aside my every day worries and woes. I think it happens to us all. You know you've been there....there's often too many bills and too little paycheck, we worry that it's been too long since we've been "home" to see our aging parents, we wonder if our jobs are truly secure, the list goes on and on. So I'm taking this month to push past the uncertainty and doubt that lives in my brain to remind myself that life truly is good. And there is much to be thankful for.

Day 1

I love you. Just three little words. Words that can ease pain, bring about smiles and three little words I don't take for granted. I'm thankful that those words flow quite easily from my mouth. I feel it and I say it because life is too short not to. I tell my grown children as often as I can and I'm thankful that I hear those important words coming from them as well.

If you've been holding back from telling someone that you love them, just know that they could be gone tomorrow and your words might be lost forever.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Green Corn Tamales, That Distinctive Voice and a Little Visitor

Just when I think this blog has served it's purpose and it's time to put it to rest, I feel the need to bring it to the surface again. It appears I still feel the need to write and share a few things. I know I've gotten really lazy about sharing my feelings but perhaps it's not laziness, it's actually that I struggle to figure out exactly WHAT I feel. So while I continue to figure out who I am and what direction to take my life, today's events are worth mentioning.

In less than a week, we'll be celebrating my husband's birthday and a trip to visit family in California is in order. Now that I've kind of rediscovered my blog, I'm sure I'll write about that soon. But this post is about a family tradition and how Al made his presence known.

My daughter Alison and I spent the day today with two friends prepping the corn to make green corn tamales. It's a lot of work that starts with carefully shucking the corn and saving the husks, flicking the nasty worms from the field corn and shedding the silk, washing the corn and finally cutting all the kernels from the cobs. 16 dozen ears! While it truly is a huge amount of work, it's a tradition in my family. One that Al loved and actually expected me to do every year. He and I used to do it together before my daughters took an interest in learning how to do it.

So midway through shucking the corn in my daughter's backyard I looked up and stared in to the house. Alison asked what was wrong and I told her that it was probably the radio or something but I could have sworn I heard Al call my name. He used to call me from another room when he wanted something. It was a distinctive "Kathy!" that was instantly recognizable. I kind of laughed it off but Alison and our friends said it could be Al letting us know he was there since we were making tamales. I thought....maybe but it's really been a long time since he's made his presence known so I silently chalked it up to my imagination.

But then a short time later we looked up at the frame over the sliding glass door and there it was. A Praying Mantis. Just watching over us. Now you may not know this but praying mantises have a spiritual meaning. If you've read this blog from the beginning, I wrote about them early on when I was visited by two different mantises on two consecutive nights and just what their visit meant.



http://whoanellio.blogspot.com/2010/10/lovelybug-symbolism-for-someone-who.html

And finally, when we finished for the day Alison and I went shopping for the rest of our ingredients so we can all gather again tomorrow. We looked at each other and instantly heard it..."Well it's a marvelous night for a Moondance, with the stars up above in your eyes...." One of Al's songs, one of the really meaningful songs in our lives since he left us, and the final sign that he was hanging out with us today.

Nice to hear from you again, honey. It's been too long.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

The DDD Club

Some holidays are just weird for me now. Father's Day is one of them. I lost my own father a few years ago and he was a pretty amazing guy. And of course, I lost my own husband, the father to my children which makes today just a little more sad for me. But I've got a few comrades who join me in this odd place today and to you I say I'm here for you my sisters and brothers!

So rather than sit here and feel sad and displaced, I'm meeting a few of them for lunch and cocktails as we celebrate Dead Dad's Day. Morbid you say? I don't think so. It makes me laugh because it's just the kind of humor both my dad and husband would have appreciated.

Raise your glass, whether it be iced tea, beer, a shot or water.....here's to them.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rickie Lee Jones and the Devil

If you’ve read my blog before you know how instrumental Rickie Lee Jones’ music is to my life. One of my favorite memories of Al is coming home from work and finding Al on our big front porch kicking back on one of the Adirondacks wearing shorts/no shirt, a “cooler” in his hand, sometimes a little uuhhhh… a little j in an ashtray, the windows to the living room wide open and Rickie blaring on the stereo.  Weasel and the White Boys Cool, We Belong Together, Coolsville, Last Chance Texaco and The Horses. Oh, The Horses.

Her music played throughout our lives and my kids grew up listening to her. When Al went to hospice, her music played continuously in his room and he passed away as The Horses played in the background. That song became incredibly important to me and the words were printed in Al's memorial program and played during his service.

I periodically check on Rickie's tour schedule and was excited to see she'd be in Phoenix. I asked my kids if they were interested in going up with me. Sadly Marshall was unable but Alison and Lesley were able and excited to go.

I got off work early on the day of the concert and as I was driving home I was thinking about Al and how happy he would have been to go see her and how he must be really pleased that we were doing this. At that moment the song When I Get Where I'm Going by Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton came on the radio. The words to that song were also printed in Al's program and the song played during his service. I felt like it was a message. Just then Alison called me to say she'd been thinking about her dad and the concert and heard that song come on the radio.

We had planned to arrive a little early and prepared a envelope with a note to Rickie along with Al's memorial program, asking if she'd sign the program. Unfortunately we misread the concert information and mistook the concert start time for the door opening time. So we were late. Crap. But only by a little more than five minutes. We were in the 2nd row and Rickie sat no more than 20 feet in front of us. Her show was incredible and despite warnings to ourselves that she probably didn't sound the same, she sounded exactly like she does on her CDs. It was hard not to cry at times during the concert; at one time Lesley and I turned to look at each other and we both had tears streaming down our faces.

The last song she played was not one of her own and I've never heard her sing it. In fact it was one of Al's all time favorite songs. Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones. Seriously. How wonderful and amazing; I know he was there in the room. What an incredible ending and so meaningful for us.

After the show we gave the envelope to the house manager of the concert venue who said he'd give it to Rickie's manager so we waited a bit but there was not response. Turns out she and her manager had already left. But it's okay because the important thing is that we got to see her and listen to her live and Al was with us.

At one point as we were approaching home my girls and I managed to look at the clock in my car and of course, it was 11:11pm. And what's even more interesting is that I have a friend who is very connected psychically and spiritually and at that same time she looked at her clock and thought of us. I have no doubt she was sensing Al's presence and his pleasure at how the night had gone.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Branching Out


There really wasn't any choice in the matter. It was either get out and meet new people or sit at home, eat crappy junk food, drink a bottle of wine every night and become a depressed hermit. I like option A.

Because 30 plus years ago I gave everything I had to my family as a wife and mother I didn't really cultivate friendships. It never seemed important to me for some reason until I became a widow. And now that I'm a couple of years in to this weird place in my life I'm finding that I crave female friendship. Don't get me wrong, I'm not such an introvert that I have no girlfriends at all, it's just that I don't have any SUPER close ones. I love meeting my friends for dinner or happy hour or what have you. But I also find that women my age are often at a point in their lives where they are able to spend more quality time with their spouses now that their children are on their own and they rightfully take advantage of it.

So it becomes a bit of a struggle for me. I wholeheartedly love and relate to my friends in their 30s and 40s and have a ball hanging out with them but I can't help but wonder what's wrong with me that I prefer to spend time with friends who are younger than me? Nothing? Something? Maybe I need a little psychoanalyzing, huh?

Crazy or not, I actually AM branching out. Over the past couple of months I've been doing more things outside of my comfort zone and meeting new people. Recently I attended a Yelp event on 4th Ave where I knew no one. Not a single soul. But I had a ball and will be doing another such event next week (perks to being Yelp Elite) at a local specialty wine shop. And just last night I went to my neighbor's house (who I really don't know well at all) for a product party. And again, I knew no one. And again, I had a ball!

So somewhat like a tree coming out of a long winter ~ I'm branching out.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Points of Light

Driving to work this morning I kept catching little flashes of light out of the corner of my eye. NOT red and blue flashes...I was driving the speed limit! Any way, it happened frequently and was very unusual. Not like the usual obvious reflections we all catch, these were different. It was almost as if they were dancing and playful if that makes any sense. The first ones were in my neighborhood and then along a bend in the road where I caught three in a row in fairly quick succession. It was as if light was reflected off a mirror or shiny object for just a moment. A couple more along the way and the last one was as I approached work.

I started to think maybe I was having a vision or nerve problem for a second but I feel absolutely fine and I believe nothing could be wrong with me. I thought for a moment that maybe it was a sign of love from beyond but thought nah, it's been a while since I've had anything like that. I chalked it up to the gorgeous Arizona sun, car windows, tile on buildings, etc.

And a couple of hours later I knew that it was a little message of love when I caught the 11:11 that I really never see anymore.

He's not here often anymore but he was here today. I feel it in my heart.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My December Journey

30 Days of Giving – Dec 1:  Bought 4 chicken tender strips at Fry’s and gave them to a homeless man sitting outside on a bench with all his belongings in a grocery cart.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 2: Stopped at Sprouts and picked up a small bunch of sunflowers along with my produce and then hit Starbucks for some green tea. They're always so incredibly nice & friendly at the Starbucks drive-thru. Guess who got the sunflowers?

30 Days of Giving - Dec 3: Recently attended a cardmaking "workshop" so I took all my non-glittery Christmas type cards (as per specs from WRMC) from that and wrote a heartfelt message of hope, thanks and recovery then sent them off to Walter Reed Medical Center to brighten a service member's day.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 4: Giving doesn’t have to cost a thing. It can be a kind word or hug when someone’s down or as simple as today’s “gift.” An employee in a neighboring office had to get to an event and her car battery died. She’s now enjoying her luncheon event and I got a little breather from my day.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 5: Picked up the cutest little live poinsettia plant in what must be a 2 inch pot and left it at a public bus stop on the bench with a note that said, "If you found this, enjoy! Happy holidays."

30 Days of Giving - Dec 6: One of the easiest ways to give - volunteer. Our Children's Miracle Network Radiothon on 94.9 MIXFM is taking place today & tomorrow and I've been here since 5:15AM.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 7: Unexpected emotions as I just made an online donation to Honor Flight Tucson in memory of my dad Jack B Guinn, a WWII vet.
http://honorflightsaz.org/

30 Days of Giving - Dec 8: I don't really care if it goes to beer, cigarettes, rot-gut whiskey, a hooker or whatever, he had nothing and I had cash.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 9: Gave the gift of time to a harried mother with a cranky, tired kid today in Wal-Mart when I told her I'd pull her basket through the line behind me so she could take her daughter to the restroom. She was even happier when I told her to get in line ahead of me. I actually think it may have been a gift for all of us in line.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 10: It's not much today but I made a huge pot of ham, potato & broccoli soup yesterday and brought a Tupperware container to each of my kids today to share with their families.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 11: Getting ready to head out to meet my work team at an elementary school on Tucson's south side where we'll be fitting and giving bike helmets away to all the students. A few hours of "work" there and then off to a holiday lunch and white elephant gift exchange. Double giving today! LOL

30 Days of Giving - Dec 12: I really appreciate the people I work with day in and day out. If I'm gonna spend so much time here, at least it's with good people. They each got a little homemade deliciousness from me today. Thanks team!

30 Days of Giving - Dec 13: My networking group, The Beta Group (Tucson) is having our annual holiday luncheon today and each of us is bringing unwrapped gifts for the children at Primavera. Hoping to put a smile on a few kids' faces.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 14: I feel so helpless, so hopeless on this tragic day and am desperate to help and ease the pain even in a small way. I just made a donation and encourage anyone searching for a way to help to do the same.
http://www.newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org/index.php

30 Days of Giving - Dec 15: Gave the gift of a few hours of uninterrupted Christmas shopping to my daughter and son-in-law this evening as I took care of the kids. After yesterday's ugliness I think this may have been a gift to myself as well.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 16: Gave a little gift of enlightenment yesterday. I let someone off the hook and I feel somewhat liberated and empowered. Just more evidence that giving does something for both the receiver and the giver.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 17: Left a little bag of home baked Christmas treats and a note on top of my garbage can when I wheeled it to the street late last night. It's still there this morning....hoping it stays until the trash man comes to get my trash this morning.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 18: Went to a thrift store during my lunch (Speedway Outlet is A-mazing) and purchased several blankets and towels (items on their wish list) and then took them over to Hope Animal Shelter, a local non-profit no-kill cat/dog shelter.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 19: Hope that nice, young Salvation Army bell ringer has a sweet tooth. Gave her a Whitman Sampler on my way out of the grocery store tonight.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 20: Picked up 4 generic Christmas cards, signed them "A random greeting from a random person" along with a nice little wish for them, wrote "For you" on the envelope and left one under the windshield wiper of 4 different cars.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 21: Bought 6 Christmas-y board books at the dollar store, put each in a festive, shiny bag and walked in to our children’s ER where there just happened to be 5 little ones waiting to be seen. Handed one to each child or parent and told them I hope they feel better soon.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 22: Busy, busy day. Babysitting for a good chunk of the day and then shopping only to get home at 10pm so it's a bit of a fail today. It's quite a stretch and all I've got but I at least gave a family the chance to know what happened to their beloved pet when I called Animal Control to have them pick up a pretty little cat laying dead in the middle of Ina Rd. At least there will be a record of this cat/location in the book of dead animals that were picked up in their front office. Sadly I've had to check that book a few times. Like I said...this entry is a stretch.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 23: Crazy countdown rush and I forgot to post yesterday's giving. Had a little Mylar snowman balloon on a stick in my car yesterday and saw a little one so obviously tired of shopping. Approached mom trying to get her child in the car and asked if she could have the balloon. No more fussing and she willingly got in the car.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 24: Got so caught up in my own thing that I've let this slide a bit! Let's see - Dec 24 I bought 4 pairs of men's white athletic/work socks and while shopping I only managed to give one pair away to a guy standing at an intersection asking for money. I really MEANT to give them all out but the rest got buried on my front seat during my shopping frenzy.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 25: Sounds like a cop-out to use Christmas gift giving as one of my "gifts" but it really isn't. I work so hard to make Christmas morning fun and memorable. Everyone comes over in the morning at a pre-arranged time and there's good breakfast stuff and coffee. Then on to the living room where everyone goes for their stockings that are filled to the brim with little treats, toys and strange things (and a tangerine/cutie and nuts in the shell!!). That takes a good 10 minutes and then the crazy chaos begins. So while I could just say I gave gifts on Dec 25 what I really gave were irreplaceable memories and traditions.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 26: Brought tamales and beans in to work to share with my coworkers so I guess I gave them lunch. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically really slow so I thought the few of us there this week might enjoy them.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 27: It was freezing cold and raining this afternoon when I stopped at Sprouts for a few things on my way home. I ran across the parking lot to return my cart to the store and while hurrying back to the warmth of my vehicle, an older woman (older than me!) was opening her trunk to put her groceries in and was getting pretty wet in the process. I said, "Here, let me help." and quickly grabbed a few bags and put them in her trunk. It was kind of an odd moment but it warmed us both just a little.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 28: Bought five $1 AZ Lottery scratchers last night and just handed them all out to random employees on my way to the cafeteria for lunch. That was fun!

30 Days of Giving - Dec 29: Had a coupon for a free Fry's rotisserie chicken in my purse when I ran to the store this evening to get some cheese for my Texas chili (ALL the Navarros are chili-making fools now that we've got our hands on some American Meat Market hot chorizo!!). Anyway, a guy who looked like he'd been working hard all day was checking the chickens out so I gave him my coupon and told him it was on me.

30 Days of Giving - Dec 30: Took several dollars worth of pennies from my coin crock and dropped them as I walked the path of the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial River Park. Hoping this brings some excitement to a little one taking a family walk along the CDO wash tomorrow morning. **Thanks for joining me on this one Lesley Young

30 Days of Giving – Wrap Up: Day 30 of my 30 day experiment has come and gone so there is no outward, obvious gift to others on this last day of 2012. I started this personal challenge to give in some way for 30 consecutive days in an effort to possibly influence others and elicit a change within myself. I wasn’t looking for praise or “likes” but more to hopefully make you (and me!) think for a minute about how easy it is to be giving and thoughtful. In this world that has proven to sometimes be so hateful and violent, maybe we can all work towards a kinder, gentler 2013. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 30

Nov 30 - Day 30


On this 53rd celebration of my birth I’m thankful for so much. This reflective journey I’ve been on for the past 30 days has lifted me up and made me aware of all the good on our earth.  While it can be a cold and cruel world at times, if you look deep enough you’ll find the warmth and love.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to wish me a happy birthday, it was an amazing day and I look forward to what my life and the years ahead of me have to offer.

I’m thankful to those people in my life who will always be there. I’m thankful to those in my life who will leave at some point for whatever reason lies ahead, I’m thankful to those who have already left and those who have yet to cross my path. I’m me because of you.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 29

Nov 29 - Day 29


I’m proud to say that a good deal of my patience, tolerance and acceptance of others is due to my mother’s influence.  Like most kids I really didn’t appreciate her when I was growing up. Not to say I didn’t love her it’s just that as a kid, she was just my mom. But as I became a wife and mother I realized how important her influence has been in my life.

When my husband was dying, she couldn’t come out here because of a medical issue she was going through at the time. I’ll never forget when I told her we were moving Al to hospice. We cried together over the phone as I let my feelings and fears out to her. I could actually feel her hug and the ache she felt from not being able to hold me from almost 500 miles away.

My mom is on a cruise ship right now somewhere in the Hawaiian Islands getting ready to embark back across the Pacific Ocean to her home in California. Those same waters I spent so much of my youth in as my parents, sisters and I sailed the waters in and around Long Beach, CA and Catalina Island. For whatever reason she has been on my mind today, perhaps because my birthday is tomorrow and it’s natural to think about the woman who gave birth to me and raised me. I’m incredibly thankful to have her as my mother and wish her a safe journey back home.

30 Days of Thanks - Day 28

Nov 28 - Day 28


Remember when times were simpler and you didn’t have a care in the world? If you’re like me it was when you were a child because the complications usually start for us in our teen years and only multiple from there.

Summer vacations in my family meant a two-week break and the whole family would load up the car and head to Clear Lake, CA to spend time with my grandpa who lived in a big old, rambling 3-story “cabin”. My sisters and I would spend our days walking down the dirt & gravel road to the little general store for candy, bottles of Squirt (real glass bottles) and post cards; jumping off the little pier , swimming out to the wooden, floating deck to sun ourselves; playing games and cards and exploring the countryside and feeding  the deer.  TV? Nah. Video games? Nah. Like I said, simpler times. I’m so thankful I know those times and wish today’s kids did. The days where you played outside all day, drank from hoses, listened to our parents, and grew up with a little more innocence.

I'm so grateful for the memories I have and the time I grew up in.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 27


Nov 27 – Day 27

I’ve got two great big, loving dogs – Raider, a 100 pound yellow Lab and Sylus, a 95 pound black Lab – that greet me each day. We got Raider a few months after our 13-year old Golden Retriever died. He was a papered AKC pup we purchased here in Tucson who, it turned out had a very severe case of hip dysplasia. Sylus was a pound pup by son and his then girlfriend picked up when they lived in Flagstaff and through their break-up a few years later, ended up in Marshall’s custody and finally in my home as my son was moving and finding his way.

Well, these boys are getting along in years – Ray is 10 and Sy…..well, I’d say 11 or so. Along with the obvious whitening of the facial hair and a general slowing down, comes a few other issues known for older dogs. Fatty tumors. Ray has one over each front leg joint and they’re starting to change the way he walks. Sy has been luckier and just has a small one. I can’t bear to think of the day when one or both are no longer here.

These boys are my constant companions and follow me throughout the house. They both sleep with me, my home is covered in dog hair, they (Sy actually, Raider is typically silent) bark out in the backyard too much in the mornings as coyotes start moving about and the neighborhood starts to wake up, and my life is so enriched because of them. I’m so thankful for these two and the happiness and love they exhibit every single day.  Even though they’re old…they cost me a lot of money in vet bills and prescriptions….they shed constantly….they smell and fart….they beg….they get in my way. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Monday, November 26, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 26


Nov 26 – Day 26
 
Today I am thankful to be fairly proficient in the use of Google, Snopes, Urbanlegends and various internet sites. I wish more people were. I wrote my rant about all the crap, fake pictures and misinformation people post and then I hit that glorious delete button. So today’s a two-for because I’m thankful for the delete button too.

This is not a negative thanks aimed at anyone in particular. I’m just thankful I know how to do my research and that such sites exist.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 25


Nov 25 – Day 25

Kinda feels like we’ve been given the gift of an extra week since Thanksgiving fell early this year.  I don’t feel the mad rush (yet) that I often feel once Black Friday hits. I’ve accomplished quite a bit for me. I’ve started the homemade Christmas gifts I’ll be giving to friends/coworkers/neighbors, I’ve done a decent amount of Christmas gift shopping (still have a long way to go though), I’ve started looking for Christmas cards, I’ve decked the halls (indoor only….my son will be here during the week to help get the outdoor lights up) and already purchased the birthday gift for one granddaughter (two December birthdays for the girls). In my world, this is amazing and I qualify as a time genie/organizer extraordinaire.

Stepping outside the thankful thing for a sec to acknowledge a little bit of sadness today. While I haven’t “cried” in months (hallelujah, it’s only taken two and a half years to feel like I’m moving on and not dwelling on missing him), when I finished putting up all the indoor decorations I was hit by a sudden wave of sadness. Al really loved Christmas and decorating the house and the indoor lights & tree were ϋber special to him. And why in the hell I listen to country music at times like this is beyond me. Just a brief moment but like I said, I need to acknowledge it. For me.

So I’m thankful for this little gift of time, this extra week. I know it doesn’t really exist, but in my non-planning/last minute shopper head it does.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 24

Nov 24 - Day 24


Simple indulgences and simple pleasures can turn an ordinary day around and today was one of those days.  My daughter called and asked me to go get a pedicure with her while her husband watched their two children. I was in the middle of pulling out all my Christmas decorations and I had garland and lights strewn across the living room floor but a pedicure? Why not?! She called her sister who met us and we sat in the pedicure chairs with our feet soaking in blue water, laughing at the completely aggressive massage chairs and catching up with each other.

I’m thankful for things like pedicures, shopping, lunches and girl talk.


30 Days of Thanks - Day 23


Nov 23 – Day 23

Lining up in the dark cold with hundreds /thousands of other fools at 3 or 4AM, sipping coffee, laughing and sharing stories all to join the stampede when the doors open at 5AM for Black Friday. It’s really a lot of fun and if you are looking for a few specific things, it’s totally worthwhile.

But this year? Not so much. I feel that some of the major retailers took a lot of the fun and excitement out of Black Friday by either opening their doors and offering “Black Friday” deals on Thanksgiving evening or by releasing them early online. Just more proof that all our holidays are becoming more and more commercialized. Those poor Target and Wal-Mart employees that had to interrupt or completely forgo their family celebrations and report to work.

It just wasn’t working out for me to do the Black Friday shopping this year and then my daughter called me at 10:30pm and convinced me to hit our local Target with her. The entire parking lot was full and most of the door busters were gone but there were still a few deals to be found. And I’m guilty of snagging an online door buster on Thanksgiving for myself.

I’m thankful for the fun, excitement and deals of Black Friday and that I'm healthy enough and able to participate but wish it would go back to FRIDAY.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 22


Nov 22 – Day 22

Thanksgiving – the day where we truly pause and think about everything we are thankful for. I’m on this little 30 day mission to remind myself (and hopefully others) of the little things we need to be grateful for. So on this original day of thanks I offer you this.

I am thankful for my family. Without them, I am nothing.  For my parents and siblings who shaped me in my formative years, my grandparents and extended family for the part they played, every teacher and friend who pushed me along the path to adulthood.  For my coworkers, friends and acquaintances for the friendship, tolerance and teachings.

For my husband who I shared an amazing life with and a love I don’t think I’ll ever know again. For my husband’s family( which seems really silly to word that way because they are MY family) and the lifetime we’ve shared and the love that has been shown to me, for my two son-in- laws and daughter-in-law for making my children so happy and making their lives what they are today. For my granddaughters and grandson for the joy, laughter, love and silliness they bring to the world.

And finally, for my three children. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about each and every one of you. My world revolved around you for so long and I hope you know that my life would be nothing had it not been for you. Your love and friendship carries me through and I will always be here for you, no matter what. As we all move forward in our lives, I’m gonna make you smile, piss you off, make you worry, make you laugh but I’m gonna love you and you’re gonna love me. And isn’t that what we’re all about?  Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe it.





Wednesday, November 21, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 21


Nov 21 – Day 21

I commute just about 18 miles each way to work which during rush hour takes about 40 minutes each way. Having grown up in the Los Angeles area I know this is nothing. And I really don’t mind the commute at all except when I stay in the area after work to do something and then it seems to take forever.

Some days I’m on remote control and get to a certain point in my drive and wonder how I got there but most days I’m fully aware and actually enjoying the drive. On those days I see so much. Amazing, breathtaking views of the various mountain ranges that surround me, public art that makes me smile, car vanity plates that I try to decipher, and people all around me in their cars, at bus stops, on bikes and walking on the street. I especially love to catch someone in my rearview mirror belting out a song with their windows up.  That’s when I have to laugh because I now know what I look like when doing the same and am thankful for dark tinted windows!

I’m actually thankful for my commute even though it would be a real gas saver to live closer to work. But then I’d miss so much!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 20


Nov 20 – Day 20

After work tonight I hit the grocery store to get a few last minute things for Thanksgiving dinner and you know what? I love grocery stores. Yes, yes I do. I get lost in them – not actually “lost” as in directionally but lost in the sense that I like to walk around and look at things, look at people and I usually end up forgetting that I was ever in a hurry.

Ever been in a grocery store in a different region of the country or in a completely different country? I love going to Mexican and Asian markets and checking out the meats and produce. We’ve got some great ones here in Tucson – Lee Lee’s Oriental Supermarket, Grantstone, Food City, El Super, 17th Street Market.  I love going to the grocery store when we go to Puerto Peñasco too. I haven’t been lucky enough to travel to any foreign countries but Mexico; so my all-time favorite grocery store is in Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.  Amazing place full of fantastic things!

So while many of you absolutely hate your trips to the grocery store, I’m the one going from one side to the other and back again as I realize I forgot something and then get sidetracked by the organic produce while suddenly remembering that all the summer stuff is on sale in the center of the store. I’m thankful for grocery stores and that it takes very little to entertain me.



Monday, November 19, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 19


Nov 19 – Day 19

My employer gives every single employee (all 3,300 or so) a certificate for a free turkey up to 20 lbs. I’m really thankful and think it’s a beautiful and meaningful gesture to show appreciation and thanks. We always order them out of my department and we make sure to order extras for the random employee who didn’t get one, who started working there after we pulled the HR list, temporary workers or travelers not on the HR list, etc. We wait a couple of weeks after the certificates and thank you letters are distributed and then any remaining turkey certificates are donated to a local charity like the Community Food Bank or the Salvation Army.

I took care of making that donation today on behalf of my employer. The main office for the Salvation Army is just a few miles from my hospital so I headed over there during my lunch this afternoon. The office was busy and a couple of employees were scurrying around. I noticed a grocery cart with a frozen turkey in it sitting by the desk. I can only assume someone had just dropped it off. It felt really good handing all those certificates over and knowing that they’ll be used to feed people who gather for a multitude of reasons. Some are down on their luck and can’t quite afford to feed their family, some are homeless, and some are lonely and without a family of their own.

I’m thankful not only for the gift my employer gives and the difference made by donating the remaining certificates but for the fact that organizations like the Salvation Army exist and open their doors and hearts to those in need.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 18


Nov 18 – Day 18

I’m thankful for the next day.  Lasagna is always better the next day as the flavors meld and intensify. Turkey is better the next day because we make turkey sandwiches. That awful situation typically seems better or manageable the next day. That fuzzy memory from the party the night before is often better the next day whether it means you remembered it better or forgot it completely thus never having to feel the embarrassment!

The next day holds so much promise. It’s a do-over, an instant mulligan. I like my tomorrows, my next days.

30 Days of Thanks - Day 17


Nov 17 – Day 17

 My mom has always been a big reader, reading a new book every couple of days. When I was a child, we went to the public library every two weeks. We’d walk out of there with a huge stack of books, mostly my mom’s. She was known for getting up at 2AM and reading for a good hour or two as well as in the evening while we all sat in the living room watching TV. She could ignore the noise from the TV as we sat together on the couch; she involved in the story unfolding on the pages, the rest of us completely engrossed in Hawaii Five-O (original TV series). She instilled the love of reading in me and I’m happy to say my son has that same love of reading.

There’s something to be said for a good story. It takes you away from your everyday life and transports you to a different time and place. 

I was thinking about a few items to put on a Christmas list for myself and a Kindle is one of them. That got me to thinking about whether or not I would miss the actual physical book but it’s not the paper and turning the pages that makes reading so enjoyable, it’s the different life I lead as I insert myself in to the story. I’m thankful for books and everything they bring us. Paper or e-book, it still does the job.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 16


Nov 16 – Day 16

I’m thankful for the mistakes I’ve made in my life for they’ve taught me to think, react and live differently. But it’s hard to actually say they are mistakes because I’ve always considered them lessons. I have always said I regret nothing in my life and it’s true. Every single thing I’ve done, thought and experienced has shaped and molded me to become the person I am today. And I am an ever-evolving being.

I will make many more “mistakes” in my life as long as I am a breathing, functioning person.  It’s a forgiving world we live in because we’re really all the same deep down and make those mistakes every second of every day.

“The beauty of life is, while we cannot undo what is done, we can see it, understand it, learn from it and change. So that every new moment is spent not in regret, guilt, fear or anger, but in wisdom, understanding and love.” – Jennifer Edwards


30 Days of Thanks - Day 15


Nov 15 – Day 15

My formative years occurred in the 70s and like any teenager, music played a huge part in my life. That carefree life my friends and I lived brings back some great memories as well as a few, well, smoke-hazed ones as well. Hey, it was the 70s!

My first concert was to see KISS in 1975 and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the group, it sure gave me the concert bug.  We saw Van Halen before they were big at a club in Hollywood, Lynyrd Skynyrd at a stadium event just before that awful plane crash, Aerosmith in their heyday, Alice Cooper in all his black-eyed fun, Led Zeppelin and many, many more.

My tastes have changed over the years but I still love rock. I’m thankful for those early formative music years and the availability/affordability of the concert venue back then. What a blast!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

30 Days of Thanks - Day 14

Nov 14 - Day 14

You are doing it RIGHT now. You do it all day long, there is no avoiding it. Reading. It’s in your face constantly…a street sign, your mail, a saying on someone’s t-shirt as they walk by, a recipe, product directions, an alert or warning scrolling across the bottom of your television screen.

I went to a Literacy Connects luncheon today that was organized by Literacy Volunteers of Tucson. A room of 500 people and I’m willing to bet the majority of us in the room take the ability to read and write for granted. It never crosses my mind at all. Until today when a brave man about 50 years old got up to address the room. He struggled horribly as a kid and didn’t get help from his mom (later learned she was illiterate as well). The system failed him and he was passed on from grade to grade finally becoming so frustrated that he dropped out of high school. He worked odd jobs and somehow made his way to a decent job but was laid off after almost a decade of working there. And then he couldn’t get a job again. Everyone required a GED and this man couldn’t even read or write. After years of shame he found this organization and the compassion & help he so desperately needed. He can now read and write, is gainfully employed and sits on the board of directors for Literacy Volunteers of Tucson.

Can you even imagine? I am so thankful that I can read, write and comprehend.