Saturday, March 16, 2013

The WB Family Holiday Part II

In my blog posting part I, I left off as most of the family was on the side of a rural Iowa road waiting for news about grandpa from the EMT's.

Time seemed to stand still for us as we all waited in our cars parked on the side of the highway. At times, really only in minutes, I felt my heart pound and could literally feel the agony coming from Steve in the seat next to me.  As I wrote about earlier, I knew it was important to let him take the lead on the next steps. Whether that meant that we would wait, rather than approach the EMT's exit the vehicle to seek answers.

Without much notice the EMT's from ambulance #2 emerged.  One of the EMT's met with Kevin in the lead car to let him know that grandpa was still with us after treatment and to follow ambulance #1 to Sioux City, Iowa hospital.

In what seemed like another long drive on Thanksgiving afternoon, the family met up again in the Emergency Room at Sioux City hospital. There I saw the pale and stunned faces look back at me as we all looked at each other.  I walked around the room and tried to keep think of encouraging things to say and to pass out a hug or two to those who really looked like they needed one.

Mom, Steve and Kevin were in with grandpa as he was being treated.  Again, the rest of us found ourselves waiting for word and prognosis. It would be a couple hours before there was any news, but what we did know without hesitation is that grandpa would be admitted for care.  When I think about it now, none of us ever realized in those moments in the emergency room that grandpa would never return to the family farm he built, where he's raised his family and lived with his wife of 56 years for a period of over 40 years.

I call dad grandpa because for me he represented the name very well.  Not only with his own grandchildren, but in many ways, he reminded me of my grandpa.  Growing up, I never really had a father figure type in my life, so I found myself always relying on my grandfather on my mom's side of the family for conversation and advice when I needed it.  Regardless, over the last several years with the WB, I was able to have great conversations with Steve's dad, Robert, 'grandpa',' as I refer to him in this story.  While not realizing it then, most of those conversations with him, whether on the farm or at our home in Wisconsin, I would learn would be some of the best 'life' advice for me to learn from.

I'm really not sure how much time had passed while we waited in the emergency room, but the football games we were watching or listening to were over for the most part, or were really not our focus anymore.  It must have been after 6:00 p.m. when we learned that dad/grandpa would be taken to his room.  Suddenly, as I looked around and witnessed the exhaustion and solemn mood in the room,  I checked back in with reality and realized that Thanksgiving dinner was still out on the table and that Jake and Mattie were still home alone. Since I was not the one who secured them, I wondered if they were free to run the house and at least they would be able to partake in a Thanksgiving feast.  While I was assured that they were in the bedroom downstairs, I was not sure that the door upstairs was closed. It could be an interesting trip back to the farm...

Lisa and I conversed and rallied a plan to return to the family farm to clean up the mess left from the dinner that we never got to have, as well as the mess left from the emergency team caring for dad and all in the dining room and kitchen.  We both knew that mom could not come home to any of the mess, especially the later.  A quick request for volunteers to come with us to help Lisa and I with the clean up not surprisingly produced ONLY one willing and wonderful young lady, Kate.  The youngest of Robert's grandchildren.  In silence, I was pleasantly surprised.

Lisa, Kate and I arrived back at the farmhouse about 6:30 p.m.  I immediately went to care for the pets first, while Lisa went upstairs to create our plan of attack for the cleanup.  When I got to them, Jake and Mattie were trembling, as they had no clue what had taken place six hours before.  Nevertheless, they quickly got back into their 'Bonnie and Clyde' routine of playfulness and looking for their next chance for a bit of trouble.

In a matter of only a few moments, I found myself upstairs, pets in tow, and began with the cleanup.  When I looked at the table, still set with the full plates of food, somehow I could still see the medical emergency that took place at the head of table still fresh on my mind. I quickly shook it off when we realized that none of the food could really be saved.  It has been sitting out too long and the last thing we needed at this point was for anyone to end up sick from the already tormented  family Thanksgiving feast that never was.

We made great headway with our cleanup in under two hours.  During this time Lisa, Kate and I talked about the day.  While I never asked, I knew that talking about it would help the young Kate deal more with the future unknown that would shortly follow.  In these slow moments in time, I found myself bonding more with Lisa.  I felt close to her already, but I could feel our 'family' relationship blooming even more.  I got to know Kate more and was very impressed with her and completely grateful that she helped us clean up.

During the cleanup there were a few calls made back and forth with the family still at the hospital to check on grandpa, to see how mom was doing and to develop a plan for returning to their homes in other rural towns in Iowa. We nearly had everything cleaned up when Randy (Shelly's husband) and all the other Wingert grand kids returned.  The decision was for everyone to return to their homes in Panora and Ames, Iowa and wait for further word before returning.  Lisa would drive her car home with her kids and Randy would drive home with Zack. Kevin, Shelly, Steve and I would stay with mom.

As everyone was preparing to leave, I could see the same look on KC's face (he is the oldest of the grand kids) that I had on mine as he looked at the now clean Thanksgiving dinner table.  He too could still see everyone at the table and voiced that "...he could never sit at the table again and perhaps never step foot in the house again without remembering, vividly the 'tragedy' that ensued, rather than a family Thanksgiving feast..."

Nothing else was said after KC's comment.  While a bit drastic to 'never return to the house,' I'm sure that everyone felt the same way on some level; I know I did. The family packed up and got in their cars and were gone in what seemed like seconds. As they were driving out, Steve called me to check in with me. Really I believe that he needed to take a moment to breath and I knew that.  He asked me to come back to the hospital to be with him while they waited.  I didn't hesitate, I told him that I would care for the pets and be on my way very soon. I made sure that 'Bonnie and Clyde' knew they were loved and put them in the downstairs bedroom. They curled up to one another and I headed out to be with Steve, for what would be a very long night Thanksgiving night. 

Stay tuned for Part III of the WB Family Holiday coming to you very soon.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

WB Family Holiday Season 2012, Part I

The WB Family Holiday Season 2012 was very different and quite rocky to say the least.  Another unexpected long break from blogging, but it was important to ensure my time and focus was spent where I was needed at the time.

While the season dealt with family loss, it's important to qualify our family holiday, as one where we really invested in the meaning of the season, of family and giving thanks to God.  Something many of us have lost sight of over the years because the holiday season has become so commercialized.

The beginning of this story is all over the map, but when I think about it, the real start was with our family Thanksgiving in Iowa with my partner, Steve's family.  While we may have missed one or two Iowa trips over the last seven years, we try to make the 8.5 hour drive to Iowa from our home in Wisconsin each year to celebrate this holiday with this side of the family.  This was an important year for Steve, as his father's long fight with Alzheimer's disease had reached its dangerous peak.  I haven't blogged before now about the affects that this disease has had on our family over the past several years, not only to protect the medical privacy of my father-in-law, but because I felt it was a story that, while it needed to be shared, timing did not permit me to share my feelings from its eventual wake in my blog.  I'm sure I don't need to share with everyone here how difficult living with and being affected by this disease can be on a family, let alone over a holiday season.

Regardless, we usually arrive the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving in order to take part in the preparation festivities with mom, and to ensure that she has the correct number of hands for both the preparation and the all adult cleanup that follows. Just try finding a young person who wants to help you clean up after a big family meal these days...Our arrival on Wednesday evening was later than usual because of the weather and holiday traffic out of Chicago.  Exhausted as we arrived and dad asleep, we said our hellos, set a schedule for the next day, Steve stayed up to catch up with his mom and I hit the sack to prepare for the family entourage to arrive the next day for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Happy Thanksgiving.  While Chenin, Sean, Megan and Brian could not make this trip with us. I was happy that we brought our dogs, Jake and Mattie with us, as they offer me exercise, playtime with them and it was important to me that they were not home alone.  But, you can imagine how it adds to the long drive to Iowa.  It is so worth it to me to have them with us. I digress. It was an early rise to the smell of pie and Turkey and suddently a big thud upstairs.  The thud was alarming, as we'd heard the shower running upstairs, which either meant someone fell in the shower or dad was alone by himself while mom was getting herself ready before everyone got up. We were quick to get upstairs to investigate the noise and from first inspection everything seemed to be alright.  Mom was in the shower and dad was up and about himself.  While dad didn't know what he was doing or who anyone is most of the time, this time he seemed more alert than usual.  He was almost "giddy" a couple of times, which really seemed out of character and a bit alarming to us as well.  Regardless, while we were all a bit guarded, the morning cooking and preparation continued.  During all of the chaos, I noticed that dad, while not understanding all that was going on around him, seemed to be a bit more active than usual.

During a short early breakfast break, mom sat dad down in his regular spot to care for him and provide his medications, her regular daily care givers and devoted and loving wife regimen.  Dad seemd to become angry and spat the meds back out almost as if he was gagging on them.  On some level it seemed as if he was being defiant and rejecting them, all the while he was laughing through the process.  It seemed freakishly weird to me and while not verbally shared by Steve, his mom and now his sister, Shelly, I could tell they too were concerned.  Nevertheless, he finally took what was needed, he went to rest and the holiday morning progressed as more family arrived. By now, we have Steve's sister and brother and their families at home anxiously waiting for the early afternoon Thanksgiving feast. While odd for me, I left Steve, his mom and sister in the kitchen to prepare the meal and I spent the time with dad and the other family members in the living room.  Dad was again wandering back and forth in the hallway and it was as if he was trying to speak to me, I could tell he wanted to, but finally, I understood that he wanted to sit in his rocker and Kevin (Steve's brother) and I got his situated in his rocker.

Dinner is served.  Mom and Steve alerted the family to assemble for dinner.  Kevin and I got dad to his seat at his usual spot at the head of the table.  Everyone was seated and Grace was shared.  The food was making its round around the table.  Some had just begun to eat, as others were still loading their plates.  All eyes seemed to be on dad who seemed as if he could not get comfortable.  Suddenly dad gasped, yanked back in his chair and it seemed as though be began to choke.  In a very quick and what seemed to be a frozen moment in time, I took stock around the table at the shock on every one's faces and then I broke my frozen state and shouted to get dad to the floor, mom yelled for someone to call 911.  Without initially saying a thing, I quickly identified dad's situation as a seizure.  I helped Kevin get dad lowered to the floor, place him on his side and clear his airway.  He was not breathing.  I felt panic over my body, and said to myself, "please God not today at Thanksgiving while the kids are all here watching." 

I scanned the room and everyone seemed to be in shock and frozen in place, Shelly was an emotional mess, the dogs were panicked and the kids crying and/or very upset, in a nutshell there was chaos. Steve was on the phone with the paramedics, he was highly emotional and relaying orders to us that Kevin and I already been able to do.  While shallow, dad was breathing.  Somehow I knew I needed to help get more control over the situation.  I managed to get mom to the floor to be with dad.  It helped her deal with the moment in time. I was able to calm Shelly some and over to her husband, she needed to be held. I ask the kids to get the dogs downstairs and those upstairs to pull the dinner table back and clear the living room to allow the medics room to care for grandpa.  They needed to be distracted. Kevin's wife, Lisa and someone I consider a wonderful person and friend helped achieve a sense of order back into the situation. She is simply amzing!

Medics were caring for dad and now it was time to secure the home and get everyone rounded up in their vehicles for the ride to the hospital.  Dad was in the ambulance, Kevin, Lisa, their kids and mom in one car, Lisa and her family in their car and Steve and I in ours. We were missing the kids now and for a moment wondered if we should call.  We chose to wait for more informaton. The Alzheimer's journey was beginning its end for the Wingert family and I wanted to be there to help hold them all together.

After about 2 miles down the dirt road from the family farm and just as we turned on to the highway, the ambulance suddenly stopped at the side of the rural Iowa highway on a cold and windy Thanksgiving afternoon.  It was about 2:30 p.m.  Not sure where the last 90 minutes went, but the next 20 minutes with all of us parked on the side of the road would seem like an eternity.  Finally, another ambulance pulled up on the other side of the road.  The EMT's were running emergency equipment back and forth.  Kevin was the lead car and Steve and I were the last.  We waited and waited and I when I looked over at Steve, I could see the fear of anticipated loss on his face.  The "what ifs," and the "why didn't I's" were all there in that moment all over his face. My role was immediately switched from Drill Sergeant to Caregiver for my partner, the other half and best part of me. 

What I will share in the next two parts of this family story, will solidify what it means to be a family, having hope in your hearts and God on your side.  Stay tuned for WB Family Holiday Season, Part II very soon...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Taking Stock of Life and Giving Thanks

For those of you who have been fussing at me lately to return to my Blog, or checking in with me to be sure things were fine, I am grateful to you, for your friendship and loyalty to my Blog. I'm pleased to say that I am back to my Blog after a lengthy, but necessary pause in posting. 
As I prepared for another birthday, I took the time to take stock in the past year and the many blessings that have enriched my life. To each member of my family, I love you and I am enjoying building on our relationships and going through some of the bumps in the road with you. Regardless I took time to reflect on the recent and unexpected tragedies in the world (so close to home for many of us), and the unfortunate health and personal circumstances that some of our dearest friends and family have found themselves coping with over the past several months. While I can't change the circumstances, I prayed for a positive outcome.  As I did, I found that I gained strength from those personal stories and journeys and it emphasized the importance to recognize and to give thanks for my life's blessings first, foremost and always. Of course right along with focusing on those blessings has been my need to build on family relationships (new and present), work through some varied relationship woes, improve upon and move my professional life forward and do my best to understand some of the personal setbacks that seemed to come out of nowhere. Of course as I sit here thinking about all of it; the struggles that many of my friends are facing now, as well as putting mine to print, I am reminded that is why they call it "life." More importantly, each time I prepare a Blog posting my hope is that there is a message attached to it for someone or everyone to glean from. Regardless, this should set the stage for my six month absence. 

I have blogged about "Finding my Father" over the past year and kept my readers and followers up to date on the my family’s ongoing discovery, growth and communications, as well as keeping you posted on the majority of our family gatherings. Without a doubt I have logged many happy, as well as some very indifferent miles back and forth to Buffalo since "finding my father" in May 2011. 

Before I discuss those varied "moments in time" more, I thought it was important to share that during my absence, in early March of this year, I found myself in the middle of protecting and advancing my professional life. A little over four years ago, I made a choice in employers that would ultimately implode my very existence in 2011, and really cause upheaval with the dynamic harmony that I had working in my life. Did I see it coming? Yes, the signs were there, but I was lead to believe that I was being hired to "make a difference" in a culture that needed diversification and inclusiveness. Did I think I could change the behavior and the situation? You bet I did, because I believed in myself, what I stood for, that bad could not triumph over good, and I wanted to be there to protect the people that worked for me. Regardless, best laid plans didn't work out in this scenario and I learned a great deal about trust as I found myself nestled deep in a culture of fear, leaving no alternative for the best interests to plan and execute a protective departure for everyone involved. Needless to say, I landed on both feet, standing taller and being much prouder of who I am as a person, what I stand for and believe in than ever before. New paragraph... 

Since I last blogged about forgiveness, each member of my family (new and present), have all been in the midst of their own form of dealing with the challenges this discovery has presented for each of them, as well as finally meeting our older brother, Jim Bob, and working through their own personal issues surrounding the "secrets and lies" of the years past, all that were thought to be buried for over 50 years; each of them needing to find their own way to forgive. Something that is necessary for all of us to move forward, as individuals and as a family. I'm not sure that any of us could or would want to forget any of it, because that would be denying the past and the present.  

I'm now taking you to the last weekend in June 2012. My amazing nephew, Kyle has graduated from high school and I've decided to attend. I did what I could to talk our older brother, Jim Bob in to attending, as well. Ultimately, while communication between us dwindled, he decided to make the trip. He and his wife arrived a week in advance at the invitation of my father and his wife, Sandy. They stayed with dad and Sandy during those two weeks and they were able to meet all of the family before Steve and I arrived. Looking back, I believe this is pivotal because whether it was meant or not, it made a statement about what my father may accept on all levels where I was concerned. Regardless, while some of the eventual meetings of the family took place, the appropriate thought or planning that should have happened to allow everyone fair time and space to deal with their emotions did not.  Challenging, it would seem so.  Regardless, as it goes, everyone seemed to make the most of these moments in time and welcome Jim Bob and his new wife, Trina to the fold.  

Steve and I arrived the weekend of the party (after some of the meetings took place), as we originally planned several months in advance and stayed in Niagara Falls at a hotel. This trip was about Kyle and his graduation and while there was my desire to be there, it was more about the promise I made to him and his mother to come to his graduation. I wanted to help her with the decorations, spend time getting to know my sister, brother in law and my awesome nephews a little bit more. It was a promise I intended to keep. The "bonus" of having set it up for Jim Bob to be there and for the entire family to finally be together, was just that, a bonus and a moment in time that was over 50 years in the making. Unfortunately two of our brothers did not attend for their own reasons and more than anything, while I understood, I was also very disappointed. While there didn't seem to be the time set aside for any of us to visit and engage with dad, Jim Bob, including, all of my brothers and our sister, it seemed that we all ended up setting aside the stress the situation presented, enjoyed the sibling camaraderie and dealing with the past the best we could.  I was delighted to see that nothing got in the way of celebrating and enjoying Kyle's moment in time as he became a young adult.

For whatever reason, there seemed to be an issue with getting some personal visiting in with my dad and Jim Bob; I had called my dad the morning of the graduation party to invite him to breakfast, just he, Jim Bob and I, and he was not available for breakfast. It was a complete let down, but a chance I gladly took nonetheless.

During the night of Kyle's party, I let dad and the rest of the family know that I would be returning with my daughter, Chenin around the September time frame, when we could find a three day weekend to get her here from the Pacific Northwest. I couldn't wait for everyone to finally meet her; the one true missing link for the entire story. This trip, the details leading up to it and post trip really deserves its own posting so, please stay tuned. 

The incredible beauty, once again, from this trip was the bond that I continued to form with my sister, Kelly, her family and my brothers, especially Paul and his family. Post-graduation party was a scream with all of them at the party site and then back at Kelly's house. While I was still reeling from disappointment where my father was concerned, it was these moments with Kelly, Rob, Paul, Anya, Steve and that kids that made me smile and the few disappointments so very worth it.  

While Steve and I left early to return home, it is important to share that we both had such a great night with "the gang," and while we were exhausted, we agreed that out of all the chaos, disappointments, laughter and yes even some downright confusion, that the real gift from my "discovery" was finding family to laugh and to feel so free to share with and in the most unlikely places. While we both felt the need to get home to process the entire visit, including the disappointing moments, I wanted more time with my brothers and sister. More time to laugh, catch up with each other (after all it has been over 50 years) and share more of our lives, past and present. Regardless, because of the powerful connections I have made, I felt so blessed and connected with them in a way I never thought possible. 

Chenin and I ultimately made the trip to Buffalo together over the Labor Day weekend. While my father never got to meet her this trip (more about this in my next Blog), I believe the trip worked out the way it was meant to be. God does work in mysterious ways...Chenin and her cousin, Ryan bonded (they really do have so much in common) and there's no doubting the family resemblance either. Chenin was over joyed to meet and there was certainly mutual adoration with between Chenin, her Aunt Kelly, Uncle Rob, Uncle Paul, Aunt Anya, Uncle David and Aunt Lorna. While not the weekend I had envisioned, it was an incredible weekend nonetheless and one that neither Chenin nor I would change for all the money in the world.

As I celebrated "making another year around the sun (thanks, Vic, I love this)," I took time to reflect on my life, its multitude of blessings, my relationships with family and friends, the challenges that others and myself have faced and then marched on. As I was doing so, I felt the true meaning of happiness deep within my core. The only thing I hoped and prayed for in that moment, and which was confirmed on my birthday, was that I gave as much back, if not more joy and love to my family and friends than I receive from them. The testimonials regarding this that came to me, unsolicited on my birthday, especially the one from my sister, Kelly, are truly the best gifts I have ever received in my life and made for a wonderful birthday.

So, what's the message you ask? Simple, laughter and reflection on moments in time is good and necessary for the soul to thrive. Reminding others why they make a difference in our lives is essential. Make every moment count, even if the moment didn't turn out as planned, because you simply just never know what tomorrow brings. Finally, happiness is what we make it and always within our reach, as long as we allow ourselves to reach out and touch it.  

I leave you with this funny and wonderful quote by George Bernard Shaw; "This is the true joy in life - being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on a scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."  

Certainly words to live by...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Forgiveness - One Year Later

Recently, I've taken a long break from posting in my Blog. While not something I hope to continue, it was necessary in order to shift my focus  to take stock in the year I've had since finding my father and new family.  The time has helped me understand more about how the power and comfort of forgiveness can help make life so beautiful. Thank you to those of you who have encouraged me to hurry and get back to Blogging.  Regardless, after the events of the last year and in order for me to get to this post today, I needed to learn how to really put the past behind me.
For me, that came with needing to decide to forgive the past, all of it. Not just the piece that came with the secrets and lies of growing up, but for those that did their very best to find a way to taint my life with their toxic behavior over this past year. Those of you who really know me, that it messed with my head a bit. However, I know that holding resentment of any form is negative and can be poisonous to a new beginning. 

I have always recognized the the many blessings that I have in my life. I try not to let a day go by where I take notice of all of them. I have a wonderful family, our kids, while grown now, still need us and not just to help them through tough spots either. Despite being a new age family and what some may believe, we truly understand and embrace what "family" is and means.

My daughter, Chenin, is an amazing young woman. While I try to tell her as much as possible, she still may not know it, but she is truly an inspiration to me. She is my friend and we can tell each other anything and she has never judged me. Meghan and Brian are wonderful. They are beautiful young people, all of our children are, but they have bright futures ahead of them too. I appreciate how they have embraced me in their lives and feel comfortable looking to me as one of their "dads." I adore the closeness that all three share.

I have had a big brother that I have admired and leaned on all my life. Okay we leaned on each other. But the point is, we were there for each other when we had no one else we could count on. I thank him for that, as well as being open to the new beginning I provided our lives this past year.

I have an amazing partner, who through the power of love, continues to believe in me, love me and support me when I need him most. He believes in me, trusts me and I know that he truly wants me to be the happiest person in the world. Like all couples we have our "moments" when we need to step back and figure out where we took the wrong turn, but we always get back on the right path. Most of all, when I really needed to put my past behind me and find out about my father, after all of the years under my belt, he helped me do just that, no matter what the cost or consequence. After all, for him, it was about helping me the find peace and happiness that he felt I so richly deserved. This is true love people.

Now, one year later, I am getting to know and love a new family. My father, whom I believed was no longer with us, may still be in disbelief occasionally, is learning to love the sons that he lost over 50 years ago. He is learning to embrace and love us, as who we are, not who we should be. I know that time and getting to know me, specifically better, will help him with understanding the things in life that he may not completely understand. Regardless, finding my father was a gift and a story that will come to life in pages soon. I cannot begin to tell you what the power of forgiveness has personally done for me where having my father in my life is concerned.

I have an amazing sister, Kelly. My second trip to Buffalo last year was devoted to getting to know her, as well as my brothers more. We had some great moments of sharing and learning from each other how to heal, forgive and forget. We talked about not being able to change time, the years under our belt, but how learning to forgive and let go will help us all move forward. There was a bond instantly formed where Kelly and I are concerned. I knew it when it happened over lunch on a Friday afternoon, but I was convinced of it when were saying goodbye to one another at the airport. I was literally 50 yards from the car, which I thought was already homeward bound, when I saw her run to me in tears, sharing the love that she felt for me. It was one of those moments you only see on television and a moment in time that I will carry with me, forever. I truly felt like her big brother and continue to feel very connected to her.

I have new brothers too; Paul, David, Michael, and Jim. Each of them have a special place in my heart. I bonded with David before I knew him. While we do not know why the bond was instant and before meeting, we know that we can feel complete now that we have found each other. Paul and I connected during my fall trip to Buffalo. We learned just how much we share with each other, past and present and we look forward to having more time to experience more and share new memories. Michael, the baby brother and I share a connection of service to our country and all that comes with that feeling. We share the power of determination and what I feel is the belief that we knew that one day that the entire family would be connected again. Jim, the oldest of the new found siblings is an amazing free spirit and we share the belief in the power that what is meant to happen will happen. While I have only met him once, I was transfixed to hear him speak and learn just how profound of a man he is in life.

In addition to a whole host of wonderful nieces and nephews that I am enjoying getting to know, there is a new woman in my life that I feel enough of a connection to call on as "mom," Sandy Bauth. I sent my first Mother's Day card in 25 years this year to thank her for her strength and for supporting all of us in this new beginning. What a gift and one that I'm not sure how many women would so freely give. I hope that she knows I think she is a wonderful woman. I know that my dad loves her with all that he is as a man. She has supported us and did not squint last year when we were all reunited as a family. This was truly done out of her love for my father, as well as a step to turning the page on their own painful memories of the past.

There is no doubt that we are still learning about one another, but some of the bonds that have been created are very powerful and I know cannot be broken. I have learned over my lifetime, especially over the past year, to never take anything for granted and how to turn dreams into reality through the sheer power of believing in myself, no matter what. So, to get to this moment in time. one year later since sharing my beautiful and loving story of one family finding each other, I understand and embrace the power of forgiveness and love. For undoubtedly, while a process, it is necessary to achieve happiness and success in all things in life, especially to have that deep seeded, personal untold peace and happiness, that I now enjoy for my life. Remember that you don't forgive someone for his or her sake, you forgive them for your own sake.

I've shared a great deal today. It has helped me reflect on my love of family and life. As you think about the power of forgiveness in your own lives, I leave you with this quote by Paul Boese, "Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future."

Saturday, March 31, 2012


I have undoubtedly been an absent Blogger for the last few weeks.  It has been a very interesting month.  A month of experiences, challenges, tumultuous times, healing, learning more about trusting myself, others and ultimately taking back control for myself. It was a process, one I have been through a couple of times before, but this time I needed to process those experiences to have a meaningful, helpful and useful blog post for myself and those who read and follow.

Just when we least expect it, we all can find ourselves having moments in life where we are forced to deal with the unexpected,or even the expected, as in my case.  But making the decision to regain control, peace and even stand up for what is right and what you believe in can be all about how you view and value trust.  Not only trust in yourself, but trust in what is right, others and trust in believing that taking a leap of faith in order to move forward in a positive direction is the ultimate power of believing in one's own abilities and principles.
I have found myself in the position of having to confront and deal with "trust" many times over the past few years.  I have come to learn that believing in myself has been the key to what I view and my limitless power for myself.  I believe that having the ability to trust is far greater than having confidence in yourself, something I have already blogged about this year. 

While it is true that confidence and inner trust are one and the same in the emotional state. Confidence is your ability to cope and depend upon yourself to create a reality that is dependable. If you don't have confidence, you will create a reality that you cannot depend upon. Trust and acceptance - which go hand in hand, are the most powerful tools we have, the most potent energy available to us.

When you have trust, within you, it produces a positive energy that stills doubt, worry, fear and negative expectations. It has a profound effect on you and others.  When you trust yourself you are able to trust and forgive others.  I have learned that trust and acceptance of yourself  lead to oneness and success.  If you don't trust yourself, it will show up in others and believe me, it has proven true for me over the past couple of years. 
"Where there is a will, there is a way." We've all heard it and lived it at one time or another. It is a mindset that we need to succeed.  Trusting yourself is a necessary component to living and achieving success from inside out in all aspects of our life. We all have all the answers inside us, the more we trust ourselves and do not fear the unknown, the easier your life will flow and the more accepting we can be of taking that "leap of faith," in doing what we believe is the right thing to do. Another of my favorite quotes by Henry Thoreau is that "We are born to succeed, not to fail." I would venture to guess that trust has a unity component to it.  It unites the human and spirit, power and control, thought, emotion, action and energy. It affects the whole of our entire being, allowing miracles to happen. 
Sometimes our own motivation for trust in ourselves comes in the form of hard knocks; I said early one that we all face some tough experiences in our life. This causes some to fold up and give up but others to accept trouble as incentives and get motivated to do hard work, trust in themselves and their own power to succeed over the circumstances, no matter what those circumstances may be.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says that "Self-trust is the first secret of success." I agree that we must always have a point in mind that self trust is the first secret to our success. So trust yourself and your instincts in all things.  Whether those things are related to work, personal life, relationships or with family. Having self trust is a great deal of our every day life.  I believe in the need to continue to learn how to trust in me and in the power of my decisions. In order to do so, I have learned to embrace self confidence, practice creative anticipation, and our own power of positive expectation.

Personally, it's has been important for me lately to identify with this crisis of confidence or inner trust within myself. The reasons for having this crisis will be reserved for the right time and for another post. Regardless, instead of searching for the trust and acceptance from others I thought I needed, it did not take me long to realize that I already enjoyed possession within myself.  All that was left for me was to use it and enjoy the power of becoming one with it.

Trust: It is valuing your personal abilities and what they can give to you - not others. It is no doubt a double edged sword.  So, I offer to all of us that we trust ourselves enough to be, do and have the things we want in life, to create the reality we desire; and to trust ourselves not to do the things that create pain and suffering. Self sacrifice, self sabotage, self punishment. To say no, if it doesn't seem appropriate or right to you, regardless of who and what it is.
We don't have to try to do it all at once.  It is usually a process and depending upon the circumstances, will dictate time.  Regardless, we have to trust and accept, even a little at first and we will feel the difference that this makes in our lives. After all, it's ultimately the little things that bring us the big things!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For...The Postive Power of Negative Thought , Part II

Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours. - James Baldwin

Growing up, I was a dreamer.  Oh wait, I still am... Nevertheless, when I was a young dreamer, my mother use to tell me " be careful what you wish for."  She would explain to me that if you continue to wish for something to be real long and hard enough, that those thoughts may eventually become reality. At the time I wondered how is that possible?

While I never understood it, at a young age, I found that in some of the things I would wish for that I would not always think of them being very positive, or even focus on the negative aspect of them.  Of course now I realize that I needed to work through the power of my negative thoughts in order to get through some of the moments of my life or my dreams in a positive manner.  Regardless, there is no doubt about it, my mother was right; for many of the things I wished for did become my reality, whether they were good, bad or indifferent.  There were plenty of times, I would wish for or imagine many different things for myself.  Whether it be to close my eyes so Christmas Day would get here sooner (I remember many of these days), to get through a tough test at school, to become an adult overnight, so I could make and live by my own rules, or that the days and nights would pass quickly, so that that I would wake up and everything that was happening to me would have just been a bad dream.  No matter the wish, the thought, the hope, or the dream, it just seemed to be and that is how I made it through to the next day. 

Present day is no different.  Whether it be to find a way to make it through a tough day, away from a negative influence, situation, or to wish hard enough for the days to pass so that I would be able to be on my way to spend time with my daughter again,  the process just seemed to work in order to get me through each of those moments in a positive manner. 

For most of my life, I have felt that if we believe in ourselves long and hard enough, no matter the situation, that we can become what we want to be and be present where we want and need to be.  I am a firm believer that the power of the mind should never be underestimated, because there is significant relevance to mind over matter.  However, sometimes in order to get to the positive end result that we desire, we must face and deal with the negative along the way.  For some, giving an intentional ear to the positive power of negative thought can be enlightening, instructive and even motivating most of the time.

I will be the first to admit that some negative thinking patterns have the ability to dominate our thoughts and feelings and not end on a good note for us. These thoughts have the power to limit our ability to move forward in a positive and healthy manner to achieve success with the situation, or to successfully pave the way to our life goals.

The lessons I have learned over time and especially recently is that we have to watch and listen to our thoughts.  This will show us where we are emotionally and mentally at the moment compared to where we wish to be. We must first shine a light on our 'negative thought' before we can change it and use it in a positive manner and in our favor.  I will admit that I have made some missteps in my thought process over the years by spending too much time on the 'negative thought,' but I can honestly say, I learned a valuable lesson from that process, which will benefit me as I move into the next phase of my life.

Recently, I have had time to reflect on all that I have experienced and those things that continue to happen in my life, good, bad and indifferent.  I am very lucky to say that I feel as though I have been blessed over the years.  Regardless of the situation, I have learned valuable lessons from those things that blessed my life, as well as from all of the other things that happened along the way.  I am able to find an overwhelming sense of peace for myself in most, if not all of the what and why I have "wished" for, past, present and future.  For me it was being able to include both the negative and positive thought processes in each of those  things that I "wished for" that have enabled me to not only make it through the rain, but sometimes I was even able to dance.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Positive Power of Negative Thinking

I certainly hope that this message finds everyone in the best of spirits.  If not, that it will provide you with the means for you to work out what is bothering you. It has been some time since my last blog, but work and home life needed my attention around the clock over the past few weeks.  It is good to be back here sharing with all of you.

Now, with this posting, some will think I am crazy, or crazier than usual.  However, while I refer to myself as the "eternal optimist," I believe with every fiber of my existence through my experiences that what I will share today in my blog is as equally powerful as being an optomist and extraordinarily helpful for living the "happy" lives we dream and hope for. 

So, we are all human and no matter how we slice and dice it, there will be times when we let negative thinking consume us.  When we do so, we usually find ourselves depressed and feeling like we have failed at something or we are meant for a life of unhappiness.  What I've learned in my life and that this is life and thoughts like these will be part of all of us on some level.  What I've learned in my lifetime, from one amazing woman, my mother, was to find a way learn from the negative. Don’t let unhappiness control you. You control must it. Make it work for you instead of against you. And you will see how powerful it can be.  It may sound crazy, but it does work.  There is no doubt about it, my mother was a woman before her time.

Let's face it, most of us experience being down in the dumps at times. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m an unrepentant optimist and positive person, but I can get down at times too. What I've learned from these expeiences is rather than run away from it or “wish it away”, I now choose to share them, talk about it more, and use those times to channel my creative energy to get myself out of what I refer to as a "funk," or to help me rid myself of the toxicity of what I have have confronted. Honestly, I think that is a healthy thing to do. I am a person who does not believe in artificial happiness becuase it is meaningless and very temporary.  In the past, I may have learned to be good at hiding my feelings and doing the human thing of embracing the "artificial happiness," but in the end, while it may have served to make things worse, I found a way to use it to either confront a siimilar situation in the future, or to learn how NOT to find myself in the situation again. 

There will be people in our lives, who when we share what is on our minds, or our negative thinking at the moment, that will say to us and share things with us in the moment that they believe are supposed to make us happy, or that they themselves feel that they are there to to give us a “happy” life. But when you think about it, some of them, as loving and as thoughtful as I know they can be, are basically telling us to “think positive and we will be happy." You know I am right.   But we can’t wish ourseves to be happy—no matter what some people may tell us. We can’t “affirm” our way out of our situation, or instantly change our way of thinking or even suddenly become happy again.  However, I do believe that if we can look at the situation and our thought process carefully, learn from the negative power it imposed on us at the time, and from that, apply an approach that works to postively resolve the problem the next time we may be confronted with a similar situation.  It may not help us at the exact moment in time, but I believe that it will be something that you embrace and use to your benefit the next time around.

Nevertheless, happiness, or rather contentment, that comes from using this type of creative energy has alway proved to be very promising for me. So, next time you feel down, or find yourself in what you beleive to be a "powerless" situation, think about how you can use that energy to apply a creative and positive way back to your own harmony.

I know that some will feel that preparing for negative and improbable events could seem like a waste of time, at first sight, but if we find a way cope with negative events should they ever happen, I strongly feel that we will have found a positve way to deal with our anxiety and think twice before allowing ourselves to go back there again.

I suppose the saying "we are what we think," has some relevance to it for all of us in various situations.  Regardless, I know that there is power in all of our thoughts, positive or negative.  It will be in the defensive application from what we learn from those thoughts that will provide us with a better path of existence.

I find it powerful for me to be speaking about this and I would like to continue with a series on this subject.  But today, I want to leave you with this quote from Michael Jordon.  I love it and try to live my life with this power.  “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”
I want to acknowledge and thank Mark Hagen.  He is someone I have never had the pleasure to meet yet, but I do admire him for all that he does for our community and is for reaching out to me and suggesting that I blog about this topic.  Mark, it not only helped me today, but I am hopeful that it will reach others too.  Until we meet, continnue to enjoy life!