Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cancer Sucks



Today marks the seven year anniversary of my mother's death after a 21 month battle with ovarian cancer. In the spirit of rememberance I would like to share some things about this remarkable woman:  Carolyn.

Let's start with ovarian cancer. Although it is where HER story ended I do not want to end MY story of her with cancer.

According to  Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation:

...most patients with ovarian cancer do not have any complaints, which explains why some have called this disease a “silent killer.” Only after the cancer becomes very advanced does the patient complain of vague abdominal discomfort, pain, or distention. Other symptoms may be back pain, weight gain, fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas. There are no specific symptoms for ovarian cancer, and it is often confused with other illnesses. In some fortunate cases, early ovarian cancers have been identified during a routine pelvic exam. A physician usually feels an unusual mass during a rectal and vaginal exam. Subsequently, an ultrasound or CT scan is usually ordered which identifies a suspicious mass with a solid/cystic component.

So that's it on her death. There is an entire internet on ovarian cancer, but only a few people's brains on Carolyn and today's post is about her...not cancer.

First of all, we should acknowledge her superior cooking skills- and Domino's Pizza would like to award the "Double Cheese with Black Olives" Award to Carolyn, posthumously, for single handedly keeping one location open throughout the 1980's. Delivered home cooking, pie style, was Carolyn's forté, and it shouldn't be overlooked.



If you aren't reading 14 books right now instead of hanging out with PEOPLE, then you're doing something wrong. This is Tao of Carolyn, and I for one take it seriously.  See a previous post for confirmation.

When I was on the swim team in elementary school, there were very many swim meets, especially Championship meets, that my mom couldn't attend because she was a working single mom. She always told me:

Carry a penny and think of me.

And she would give me a penny.

My husband and I got married far away from home in a private ceremony before a judge. We're very efficient that way! Rather than fly my mom out for a 15 minute ditty we decided that I should carry a penny. It was more of a joke than a directive. Unbeknownst to her, I chose a penny from the year of my birth and carried it on that day. The following Mother's Day I mailed her the penny which I had had set into a necklace. I reminded her that I had carried the penny, thought of her, and she could be a part of my wedding day every time she carried the same penny. Now that she's gone...I complete the circle, thinking of her thinking of me.

When my younger sister was in high school, a few of her guy friends stopped by to see if she wanted to hang out but she wasn't home. My mom told them as much and expected that to be the end of it. CURVE BALL! The teen aged, high school boys asked if they could stay and maybe Mom would watch some TV with them.

Let's be clear, my mom wasn't a MILF...but she was a spectacluar person who made people feel at ease and comfortable. Even at the high school boy level. It's what made her be the kind of alcohol and drug dependency counselor who inspired clients to attend her funeral and tell me, "No one ever cared about me or listened to me like your mom did...I don't know what I'll do without her." 

Neither do I.

She was the first person to have imaginitive play with my first son, and it was incredible to watch. A little man-child serving his grandmother "hot tea" and blowing on it, drinking it, and spitting it out because it was "HOT!"  Giggling like nothing else mattered. It didn't.

THIS is a woman who loved with her full heart and who found the good in everyone. She had a Buddha nature without realizing it, and I admire it to this day. 

THIS is the mom who is mine. 

If you are a reader who knew her, please feel free to share your memories here.  Maybe wherever she is, there's WiFi...  If she's nowhere, please do it for me.  Because I'm still here and trying to raise my arms out wide to life without the unspeakable love a mother bestows on her children when she is the kind of woman Carolyn was.

**And if you're a reader who has lost someone special and you want to share a story here, DO IT!!  This is a day of remembering and of sharing.  I'd love to read your special person's story!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't Bring Me Down

SLAP

In 1996 Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a trained and published neuroanatomist (someone who studies post-mortem brains), suffered a rare-ish type of stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain.  The stroke was the result of an “arteriovenous malformation and flooded the portion of her brain responsible for language and analysis of information.  As a result she was rendered a solely FEELING person.

What does that mean?  To be a FEELING person. 

Language meant nothing to her. She couldn’t talk, she couldn’t decode what was happening to her because the portion of brain left untouched was the sensory part so all she picked up on was the intentions, the aura, and the energy each person brought to her.  In an interview she said that when her mother arrived she had no idea who this person was, but when her mother climbed into bed with her and began holding her and nurturing her it became clear…mother is someone good! She was reduced to her most primal and infantile.  And FEELING is what we sense most; even when we’ve chosen to turn that portion off in our regular day.

Through her long recovery she learned that what she needed was positive energy from her caregivers and so she had placed in her room a sign that read:

PLEASE BE RESPONSIBLE
FOR THE ENERGY THAT YOU
BRING INTO THIS ROOM.

Since I heard this story I can barely think of anything else.  What is the energy you bring into a room?  Do you walk in smiling?  When you come home from work are you demonstrably glad to see your spouse, partner or children, even if the work stresses are still following you?  When you see a friendly co-worker do you share happiness, or drag them down with you into your pit of despair?  What energy do you bring?

For sure it’s true that sometimes negative energy is what’s needed.  Although calling it negative may be a misnomer.  When you walk into a meeting at work where you are the focus you bring big, bold, assertive energy.  When you walk into an operating theater you bring that same bold energy.  Any job that is yours you approach with strength.  It’s confidence.  And it’s good.

But when the day is killing you slowly and you see someone who COULD bring you up do you bring them open energy, asking for help?  Or do you shut them down completely with your closed off anger and frustration?  When you are the person who could help…do you accept an angry friend, spouse or co-worker with open hearted energy or do you stare them down, wondering how they can dare bring you negativity?

We each must ask ourselves: what energy am I bringing here and now?  Even in our most negative moments we must try to be open to receiving positivity.  Because when we are negative and closed off we feed that feeling into the environment around us. How many people do you know who can say that when member X of their family arrives home from work in a bad mood the night is ruined?


THEY get it! Why can't we?

Sometimes I wish that the energy and intentions people show their beloved pets would be bestowed on the humans who surround them. Inmates in maximum security detention centers work with dogs who will serve as companions to PTSD warriors, and find that they can tap into love and acceptance with these animals. 

Because our pets are giant balls of right brain feeling energy...they radiate love and acceptance no matter how monstrous your day has been, no matter how many mistakes you've made. Can we really NOT harness the same way of thinking as our DOGS? Surely we can surrender to positive energy when we approach each other, just as we do when we see our pets.

Our moods and feelings are truly infectious and we must make a concerted effort to bring openness, acceptance, and positivity to situations. Who has the ego so great that they can't stop and acknowledge that they have no right to change the energy for those around them? It’s the most caring thing we can do for our loved ones and the most caring thing we can do for ourselves.

Inviting happiness, peace and calm hurts NO ONE...so please...

BE RESPONSIBLE
FOR THE ENERGY THAT YOU
BRING INTO THIS WORLD.





*Photo credits:  http://www.zazzle.com/ and http://www.assetsrich.com/

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Exertion is for Schmucks



Social loafing describes the tendency of individuals to put forth less effort when they are part of a group. Because all members of the group are pooling their effort to achieve a common goal, each member of the group contributes less than they would if they were individually responsible.  -What is Social Loafing

What an amazing phenomenon!  Social loafing is the answer is to my prayers, and should be the answer to yours as well.  Here's how it works:  let's say, as Max Ringelmann did, that you put a bunch of dudes together and surreptitiously judge them individually in a rope pull, you know...tug of war style.

ALLEGEDLY you'd find that no one does as well or tries as hard when they think they're part of a team.  Apparently when we're working together we wimp out out and stop putting forth our most diligent effort.

Max Ringelmann (1913) found that when a group of men were asked to pull on a rope, they each pulled less hard than when pulling alone.  -Social Loafing 

See?  It's true.  The Internet says so.


These kids don't even appear to be
PRETENDING to try.

You know what I think about this?  KUDOS to us!!  Because why bother?

As part of a team I've always assumed that everyone knows I'm not really trying.  I mean, if I was out there doing my BEST then what do I need a team for?!?  As people have said before me, "there's no 'I' in team" and to me that means, "*I*don't have to work."

This is such great news for you, reader, because I have just given you a jewel. A gift with unending possibility.  You don't ever have to be responsible for one single thing ever again...just form a team, committee, group or panel in every endeavor.  Then sit back and put your feet up!

As Max informed us way back in the teens, it's what we're supposed to do! And I think that's just swimming.


Proof: these men don't have to swim as hard
because they're in a school of fish!!
BRILLIANT!


*The kids come from boisedailyphoto.com.  They're very lazy in Boise.  Everyone knows that.  Lazy fishmen come from flickamag.com.  I don't know much about fishmen because my mom always told me to stay away from them:  "Never trust a man with gills."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Why the Personal Still Matters

SLAP! Happy Friday!

Recently a friend emailed me with some sad news and as part of this email he remarked that he wished we communicated more:

“I wish I was writing with better news. I should do that you know? So should you.”

In this age of connectedness isn’t it a marvel that people still feel disconnected?  Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, HootSuite, PostPost, RSS feeds, Disqus….they all announce every thought or movement we undertake.  You can know what I’m thinking from moment to moment and where I’m thinking my thoughts.  Yet it’s not wrong to say that most people still feel a disconnect.

After all, my whereabouts listed on Facebook and my thoughts about my location and situation are publicly traded commodities.  That’s not much of a personal interaction is it?

What I assume is communication and a back and forth exchange isn’t considered a personal discourse when I’m also sharing it with 256 other “friends”.  In the epoch of Facebook, I have friends who aren’t friends at all in the strict and old fashioned sense.  What I have is a great heap of pen pals, where our writing to one another is instantaneous.  I have grown to know strangers through writing in a public forum, and my new found “pen pals” feel as true of friends as any who live in my own personal sphere.

So, I should write more personally, interact more personally, and not rely on the mass distribution of thought and action.  This is true.  And not true.

It’s true because we really do need to place hands on one another more often. There is no reason why we must let this pendulum swing all the way to its end on this digital arc…we CAN stop it mid-swing and send it back to the center.  Without doubt, I adore the digital arc but I adore the humanity of my friends much more.

I should interact more personally…but here’s where it’s not true:  I really am writing this to you. 



You may be my friend or acquaintance, or you may be a stranger living in a foreign country; I’m popular in Germany, the UK and Singapore you know! But whether I know you or not I am writing this to YOU. If I weren’t, then at no point would I stop, cock my head to the side and consider a word choice, check for repetitions or worry about typos. My subject matter would be wildly controversial and I’d alienate half of my readership from the start.

If I weren’t writing to YOU, then I’d never give a second thought to whether or not this was funny, or thought provoking.  It’s quite a conundrum…the pile of thought that one email opened up for me….because I’m writing this to YOU (as long as you’re not some nutter stalker) but perhaps you don’t know it.

How does the impersonal format of my writing transcend the space to let you know how much I consider you in its creation?  Can it suffice for me to tell you now, whoever you are, known by name or unknown by name, that I truly do consider YOU in each and every word I write?
                                  
This is not a diary made public.

Perhaps the nicest thing about this digital age is that I am finally meeting all the strangers out there…all the friends whose names I’ve not known before. And in so doing I create a wider personal sphere, a larger group of friends for whom I must have a care and a deeper interaction.

And so.  What do I do now that I agree and disagree with my friend’s statement?  I aim to do both.  And so should you...”

…because public pronouncements are wonderful but so are hand shakes and hugs.  A status update is a fine interruption in the day for a laugh and a touchstone, but so is a hand written note or phone call…because the personal still matters.


*Photo credits...honestly, I've had these pix saved for so long I don't have a clue where I found them.  A Google search no doubt.  So get on that if you want attribution.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Wants a Donut?

It's true yo.
So, America is overweight…and overmedicated. That’s just a scientific fact. And a personal fact.  (If you’re new here, it’s important to note that today is Tuesday and so nothing here should be taken as “real”, “true” or “factual” except this part here where I’m telling you it’s a farce…)

In the land of the free and the home of the brave we’re mostly fat medicine cabinets.  Waddling pharmacies.  And we have a multi mega trillion dollar industry dedicated to making us LESS fat by buying products and needing FEWER medicines by losing all that globulous fat. Except that the more these industries grow the fatter and more mediciney we get.

So what’s up, besides the scale and the stock in big pharma?

Well the cliché is that it’s not what you’re eating but rather what’s eating you.

I call bullshit.  It’s what I’m eating that makes me so rotund, ample…Rubenesque, or FAT.  I’m not what you’d call morbidly obese and no one from TLC wants to do a show on me because I *can* (at this point) still fit through a regulation sized doorway.  But why am I easily 50 pounds heavier than my grandmother was at the same age? And why is everyone around me 50 pounds heavier than the “Greatest Generation“?

Here’s why:  We’re giant gobs of excess in all ways.  It’s really that simple. 

I don’t move, like…at all.  I live ONE mile away from a grocery store. I have lived this same one mile away for about 90% of my entire life.  Are you wondering to yourself if I have EVER EVER EVER ONCE WALKED that one mile?  Don’t wonder it.  Duh…I haven’t. 

What am I, an elite athlete?    

I hate moving my person, and I adore Cheez-Whiz.  I also like bacon, potato chips, French fries, hamburgers, sour cream, butter and tater tots that have been deep fried.  On a good day I like to have all that piled onto one plate and dig in, growling at my children if they think they’re getting one bite.  (I’ve actually never done this, but it seems like I might have to try it now because that sounds good…)

However, fat American brethren, THIS attitude is what’s making me, and possibly you, fat. If I stuffed less into my pie hole (pie IS delightful so can you really blame me?) and moved my appendages more (in a manner NOT designed to shovel more down my gullet) I bet I could shed a few of those 2nd generation pounds. 

But here’s the deal.  I’m a lazy, entitled American who has bought into the notion that I don’t have to do jack because the drunk founding fathers said I don’t have to…it’s somewhere in the Constitution, but the library is a mile away too and with gas at $4.15 a gallon, who am I this time? Rockefeller?  I’m not, so just trust on me on this:  Thomas Jefferson said I’m allowed to roll around in my own cellulitic goo.

Friends, Americans…don’t worry so much about being fat, having diabetes, cholesterol through the roof, and rampant high blood pressure!  These symptoms are all Mother Nature’s way of saying,
“YOU’RE ALIVE!!  Feel that blood COURSING through your brittle veins!
(Except in your feet, which you don’t need anyway because you never walk, so it’s no biggie to get them amputated from the diabetic cellulitis…)” 

If God didn’t want me to be a lazy load of lard then He wouldn’t have invented all the pills allowing me to sustain this blubber.

Case closed.




Friday, May 13, 2011

SLAP...The Gift of NO

Is this yes to no or no to yes?
SLAP!

Sometimes I can talk a really good game. I pretend like I’m a self-assured adult with a firm grasp on the events in my life and the one in charge of my own time.  Many times I’ve professed that my favorite thing about being an adult is that I CAN say “No”….

But I don’t often actually say it to other adults.

There seems to be some confusion in my brain over saying “No” to my children versus saying it to people who actually TAKE from me.  Because I say the word “No” all freaking day, just not to the people who count where that word is concerned, and I know exactly why I can’t seem to say it. 

Where other adults are concerned I am always on guard to how I appear. If I say no to something there had better be a good reason.  When people ask things of other adults, they don’t usually take just the one word as their answer.  There must be a “Why” along with the “No”.  And for some reason, there isn’t a quick reply or a standing of ground when I attempt the word “No”. 

As a result I say “Yes” to things I really resent and things that drain me of energy and core happiness.  I find my time filled with commitments that I’m doing out of guilt, lack of quick thinking, or worse:  things I'm NOT doing and still feeling badly.  I can’t seem to win. I resent either choice because neither one satisfies ME. It has come to the point where activities I’d actually like to do seem just as draining.

I have no time or inclination for fun stuff, I feel brow beaten by commitments foisted upon me, and I’m feeling exceedingly checked out in my own life of late. My over commitment to things I don’t want to do has left me sapped for anything I DO want to do.

The gift of “No” has been out there the whole time, like a wrapped present I’ve forgotten to open. Along with the word comes a mental certificate that reads:

Good for unlimited use when presented with an activity or commitment that, in doing, would leave holder feeling sapped, resentful, or harried.  May be combined with other certificates including but not limited to: “Thank you for asking”, “Perhaps next time”, or “Right now just isn’t a good time for me”.  These certificates may used in conjunction or alone.

As with all gift certificates the key is remembering you’ve got it…and using it. The nice thing about “No” is that it never expires. I might have to practice but I plan on using it more often, because there is so much out there I WANT to do. There are people I want to have time for and activities in which I’d like to be vigorously engaged. So as of now I’m unwrapping the gift and putting that certificate in my pocket.

I’m quite certain I’m not the only one feeling this way, as recent studies have shown an uptick in people feeling chronically overwhelmed, almost to the point of addiction. 

This is from an msnbc article on stress:

To step off the stress hamster wheel, you need to start making a conscious effort to catch yourself in the act of gloating, "I'm so stressed out." Similarly, you may think that responding to a friend's stress bravado with a play-by-play of your own overwhelming schedule is akin to being supportive. It's not. Stop being an enabler and lose the one-upping in favor of a softer, healthier approach, says [Steve Orma, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in San Francisco]. Try saying something like, "Wow, it sounds like you have a tough week ahead. What will you do to take care of yourself?" Says Orma: "Gently encouraging a harried pal to take some downtime will be more helpful to both of you than swapping stress stories.



So, my friend,  feel free to look around and find your own unopened gift.  Or make as many copies of this one as you’d like. The gift of “No” leaves us so much more open to say “Yes”.  

And if you’re looking for more on this from me…”No, I don’t have more to say. Perhaps next time.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Story of Desperation, War, and Coffee...

Do you wake up with YOUR hair
in all the wrong places too?


Sometimes the day starts out all wrong from the second you’re almost awake. You can feel it before you even open your eyes: WRONG. I feel this way approximately 6 to 7 days of the week….it’s just a fun thing about me. You know, I always look on the bright side. 

Yesterday I woke up that way. I’d been having some very energetic dreams about people from college, “Inception” style, and it really wore me out. My sons weren’t cooperating with my husband in terms of waking up and I was dreading the moment my feet would hit the floor. 

That’s just me being happy on a typical morning.

And then, a little while later, a miracle occurred.  Someone GAVE me a cup of a coffee.  As I dropped my sons off at school there was a group of pre-school parents standing outside with Starbucks (trademarked!) to go…and they GAVE me coffee.

My mug?  That was half empty?  Suddenly, freely, FULL.  I mean even *I* can’t spin that to be 1/18th empty….it just doesn’t work.  When something’s full…it’s full.

I almost started crying. Why would someone be so nice? Why would a GROUP of people be so nice? WHY??

I think it’s fantastic when the faculty stands outside and helps the kids get into school….they open your car door and help them out….and now we’ve got random coffee??  How on Earth can I maintain my general dislike of people and places and things if I’m getting free coffee and curbside service?

It’s going to be a real challenge, however...because I don’t want to let anyone down, let me say this:   There was a GIANT pothole that I hit and some splashed out onto my lap where I now have a burn that I’m pretty sure has some legal clout to it because no one took a Sharpie pen (trademarked!) and wrote on my Grandpa’s WWII army issue medic’s mug that contents were hot...but then the coffee got cold quickly because I still had some from home in the mug and it didn’t stay piping hot like the new coffee. 


The actual mug


…and when the curbside dude asked me “How do you take it?”

I found that to be a rather personal question for 8:20am. I answered truthfully but that’s just because I’m incapable of lies.  If you want the answer, you’ll have to show up with coffee sometime when I’m “unawares”. Until that day it shall remain a happy mystery to all but coffee toting church folk outside my car window.


*Photo credits: http://www.deviantart.com/, and my phone with the camera option enabled.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Slapping Oprah...she's not the boss of me.

Oh you KNOW I will....

Once again, Oprah has struck. She’s attained near deity status in my world, but unlike the One true and everlasting God, she’s fallible…or at least her writers are. I got an email from Oprah this week about managing stress and I have to say, she’s way off base.

Let me dissect.

Question one-  Why Am I Overwhelmed?

Jeebus Oprah, really coming out of the gate strong here aren’t ya?  Oprah says it’s because we have so much surplus in the world and our biology is still hardwired for scarcity and we become overwhelmed.  HA!  I’m overwhelmed because my bank account is perennially scarce and my bills are ever surplus.  Way off base here.  There is also a startling scarcity of bar supplies in my house at any given time…see that?  SCARCITY.  No surpluses overwhelming me, Oprah.  Fail.

Question two-  Am I Really Busy or Does It Just Feel This Way?

I shall answer this question with two questions and show my disdain for the original question thusly:  Does it matter? What’s the difference?  If I feel busy and stressed, I AM busy and stressed…making me justify my stress to a writer makes me MORE stressed…  Maker above, where IS my gin?

Question three-  What’s the Priority Here?

People, if you don’t know the priority yet…after all the slap faces I’ve left here, then screw you.  You’re making me overwhelmed with stress that you can’t figure out the priority. My word…it’s a dense lot.  You know the priority, right?  This is a ridiculous question designed, I assume, to fill space. Good thing I didn't fall for it and do the same.

Question four-  What if I Don’t Have Enough Time?

“All we are is dust in the wind” time, or actual time on a clock with a clean bill of health?  Oprah and her minion have decided it’s time on the clock and their solution? No kind of solution at all.  They say “It's not to manage your time better. It's to manage your energy”. Well, thank YOU very much for that worthless advice.  I manage my energy with aforementioned gin and a few pills. A better question would be how to manage the anxiety from the ticking clock overhead, signaling our certain doom...this article is no help to me at all, and why Oprah’s getting slapped. I should be managing my time AND energy by not reading. But I’m an idiot…so on we go!

Skipping ahead because I’m also lazy…

Question seven-  What Would It Take For Me to Just Say No?

Well, it takes a conflagration and coordination of muscle movements in the face, neck and mouth to form a word “NO” into being. That’s just simple science and I’m not sure what it’s doing in a section titled “Spirit”.  Moving on…I’m losing interest.

Look how simple.

Question eleven-  Is It Better to Fight Anxiety or Is It Okay to Be Nervous?

First of all, why does “is”, “it” and “be” get to be capitalized but the words "to" and “or” are left out? That’s wordism and I’m so offended I barely care what the answer is.  I can probably guess that SOME anxiety is okay because it’s the body’s warning system of impending danger…but what’s killing me and my “Spirit” right now is the weird letter formation of the question. I’ve been knocked completely off kilter and despite the early hour of the day, I see Baileys Irish Cream in my coffee, and a slow reduction of stress.

Oprah doesn’t have all answers.  It’s clear that pharmacists and purveyors of fine spirits have the answers. And me…I have answers. If you follow my advice not only will you be stress free, you’ll also be home-free, child-free, spouse-free and success-free!  What a feeling.

Happy Friday, give Oprah a mental slap, and think fondly of your mother this week end even if she was an awful parent.  Maybe she was just too stressed out and didn’t have Oprah or Dirty Words to set her to rights.

Ciao for now, pals!



Photos: www.angrygreekdyke.blogspot.com, www.medicalook.com

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Find Your Purpose


The Stricklands.
Remember their name and faces.

I know that on Tuesdays we’re supposed to share a laugh and then on Fridays I slap your face with something serious.  But this week has seen some pretty serious action and I think we should take the time to reflect on it and decide what it means for us. I think we must articulate to ourselves what we feel our purpose is. My purpose in life, no matter what else I do, is to be a mother, wife, friend and jester. I don’t say that jokingly either.

My sons and husband are the most important people on Earth to me and without them I stop conceiving of a world with air in it. My friends and family keep me sane and in the middle spaces what makes me happiest is making people laugh. For me the joy is the same as when you give a perfect a gift and see the sheer delight on your friend’s face knowing that you helped create that moment.

We all have a purpose.

We get hung up when we think the purpose has to be classically or historically noble. Not everyone is destined to be President, to find a cure for a scourge, or to help win a battle waged on foreign shores. Some of us have a purpose that is fulfilled by being the smiling face at the cash register for a person desperate for contact and care. Some of us are completing our job here by caring for animals either through the adoption of abandoned souls or restoring their health. For others the purpose is fulfilled by cooking a meal that comforts and cares for its intended. The ways in which we can find purpose are infinite.

This week some brave men in our military took out the face of our enemy.  Navy Seals, who performed their purpose in anonymity and with great professionalism and perfection, snapped off the head of a monster.

The men and women who have been serving this country the past ten years have been marveled and thanked, esteemed and admired. They are doing hard, hard work at great personal sacrifice. I am Facebook acquaintances with one of these families and they were featured on a Dateline episode which aired Sunday, May 1; the very night bin Laden was being taken down.




Legrand was working in Afghanistan on a peace mission, and his family has given more than their fair share to this nation and its people. Carrie has weathered the storm with a military heart and has asked for nothing, has blamed no one, has been positive and strong the entire time. Legrand has never been bitter, or vengeful.  They have been the very face of bravery and stoicism.

The First Lady, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have taken up the mission to bring a face to warriors and their struggles. There are many people who don’t know someone personally who is fighting the battle in our stead because we remain an all volunteer military. Some of us may have to go out of our way to find the ways to help and be proactive. Here is your helping hand:  Joining ForcesFisher HouseWounded Warrior ProjectUS Dept of Veteran’s Affairs 

Our military and its families deserve nothing less than the best we can give. If Legrand can come home and battle through unimaginable wounds to be the remarkable man that he is and if Carrie can ride the waves of horrifying trauma, watch her beloved work so hard to come back from the brink and still be the marvelous woman she is….can’t we all find our purpose as well? 

Can’t we honor ourselves and each other by finding the calling
...whatever it is?

No matter how high or low you think the calling is, when you honor it and stay true to it, embody it consciously and with pride, it truly becomes most noble. You don’t have to be featured on a Dateline episode to be a hero. Small miracles take place every single minute of the day.

A doctor reaches out and touches a patient’s hand, a garden is planted and tended, a compost bin is created, a  friend sends a laugh to someone in dire need of levity, a kind word is spoken to someone teetering on the edge, or an animal is saved. When we even just smile at one another we are reaching out in the very smallest of ways and connecting on the largest scope. When we help one another, by holding a door, or letting a car in when they probably should have yielded 500 feet back…we honor each other in the acknowledgement that we don’t know the stories in the background.

When I was visiting my mother in Hospice as she died, I was an AWFUL driver. I forgot turn signals, I drove too slowly…today when I am driving and someone is behaving similarly I must remember that I don’t know where they’re going or where they’ve been.  The woman who appears so idiotic may have just left her child at a Children’s Hospital in critical condition. The man who is merging when he should be yielding may be on his way to pick up his own warrior home from battle. Truly, the person who is making you crazy may be on cloud nine after the birth of their child, and has forgotten that a world exists outside their bliss bubble. HOW AWFUL…for you….

But the reasons may also be extraordinarily mundane! My mom and I joked frequently about this particular story:  we were on our way to a friend’s party and we were in charge of bringing baked beans. The pan of beans was still quite warm (read: boiling lava hot) and I was holding them on my lap. I continually had to beg my mom to slow down so they wouldn’t slosh onto my lap out of the pan. We were making people mental as they drove behind us on the side streets. And I kept shouting out the window, “I’ve got hot beans!!” 

Thereafter it became our joke that a person driving like a complete moron may have hot beans in their lap.  How can you know?

You may be in line with Carrie, who is on day two of no sleep as she waits to hear news of her Legrand. How can you know? You may be driving behind her as she drops her sons off at a family member’s house and heads to the airport for a flight to Landstuhl, Germany…to sit vigil.  How can you know?  Maybe you’re just in the proximity of someone with hot beans.
We HAVE to stop thinking we know every back story of every person out there, and we HAVE to stop thinking that everyone is a complete idiot sent here to get in our way. What we need more than ever is to get out of our own inner monologue and remember that sometimes, in moments of panic, pain, grief, uncertainty, fear, struggle...or even happiness...what we need is a soft voice, a caring act or smile…we need a hand from a stranger or friend.

What is your purpose on this Earth and in this life?
And how can you best fulfill it?

In every moment of your day and night you are encountering people who need you to fulfill your purpose to the best of your ability with conviction and love.