Monday, February 1, 2016

Virginia "Ginny" Wanner April 13, 1937 - January 24, 2016

As I began to write some thoughts down on what I wanted to say today, and how I feel about my friend Ginny, the Cherokee Legend of Grandmother Turtle came to mind. The sea turtle holds a special place near and dear to my heart and that would be my first and most obvious correlation between a sea turtle and Ginny. The Legend goes on to say, "before people lived on the earth it was covered by water. The creator wanted to use mud from under the water to make solid ground, but needed a place to put the mud on top of the water. Turtle rose to the top of the water to carry the mud that became earth. To this day, turtles walk very slowly and have a hard outer shell because they carry the weight of the world on their backs."

I met Ginny in May of 2002. I had just graduated from nail school, it was my first week of work at the salon, and I happen to get Ginny Wanner for one of my very first pedicure clients. I'm gonna guess when she called to schedule with the salon, she demanded her pedicure ASAP, that day, and me being the new girl just happened to have an opening. One thing I am sure of, our meeting that day was not a coincidence, I don't believe in them, and I know it was meant to be.

That first day at the salon she told me her dear friend Teresa had been her nail tech but wasn’t going to be able to do her nails anymore, as she was pursuing her nursing career. She was very proud of you Teresa and I feel that I got to know you and about your big heart through the many years of spending time with Ginny. At that first pedicure apt, Ms. Virginia Wanner asked if I would be her new nail technician from that day forward. Little did I know, when I accepted her proposal, what an adventure the next 14 years would be!

 I knew right off the bat she was a character and that she'd be a challenge, but I was up for it. We learned quickly that we had a lot in common (we were both single mothers of 6 children), we also learned quickly we had LOTS of differences but that seemed to make our friendship more interesting and complex, to say the least. Ginny and I became very close very quickly. We had our every 2 week nail apt along with her pedicures (many times with young Mandy along too) but I don't believe very many days would go by without a phone conversation or 3. 

I'll never forget her favorite color of nail polish was "Kinky in Helsinki", the color is as wild as the name. Boy did I have fun giving her grief with that one. I would have to search online for stores that had old product left over of Kinky in Helsinki, and stock up on it because OPI didn't even make the dang color anymore. It took me 5 years of applying kinky in Helsinki on toes AND nails every appointment to convince her to branch out and try another color or do something different.

I learned early on that although she had a tough as nails exterior, inside was a generous and caring spirit. When I was alone in New York City one weekend, she called me every hour ( I swear) to make sure I hadn't been robbed, stabbed or abducted and that I wouldn't be the topic on Nancy Grace that evening. (of course This was before Nancy pissed her off and she quit watching her). When my son was struggling and going through hard times Ginny was compassionate and concerned and was constantly checking up on us. When my granddaughter was very sick with meningitis and I had to fly out to North Carolina to be with her for her 6 week hospital stay, guess who called to get an update several times a day and who couldn't get through a phone conversation without choking up? Ginny was a mother figure to me and I am sure going to miss that. 

 I also learned early on that when she was crabby, or bossy, or in one of her ornery moods, all I had to do was give it right back to her. I think she respected me for that. For some reason, I could give it right back, and her goofy smile would appear or her deep gravelly laugh, and somehow the crabby just seemed to dissolve. I loved to shock her and embarrass her. I loved to tease her about future love interests and bring up inappropriate topics. I loved playing the devils advocate and trying to show her the flip side to her theory of "how the world is going to hell in a hand basket". We had some great debates and sometimes we couldn't even talk to each other afterward for a day or two. But I always knew Ginny loved me, and she knew that I loved her too.

I loved to hear her stories of her younger days and her large family she grew up in. What an interesting eventful life that woman had. I loved to look at pictures of her in her younger days - She was a knock-out. She loved fancy clothes and of course her shiny black Cadillac. Ginny loved nice things, and she worked very hard to get those things. I loved her stories of the elderly she cared for in her assisted living homes. She had a soft spot for the dependent and those with special needs. But mostly, she bragged about her boys, she was so proud. MY SIX BOYS she drove around with on her license plate. JD's passing changed Ginny forever as we can all imagine. It toughened her and softened her at the same time. Ill never forget her call that morning and the pain in her voice. We talked about JD a lot and she compared his trials to the trials my oldest son has. She was a great support for me. I can imagine how amazing her and JD's recent reunion must've been. She loved more than anything when you boys would have your "guys getaways". I swear that was when she was happiest, when you were all together. I know she would want this time that you are all together now to be a celebration of her life and a time for stories and laughter and bonding. I can just see her now beaming -that you are all together again - and she made it happen. She's still in charge.

 Things I'll never forget:

 *Her phone calls to tell me what she was watching on TV or what was on fox news that evening .... and then getting hung-up on, mid sentence, because the commercial was over and her program was back on

*The earlier days sitting outside by her pool, admiring her yard and the beautiful flowers in her countless pots that she put so much work into. (I know you grand-kids spent many hours watering and caring for them as well)

*Her baggies of peanut butter filled pretzels from Costco and grape Propel flavored waters

*Her calling to tell me what is on sale at IGA and where to get the best meat that day

*Her political rants ............ OK, I won't miss the political rants but I will miss purposely arguing with her to get her all fired up.

*Her birthday we celebrated by going to see John Edwards the psychic medium.

*Her nap and TV schedule that couldn't be interrupted

*The triangle friendship Ginny, Cindy, and I shared.  We knew each other well and would always share stories and news.

There are so many things I will miss.

 Like grandmother turtle, Ginny carried the worries of the world on her back. She had a hard outer shell that protected her from hurt and harm, and was heavy with all of her concerns. I feel fortunate to have gotten to know what was inside of Ginny's shell. I know Ginny is now free of that shell, free of the burden, the weight, and her armor is no longer needed. I also know she would be so pissed at me for using The Native American Legend of Grandmother turtle as my reference to her life, and I'm sure id get called the usual pet name that she gave me (I'd tell you all what it is but its not PG-13 ) I'll tell you later if you ask me.

 I believe Ginny's message for all of us today would be:
 Don't wait until death to kick off your armor, get rid of the tough exterior. Don't let the worldly worries steal your joy, get out there and live!

 Ginny - I'm going to miss you. Thank you for making my life more colorful. I'll be waiting and watching for your signs, I can only imagine what they will be!  

Thursday, January 21, 2016


*Warning: no professional proofreading was done. The imperfections are part of my personality and I welcome them in my writing. No judgements allowed. ;-)


"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens to us." - Khalil Gibran

Are you choosing to put on your "today sucks and everyone is stupid" saggy granny bloomers? Or your "what a great day to be alive" hot mama unmentionables? Or maybe you are somewhere in between with the "play it safe" boy shorts or choosing the "who gives a sh*t" al natural route (pun intended). Whatever attitude that WE CHOOSE to put on or not, first thing in the morning, could determine our entire day. 

Now of course you realize my references to your loin cloth choice is just my metaphor for how you decide to plunge into your day. There was a time when I didn't know I had this choice. I thought the type of day I was going to have depended on how others would treat me and/or what events would or would not take place. If my co-workers were crabby or something wasn't going so well in one of my kids' lives, or the weather was cold, or my bills were over due, or my house was a mess and I had 20 things on my to-do list, or my hair didn't work out. Any of these events would be enough to set the tone. Once the tone was set, the ball just kept rolling and growing. What a powerless, helpless way to go about my day feeling like I had no control and the outcome depended wholly on outside sources. I allowed other people to determine my mood, and thus the essence of my day. Many many wasted days of allowing others to choose the destiny of my day. I lived this way for a long time, not even knowing there was another way, but still subconsciously searching. 

Through the process of my journey and quest to live whole heartedly, I learned a very different way to "be".  

One of the first things I had to learn and am still learning to do was:

1. Assume everyone is doing the best they can. 

BrenĂ© Brown talks about this in her books, as well as many others before her, and it works! Sometimes this is difficult because we assume others could be doing better or trying harder.  We feel because WE could do better, so should they. When we are frustrated with our seemingly rude or inattentive waiter or waitress at dinner, do we know what is happening in their life behind the scenes? Do we know if their parent is dying or if they are about to be evicted from their home? Fear can cause people to act out in ways very different than they would otherwise choose to. Maybe the car that cut you off, took your parking space or crossed over the middle line beside you was in a hurry so their child wouldn't be the last one picked up from school AGAIN or they were in deep thought about their addicted son or their daughter who is missing or suicidal, or the news they just received of their wife's cancer. Or maybe it's none of these things but I've learned when I assume this to be true, that everyone is doing the best they can, my day becomes more peaceful, loving, and calm instead of exhaustingly bitter and grim. It also gives me the power to be in control of my thoughts, my mood and ideally the outcome of my entire day. 

Another thing I had to learn to do was:

2. Be kind to myself. 

I've told you all about my dream of taking care of little me in past posts and how it changed my life. This is something I'm always working on but boy is it necessary in living wholeheartedly. Getting down on myself for not measuring up to my own impossible expectations, feeling unworthy, not valuable, not good enough, all contribute to limiting beliefs, poor choices, and less than desirable actions on my part. Choosing to be loving and forgiving of myself is another essential way to set the tone of my day and how I perceive it. If you were babysitting or taking care of little you, how would you treat her? 

Another thing I'm learning to do is: 

3. Assume the Universe/God is always acting in your favor.

This one can be difficult especially when we are in the midst of despair. It can be hard to see the reason for what we are experiencing and how it could be of service to us later.  But after the fact, if we look back, there is always always always a benefit. Something that we could take from our bad experience and use to apply to something GREAT in the future. Something we needed to experience in order to learn what we needed to learn so we can apply it to our lives in helping others and ourselves in the future. Always. When we choose to remember this, in the depths of our darkness, we have developed a gift, a power, a strength that will give us peace beyond measure, not only for the day, but forever. 

My favorite lesson I'm continuously learning is:

4. Be grateful.

One of my favorite quotes by Anthony Robbins is, "When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears". 
Fear can cause us to act in strange, unusually ugly and not beneficial ways. Fear of loss, inadequacy, rejection, the unknown, disappointment, all these plus more can inhibit us from abundance. I've said before that it is literally impossible for us to feel both gratefulness and fear at the same time. When we choose to be grateful by remembering people are doing the best they can, we are good enough, and the Universe is always working on our behalf whether it feels like it at the moment or not, we are beyond succeeding at creating abundance in our lives. There is always always always something to be grateful for. Always. Find it. 

So tomorrow morning after you've cleansed yourself of yesterday's worries, breathed in fresh new perspectives, visualized an amazing day ahead full of adventure, connection, and learning, and as you reach into our underwear drawer, may I ask, which ones will you choose?!

Monday, October 7, 2013

“For it is in giving that we receive.” ― St. Francis of Assisi

     I can't stop thinking about my sweet friend Edward.  He's another one of my downtown, homeless, street friends.  I could really write a blog on just my experiences with my downtown friends, they are truly some of the most interesting and inspiring people I know.  I keep questioning myself on whether or not I should divulge with others about them.  I have this incredible urge to share all of my awesome experiences, but then again, I sometimes have to stop myself.  Will it come across as "bragging" that I spend time with the "poor pitiful" homeless folk?  Will I sound like I want pats on the back for doing a good deed?  Well...I hope not, that's not my intention at all.  I have had such neat experiences with some of them I have to maybe ask;  Will their story maybe inspire someone else?  Will my kids read this someday to their kids and do the same?  Will someone else read this and feel as touched and overwhelmed as I do with these lessons, that are presented to me weekly, through the spirit of a homeless man?  I'm hoping those that read my blog know my heart and get what is intended from it.  And so my story goes....

     I woke up last Saturday as I have for many many months now, at 7:15am.  I jump up, get dressed, grab my bags of cans, and head downtown to meet up with Edward, my friend.  Edward is a sweetheart, much like Stanley, but it has taken a bit longer to see through his walls.  Somehow, I could sense from the start that Edward had a good heart.  I would guess if most people saw Edward, they would see the outward appearance of a not so nice looking man, with badly corroded, decayed teeth and pocked skin. I have to add that he always looks like he's done his best to take care of himself.  His hair is always neatly pulled back, and he seems to be as "together" as could be expected.  He is always on time and I have never seen him intoxicated or where he seemed in an altered state of mind, ever.  I met Edward last December while doing the same "project" I met my friend Stanley on. (refering to my previous blog post)  Edward was walking through the alley looking in dumpsters collecting cans.  After talking with him, we learned that he turns the cans in for cash at the downtown recycling center.  I remember thinking to myself how many cans our family goes through in just one week, that we just so nonchalantly toss into the garbage, never to see or think about again.  Pretty ironic that this man was digging through trash, on a freezing December night, to get something that we so recklessly just throw out.  That's the night I decided to start saving our cans to give to Edward.

     So...every Saturday, my dear Edward, meets me so I can give him the cans I've collected throughout the week.  I most times have a coffee to take him too and we visit a bit.  I've grown to feel a trust building between us and he's always there waiting for me as I'm pulling up.  If I'm ever not going to be able to make it on Saturday or if I'm out of town, I am always sure to let Edward know the Saturday before.  I would hate for him to be standing there waiting and not follow through with my word, and some Saturdays are definitely easier to do this than others.

     Last Saturday it was chilly, the coldest so far since early last spring.  On one hand I was hoping he'd  be there, but the other hand was hoping he was somewhere warm instead.  My car thermometer read 31 degrees that morning but it may have been colder throughout the night.  I grabbed my cans, some pumpkin spice coffees, and headed downtown.  There he was, waiting as usual, except most times there are several street people scattered around down the street and on the sidewalk too.  This day, he was the only one there.  I'm sure there are warmer places for them to go that's out of the wind and maybe a little more protected.  Today, it was just Edward waiting for his coffee and cans.  He was eager to great me as always and came up to help me unload my bags.  I was happy to see him dressed in a winter coat and he had a fleece headband on that covered his ears.  We stepped back so I could close the hatch to the back of my car and we visited for a second.   Then he said he had something for me.   He reached down into one of his bags that he already had, and pulled out a beautiful cloth lei.  One that you might find at a party store.  He tore off the tag ( I think he wanted me to see it had a tag :) ), and he carefully (with his bare hands) put it around my neck.  Then he smiled the cutest darn smile that anybody with corroded teeth could ever smile.  Heck I'd go as far to say he smiled the sweetest, cutest smile any man WITHOUT corroded teeth could smile :).
Edward gave to me.

      Someone with nothing, gave to me.  That is the second time a homeless person has given to me and I can't tell you how that touches me.  I thought of that saying,  "ALL GAVE SOME, SOME GAVE ALL".  Edward has nothing, but he gave to me.  I looked him in the eyes and thanked him as sincerely as I could.

       It was cold and I was shivering standing outside receiving my gift from my friend.  I was glad he was dressed warm but it was still cold. The fact that his hands were bare stood out to me because my hands are always cold.  I asked him if he had gloves.   He looked down at his hands and said that he did, but he had given them to a man down the street.  He pointed down the block.  He said the man was in a wheelchair and had none.  He was rowing his chair with bare hands so Edward have him his gloves to keep his hands warm. 

Edward gave to a man in a wheelchair with no gloves.

     I also want to add to this story that Edward has NEVER asked me for anything.  He's never asked me for money, change, anything.   He didn't even ever ask me for
coffee or my cans.   One time I had asked him if he needed anything, and he was very embarrassed.   I don't think he would ever tell me if he did need something.  I have built a trust with Edward and I know he wouldn't take advantage of me.  Last Saturday, I got to witness a portion of his giving heart, twice in one day, and it melted mine.

      Just like I've said about Stanley and the others, it's tough leaving Edward outside on these cold days and driving back home in my new car blaring the heat and anticipating what yummy treat I'm going to eat when I get home.  Edward gives me more than I could EVER give him.  He too has shown me to look past the world's definition of beauty, see through a somewhat offensive exterior, and truly view the heart that hides inside the dirty old coat wondering the streets, collecting cans.

     So, next Saturday I'll wake up at 7:15am, get dressed, grab my bag of cans, coffees, and a warm pair of gloves to give to my friend Edward.

***If anyone wants to save their cans for me to pick up, I will make sure they get to Edward.  A special thank-you to my special friends who already save for him.***

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Do not judge by appearances; a rich heart may be under a poor coat." -Scottish Proverb

Today I want to write in my blog about my friend Stanley.  Some of my friends have heard me talk about him now & then.  I've been thinking about him a lot lately because he has taught me so many lessons, lessons he has no idea he's taught.  I want to write about Stanley because he deserves to be noticed, to be acknowledged, something I highly doubt he's had much of in his hard, humble life. 

I met Stanley last December while doing a "project" with my friend Barry.  I've written in past blogs about how I like to always have a project.  It keeps me centered and grounded and gives me a purpose other than the usual responsibilities I already hold.  When life doesn't feel right, or when nothing seems to be going my way, I start a project! It always puts things in perspective and gets me back on the right track.  It raises my level of awareness and clears things up for me.  THIS project involved talking to, and giving time and small comforts to some of our city's homeless folks.

The street people have been a focus of my compassion ever since my oldest son was one himself.  He spent some time living on the streets of Portland and it changed my life forever.  (I also wrote about him in a previous blog) I had always felt sad for homeless people sitting on the street corner, but my son's experience taught me to look at the homeless community through different, deeper eyes.  Not eyes of pity, but eyes of compassion and connection.  When I see a homeless person, I first remember that they are someone's son or daughter, just as my son was mine.  I wonder what kind of a home they came from, is their mother worried about them, had they ever been loved or cherished.  I always try to acknowledge and smile at them,  knowing myself that something as simple as just being acknowledged can feel so good. 

When I first noticed Stanley, even before I saw his grease stained coat,or his overgrown dirty salt & peppered beard, or his extreme lisp due to his missing front teeth,  I was drawn to his most kind, soft, gentle gracious eyes. I wondered what those weathered eyes had seen.  I walked over to him, said hi, and asked him what his name was. He smiled and his eyes squinted so cute, showing the many leathered lines on his temples. If I could guess his age I'd say he was mid to late 60's, but I'm also guessing that living on the streets can age a person prematurely, so he could be younger. He told me his name was Stanley. He said that people made fun of his last name. I asked him what it was. "Little Man" he told me. (I later found out his real last name is Little BOY. How stinking cute is he?!) I smiled and told him I thought it was a really cool name. How awesome to have a name given to you that tells a story about your family.  I have some blessed Native American friends with the coolest last names. I told Stanley that I was born and raised on an Indian Reservation and names like his were pretty neat. A name like "Stanley Little Man" sounded pretty normal to me. He smiled and I could feel him warm up to me a bit. I asked him where he was from and he told me about his growing up and how he was raised in an orphanage. We had a great 20-30 min conversation and we laughed and shared. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed our visit. He had the best disposition and was just happy to visit.  I could have talked to him for hours.  I hated to leave Stanley (and the others) that night as I drove home to my warm house and my comfy bed, knowing Stanley would be sleeping on the street somewhere, in single digit weather. I really don't know how they make it. 

I thought about Stanley off and on for days and told a few friends about him and how he affected me. I hoped that someday I would see him again. I made several more trips down to visit and bring food cards etc to my downtown friends, but never saw Stanley.  I would think about him when it was real cold outside, hoping he was somewhere warm. And I would remember him on hot days too hoping he had some water and a place in the shade. 

Last week when I made my trip downtown, I saw a man limping down the sidewalk.  At first glance,  I thought it might look like Stanley, but then it kind of didn't. I watched him walk down the sidewalk a ways and something urged me to find out. I got out of my car and yelled at him down the sidewalk, "Stanley?". He kept walking. I yelled again. This time he turned around and I asked him if he was Stanley. He said "yes".... I didn't know if I should believe just any street person telling me he was Stanley so I asked  him his last name. Sure enough he replied, " Little Boy". As he started to walk towards me, I could see it really was him. He was dragging his leg and making his way towards me. I offered him some coffee that I had bought at the convenient store on my way downtown. I was so glad to see my friend Stanley. He looked a little different, maybe a little more aged, even tho it had only been 6 months since I'd seen him last. His eyes looked the same tho and that's the part I was most excited about. Those kind eyes. I asked him if he was okay and why he was limping. He told me he had been ran over by a car a month or so back. He had spent some time in the hospital but was feeling better and healing. The way he said it was surprising to me, he said it as if it were a normal occurrence.  Like it was no biggie. Maybe on the streets it IS normal to get ran over by a car but I just don't hear about it?  Who knows, but it surprised me how calm he was when telling me. He told me he was crossing the street and a lady who was trying to beat a red light, hit him and ran over his leg.  I immediately felt angry and protective of Stanley as he was telling his story. I told him I hoped the lady got in trouble. He looked at me with his soft kind eyes, tilted his head to the side and he said, " oh no, I wouldn't rat on her. I wouldn't rat on anybody."  His mustache was moving along with his lips as his words clumsily came out of his toothless mouth. "She didn't mean to hurt me". 

Wow. Wow. wow. What a guy.  A friend told me once that she felt homeless people were more Godly than most. I have to agree.  I think Stanley, in this moment, proved just that.  Stanley doesn't have the comforts of this world.  He doesn't have a fancy car or any car for that matter. He doesn't have name brand clothes, or clean clothes. He doesn't even have his front teeth. He is who he is. He's not angry that he doesn't have a  home to live in, or a car to drive. He's not complaining that his shoes aren't the newest style or that the world is so unfair to him. He isn't even angry that a lady ran him over with her car! I wish I could be more like Stanley. How freeing it must be to shed the material things of this world. To not have to keep up with the Jones's and the social club status's.  Wouldn't the world be better if we all were as forgiving and humble and REAL as Stanley? I'm not saying we have to be homeless and throw out all of our comforts to be real, but Stanley sure made an impact on me that day.

I got to visit with Stanley for a bit more. I let him know that I thought about him often and hoped and prayed he was ok. He couldn't believe that I prayed for him or even thought about him.  His illustrious eyes twinkled.  I sure hope I get another chance to see him. I hope I get the chance to thank him for the lessons he's taught me. 

Now whenever I get upset because we lost a ball game that we shouldn't have or my lunch that I ordered is taking too long, or my car is low on gas or my yard doesn't look just right or someone has been unkind to me, I try to think of Stanley Little Boy and what an example he is for me. I'm so thankful he was put in my path not once, but twice,  and like I always say.....this is NOT the end of the story. I can't wait to find out what else Stanley will teach me. :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

P.s. Sorry! I totally lied... :)

P.s. I totally lied....

I thought I got my writing out of my system for the time being but I didn't.  Its been bugging me all afternoon and I need to finish and empty my head the rest of the way.  Even if  this is just for me to read when I'm 87 and remember this experience vividly.  I'm not the best story teller or most descriptive person.  I just tell the story straight up even though its the really really long version :).   I have the coolest things happen to me, with the coolest people all of the time but this is just the most recent: 

I booked my flight a couple weeks ago to visit my daughter and her family in North Carolina.  I didn't have many options when flying out of a smaller airport, into an even smaller airport that is across the country.   I would leave at 6am out of Billings, arrive in Salt Lake at the time my next flight would've already started boarding with 30 min til take-off, and on to Atlanta Georgia where I would have a good 3 hr layover.  I was real nervous about the 30 minutes I had to get to my gate in Salt Lake so I paid extra to upgrade my seat to Priority Seating.  Priority seating sits right behind First Class so I could get out real quick to find my next gate and hopefully not miss my flight.   It only cost me $9.99 to upgrade and the seats are much roomier and more comfortable.  Thank goodness I was able to get off my flight and to my next flight just in time.  I had tried to upgrade my next flight as well, just for fun, but there were no upgrades available.  I was a little disappointed but little did I know the Universe was once again working its power. 

I boarded the flight to Atlanta a little out of breathe but relieved that I'd made it in time.  This was a bigger plane with two seats to the right, the middle section with 3 seats and another section to my left with 2 seats.  I was seated towards the back of the plane in the middle seat of the middle section.  Ugh, prob my least favorite spot.  I always prefer the isle seat but I had no options for this flight and was just happy I didn't miss it.   As I walked down the isle looking for my row, counting ahead to find my seat, I saw that there were already two gentlemen seated in the seats on either side of my middle seat.   As I sat down I noticed the man on my left was in a business suit on his computer busy typing away on his keyboard.  He glanced up and smiled.  The man on my right was dressed in sweatshirt shorts, a t-shirt, tennis shoes and a baseball cap.  He was a big man, not overweight but big with a scruffy unshaven face and tattooed sleaves down both arms.  He was super friendly and if I hadn't known better I would judge him as a sort of a redneck.  Nothing wrong with rednecks but I ended up being wrong as usual.  I love it when I'm wrong because it shows me once again the whole "book by its cover" concept.  

The flight was about to take off and I noticed the businessman was sitting on my seatbelt.  He apologized and asked me where I was headed.  I told him I was headed to North Carolina and we had a brief friendly conversation.  The man on my right had overheard our conversation, waited until we were done, and then asked me where at In North Carolina was I headed?  I told him Jacksonville.   He was from Ashville, north west in the mountainous parts of NC.  He said that he and his business partner, sitting across the isle from him, had been in Kalispell MT on vacation.  His business partner looked about the same age, mid to later 30's and real outdoorsy as well.  I had to ask what type of business they had as I was really curious because my first impression wasn't that of businessmen.   He told me that he and his partner ran a couple Addiction Recovery houses in North Carolina.  They were high end, new age, after-care recovery programs something like a half-way house but the clients were there by choice not court ordered.   He said their program was very expensive because they wanted to be able to give their clients a beautiful home and be able to do extreme activities like skydiving, river rafting, snowboarding, skiing, surfing etc.  etc.  He said they wanted to be able to show addicts how to have extreme highs and fun while sober.  He also told me how his staff taught the clients how to live in this world doing day to day tasks while sober as many addicts don't know how.  Their program was approximately 9-12 months long, they housed men ages 18-27, and they were pretty successful at it.   He was very enthusiastic telling me about their mission statement and how they wanted to help as many people as they could.  He said they gave back a lot of their earnings in helping other programs and giving to those in need.  He told me they even take in homeless junkies off the street (he informed me that both he and his business partner were recovering junkies), and went on to explain to me what a homeless junkie was as if I had no clue!   I informed him that I had a son that had been homeless and was an addict but I wasn't sure if he was currently using drugs or not.  He looked a little shocked and very curious.  He asked me many questions about my son and listened with compassion and understanding.   He was very interested in him and sympathetic of my journey with him thus far.  

Our flight was 3 hrs and 45 minutes long but it felt like 20 minutes.  He told me about his fiancĂ© and his dogs.  I told him about my goofy pets.   I was so thankful that I got to have such a nice conversation with such an interesting person for that long flight, especially if I had to sit in the middle AND  in the back.  As we were getting ready to land, my new friend told me to be sure to checkout their recovery house website.  He said to go to the "contact us" link and get the phone number off of it and give it to my son.  And then he said, and ill never quit getting goosebumps when I tell this, he said  if my son would call him, he would fly him out to NC immediately and scholarship him into his recovery program for a year.   WHAT?!   I was in shock and numb at first and then reality hit and I was fighting back tears. Omg,  what a kind offer from a stranger.  I couldn't believe it. I knew right then, 100%, why I wasn't able to upgrade my seat.  It was meant to be.   I was full of that warmth that is unexplained by words and happens when something bigger than reality occurs.   I didn't know what to say.  I thanked him from the bottom of my heart.  He told me to let people know about their program because they wanted to help as many addicts as they could.  He said, I may never hear from your son but I'll never forget about him or our conversation and he walked off the plane.  Once again I had to watch to see if he was going to disappear into into thin air like the angel that he was for me.  Nope-  he kept on walking.  No matter what happened after this moment, I would never forget it.

  I got off the plane, got myself together and called my mom because I just had to tell someone.  Then I called my son and told him about this amazing option.   He had been trying to call me at the same time to let me know that Job Corps had contacted him and he had been re-accepted into the program.  He thought the recovery program sounded awesome but really needed the job training more than anything and was clean of drugs and alcohol.   Wow.  Great news all around.  He ended up checking into Job Corps 5 days later.   I was able to contact my new friend via his website and thank him for his offer and give him my sons status with Job Corps.   He assured me that his invitation was an open one.  Another wow. 

I know that this story isn't over and I'm not quite sure how it will end.  Who knows if my son will ever go into the recovery program, maybe it'll be someone else I know.   But for some reason, this happened to me and it can only have a great ending.  I can't wait to find out what happens next and I love when these universe moving, energy connecting, amazing life events happen to me.  They happen all the time and I'm ready, open and waiting for the next one :).  To  be continued....

Pass it on:

Just me, rambling away...

I've been itching to write, it's been killing me so here it goes and I'm not sure what I'm even going to say.  I never  know what might come out of my thoughts it might not even make sense or be in order,  but here I go...

It's the holidays and I made a pact with myself that I wasn't going to focus on the sad like I usually do.  I normally can cry at the drop of a hat at Christmas time because I would focus on the kids that are hungry, wearing old grown out of clothes and abused and neglected.   I think because my kids have been so blessed with "things" and at Christmas its magnified, it forces me even more so to think of others that aren't as lucky.   SO THIS YEAR, I'm not focusing on the problems, Im focusing on what I can do.   Even though it may be small in comparison to the sadness, it still can make a difference.  The ripple effect will take over and who knows where it will go.  If we all did even 1 kind gesture this season, the results would be endless.  This year I'm going to focus on all the GOOD that people do for others in the world.  There really is a lot of it.  And like I always say and know to be true: "What we focus on, we get more of".   I am becoming aware of all the different groups that are doing wonderful things around Billings, it's awesome and the more I know of, theres even more I hear about :).   We live in a great city.  We are blessed.

I read somewhere that during the Holidays, people have/create the most problems in their relationships.  I think there is a lot of stress and frustration that the season brings.  There is so much emphasis on the retail side of things and keeping up with the Jones's that we can be stretched way beyond our means causing friction in our relationships.   I had a very wise woman once tell me that it's pretty amazing that ANY of us have good relationships with all the hurt, anger, and fear that we all carry around.   We've all been wounded and have baggage that affects our current relationships no matter how long ago the hurt happened.   Most times we don't even realize that we are punishing the ones that love us because of damage done by others from our past.  Once we stop being the victim, choose to let go, forgive ourselves and those that have hurt us, really love who we are, I know we can heal.   What a long process this has been for me as I keep plugging along.   Very rewarding though.  I've been practicing over a period of time to try to always respond with love even when someone is unloving, rude, hurtful, or just hard to be around.  I'm certainly not perfect at it and sometimes I really suck, but I'm not giving up!   One thing that REALLY helps me is to know and remind myself that whoever I come in contact with is really 2 spirits.  A soul, and an ego.   I believe we all have both of these inside of us.  I believe our soul is pure, full of forgiveness and grace, kind, compassionate and all that is love.  It is the part of us that is GOD breathed.  We also have the ego that is very damaged, and hurt, and full of the lies we've been told about ourselves that we believe.  It is fear, anger, sadness.  The ego develops over time and is constantly fed by ourselves as well as other hurt egos.   When I meet someone that is angry or hurtful, I remember that there is a soul inside of that person that is being clouded over by the ego. This person is deeply hurting.  It helps me to have compassion and forgiveness remembering they are acting with their ego.  I think of what must have happened in their life to make them so sad and act out.  They are just hurting too.

 “To love is to recognize yourself in another.” ― Eckhart Tolle 

This whole concept helps me with myself as well.  When I feel the ugliness starting to brew inside of me, I try to acknowledge it so I can try to separate from my ego.  Take a deep breath, relax,  lean back and let it pass right on by.  It works!   Let it pass right on by.  Focus on my center, and let it fill with compassion for myself.   The more I do this, the more my ego will dissolve and I can respond instead of react.   It's so fun when I actually do it and find, once again, that it works :).   And then I smile and forgive myself for how ugly I was just a few seconds earlier.   I'm not always so good at this, but I am getting better at recognizing it and that's the biggest step. 

“The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgement.” ― Jiddu Krishnamurti

It helped me so much to learn that what happens to me, doesn't define me.   My past doesn't define me.   I can begin TODAY and define who I want to be.

  “The past has no power over the present moment.  Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being present now; and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?"   - Eckhart Tolle  

Do I sound crazy yet??!!  If not, let me see what else I can share ......... ;-).  Hmmmmm, I think I'll keep this post short.  My ADD is on rapidfire today but I just want to say one last thing.  Remember that we are all one.  Remember that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!  

Ok...Gotta go start some ripples - join me? <3

Happy Holidays to all you beautiful souls, even to all you ugly ego's.  :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Symbols are miracles we have recorded into language." ~ S. Kelley Harrell

"In mathematics, two angles that are said to coincide fit together perfectly.  The word coincidence does not describe luck or mistakes. It describes that which fits together perfectly." ~ Wayne Dyer

SIDENOTE:  Please excuse my improper punctuation etc etc... Oh and  please excuse all of the {"coincidence"} words in quotes. I know it gets annoying but  I just really like to say it that way.....  :-P   

     When I was young (elementary school age),  if I would see a piece of paper on the ground,  I would always have to stop and grab it to see if maybe, just maybe, God had written me a message on it.   I had kind of forgotten about this ritual of mine until my cousin reminded me of it at my Grampa's funeral last February.  My cousin and I are the same age, grew up together, and graduated together.  She told me that whenever she sees a piece of paper on the ground, she thinks of little me and my hopeful messages from God.  :).   Wouldn't it be so cool if we were always LOOKING for the messages being given and were fully aware that they could be all around us?  Although I never found a written message from God on one of those papers I picked up,  if I pay attention now,  the signs and messages are endless. 

      I try to work on being balanced and living in the moment most of the time and some days I'm much better at it than others.  It is such a peaceful, content feeling when I'm there.   Like I've said in previous posts, gratitude will get me there every time.   I have many goosebump-raising experiences that happen when my head isnt so cluttered with "stuff" and I'm able to concentrate on being here, right now, and remembering how blessed I am.  If I allow clutter and negativity in, I'm blocked from experiencing wonderful "coincidences" all around me.  

     Sometimes these messages can be very subtle but extremely powerful.   For example, I read a book that suggested finding a symbol that would represent and remind me of my own personal gratitude.   It could be anything, a certain flower, animal, or any symbol like a star, a clover, a rainbow etc.  The purpose for choosing this symbol was that everytime I saw it, I would be reminded to be grateful.   My symbol could appear on a magazine cover at the grocery store, on a picture, a postcard, a calendar, on a wall, in real life, etc...usually right when I need a reminder.    I had some pretty cool experiences with Robins after my Grampa's death and Robins have a way of sending peaceful energy to me.   So, unrelated to my  Grampa, I chose the Robin as my symbol of gratitude.   I see Robins more than ever now and each time I do, I adjust my attitude if it needs it and remind myself to be grateful.   This always works by putting me back in the moment with a clearer mind.    Like I've also said before, I don't believe in coincidences, I believe they are some type of message or sign from up above.  Once you choose your symbol, it will show up in the most random ways at the best times and  when you need it most.  It's amazing how this works.   

     Earlier this spring I was noticing how my landscaping really needed some help.   We've lived in this house for 6 years now and I've maintained the nice yard and landscaped areas myself, but after this long, I just needed some help in replacing a few shrubs and plants here and there and shaping it up.   I love to mow the lawn and do the basic upkeep.  I'm the grounds keeper of the family by choice, but this year there was much more needed than the basic spring clean up.  I posted on Facebook to see if anyone had any recommendations of landscapers that weren't super expensive and that wanted some work.   We called around and left many messages.  We only had one call back but got a quote done.  $3500  was the quote.   My lawn is not really big and the landscaping is nice but pretty basic and there's not a lot of it.   I just couldn't justify paying that much for what my lawn needed.   After avoiding it for a few weeks, I decided to get my butt out there and just do the best I could to take care of it myself.   There was a lot to do and I had no idea what I was doing, but I dug in.   Of course I didn't wear gloves, so I had cuts and scrapes on my hands and legs from the rose bushes and from cleaning out all the dead plants and shrubs.   After about 3 hours out in the hot sun, I had the front yard looking a bit better so I moved on to the back.   It was a super hot day and I was doing a lot of bending and lifting and pulling.   Of course I didn't stop to eat lunch or take a break other than grabbing a bottle of water now and then.   I was getting super crabby and sore and tired and HUNGRY (I'm not very fun or nice when I'm hungry, just ask Kevin).    I was starting to see an end in sight in the backyard, after another 4 1/2 hrs of work,  but I was bitching and complaining in my head the whole time.   I was mad that I was out there when I had so many other things to do, and my back and legs were killing me from the up-downs I'd been doing for almost 8 hrs straight.   I was sunburned, starving, and extremely sore.  My hands were bleeding and cut from the thorns and branches,  I was mad at Kevin (?), mad that nobody was helping me, mad that it hadn't already been done, and I was building up big negative momentum.   I was almost finished with what I could do and was pulling out a massive pile of dead vines when something caught my eye.   Underneath the pile, was a cracked ROBIN egg shell.  It was a beautiful blue cracked open shell just laying there.   It literally took my breath away.  Here was my symbol, and I recognized it.   I hadn't realized how negative my thoughts had gotten throughout the day, they had really crept up on me.   I sat there very still.   My eyes filled with water but in a goosebump-raising way.   I KNEW this wasn't an accidental occurrence.   Something higher than me was intervening and I really needed an attitude adjustment at that moment.   Thank goodness I was able to recognize and was aware of the clues that were being given to me.   Immediately I started to think about all the money I was saving by doing the landscaping myself,  how great of a workout I was getting by doing all of it,  I was thankful that I was healthy and able to get out there and do it,  thankful that I had the time to spend 8 hours outside, grateful for my amazing tan after spending 8 hours in the sun, appreciative at  how nice my yard looked even though it was done by an amateur,  thankful for how much I learned about landscaping by doing it myself.    I was flooded with gratitude and it humbled me.   Thank you, thank you, thank you , for moments like these.   I am forever thankful for the messages I get all around me. 

     I have many "coincidences"  that happen to me (we ALL do) and I love it when I "get it".   Its such a warm feeling of empowerment and humility mixed with unconditional love from a very powerful source.  

     Another one of my "coincidences" I want to share was getting my cockatiel Robert Stroud , but first I have to take you back about 2 months prior.    I always like to have a giving/helping type project that I'm working on and most times I don't tell anyone about it because it feels more gratifying that way.  I don't do these projects for acknowledgement, or for show, or pats on the back.  I do them because it feels good to me to help someone out and maybe make a difference along the way.  It helps me feel balanced and positive and hopefully its catchy.   Every once in a while I have to let a few people know about it because I need their help or opinion about something relating to my project.   I am a little leary about sharing this specific example but the "coincidences" are so blatant that I just have to.   Anyway,  I have been working on a project, inspired by my son, involving getting socks for the Yellowstone County Detention Facility inmates.   My son had spent some time there a while back and  I remember vividly,  a conversation between a few inmates about what a luxery socks were for them in jail.   I had much compassion for these inmates especially after hearing some of their life stories during Family Week at the jail-based treatment program my son was attending.   Most of the inmates had real sad histories.   My heart was heavy for all of them, even the seemingly harden criminals.   I'll always remember the conversation I overheard about their socks and Ill never forget how I felt for wanting a newer car at the time, a newer car seemed so materialistic and unnecessary all of a sudden.   Socks are not something the inmates automatically get when they check in.   They have to buy them through the jail and in order to do that, they  have to have money on their books.  Having money on your books means that someone outside of jail brought in money for you to use to order things such as socks, snacks, etc.   I made sure that my son had socks but there are many many inmates that don't have the luxury of money on their books for anything.    Please know that my head fully understands that these guys are in jail for a reason and they deserve the consequences that are given without luxuries,  but my heart doesn't understand the conditions in which they are put and how they are treated.   Ive written about how much my son has taught me and one of them is compassion, compassion for inmates...for my own child was once one of them.   The discussion of the luxury of socks in jail sat heavy on my heart for some time even after my son was released from jail.  Once in a while even after a few years passed,  I would think about it and feel for the inmates.   When I would happen to drive by the jail or the building the jail-based treatment program was held at, I would go back to that conversation and think about the socks.   I understand that socks are such a small detail in the scheme of life and not a basic survival necessity but FOR SOME REASON, that I may never know,  the thought of not having socks really haunted me.   Five years have gone by and I was still being  reminded of the socks more and more.   I realized  it must be something Im supposed to give my attention to so I became more aware of the messages given.  I began my project to get every inmate in the YCDC a pair of thick, warm socks.   I had been working on this project a few weeks before Robert Stroud came into my life....

      ...One normal crazy Thursday, I was running my errands and ran into the pet store to grab crickets for the Gecko.   I have a pet Gecko that I feed crickets to once a week.   I have walked by the birds (at the pet store) once a week, every week, for the past 10 years to get crickets and have never been tempted or even thought about getting a bird.  This particular day,  I walked by the birds as I always do, and there he was looking at me with his beady little eyes.   I'm not sure what happened in that moment, but I knew I was taking that bird home.   I didn't even ask Kevin because I knew he'd say no.   " No more livestock",  has come out of his mouth many times.   I knew I was getting this bird the minute I saw him.     Sounds weird and hokey I know, but it's how it was.   I learned he had already been named Robert Stroud by his former owners, but I thought it was a pretty boring name.   Maybe the former family's last name was Stroud?   A few days later, in a cool/strange "coincidental" way,  I found out Robert Stroud was the name of an actual person and there is a 1962 Burt Lancaster movie about him called "The Birdman of Alcatraz".   It's a true story about the life of Robert Stroud.   He was a murderer in prison that was being held in permanent isolation who redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.   My curiosity got the best of me and I rented the movie.   I was feeling the beginning ripples of my "coincidence" when I learned my bird was named after a prisoner, right in the middle of my project that was inspired by inmates.   In the movie,  Burt Lancaster (as Robert Stroud) finds a baby bird in an uprooted nest, getting soaked by the rain, out in his solitary confinement courtyard.    Robert takes the cold baby bird into his cell, slowly takes off his warm SOCK,  and rolls it down to make a comfy nest for this struggling baby chick.
 ....Goosebumps .....  
     The depth of symbolism in this experience of mine is endless.  I could go on and on,  but I knew right then, this cockatiel named Robert Stroud, was meant to be mine. 

        I love when I  "get it".    I love the messages that are given to me all of the time, and I love when I'm aware enough to receive them.   I love having that connection with the soul.   I love knowing there is so much more in store for me, and I love sharing my experiences with others and hearing their's.   I'm a work in progress and  the life-lessons and experiences, good and bad,  along the way are all so worth it. 

     So now, whenever I see a piece of paper blowing around outside, it reminds me of that little girl desperately searching for messages and her eagerness to find them.  She still lives inside of me and that makes me smile and fill  up with compassion for her.   I want to wake up every morning with that same ambition, and I'm so thankful for my symbols to remind me how. 

  What's your symbol?  ;-) 

"Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous" - Albert Einstein

"It's hard to believe in coincidence, but it's even harder to believe in anything else." - John Green