Every Day a Gift

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Every death that I’ve heard of in the last couple of weeks of this year has taken me back a bit because I think to myself “that person was probably planning for 2013, ready for new year’s eve, thinking of 2012 as practically behind us as we prepare for 2013.”  My daughter asked me this morning what age I think I will live to be and I told her no one knows how long we have here.  Tonight my neighbor knocked on our door and I thought it was my husband so I told my daughter to let him in.  Instead she told me to come over and I greeted my nice neighbor Brian with a big smile but what he said turned my face to shock and sadness.  He told me that one of our downstairs neighbors died today while at work.  She was 49 years old, I thought she was younger.  We called her “Pinky” because of her bright pink lipstick colors.  In the summer she was on her road bike daily.  In the winter her skis were outside of her door.  I know we make more noise than she liked but she still smiled at us.  Now every interaction I had with her is coming back to me and I’m sad.  When I stood in shock talking to Brian he said “life is fragile” and it’s a statement that cannot be over used for it is so intensely true.   All I can think of is Pinky not being here anymore, how she left her apartment this morning thinking she would be right back after work.  She rode the bus to work so her car is sitting in it’s spot.  Every day here is a gift. -smilingbug

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Count Blessings

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Tis the day after Christmas and all through the apartment, not a creature was stirring except for counting many, many blessings- even the ones taken for granted most.  I saw a report on one of the five quadruple amputees from the Iraq war and he said “something can always be worse, I could have no mobility at all.”  That made me think of Eric LeGrand and his amazing positive attitude; he is such an inspiration.  It also made me wonder about the other four quadruple amputee victims from this war so I googled them.  I found the beautiful love story of Taylor Morris and his girlfriend.  Just looking at those images you can feel how happy he is to be alive, incredibly courageous and strong.  I also found Travis Mills’ story , talk about inner strength and human will.  Recent news of Newtown, CT and other shooting rampages have caused a long pause in my reflection on life and these war heroes did that to me as well.  Quadruple amputee Brendan Marrocco’s Dad said the “good thing” about their garage being flooded by Sandy was that it wasn’t finished yet.  That is quite a lesson in seeing the glass half full.  This morning I touched my husband’s face and appreciated my hand and fingers, I thought about the many people who can’t do that.  Then I got on twitter and saw Brian Whelan’s re-tweets of bratty young people complaining about their Christmas gifts, tweets that make your jaw drop because they didn’t like their gifts or got a black Ipad instead of a white one.  It’s easy to get complacent and take things for granted.  Let’s remember our many blessings and be grateful. -smilingbug

Noah Pozner, all Sandy Hook victims…”bloom in heaven”

This is the eulogy delivered by Veronique Pozner at the funeral on Monday for her 6-year-old son, Noah:

The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day. But it is also your day, Noah, my little man. I will miss your forceful and purposeful little steps stomping through our house. I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room.
Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future. You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos.
You were a little boy whose life force had all the gravitational pull of a celestial body. You were light and love, mischief and pranks. You adored your family with every fiber of your 6-year-old being. We are all of us elevated in our humanity by having known you. A little maverick, who didn’t always want to do his schoolwork or clean up his toys, when practicing his ninja moves or Super Mario on the Wii seemed far more important.
Noah, you will not pass through this way again. I can only believe that you were planted on Earth to bloom in heaven. Take flight, my boy. Soar. You now have the wings you always wanted. Go to that peaceful valley that we will all one day come to know. I will join you someday. Not today. I still have lots of mommy love to give to Danielle, Michael, Sophia and Arielle.
Until then, your melody will linger in our hearts forever. Momma loves you, little man.

Carry on! -by Robert W. Service

It’s easy to fight when everything’s right,

And you’re mad with the thrill and the glory;

It’s easy to cheer when victory is near,

And wallow in the fields that are gory.

It’s a different song when everything’s wrong,

When you’re feeling infernally mortal;

When it’s ten against one, and hope there is none,

Buck up, little soldier, and chortle:

And so in the strife of the battle of life

It’s easy to slave, and starve and be brave,

When the dawn of success is beginning.

But the man who can meet despair and defeat

With a cheer, there’s the man of God’s choosing;

The man who can fight to heaven’s own height

Is the man who can fight when he’s losing.

There are some who drift out in the deserts of doubt,

And some who in brutishness wallow;

There are others, I know, who in piety go

Because of a Heaven to follow.

But to labour with zest, and to give of your best,

For the sweetness and joy of the giving;

To help folks along with a hand and a song;

Why, there’s the real sunshine of living.

Carry on!  Carry on!

Fight the good fight and true;

Believe in your mission, greet life with a cheer;

There’s a big work to do, and that’s why you’re here.

Carry on!  Carry on!

Let the world be the better for you;

And at last when you die, let this by your cry:

Carry on, my soul!  Carry on!

-Robert W. Service, Rhymes of a Red Cross Man

What Makes Happy People

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Every time I’m at that mall I think of the man that took his own life because his restaurant there and other businesses were failing.  He was a father of three and a well known guy in town.  It was a shocking story to read about, he took his life with his car’s exhaust while his family was out of town.  I went to work the following Monday and the program for his funeral was on my employer’s desk.  The back of it was facing up and it was filled with photos of him and his children, one group shot including his wife.  All I could think was how those kids would miss their Dad terribly for the rest of their lives and the pain they must be in.  My heart went out to his wife, she was barely featured in any photos and I wondered if that was a sign that she was really angry with him.  Then there he was in the photos, smiling but how much agony he must have been in to take his own life.  Some will say it’s an act of cowardness but it must be driven by pain.  I have heard that acting out or anger is actually a cry for love.  Judd Apatow posted a link to an article on twitter yesterday about happy people.  He wrote “This is a great article all should read.”  So I clicked on the link and the article is called 15 Things Happy People Do Differently. The list made a lot of sense (I only disagreed a bit with #10 but that’s just me) except I started questioning whether people could consciously live their lives by this list.  It seemed to me that living life by these 15 rules would be inherent in a person’s character and not something that a person could decide to do because they saw this article.  Maybe over many years of conscious effort, practice, occasional error and self correction, a person could behave more in the way this article describes.  But even then I wonder if a person could become less selfish, less critical or more trusting, for example.  There is nature and nurture, one we are born with and the other has been drilled into us by our upbringing, our experiences, our role models.  How much reconditioning and reprogramming would it take to make a person change those ingrained qualities or are some people more apt to intense change?  Meanwhile, after reading Apatow’s suggested article I see links to other articles at the end of the page.  I click on the first in that row and it’s called 12 Scientifically Proven Steps to Happiness.  According to this article one just needs to include twelve broad stroke actions in their life like gratitude and optimism.  To the left of that is a link to an article that advises on 15 things one should give up to be happy. So the list goes on and on.  All of the tips are quite good to reflect on but what about the restaurant owner I recalled at the mall today, could anything help a person in that place?  Everyone is working with the cards they were dealt in this life, trying their best even if their own best is not good at all.  Be compassionate, we’re all part of this human experience. -smilingbug

Traditions, Bonds and Family

Probably like a lot of kids with parents who were busy persevering, parents who broke ties with their rituals or were pulled away from family and religion because of life’s circumstances, I was raised with no traditions. For a few years my Mom dressed me up in a fancy outfit and hat on Easter and I had a few Easter egg hunts . Of course there was a Christmas tree each year but I struggled with the idea of Santa and when I was seven or eight years old my Mom said she had to put $40 under the tree for Santa. My parents were busy making a living, there was no time for checking off lists to Santa. During my childhood my step Mom was an atheist, my Mom a unitarian or metaphysicist and my Dad seemed to be unaffiliated with any faith except for a few years when he enjoyed the 8am service at an Episcopal church where my sisters were baptized. My Mom talked to me about God, I prayed and felt close to him all of my life and for that I am so grateful. My Grandfather wore a pendant of a saint around his neck all of his life, the one which his birth date belonged to. I have that pendant and I wear it or hold it sometimes. My Dad also wears his saint’s pendant on a long gold chain, just like his Dad did. When I was a newborn and in my young years, the older woman who cared for me had a small statue of Jesus Christ in her home where he had sticks as crutches and was bloodied and mostly unclothed with a couple of dogs accompanying him. I thought nothing of these diverse spiritual influences in my life as a child or young adult. I am so thankful for them now. These bold individuals living their lives their way, feeling their own relationships with spirit or a larger whole in their own styles. Each adult in my life following their heart, connecting to their faith in their way, sent a message to me that my faith was mine and there was not a wrong way. I hope to pass their strengths and inspirations on to my children. Thinking of this with a grateful heart today. -smilingbug