NATIONAL DOWN SYNDROME MONTH: Growing Up With An Angel

November 2, 2012

[The month of October went by so fast I didn’t complete my blog series for National Down Syndrome Month.  So before beginning November’s blogs for National Adoption Month I submit Part 2 for your reading enjoyment and enlightenment]

 

Growing up with my “Angel-Sister”, Kim was an experience with which I have nothing to compare. Although she’s my sister, with the age difference and her “differ-ability” our relationship was/is not a typical sibling relationship.  Being an adoptive parent never having given physical birth to a child, in many ways I feel that she is my child of whom our mother was the surrogate parent. J

As excited as I was to have her, I would later realize and understand there were many other emotions my mother may have had having given birth to her.  Not only did she not expect to become pregnant in her forties; neither did she expect to give birth prematurely to a special needs child.  I recall over hearing conversations she had with others questioning what she may have done during her pregnancy, like drinking beverages with artificial sweeteners, to cause my sister to be developmentally disabled.  She wasn’t aware at that time that Down Syndrome is a condition in which the baby has an extra chromosome. As an adult therapist now, I can understand the guilt, fear, amongst other feelings she may have experienced.

Just purely elated to have my baby sister I didn’t question or even care WHY she was the way she was.  In my eyes, and heart, she was just perfect the way she was.  I recorded each of her developmental milestones in her baby book, and wasn’t bothered that she didn’t walk until she was two years old.  The only times I remember feeling that she was “different” was when I saw classmates’ siblings of the same age were doing more things than she was.  But I didn’t dwell on it.  (BTW, NBA player Gary Payton’s brother and I were classmates, and Gary was born the day after my sister. J)

Before Kim was born I’d met one young man with Down Syndrome.  He was the son of a family friend and was about the same age as me.  I remember being told that he was “deformed”.  Although he lived out of state and we didn’t visit often I always had a special affection for and fond memories of him.  I don’t really remember explaining Kim’s “disability” to others.  I took her almost everywhere with me and she was always accepted without question.  Probably because she was just so darn cute!  J

Leaving home to go away for college was probably the most difficult thing in our relationship for both of us.  I intentionally chose a college which was only an hour’s drive away, so I wouldn’t be too far away from her. Before then we had really only been separated from one another once, more than overnight.  We actually took our first vacation together, without our mother, the week following her first birthday.  We flew to Los Angeles and stayed with our “play Aunt and Uncle” for three whole weeks!

The first few times I came home from college it was hard because when I’d leave and not take her with me, she’d cry and most of the time I’d cry too. My mother would call to see if I made it back to school alright and ask me to speak to her because sometimes she would still be crying “I want Twee-Twees” (her word for my middle name, Louise).

Some of my most fond college memories are taking her to stay with me during the Summer.     My friends and classmates adored her!  I attended U.C. Davis where the primary mode of transportation was bicycles, so I would put her in the child seat I had attached on back for her and we’d ride to and around campus!  She LOVED it!  If I had a class one of my friends would meet us on campus and watch her while I went to class.

One of the funniest and most fun times was when an older classmate and I decided to throw a birthday party for his daughter and Kim.   We invited our friends and we all had birthday hats, whistles, food, cake, crepe paper, pin the tail on the donkey—the whole works!  Kim and my friend’s daughter looked at us as if we’d lost our minds!  We had!!! 😀

Still today, if I run into anyone from my childhood or college years, the first question is “How’s Kim?”  Even in our adult years my identity is established as “Kim’s Sister”. Wherever I/we go, someone will say “Oh! You’re Kim’s sister!”  J Sometimes people we’ve not seen in a long time will look at us and not recognize me until they look at her and put two and two together.

Throughout adulthood, no matter where I’ve lived, she has come to stay with me for extended visits.  She enjoyed the independence I’d allow her in doing things for herself, and at one point I asked my mother to allow her to come and live with me, but she wouldn’t.  In January of 2000 I was planning a weekend visit for her over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. I called our mother to verify the time I’d be picking her up and asked when did she want me to bring her back, she said “never”.  I figured she was joking as she often did.  However when I arrived to pick Kim up, she had many of her belongings packed in suitcases!  I was totally shocked and unprepared for this; but I felt that if I didn’t seize the opportunity then and there it might be my only chance.

It took a lot of juggling during those first several weeks to work out a plan; however, Kim was in her own words “very very happy”—so much so that when I drove the 30 miles for her to spend the night with our mother while I attended a conference she refused to stay.  So…when we’d made the return trip and drove into my driveway she said “I live here”. 

We have now lived happily together for over 12 years now.  I’d be lying if I said it was ALL “angelic” because she can be VERY stubborn at times, and has some other difficulties, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything!  Yes, it’s a lot of work but we’ve gotten a system down which works for us.  The greatest difficulty is not having any back-up for emergencies, or even spontaneous outings for myself; but God has provided, and gratefully we’ve had interim care takers whom she’s liked and I’ve trusted.

Our mother passed 5 years ago and although Kim will occasionally say “I’m sad; I miss my mudder” and shed a tear or two, she hasn’t skipped a beat and is very clear that “I want my tister”.  One of the last things I told my mother before she died was to not worry about Kim being a burden on me, because out of all the things she’d done for me, giving birth to her was the most cherished.  I think that really “released” her, and I meant it.

I’m frequently told by friends, strangers and extended family that she’s so lucky to have me, and that I will be blessed for caring for her.  What they don’t know is what a blessing she is in MY life.  It is an indescribable joy to have her express gratitude for some of the basic care, like say “Thank you Ebelyn” when I’ve given her a shower; or just walking up to me and giving me a hug and kiss for no particular reason. As tired or low as I may be feeling at the time, those words and actions melt my heart and remind me that I have been given the special responsibility and privilege of taking care of one of God’s Angels.

Sometimes she will say or do something totally unexpected which throws me totally off guard—and most times causes me to crack up laughing. It seems as if sometimes she can read my mind. I can be thinking something and she will either make a comment or ask me a question about it, without my having said a word. We continue to have that special “connection” and sometimes when I look into her eyes and embrace her I experience the same feeling I had that first day I saw her in that incubator 44 years ago.

Another one of my greatest joys is watching her dance.  Like me, she has always loved music and dancing (yes she even knows when Stevie Wonder is singing J) After watching the praise dancers from our former church, she told me she wanted to dance.  The leader of praise dance team was happy to work with her (she also had a brother with special needs), and even made dance attire for her. Because she wasn’t able to follow the other adult dancers, and didn’t really fit in with the children, she was allowed to dance individually.  It was beyond anyone’s expectations.  After that she would frequently tell us “I need to dance” and at times would be given the opportunity to do so.   Unfortunately, for some reason it was later decided that no one would be allowed to dance outside of the dance team so she didn’t get to dance anymore. 

She has danced in the talent show for her Day Program; and recently after quite some time of having not danced I watched her dance again.  After laughing at some of her antics, the tears began to swell up in my heart and run down my face.  I couldn’t help it as I was reminded once again of the fact that I AM entertaining an angel– aware.

I’ve posted a video of “The Angel Dancing”on my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/msevelyn.theheartlady) for your enjoyment–if  you can get past the shaking and moving as I tried to hold the camera and contain my composure at the same time).

If you have enjoyed this National Down Syndrome Month blog series about “My Angel” I hope you will be interested in purchasing and reading more in my upcoming book “Entertaining Angels Aware” which is scheduled for completion and release in July 2013 in celebration of Kim’s 45th birthday!

Also, if you have an “Angel” in your life and would like to contribute your story to the book please e-mail me at Ms.E@forachildsheart.org or ME@TalkToMsE.com

National Down Syndrome Month: “Waiting for & Welcoming My Angel”

October 23, 2012

I’d waited 11 years for her; and now it had been another three to four long weeks since the early morning phone call home from the hospital which announced her arrival early one July Monday morning.  I’d still not had the chance to see her yet. 

My heart beat rapidly with excitement as I prepared for our first meeting.  When I got there, she knew I was there to welcome her; and to everyone’s astonishment and disbelief she opened her eyes as I peered through the glass between us.  It was love at first sight. 

It was the first day I laid eyes upon my Angel, who was born three months premature, yet many years past-due from time I began my incessant requests.  This was the little sister I’d begged for most of my 11 years on this earth, and was told it wasn’t going to happen.  My mother was now 43 years old. 

When I saw the little 2 pound 7 oz body laying inside the hospital incubator, and she opened her eyes,  it was as if “my soul just opened up!” like we’d been together before and at long last had reconnected!  Mama and the nurses told me “that baby didn’t open her eyes” but I knew she had; and NObody could tell me any different.  

There was speculation as to whether or not she would live. Mama had had several miscarriages, still births, and other premature babies to pass prior to my birth, but my heart knew something different.  She, like me was a survivor, with a purpose; and I had already given her her name:  Kimberly Yvette.  

I guess I’ve always possessed the gift of great faith, and despite some serious bouts of challenge,  God’s great favor.  People now know better than to tell me about what can/will not happen.  This was one of the first miracles of faith which impacted my belief in God.  He really did hear my prayer and gave me the desire of my heart—exceedingly, abundantly, and above. Little did I know then that I’d been gifted with a “perpetual” little sister.  

Two months later when Kim finally reached 5 lbs., she was allowed to come home from the hospital. While waiting for the bus home from school one sunny Fall afternoon in October, I shouted with glee when the family car pulled up and I saw the bundle in the arms of my mother in the passenger seat.  “Don’t you step on my groceries” my mother said as my eyes were focused on the bundle in her arms while getting in the back seat of the car.  I could barely wait to hold her.   

Over the next few months I began living my dream of being a “big sister” although though in many ways she was more like my own live baby doll.  I fed and burped her, changed her diapers; and even gave her a bath for the first time without our mother’s permission while she was still asleep one day.  

Kim’s initial visits to the pediatrician went well and she was thriving well.  However, somewhere in time I recall the doctor saying that he had some concerns and wanted to run some tests. After blood tests and visits to what I know now as Developmental Study Center, during which we got to play with blocks and my mother was asked numerous questions, we returned to the pediatrician. 

I remember Dr. Stevenson looking at  the palms of Kim’s hands and telling us that Kim had a condition called Down Syndrome.  He went on to tell my mother that “Mongoloid” children didn’t have a long life expectancy and that Kim would probably never do the same things that other children could do and might require institutional care.  

I remember tears welled up in my eyes as he said those words, suggesting that my mother might consider placing her outside of the home.  My mother looked at me as I hugged and squeezed “My Angel”.  I’d waited for her way too long and I was determined that she wasn’t going anywhere. 

  

 Please leave your comments, subscribe and stay tuned for Part 2:

 “Growing Up With An Angel

BARING IT WITH HEART: Alopecia? Why ME? What to Do Now???

September 27, 2012

Described as the smart girl with glasses and long hair, I wore my shoulder length hair washed and pressed, in braided and twisted pony tails from the time I was school aged.  I was particularly proud when I was allowed to start wearing it “down” in Junior High School, alternating between the flips, bobs, and buns. It was common to be complimented and told by peers that they wished they had my hair.  Even adults would ask me “where’d you get all that pretty hair from?” So imagine what it felt like to realize that I might be losing my hair in my mid-twenties.

My mother’s  hair was of average length, however she and one of her slightly older female cousins’ had a thinning crown area.  Being shorter and worn in tighter curls it wasn’t too obvious though. My maternal uncle, and seemingly the men on that side of the family had  bald spots but they were men.

Almost all of the female cousins on my father’s side had long hair, which was much thicker than mine. My father had a receding hairline (he died at the age of 50 so I didn’t really know would’ve happened had he lived longer) and his brother and nephews didn’t show any signs of baldness. So why was this happening to me?

Although many insist that the thinning was due to the chemicals of the relaxer I received at 18, I have very clear memories of experiencing tenderness in the top of my scalp at various times, even as a child.  I remember telling tell my mother when this would occur, and her saying “Oh your head is just probably not closed good”.  I wondered what was that suppose to mean?  It was in the same area of my scalp that I  would later experience the same tenderness, and in which the thinning would begin.  (I would later discover that my father’s oldest sister had the same pattern of baldness which I eventually developed.)
                                        

I would wear varying hairstyles to camouflage and cover up the increasingly thinning to balding spot at the crown of my head.   The first was a layered cut of my relaxed hair, to decrease the weight and give more body and fulness  to the curls at the top.  When that no longer worked, I decided to have it cut all over, ear length ,and wear a short and flat press and curl until the relaxer grew out completely. From there a curly perm which, which although it took some getting use to, worked quite well for a couple of years or more. Over the next 2-3 decades, I donned slicked down to the scalp with gel styles, upswept braids, spray-on “fillers”,  partial weaves,  clip ons, head wraps (still one of my favorites) and finally full wigs.  Being the  Stevie Wonder fanatic that I am, I even declared I was going to start a new fad by wearing my hair in braids like his.  😀

I was told by sympathizing friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, about different hair “restoration” products and remedies, but never felt compelled to pursue them, spending money on things which had what I believed to be false promises.

Once I got use to them, wigs actually became fun accessories for me, and another object of my “retail therapy”.  Instead of buying new shoes, I’d go buy me some new hair.  😀
It got even better when I discovered the hairdresser who did my hair when I lived in another city during the 80’s, and who was a gifted artist when it came to cutting, now resided in the same city as me.
She would custom cut and style all of my wigs to fit my face, and it was ON then!  😀  I loved to  experiment between different colors, styles, types and qualities of hair.

As much as I liked experimenting with my different “personas” with the wigs, being the free-spirited person I am, I began to feel trapped, hating the feeling that I was “hiding” something, not being my authentic self, and having the fear of being “exposed”.  Because of the embarrassment I had of the bald spot which had now extended to all but a small patch of hair at my forehead, I almost always kept my head covered, even when indoors,

I adored the shaven look I would occasionally see women wear, but wasn’t sure if I had the courage to do it myself. When my best friend Val experienced hair loss from undergoing numerous rounds of chemo for breast cancer, I decided to support her by taking the clippers to my own. We were sisters, and she was the only one to see it as I didn’t wear it in public. Val, on the other hand, once her fine, newly grown hair began to grow out wore it beautifully and freely, though  still fighting “the pink ribbon thing” as she would call it.

Five years after Val’s passing, the part of my hair which would grow had grown back to shoulder length. I thought about how much Val loved life, and if she had continued to live “pink ribbon-free” how she would probably would have continued to freely wear her fine hair, saying to me “Gurrrrl, I’m from L.A., and you’re grown!”  😀

After a series of events, which confirmed for me that it was TIME, the final call came earlier this year when I “accidentally” turned to PBS and saw and heard the beautiful Ms. Sonya Renee Taylor*, a beautiful, full-figured, African-American woman who literally “flipped her wig during a spoken word presentation”! 😀  I KNEW , there was no doubt in my mind and in my spirit, that it was a green light from God. So on the eve of Independence Day this year I decided to free myself: I went to the local barber college and requested a razor shave.

Only two months later, with the support of women from all over the world I’ve met through AlopeciaWorld.com I believe I now know WHY me as well as WHAT to do, as I continue follow my heart and walk in purpose.  
   

Please join me this Saturday, September 29th at 10AM Pacific/12Noon Central/1PM Eastern. as I close out National Alopecia Month on my internet radio show, “HEART Talk with Ms. E”  with “Alopecia Awareness: Embrace Your Glory When Your Crown Is Gone”. www.blogtalkradio.com/hearttalkwithmse

My special guests will include:

My “Shero” Ms. Sonya Renee

Founder of The Body Is Not an Apology;  Internationally Acclaimed Performance Poet, Actress, Educator and Activist, heralded as a “force of nature on stage” and “humanity in action”, who has been seen on HBO, CNN, BET, MTV, Oxygen Network; performing on stages from New Zealand to Scotland to New York.

Ms. Sandra Gibson Dubose, Author of “My Crown and Glory, It’s NOT About the Hair”, 2011 Winner of the Mrs. Black North Carolina Title; Speaker, Radio Host, Performing Artist, and Internationally recognized Empowerment Specialist, proclaimed as the  “Bald Beauty Queen of Self Esteem”

Ms. Stacie Ferrell-Tucker, Founder of Sisters Living With Alopecia, and designer of the soon to be released  2013 National Alopecia Beauties Calendar, for which yours truly has been selected to appear.  😀

BARING IT WITH HEART: What Is Alopecia?

September 18, 2012
The first time I ever heard the word “Alopecia” I was a young woman in my mid 20’s, making my second visit to a professional to find out why my shoulder length hair was becoming so thin at the crown.
 
The first visit had been a few years earlier to a “hair loss specialist” referred by a male friend who was experiencing early male pattern baldness. After scraping my oiled scalp with a wooden tongue depressor-like instrument, the “specialist” told me that my hair follicles were being blocked by the layer of oil on my scalp and that I needed to wash my hair 1-2 times daily with a special shampoo to be purchased from him.  Disappointed, frustrated, and even slightly insulted, anyone who knows anything about African-American hair care can understand how I would leave there feeling like this had been a total waste of my time.

This visit, a few years following the first, I’d been referred to an African-American female dermatologist by my hairdresser.  (This dermatologist is now frequently referenced in Essence Magazine). After taking a health and family history, and blood work, her conclusion was that I had Alopecia of unknown etiology, which was probably hereditary since my tests all came back normal, showing no vitamin or immune deficiencies which can sometimes contribute to the condition.  Therefore she had no recommendations.

So although I still had no idea of what to do about it, at least I now had a NAME for it:  Alopecia. However, when I looked it up, basically all I found was

 
  “loss of hair, esp on the head; baldness”
 

This was before the days of the internet, so I couldn’t just go to the computer, as I can today, and “Google” it to find out more information.

Approximately 5 years later  I became more self-conscious about the obvious spreading of the thin spot in the crown of my head, and I somehow found myself engaged in conversation with a co-worker who shared with me her experiences with 1-2 year cycles of Alopecia during which her scalp hair would come out in patches, eventually leaving her bald and requiring her to wear wigs.  She told me about an organization in S.F.  through which she received resources and support.  I did look them up and call them to request information.

I learned that there were various “types” of Alopecia, from various causes, however as I recall there was a greater emphasis on “prosthesis” for those who had total baldness, and even then primarily from the side effects of Cancer treatment . Since at the time my condition wasn’t as pronounced or “drastic”, I pretty much concluded that I should just be grateful to have the hair I did and not have to wear a wig or deal with some of the other issues some people were experiencing.

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BARING IT WITH HEART: A NEW ATTITUDE and “DO”—IT’S TIME TO RECOGNIZE!

September 4, 2012

I love to celebrate and acknowledge people and events which have personal significance to me and those I care about. I’m also known to be one who can talk a lot.  However I don’t like talking about just anything, to anybody, at any time.  

I like talking about things which inspire me and others to learn, grow, laugh, and be of help to others with those who share my interests.  Therefore, what better time than during a special, designated time of recognition and celebration?

Most people are aware of my personal love for Hearts, Children, Foster Care, and Adoption; and are familiar with my annual celebrations of “HEART” month (February); National Child Abuse Month (April); National Mental Health Awareness and National Foster Care Month (May); and National Adoption Month (November).  Well you can add one more to the list.  

 

I just recently learned that September is INTER National Alopecia Month.  You might ask what is Alopecia?  And why would I want to celebrate it? 

Throughout this month I will share with you the new attitude, new “do”, and new insights I’ve gained  through my OWN 30+ year journey of disbelief, camouflage,  embarrassment, cover-up,  frustration and finally acceptance and embracing of Alopecia!

If you, or someone you know has faced the challenges of Alopecia, or any other condition which has caused you to question your sense of identity and/or acceptance as an open, attractive, and confident woman, please stay tuned to my blog (sign up if you haven’t already) and let me hear from you.

So how ya like me NOW? 

Photo by Curtis Jermany
www.gzphotoz.com

Make-Up By Miss Kiya B

www.mkbthemua.webs.com

 

 

Always A Daddy’s Girl –Again

August 13, 2012
 
If still alive, today my father would be 91 years old. Unfortunately, he left this earth one month following his 50th birthday (I realize I’ve now lived longer than he did).
 
As a “Daddy’s Girl” I have many fond childhood memories of just BEING with and FEELING loved by him. I have grieved his passing in different ways during various phases of my life; and throughout have” adopted” different “dads”, even though most of them have also passed on.   
 
Although I’ll always miss having my Daddy, it occurred to me at a point in my adult life, that my relationship with my father has probably been the greatest factor in my being able to have a loving relationship with my heavenly Father.  I am confident in His love for me–even when I come short of His expectations. 
 
 
I have become aware that many have not had this privilege–as a matter of fact for some it has been just the opposite. Therefore, I am grateful for the greatest gift my father could ever have given to me –and that is a loving relationship. When my “inner child” is feeling unloved, she knows that she can crawl into His lap and lay her head in the bosom of Our Father.<3

Who & What In The World Are You?

November 24, 2011

So I’m on the computer and “The Angel” walks in. We do our usual good morning kisses and say Happy Thanksgiving.

I then ask her “what are you thankful for?” She doesn’t quite get it. Finally I say “What do you thank God for?”

Without hesitation, she say’s “My sister”.

I’m immediately reminded of the quote which says: “To the world you may only be one person, but to one person you may be the world”.

I am grateful first, that God considered my childhood prayers to have a “little sister”. Then He considered me worthy and capable of the privilege and responsibility of the love and challenges of having and “being the world” to a “Special” sister who would be “my little sister” perpetually.

There are times when I feel baffled and even hurt and cheated that my life has not taken the “normal” course and series of life events.  Then at others, I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that He chose me to walk this journey of total reliance and service to Him and HIS/our children.

I am grateful for, more than I could ever birth from my womb, so many beautiful young people God has birthed in my heart.  Some have brought great “labor” pains, others postpartum depression, a few financial pinches, but ALL, at some point, a sense of connectedness, laughter and purpose.

During times when we find it difficult to embrace the world, and when the world does not embrace us as we would desire, we must find and embrace that one to whom we mean the world–even if at that time it seems to be God and God alone –and there are some days when you may even question that.

Be cognizant and grateful for who and what you are in the world, because whether we’re “feeling it” or not, we ARE!

To all “my chiren” who have allowed me to embrace you,  I love you more than you know; and to my “village” family who have embraced me thank you!

Have a heartfelt day of gratitude!

Give Me A Break!

October 6, 2011
Originally Posted Monday, September 12, 2011 at 1:16pm
 Today is my first day “officially back” from a greatly needed and overdue “time -out” for rest and restoration.  I often speak of and teach the importance of  self-care, and in the past have regularly practiced taking time out to do so on a quarterly basis.  However in recent months I’ve failed to be as diligent in doing so, rationalizing in my mind that because I’m not in the office everyday, I’m not working as much and I really don’t need a break as often.  WHO was I fooling???   Do you know that anytime you are responsible for ANYTHING, and especially EVERYTHING, you are ALWAYS working, even if your body doesn’t have to “show up for duty”?

I think it no coincidence that I came across the following e-mail from Life Coach, Valorie Burton, while going through my inbox this morning– a reminder to PLAN my next quarterly break NOW. 

I’ve even been thinking about creating a “Play Break” Retreat to share with others in the near future.  Would you like to play with me?  🙂   If so, please e-mail me at ME@TalktoMsE.com and I will send you a questionnaire for your input in preparation. 

 In the meantime, read the following by Valorie Burton and stay tuned for a more extensive blog on “R Steps to Self Care” by “ME”!  😀

“Do you need a break? Many of us do, but the real question is, “Will you take time for

one?”  Those of us alive today are living at a faster pace than any

human beings who’ve ever walked the planet.  Advertisers tell us

our tech gadgets will save us time, but as quickly as we “save” time, we raise

expectations about how much we can accomplish with the time we have left.

It’s like being on a treadmill and slowly but consistently increasing the

speed.  Sure, you’re running faster.  You’re getting

it done.  But at some point, you just want to get off the darn

treadmill.  Here are a few signs, it’s time to take a break.

1.   You are busy, but not productive.

You know what I’m talking about.  You’re doing stuff, just not the most important

stuff.  You’re moving, but not progressing.  If that’s

you, take a break.  Refocus.  Restart.

2.   You are irritable, even when nothing particularly stressful is happening.

If your attitude at work is always sour no matter what, there’s something simmering beneath the

surface.  Anger – including the quiet, passive-aggressive type – is

usually a sign that a boundary has been crossed.  Resentment

emerges when we don’t speak up, ask for help or make change.

3.    You just accomplished a big goal.

Research shows that our energy is depleted after the accomplishment of a big goal.  We are more

effective at future goals when we give our minds and bodies a chance to recover

so that our energy is replenished for the next big task at hand.

Just finished a major project? Celebrate.  Relax.

Rejuvenate.  Then move on to the next big thing.

4.  Your body hurts.

Your body will give you warning signs.  Don’t ignore them.  Chronic back or neck pain,

headaches, and fatigue are just a few of the ways your body is trying to talk to

you.  Listen..  If you don’t, there could be

consequences soon.

5.    You’re dreaming about work.

If you are dreaming about projects, deadlines and that pesky co-worker, it’s a definite sign that some

down time is overdue.

6.      You haven’t had a break in awhile.

Even if you don’t have any of the five signs that came before this one, you still need regular breaks.

If you haven’t taken one recently, get busy! Or rather, do the

opposite.  Ten minutes every couple of hours a day of down time

every week, and a vacation or personal days for fun time every few months will

make you far more productive than working nonstop.  And you’ll be

happier, too.

My challenge to you this  week:

Give yourself a break.  Schedule it  right now.
Journaling  assignment:
What keeps you from slowing down?  What is within your control to change?  What will you do to remind yourself to take a regular break?

Abra La Puerta!

July 6, 2011

So, how’s MY day going?   The phrase for today is “Abra la puerta!”
Why did I just spend almost an hour locked on my balcony???

I accidentally locked myself out after letting the dog in so I sat on my patio furniture and decided to just enjoy the sunshine and view while waiting for someone to stroll by on the walkway below.

I finally heard the sound of the landscaper approaching with the mower, but I guess just before he got within my view he turned around.  I then look up in the opposite directionand see another worker clipping the ground cover plants–a real cutie pie.  I call him over and he says “No Ingles; hold on”.

To make a long story a LITTLE shorter, his friend no habla Ingles mucho mas. They walk away and no one returns.  Meanwhile my dog is “fussing” at me through the sliding glass door.

Finally the first guy comes back to continue clippling.  I ask him “Call la oficina?”  He says ¿Qué desea usted que preguntar? (what do you want me to ask them?)
Demonstrating a key-turning movement I can only think of the spanish word for  closed so I tell him “OPEN la puerta!!”  He says “Este?” I say “Si!!!!!”  and he walks away again.

Finally in a few minutes the property manager opens my front door with a big grin on his face!  *o*  After walking over and opening the sliding door we both have a good laugh and as I go to ask him the word for opened it immediately flows effortlessly from my lips “Abierto”!

So never forget if you get locked out in a Spanish-speaking only environment the phrase is “Abra la puerta”  And don’t forget to say “por favor y gracias” (Please and thank you).  *o*

Overall, I consider my “time out” a God-given “micro-mini retreat” as it’s a gorgeous day outside, and how often do we really sit down and take in the beauty of what He’s blessed us with? Another benefit of this “outing” is it gave me something to blog about that didn’t take a whole lot of thought or time!

So remind yourself to find the benefits in unanticipated/uncontrollable  “time-outs” you may encounter. 

Now on to something productive–LUNCH!  (:  ♥

Hearts & Blessings!

 

 

Always A Daddy’s Girl

June 19, 2011

 Today has been bittersweet day for me; and I’ve been giving it my best shot to dwell on the sweet. I was blessed to have had my biological father, Travis aka “Buddy Boy” in my life during the early years of my life. This year marks 40 years since his passing, one month after turning 50, an age which at this phase of my life, I now consider to be young. Although he and my mother separated prior to my starting Kindergarten we continued to have a very close relationship, spending time together most weekends, and speaking on the phone whenever we felt like it. Some of my earliest and most fond memories with him are:

1. Me waking up in the morning smelling coffee and bacon in the kitchen, tip-toeing to the closed kitchen door in my footed pajamas and knocking as I opened it and him saying “Who that coming through that door” and my response “Mee!” “Me Who?” “Meeee!” as I peeked then swung the door open ran in the kitchen into his arms for a hug and a kiss. I sat down to the plate of biscuits and Karo syrup, scrambled eggs and bacon he prepared for me as he poured his coffee from his cup into the saucer and sipped it, and we would “chat” until it was time for him to get ready for work. He carried me in his arms downstairs to my godparent’s apartment to stay until my mother would get in from her graveyard shift at the hospital and get some rest.

2. Waiting for him to get home from work to see what he he’d brought me home in his black lunch pail—usually a bag of Cheetoes.  Then sitting on his lap after dinner as he sat on the couch watching television, and rocked me singing “Go to Sleepy Little Baby” and my saying “do it again; do it again” then after several rounds him saying “Baby, Daddy’s tired” as he was about to doze off himself.

3. Being carried to the car before daylight on a Saturday morning for an all day fishing trip during which I’d sleep, eat, drink, play and listen to music all day long, and occasionally catch a fish.

Even with my parents not being together, there was my godfather, Mr. Moore, who lived downstairs and whom I spent a lot of time with. This was a gentle giant of a man whom, on some weekday evenings and Saturdays I followed around the apartment building as he did the landscaping and made repairs inside the apartment units. I learned a lot from hanging out with him, not knowing that one day those lessons would be prove to be vital to my survival in a life of singleness. On Sunday mornings we walked to Sunday school, stopping by the store on the way, to buy Lifesavers. After Sunday School I’d sit between him and my godmother and he and I would share Lifesavers and finger games during church service (his hands were the biggest hands I’d ever seen in my life). Sometimes my godmother would give us a disapproving but loving eye to let us know that our “playing” in Church was getting out of hand–literally . On Sunday nights we ate ice cream together and listened to church services on the radio.

At one point I was blessed to have yet even a third father in my life, as my younger sister’s father became a very loving and positive presence in my life. Strangely enough both he and my father were unwavering in their demonstration of pure love for both me and my sister. I was proud to boast that we shared the same first and middle initials “E.L.”; and He gave me my nickname “Swee’Pea”. He also gave me my very first camera, record player and albums!  (Three things which remain an integral part of my life today—wow, hadn’t even thought about that before now).

During adolescence I lost two of these fathers–one to death and one to marriage to a woman other than my mother. Shortly after my father’s passing I met my best friend in Jr. High School and her father immediately became a father role in my life, always encouraging and expecting the best of me academically and character-wise. He always remembered my birthday and special accomplishments, each one being acknowledged with cards with a little “spending money” inside.

 Unfortunately, in my mid twenties I also lost both of my “godfathers” within a relatively short period of time. Having taken time off work to attend my godfathers’ funerals a co-worker jokingly told me “Your godfather must be a cat with nine lives” 

 As I look back on it, I realize that it was some time after that I began to experience bouts of depression, through which I didn’t began to break through until I was prompted by a very sweet and effective therapist that I’d not yet grieved my father’s death or more appropriately, fathers’ deaths.

Until I was about 40 years old, I would find myself feeling strangely “not well” on Fathers’ Day. Even then it took some time for me to become conscious of what was really going on—wow. It was about this time that I “adopted” my pastor’s father, Ed “Dad” Huddleston (which I share in detail in my memoir). Interestingly it turns out he was also known by some as “Buddy Boy”.

I now had a “Dad” again. He lived out of town, and I didn’t see him often. However when he showed up at church unexpected one Fathers’ Day I squealed in delight and cried like a BABY! Although he had seven children (including three daughters) of his own I felt as loved as if I had been his own. Calling him on the phone, I loved hearing the voice on the other end always answer “God bless you”. I’d say “Hey Papa” to which he’d respond “Is this my daughter?” to which I’d respond “Yes”, feeling like that three year old at the kitchen door.

We’d laugh and talk about anything and everything, but most of all the love of God. This was the most loving, loveable, wise and wittiest men I’ve known. The first week of this year would be the last time “Daddy’s Girl” would hear that voice as “Dad” too passed away on January 8th. When I start to feel sad at the loss of my dads I also look at how I’ve been blessed many times over in my life with such caring, loving, protective men who never once abused me verbally, physically, sexually or emotionally, and taught me my self worth—something that not many women can profess.

I also realize how having caring father figures in my life have enabled me to establish and maintain a loving and trusting relationship with my spiritual Father. I’m so grateful to not know any better than to think that my Father will feed and nurture me, carry me, rock me, give me the desires of my heart, laugh and talk with me, bless me, and be proud of me being His Girl. Although I sorely miss each one of my “Daddys” and I have now joined the village of “elders” myself, I can honestly say and believe that I am still and will always be “Daddy’s Girl”

 

[Check back for pictures posted later]


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