Okay...I know. I am LATE getting out this post! But it couldn't be helped. This week has been full of ups and downs, twists and turns...much laughter and total anxiety! I am sure glad it's finally the weekend and I can rest my brain for a couple of days, though I have to say I could have done without another snowstorm. Which leads me to a topic I just can't ignore...we've all experienced snow before, right? Yes...just last week, actually! We've all been stuck in blizzards, snowdrifts, white outs, slid on black ice...you name it, we've been there. So WHY is it there are still people out there who insist on driving around at 80 miles an hour, cutting people off and riding on other people's bumpers?? Huh? Is that necessary?? I'm not saying you need to drive 20 miles an hour, unless the weather is so bad it calls for it. But I do not see the need to drive like your butt's on fire! Why are people in such a HURRY all the time? Is your ice cream melting? Are you late for tonight's episode of The Bachelor?? Did you forget to use the bathroom??? There has to be a reason...because as far as I'm concerned, driving that way just to get to your destination two minutes sooner is JUST NOT WORTH IT. Your life is more important than that, and so is mine! (Did I mention I've been anxious??) WHEW...glad to finally get that off my chest!! Okay...enough said. Time to let go of the anxiety and move on!
So for the last few posts I have been talking about different ways to pay it forward. Thinking about all of that began with the holidays, and I've realized that I want to try and keep that positive energy flowing. Especially in the face of negativity...such as crazy, impatient drivers during a storm, or rude and nasty people on the other end of the phone. All of that slowly begins to wear me down, until I feel like I cannot cope! And I want the year of 2011 to be a positive year, full of changes for the better. I do realize that it's not my job to make everyone happy all of the time, and the best I can do when I am facing this negative energy is to increase my own positive outlook...and pasting a big, goofy grin on my face doesn't hurt, either! So in the spirit of being positive for ourselves and for others, I wanted to mention yet another way to pay it forward...I hope you'll indulge me!
Last year when I was lucky enough to find the CMT support group in Albany, I became good friends with the group leader, M. We occasionally are able to get together for lunch just to catch up, share more stories and have fun. As we both grew up with CMT, we actually have experienced similar struggles and discrimination throughout our lives...and have both become experts in the art of adaptation! It's nice to sit and talk with M, and despite the fact that she deals with many of the same difficulties everyday, like me she also tries to remain positive and put that good energy out there. Starting the CMT support group was one of the ways she was able to pay it forward, to offer people with this disability a chance to meet others with the same issues...and to feel like we are not alone. Because feeling like you are facing a struggle alone can make the struggle seem so much LARGER. Well, during one particular get-together, M mentioned having to stop at a post office to mail a package to her 'soldier.' I was intrigued, and asked her what she meant...did she know someone in the war? Surprisingly enough, M told me that her soldier was a perfect stranger. She joined this website a few months before called http://soldiersangels.org/ where you could 'adopt a soldier' and send them a letter once a week, and a package once a month for the length of their deployment. I wondered if this was something I could do...after all, it was definitely a commitment, especially since writing letters to a stranger seemed a little daunting! And as M told me, you often would never hear anything from your soldier because of the extreme conditions in which they were living...though all of the soldiers in the program had signed up, hoping to be adopted. It was a little scary, but I just couldn't resist! The packages didn't have to be anything pricey, and I could print out a survey to give me ideas on what I could send, such as snacks, toiletries, games, etc...SA even provided me with ideas on what to write about in my weekly letters. So that very day, I got on SA's website, and adopted my soldier. When you join, you find out your soldier's name and rank, and are given a main address you can mail things to (from there, letters and packages are sent to specific areas.) Unless you get a letter back from them, you have no idea where they are actually deployed, and what conditions they face on a daily basis. And if adopting a soldier doesn't seem like a good fit, SA gives you other choices such as adopting a veteran, or joining a group to make blankets or baked goods...there are lots of choices. And so I signed up...and since July, I have been sending a brave young woman (who is also a Sergeant,) weekly letters and monthly packages, hoping she enjoyed what I sent and praying I wasn't boring her to tears! As I hadn't heard any response I could only hope for the best, and continued to try and think of interesting topics to talk about. I described my cats and sent pictures (like any loyal cat mom,) talked about my wonderful nieces (like any proud aunt,) and mentioned interesting events happening in my life such as the CMT fundraiser to raise money for research. Every week as I would finish my letter that nagging worry would come back, that I must REALLY seem boring...I mean, seriously. Other than reading about events such as the fundraiser (which she may find somewhat interesting,) how often can this woman stand to hear about my cats??
And then over the holidays it came...a Christmas card from my soldier! With a DVD in it!! I was SO excited...in the card she thanked me for everything, and told me I truly was an angel, which really meant a lot to me. She explained that the DVD showed pictures of her and the soldiers she worked with, in Afghanistan. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched it, and saw the other men and women deployed there, the conditions they lived in and the Afghan people they worked with. A song played in the background and no words were spoken, but rather picture after picture was shown of soldiers in helicopters, sitting in bunkers, even teaching in classrooms. I found it very moving, and I think it was one of the nicest gifts I've ever gotten. It is good to know that my small gestures in the form of letters and packages meant something, to a person who is very far away in a strange country, facing struggles of her own. So if you are interested in adopting a soldier or veteran, or joining various groups focused on helping the many men and women in the Armed Forces, check out Soldier's Angels. It's just one more way we can reach out to others, to make that positive energy grow! And in the future, when I get frustrated by silly, impatient people and senseless negativity, I'm going to remember my Christmas of 2010 when that DVD came in the mail...and I will smile!