Sunday, June 26, 2011

And Life Goes On...

Ahhh...vacation!  It can be uplifting, inspiring...desperately needed, and sometimes even tiring.  As wonderful as it is to drive off to your vacay destination, sometimes it is just as exciting to drive back home!  My sister recently sent me an e-mail regarding stress, and the benefits of putting your burdens down.  Using a glass of water, the instructor in the story talked about the heaviness of the glass and its contents...if one were to hold it for a short time, it would be no problem.  If one were to hold it for a long time, they would start to develop pain.  Your stress and burdens in life can do that to you--they can cause pain and worry, and sometimes we just have to put them down.  Taking a vacation can be a way of letting go of those burdens, though I think the key to living a happy life is to learn how to set the stresses down whenever possible...even though you may have to pick them up later.  I haven't quite developed that skill completely, though I continue to work on it...and though some of my stresses followed me to Schroon Lake, I am better for the time away!

So what did I do?  Well, I slept in as much as possible, catching up on the sleep I never seem to get enough of...I played Yahtzee with my mother and declared myself the Yahtzee champion of the universe (she, however, did not agree!)  We watched some movies and many episodes of 'House Hunters' on HGTV.  And I tried to get as many photos as I could of the cats enjoying themselves, and even managed to get some beautiful outdoor shots before the rains came.  My older baby (sweet little Scout,) had a rough beginning to our vacation, but luckily things calmed down for her and we were able to enjoy some time on the front porch.  Here's a picture of Scout sleeping next to me on the wicker couch, as we listened to the birds.  Isn't she lovely?  Shay also adored the front porch, and spent the week running in and out of it, exploring all the sounds and smells.  Here's one of my favorites...mostly because he stood still long enough for me to take it!  I think I may frame this one.  It shows Shay's greatest gift, which sometimes can also drive me a little nuts...his never ending curiosity!
My friend (and CMT group leader) M, provided one of the highlights of my time at camp.  She was able to join me, luckily for the two days of good weather that we had...this allowed us to go out exploring, and take some beautiful photos.  Together, we walked through the town of Schroon and took some nice shots of the area, then went shopping at the town store...afterward, we rested on a bench and ate fudge while watching kids swimming in the lake.  You just can't beat that!  One of my favorite pictures I took in town was this one, of a huge piece of driftwood resting on shore...when you're looking for true beauty, sometimes it can be found in the simplest of ways!

The following day was even brighter, and as the sun beat down on us we took a drive...stopping along the way to take photos of the local scenery.  We ended up in Keene at a spot called Split Rock, full of cliffs and waterfalls that end in a big pond.  If you are full of bravery (and lacking in smarts,) you may climb out on the different levels of rocks and jump down to the smaller ponds that lay below.  Personally I like to show my bravery in other ways, while keeping my neck I was happy to walk along the side behind the fence, snapping my camera.  Here's my favorite pic of Split Rock, from the safety of the walking path!

So my vacation finally ended...and I gathered my things, the cats and all their paraphernalia and loaded us into the car.  Though it is not easy to travel with two cats, litter boxes, food and water fountains (and multiple pee pads,) it is well worth it.  We all enjoy the serenity of Schroon, and we were all in need of a little serenity!  I must admit, the trip wore us out a we're using the rest of this weekend to recover.  Though most of all, those burdens were set down (even for a short while,) and we got some much needed rest.  Scout is still resting, as you can see!

And despite the fact that it was postponed for a little while, my regular life has gone on.  I had e-mails to sift through, mail to open, messages to return.  Tomorrow I go back to work, and though thinking of that makes me want to go take another nap, I do look forward to seeing everyone I work with!  And as always, things have continued with CMT, and raising awareness...mostly due to the continued efforts of M.  (I'm very glad she took a couple days to rest and relax up at camp, with no internet and no conference calls...she needed to let go of her burdens too!)  While I was away we received another resolution signed by Governor Cuomo, designating September as CMT Awareness Month, and we continue to progress toward that goal.  So as my first official act of getting back into the swing of things, I wanted to pass on information about our upcoming CMT Awareness Night Event with the Valley Cats.  Let's continue to raise money for CMT research, and help awareness grow...come join us for some baseball, food and fun!  If you are interested in purchasing tickets, click on this link. It's for a great cause, and you won't be disappointed!

I hope you all enjoyed my vacation photos, as much as I enjoyed collecting them.  Most of all, I wish for you the ability to set down the stresses in your life, by letting go of your burdens...whether you are on vacation, or knee deep in reality.  It rejuvenates you, makes you stronger, and gives you the courage to pick them back up again when needed.  May you find your own serenity...whether it's through meditation, fun with family and friends, or by surrounding yourself in nature and the beauty around you!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

A sense of humor is a glorious thing!  It gives you the ability to find the positive in even the most difficult situations, that threaten the very fabric of your sanity!  It is a rare ability to be able to laugh in the face of fear, and turn that humor onto yourself...laughing at your own mistakes and the strange moments you sometimes find yourself in.  I learned all about the subtleties of humor, and the healing power of laughter from my father.  And so in celebration of Father's Day (June 19th,) let me tell you some funny stories about the man who taught me to laugh, and still to this day puts a smile on my face!

I may have mentioned before how popular my father is.  If not...well, I'll tell you now--he's very POPULAR!  Not just in an 'everyone seems to like him' sort of way, but in an 'everyone knows his NAME' sort of way.  It was a lot like growing up with that guy Norm from Cheers...minus all the beer.  Wherever we would go throughout my childhood, and I really mean wherever...we would always run into someone who knew him.  This could be someone he met from church, his years working for the state...even from when he was a child.  Sounds kind of cool, right?  Well, it could be I guess...but for people like my mother and me who lean toward the shy side, hearing strangers yell my father's name anytime we left the house was a little disconcerting!  It has become a running joke between us, as his numerous fans constantly cause me to roll my eyes and when I am not around to enjoy it first-hand, he makes sure to call me at the next opportunity to share the latest 'fan club' news.  Once a few years ago we all went out to The Outback Restaurant to have dinner.  A woman in her 80's passed by, helped down the stairs by her daughter.  I thought nothing of it, and continued following my father toward the steps.  The next thing I knew, this well seasoned voice rang out with enthusiasm, "Is that N?"  Oh, lord...I thought to myself.  Here we go AGAIN.  It turns out she lived on his street when he was just 4 years old...and recognized him 70 years later!  It is quite amazing that my father commands such a presence, as to be recognized after that length of time...and the look on her face as he turned around to greet her shone with the same joy I see on all the other strangers' faces.  They all feel better just to know him!  (I still want to roll my eyes when it happens, and often wish I could just melt into the background...but it is what it is!)

I know my mother is thinking You'll make his head swell with all your talk! and she's probably right...though I was warned that I had to come up with an even better Father's Day post, after I posted about my mom on her special day.  And so I had to boost his ego just a little bit!  But the last thing I want to do is give you the wrong father is not just about the fans, and the popularity.  He is also smart, funny and often goofy...and able to laugh at himself at every turn.  Specific stories stick out in my head, such as the time he 'cheated death' while trying to complete the simple task of mowing the lawn at camp!  He ended up in a sink hole, clinging desperately to the lawn mower to keep from falling deeper.  He has actually cheated death a few times, and loves to tell the story of when he was 2 years old and riding in the back seat of the family station wagon...they turned a sharp corner and the door next to my father flew open--and out flew my dad!  Luckily it was winter, and he was wearing one of those super-padded one piece snowsuits with a hood.  He came out of that one surprisingly unscathed!  And along with the strange situations my father has found himself in throughout his life, there are also those silly moments he loves to talk about...such as the time he saw Stevie Wonder walking through a train station, and enthusiastically began waving hello, to the amusement of his co-workers!  Or the time he demonstrated his wonderful fashion sense to all of my 13 year old peers, as he picked me up at the end of summer camp wearing a white dress shirt with purple flowers, tan shorts, black socks pulled up to the knees and sandals.  No, really...I'm still trying to forget that one!

In the face of all the fans, bad fashion and silly moments, there is one consistent thing--my father's sense of humor!  He taught me it was okay to laugh at myself and at life, and so far it has helped me get through it.  When things are at their worst I may cry and yell and even get angry, but at the end of the day I turn to humor to find my way.  So, thank you Dad, for teaching me how!  And to all of my regular readers--you will not see another post from me until after the 26th of June, as I am headed up to Schroon Lake for a much needed vacation (and there's no internet at camp!)  Hopefully I will come back with many beautiful pictures, and even more funny stories!  Until then, here is an Irish blessing dedicated to all the fathers out there, especially my own...Happy Father's Day!

May the father of us all
bless our oul' fellas,
wherever they might be...
at home in dear old Ireland,
or across the shining sea.

In heaven with the angels
or on earth still with us...
may God be good to the
dear old dad,
the one we love so much!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Courage and Confirmation

Wow, what a week!  I've managed to start a garden, take my secret Capris out of the dresser (and wear them OUTSIDE my apartment,) and win a writing contest without even breaking a sweat! all honesty I did sweat a little when I walked to the mailboxes in my Capris, and it wasn't just because of the walk.  But I was determined not to let another year go by without finding the courage to wear those pants in public.  Does that sound ridiculous?  Probably...wearing Capris shouldn't take all that much courage.  Though for me that's a step I haven't been brave enough to take until now.  As the poem in my recent post Just Like You may indicate, I draw a lot of stares because of my disability.  And anyone who knows me has figured out that I don't look like Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock, even on one of their bad days...I'm just an average looking woman (who happens to wear braces.)  So I've always figured the stares would just increase beyond what I was willing to tolerate, and despite the summer heat I have never worn anything other than regular pants outside of my own private domain.  Until now!  One of my resolutions was to find that courage, so I dug down deep and forged ahead...and I want you to know--I  even went beyond the short walk to the mailboxes.  I also accompanied my mother to a local nursery, to find the plants for my garden.  And there were lots of people shopping there, all with the same gardening goals in mind.  Did I see the stares??  Yes, though I was determined not to let them stop me.  And I must admit, I made it home without passing out from the intense heat and was none the worse for wear!

Which leads me to my next accomplishment...starting my garden.  Now, I must put this into the proper perspective for you...I didn't actually start a whole garden.  I don't even have a yard!  And I'm not like my friend K who has such a green thumb, she even grows fresh catnip for her cats to enjoy...amidst all the flowers and vegetables she also creates.  Believe me when I tell you that my thumb is BLACK...with a little gangrene on the edges, and some pesky mold spores underneath.  And I wouldn't recognize fresh catnip if it stood up and bit me!  Though I was working very hard on being brave this week, and I was determined to start my own little garden oasis on my back porch, in order to grow my own vegetables.  So I did what every non-gardener (with a thumb so black it's about to fall off) does...I got two Topsy Turvy's and some plants, and said a little prayer!  I chose yellow squash and yellow bell peppers, and followed the TT instructions to the letter.  I know it's kind of like a 'gardening for dummies' option, and there's still a chance my gangrene-encrusted digit will take over...forcing me to buy my yellow vegetables at the grocery store for the rest of my life.  And if that happens, so be it!  I can handle it...after all, I'm a rebel now--I wear tan Capris and show off my braces with pride!  Here I am,, gangrenous thumb and all!!

And now for my last bit of news...the writing contest!  When I entered I didn't actually think I'd win.  Sometimes when you assume the best results will happen, the let-down is so much bigger when you fail.  So the easiest thing for me to do was to assume I wouldn't be chosen, and that way the disappointment would be minimal...though lo and behold, the opposite happened!  I've never won a contest before, other than once when I won $100 at the track.  That was certainly a good thing, and I wouldn't turn my nose up at another $100...but winning a writing contest is somehow different.  After all, winning the money was pure luck, because I chose the right horse.  Having my poem picked as the winner gives me confirmation of my writing abilities, and lets me know that it touched someone's heart.  And it will be shared with others, hopefully giving them something to think about...which will assist me in my quest to raise awareness for CMT.

So now that I have taken steps to fertilize some new growth in my life, I can check off some goals on my resolution list.  I am by no means done, and will still have to face my demons when the temperature gage hits 90 again and I have errands to run.  Hopefully I will pull those Capris out of the drawer every time, pushing my fears aside until there are no more fears to move.  I'll try my best to keep my new yellow plants alive despite my past history, and if I am lucky I will be reaping the rewards soon.  Most of all I will continue to open myself up to new opportunities that come my way, especially any writing contests--even the ones that require me to stand up in front of others and read my work.  That will take a whole new brand of courage that I have not yet found...though I know I can get there--if I take just one BRAVE step, at a time.