Monday, September 17, 2007

Belated Tribute

As some of you know, I started blogging with an entry for 9/11, last year. This year, I was almost relieved that the day was rainy and gloomy - anything but that beautiful, crystal clear blue sky of 2001. A friend came over for lunch on 9/11. After she left I realized how very thankful I was for her company, on this most solemn and difficult day. I did not personally lose a loved one on 9/11, although my husband was in the city that day. My only connection to 9/11 is being a born and raised New Yorker - with a husband and daughter in the city every day now. Yet the anniversary of the date still throws me into turmoil and I can't bear to turn the TV on at all on 9/11. I don't let it dictate my daily life, but it is part of the fabric of my life.

My husband recently sent me this link for a Budweiser commercial. It was only aired once, as they did not want to make money from it. I mentioned in my last post about how we saw the magnificent Clydesdales in St. Louis and so I thought I would share this link:

Budweiser Tribute

We lost 2,974 souls in the combined attacks on 9/11; we have since lost 3,768 US soldiers in the Iraqi war. Why? I, for one, don't feel any safer. Just sadder, for all our losses.

May God rest their souls and bring peace to their families.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Where I Was. . . or Where Was I?

I truly appreciate every one's concern. I have been away for quite a while. Life just keeps getting in the way.

Since April I have putting a lot of energy into starting a company. In my lifetime I have gone from a career in metallurgical engineering, to one in decorative painting and now on to jewelry. The painting started as a hobby when my children were young and I was fortunate enough to be able to be a stay-at-home mom. It soon developed into a business with great flexibility. The jewelry also started as a hobby (okay, an obsession, LOL) and developed into a tiny business after I had to give up the painting a couple of years ago due to rheumatoid arthritis. Last summer I became a consultant for Luxe Jewels, a jewelry company I found interesting. It was a party format (like Tupperware) only at the party I could teach people how to make jewelry. I loved jewelry and teaching so this was a great match for me - especially since Luxe encouraged consultants to also sell their own personal designs at the parties. Luxe soon discovered that not everyone wanted to make their own jewelry, so they also came out with ready-to-wear styles in the last catalog. I have been doing well with the Luxe, well enough that I want to split my personal design business away from the Luxe, so I have been trying to build both businesses, which has been time consuming. I have sponsored several consultants and am really enjoying that aspect of the business, as I have been calling upon the project management skills I learned as an engineer. I have been devoting most of my energy to Luxe because I am at a ground floor level opportunity right now and want to build that business up as much as I can, as soon as I can. Besides, I've promised my husband to make enough money so he can retire :-) I was in San Francisco for the Luxe convention the first week of August and had a great time, drooled over the new jewelry - and I even earned a vacation to Cancun, for my sales last year. I enjoyed meeting our company founder and president at convention - Jessica Herrin is a brilliant young (34) woman who also co-founded when she was still in grad school. At any rate, I'm having fun with it :-)

I am also working on my personal business, but that is moving more slowly. I have a friend who is a graphic artist, working on my branding; she created my logo and is now working on business papers for me. Then another friend will be building my web site. I really want to build a brand, much as Luxe is doing.

In May my son came back from his first year of college. In addition to being a year "smarter" he came back a state-certified EMT. Along with his 15 college credits, he opted to take an EMT course, which was an additional 8 hours of classroom instruction per week, not including assignments and practices and Saturday sessions. I think this is his proudest accomplishment to date because it was something he did completely on his own, with zero prompting or input from mom and dad. He volunteers with his college EMS and surprised me with "EMT trivia." Can you guess what is the most common cause for EMT calls at college? No, not drunk students, but sports injuries! Okay, I have to admit I was a little surprised - and more than a little relieved! My son also applied for, and received, reciprocal EMT status in our home state and volunteers with our local FD EMS .

Soon after he came back, we flew out to St. Louis for my daughter's college graduation. Tim Russert was an excellent commencement speaker. This being our first time back in St. Louis since we dropped her off as a freshman, we took almost a week to explore the area and visit the Arch, zoo, art museum - and of course the brewery tour! I loved seeing the Clydesdales on the tour and also enjoyed the decorative work on the old parts of the brewery - delicate wrought iron work, beautiful mosaics and gorgeous decorative painting. The craftsmanship in some of the old buildings was just amazing.

June included a vacation to Florida, for which I needed a vacation when I got back. I had to put a last minute trip together when I finally got both my children's summer work schedules and the only place I could book with our timeshare was Orlando. So we did the Disney/Universal thing. Only my children are not babies anymore. There were no more stops for "nap time" or taking the afternoon off to sit by the hotel pool. Oh no! It was go go go all day long and into the night. Someone needed a nap time - and it was ME!

In July, my daughter started intensive training for Teach For America, teaching children in summer school during the morning and taking classes herself, in the afternoon - then writing up lesson plans late into the early morning hours. If she got five hours sleep a night, it was a lot. For all you teachers out there, my daughter - who was always a straight A student and who went to a top university - told me that writing lesson plans was the hardest thing she has ever had to do. Of course she also had to go apartment shopping because she needed a place to live by August 1st. It all came together for her - she got through the training, moved into her "cosy" (read: "tiny"!) apartment and we even went over to paint a couple of weeks ago. I still have the "Spicy Buttercup" paint in my hair to prove it, or so they tell me.

In July we also had some problems with my brother who has mental health issues, either compounded by, or caused by, being a drug addict for better than 30 years. It is so difficult to see someone we love make bad choices, time and time again, especially when it affects others, such as his children or my parents. There is no way to reach my brother as he plays the "victim" card and refuses to acknowledge he needs help.

Last week, we lost my dear mother-in-law. The one comment everyone made at the wake was how great she looked. The family had opted for an open coffin for family viewing, but closed for the public. Well, they decided to leave it open the whole time because she looked so good. She had been suffering for a couple of years with her illness and that took its toll. It was wonderful to see her at the end with all the pain and suffering erased from her face and to remember what she had been like before her illness. A wise priest of mine had once told me that death was the "ultimate healing" - looking at her, I could believe that. Of course, it was still very difficult for all of us, more so for my father-in-law who was so devoted to her and took care of everything the last two years.

Last week we also found out my husband's sister has breast cancer. We have been waiting to get past the funeral to deal with that and will know more after she goes for a consult at Sloan-Kettering tomorrow.

So there are my past few months, summed up in several paragraphs, some happy, some sad. But really, although my time has been at a premium, I do think there is one other reason that I have not corresponded here in a long time. As I mentioned earlier, I have a brother who is an addict. My father is also a recovering addict - not to drugs, but to gambling. He wreaked havoc on my family because of this when I was growing up, but has since been in a 12 step program for gamblers, for many years. Because of such addictive tendencies in my family, I always worry that I too may fall into it. When I start to get the tiniest bit compulsive about something I panic that I may be getting addicted. I think this was at the back of my mind with the blogging, where I was trying to comment and keep up with what everyone was writing, as well as coming up with my own blog essays. I knew it was taking up too much of my time, but I still kept up, not good with figuring out how to do things in moderation. Until I hit that "panic point" where I thought blogging could become one of those addictive things. Then I just quit, completely.

I have read your kind comments and concern over the months and I felt badly, knowing I should explain. So there you have it. I will try moderation for now, stick to a "once in a while" blog entry and comments and put blinders on for the rest and see how I do. I would love to catch up with all of your blogs, but won't permit myself to do so yet. I may not have that addictive personality that runs in my family, but I am fearful that I might.

Monday, April 16, 2007

No Coincidences

In November 2000, I found myself sitting in the office of a breast surgeon. She had examined me and was studying my radiographs. "We can't tell for sure without a biopsy." I was numb as I made the surgery appointment and walked in the dark to my car. I could only think of my dear friend Charlene, who was on the losing side of a seven year battle with breast cancer.

I was sitting in my car and shaking, shaking so much that I could not turn the key. I remember saying out loud "God I'm so scared." I finally gathered myself and turned the car on. My car had a fully loaded six CD changer set to random play and when I turned the ignition on, the music started. The very first lyrics I heard knocked the breath out of me. Here I was, as scared as I've ever been in my life and I was given the only two words that could possibly ease my panic.

The lyrics I heard? "Fear destroys." I firmly believe there are no coincidences and I knew those words were a gift to me. I realized then and there that fear was a useless emotion and I was somehow able to put it aside. Once the fear was gone, what I found instead was an awareness of feeling protected and a certainty I would get through this - no matter the outcome of the biopsy. Thankfully, my biopsy was negative.

Why relate this story now? I recently had another abnormal exam. But this time I did not let the fear seize me. I had learned my lesson, once and for all - "fear destroys." Yes, the fear automatically welled - but I was immediately able to banish it. Fear was quickly replaced with optimism, patience and strength. Once again, I was blessed with negative results.

Sadly, I lost my dear friend Charlene in January 2001. I think of her everyday. Not only because I miss her, but because I still marvel at the tremendous faith she had for seven years, as the cancer ravaged her. Up until the end, she was optimistic and sure of a cure. She had obviously discovered that "fear destroys" long before I did. Fear was never in her vocabulary, not even when facing death. As a former priest of mine said, sometimes death is the ultimate healing. I think Charlene knew that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter Blessings!

Wishing all my friends Easter blessings. If you are not Christian, then consider it the blessing of Spring - of warmth, renewal and hope. You may think it odd that I am posting Easter wishes, several days after the fact. However, in my church, the week after Easter is called "Bright Week" - the Easter celebration traditionally lasted all week long. For forty days after Easter we continue to rejoice and we customarily greet each other with "Christ is risen," to which the response is "Truly he is risen."

Our daffodils have been stymied in their attempt to bloom. There is a coldness that has settled in and it won't leave. I promise photos when they do bloom. On Easter morning, my husband found a mere dozen that had been brave enough to open in the freezing weather and cut them to adorn our breakfast table. He knows it's not Easter without our daffodils. While we wait patiently for the daffodils, here is a beautiful bowl of the traditional red eggs that my Mom made for Easter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

They're Coming!

Can you see them? Just short stems, right now, but in a few days they will put on a spectacular show. The day I have been waiting for has finally arrived! Yes, the daffodils are coming! It is REALLY spring!

We have a wooded area on our front property and every spring, we have hundreds of daffodils that bloom. I kid you not - one season I deadheaded all the ones that were left and I counted over a thousand daffodils, including the dozens I gave away.

We never planted them. They are a gift from God every year. They are freely given to me and I, in turn, love to give them away. I give away at least thirty dozen every season and it doesn't even make a dent in what's left. These sunny yellow flowers put such a smile on everyone's face, but nowhere more than on my own. I wish I could give you each dozens!

Happy Spring - wishing you all warmth, sunshine, peace and happiness.

Friday, March 16, 2007


My son just called from college.

"Mom can you do me a favor?"

Sigh, "What?"

"Can you tape the Villanova game for me tonight?"

"Why? Aren't you going to watch it?" My son and his friends all "bleed Villanova Blue," so I wondered what could possibly keep him from watching the game, especially on a Friday night.

"No, I was kind of in the hospital all last night."

"WHAT??? Are you okay? What happened???"

"I'm fine it was my friend - he was having seizures."

My son's friend, Matt, spontaneously started having seizures last night. My son is halfway through his EMT training, so Matt's roommate raced to get him. My son quickly recognized that this was beyond him and they immediately called the EMS squad, who took Matt to the hospital. The doctors were able to stabilize him, thank God. My son and a few other friends spent the night in the hospital waiting room. Matt's parents are having a hard time getting a flight from their home in Belgium, because of the weather. The boys are taking turns staying at the hospital with Matt, until his parents arrive.

The devotion of this group of friends, who only met last September as freshman, deeply touched my heart.

It brought to mind another group of friends, also met last September. A wonderful group of friends, trusting enough to share their joys, their sorrows, their lives and their souls. Yes, you, my friends. I have been away for a long while, mostly taking care of my tiny but growing business - change of season means new jewelry styles and colors to put together. But my son and his friends reminded me of the value of friendship and how we need to be there for one another. In this I have been remiss, as I have not been there to cheer you on, empathize, laugh or cry with you. I will try to "catch-up" with all of you, little by little, and I will try to be a better friend.

My next post will not be so long in coming. As a matter of fact, it might even involve a lightbulb. . .or two!

Addendum: Still no news on Matt. His parents arrived over the weekend and he has been undergoing tests. They don't have a cause yet. He was able to talk by Sunday. I was speaking with a friend yesterday. Her 22 year old son had seizure disorder when he was a toddler so she has done a lot of research in the area. She said there are certain "thresholds" in life for seizure disorder - turns out onset is very common at 18 years old. I'll let you know if I find out more.

Addendum 2: I am happy to report that Matt is out of immediate danger. He is still in the hospital, but in a regular room, not ICU. He was put on lots of meds to control the seizures and is still undergoing diagnostic tests. He did visit the dorm over the weekend to say hi to everyone and my son said he looked much better.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Warm Thoughts

Well, since Valentine's Day we have been virtually encased in ice here. I would rather have snow - at least I can shovel that out of the way. I long for warmth. I need green woods full of songbirds. I want to walk along a sunny beach and listen to the surf. None of this is happening in my near future, so I had to resort to looking at old vacation photos. I hope you enjoy them also, as I will be on "blog break" for a little bit since life and work have temporarily taken over.

Pretty in Pink! Hibiscus always reminds me of warm
. . .maybe because they don't grow where I live.

Jackie - this one's for you!
Cactus means warm and dry . . . although I'll pass on the prickles!

Once upon a time I knew what this guy was
. . . but he's handsome anyway, isn't he?

Aren't these three amazing shades of blue?
Let's go for a walk . . . on the warm sand.