Still Here

Almost but not quite a year since I last posted.

Some things remain the same.

Still...

Caring for Mom with massive amounts of help from Dad and my Family

Grateful for my Fruitstand transfer

Enjoying every day with Fatso von Watso Don Corleone Carrigan the First

Marvel at how patient and tolerant I've become

Surprise myself with how fiercely protective I am of my Mom and Dad...but especially Mom

Don't have much free time

Miss CO and my CO peeps every. single. day.

Also, many of the links on my sidebar are no longer active. I'll spruce things up this week.

It's time to start blogging again.

 

 


Life is hectic...

...and I know no matter how busy I get, my blog is always waiting here for me.

It's been 7 months since I relocated to CA and moved in with my parents to assume a Caregiver role for their respective health issues (Dad = Vascular & Mobility issues & Mom - Advanced Alzheimers)

Between parents and work and a cute little puppy dog, not a lot of extra time in my day. I'll post more soon.

In the mean time, Happy Monday :-)


Au Revoir 2013

2013 was one of the hardest and most difficult years of my life and the lives of many of my friends.

I like to think that 2013 beat us up and broke us down in order to make us better and open our eyes to the true importance of life and how we are meant to live our lives. After a six month long internal struggle (to move or not to move) the second I made my decision and realized that CA was where I needed to be, my life took a turn for the best and miracle after miracle came my way.

Ending 2013 where I need to be - living with my parents, with my family and with a new work family AND a new puppy (never saw that one coming!!), all in Southern CA.

Hope 2014 is miraculous for all of you!

 


Sometimes I Need To Just Shut Up And Listen

The last 3 months have been a continual exercise in listening. To myself. To others. To my parents. To my gut. To my siblings. To my healthcare providers. For someone as independant as I am and for someone as stubborn as I am, it's not been easy, but I did it anyway. And by doing so, I've managed to change my life.

For starters, most of you know I've battled dizziness issues for the last 4+ years. After endless tests, I received a definitive diagnosis of Severe Panic Disorder. Upon hearing my diagnosis, my Doctor offered me two choices...#1 - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or #2 - Medication

For years...seriously, YEARS, I've battled the idea of taking Meds to overcome my issues. I thought if I just worked out harder, tried to relax more, forced myself to walk more, tried not to care, it would all go away. Yeah, not so much. In the end, I was more panicked than ever and started experiencing 8-10 panic attacks a day, some pretty severe.

So I gave the meds a try. BEST DECISION EVER!!! I feel normal again! Within a week, the panic attacks all but vanished. Walking got easier. The stuff that used to piss me off and keep me up all night just didn't matter anymore. I got my life back!

Granted, the first two weeks were an adjustment. I'm on .25mg Zoloft and the first 2 weeks a jacked up stomach and insomnia were my BFF's.  Started taking small shots of Benedryl an hour before bed which worked like a charm. The tummy issues cleared up after 3 weeks. Lost weight too cause my apetite vanished. 

The timing was perfect since in the space of 20 days I accepted a new job in CA, gave notice to my landlord, gave away  or donated most everything I owned, helped organize another Ignite Boulder, said goodbye to numerous friends and packed up my car and drove to CA with a road trip buddy I met 2 weeks before I left. All accomplished with little to no drama other than throwing my back out the day before I moved.

I'm convinced Zoloft played a HUGE part in keeping me calm & collected over the last several months. Told my Dr that I WISH someone had made me take this wonderful medicine when my symptoms first started. Guess it happened at the right time for the right reason, but it's really sad that my own ignorance made me suffer much longer than needed.

There's been many instances since my move that I've decided to defer to the wishes of others and stop always having to be in control. Or be right. 7 years ago I lost a friendship that I wish I hadn't, all cause I chose to be right when (in retrospect) wish I'd chosen to be nice instead.

While moving in with Dad and Mom was bound to have adjustments (and it has) it's been easier than I expected thanks to my new mindset. In listening not only to the words but to the intent behind the words, to the emotions that accompany the words, to the unsaid thoughts behind the words, I've reached a new and better level of understanding of my parents and their wants and needs. I've also reached a new and better level of understanding of what I want and need.

I want my parents to be happy and healthy. To laugh more than they cry. To try to understand what they're going thru and treat each of them with care and dignity and ahavachesed (lovingkindness in Hebrew).

I became a better person the day I decided to just shut up and listen.

 


Starting Over Yet Again - Week One

Once it was confirmed that I'd be transferring to CA to move in with and help care for my parents, I decided to blog about my experience as a potential help for anyone doing something similiar as well as a weekly remembrance for myself.

I live online thru my blog, Facebook and Twitter but my parents don't. So I'll do the best I can to accurately portray my experience and thoughts while protecting their privacy.

The road trip from CO to CA was amazing, even tho I threw out my back the last day of the move. I made it thru the moving and packing-up-my-car-part thanks to my friends Matty & Justin/Sam. Thank GOD for friends and for having heated seats w/ lumbar support :-)

Another awesome friend I made was Deanna who I'd met the week earlier at my hair salon when I announced "who wants to ride with me to CA" and Deanna said yes. Thanks to The Universe for putting us together for Deanna was an AMAZING Road Trip buddy and I'd Road Trip again with her in a heartbeat.

Driving for miles and miles is good for processing what's going on in your life and a great time to take stock of where you've been (physically & mentally) and where you're going. Had not lived at home since 1981 and although I'd visited numerous times, visiting is not the same as being there full time.

How to explain the last 10 days? Surreal is the best word that comes to mind. Part of me still can't believe I left my company and CO and actually moved back to CA. It's a bit shocking to wake up surrounded by my stuff (most of which I left behind, gave away or donated away) and to find my car in the driveway.

About Dad and Mom...Mom has Stage 6 Alzheimer's. Some common symptoms of this stage are :

• Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings
• Remember their own name but have difficulty with their personal history
• Distinguish familiar and unfamiliar faces but have trouble remembering the name of a spouse or caregiver
• Need help dressing properly and may, without supervision, make mistakes such as putting pajamas over daytime clothes or shoes on the wrong feet
• Experience major changes in sleep patterns — sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night
• Need help handling details of toileting (for example, flushing the toilet, wiping or disposing of tissue properly)
• Have increasingly frequent trouble controlling their bladder or bowels.
• Experience major personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions (such as believing that their caregiver is an impostor)or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding
• Tend to wander or become lost  

Mom has "Sundowner" episodes which means as the sun goes down, she often asks, sometimes demands, that we take her home. She knows her address - our current address - but insists this is not her home. So we drive aimlessly while I flip on the heated car seat (she's always cold!) and I ask her to tell me about her babies, her husband and memories of her past. She can tell me within 5 seconds the names of her childhood cats, which school she attended, the name of her husband and her brothers and sisters names, but has no idea who I am, who my siblings are (present day - she remembers the day we were born and when we were small) and what she had for dinner an hour earlier. Sometimes 1 drive suffices and she is calmer when we return. Sometimes it takes 2-3 drives. And sometimes she doesn't calm down so we deal the best we can.

For the majority of the first 3 days, Mom had no idea who I was. She had a brief moment of clarity on Saturday as I drove her to meet other members of our family and told me how happy she was that I had moved home and how it meant the world to her and my Dad. I'll tell ya right now that was the highlight of my week. Most of the time, I'm the "really nice lady" who stays and keeps her and Dad company instead of going home at night. All good, it doesn't matter if she knows who am I on a day to day basis as long as she is happy, healthy & content.

Dad has Vascular and Diabetes issues and gave up driving voluntarily, so part of my new gig is driving them to Mass, grocery shopping, errands and Dr appts as well as getting away with Mom for longer errand time to give Dad a break and some much needed alone time. I'm also giving my siblings a break, particularly my sister that's spent the last 16 months taking care of them 3-4 days a week in addition to working a fulltime job and having a family of her own...and lives more than an hour away in rush hour traffic.

Have also taken over cleaning, laundry & home organization (all loves of mine) and have slowly started cooking meals for them - never a strenth of mine and definitely NOT a favorite activity :-)

Tomorrow I'll start back to work (same job, different location) which will help complete my assimilation to life back in CA.

I'll end with a  Pro's and Con's List

CONS -

Californian's smoke way more than Coloradan's :-(
Miss my CO peeps and the CO sunsets/mountains/landscape/sunlight
Not that I miss it 100% but BOY did I have a lot of free time before the move :-)
CA traffic is CA traffic - you can't escape it
As of tomorrow, I will definitely miss my 4 minute commute to work 

PROS -

Peace of mind regarding Dad & Mom & no more long distance worrying
Spending my sister D's birthday with her!
Spending Thanksgiving with my family
Spending TIME with my family - quality time, not just rushing-around-on-vacation time
The little moments of clarity that Mom has where she knows who I am and why I'm here
The gratitude I get by knowing I'm doing the best I can for my parents and siblings
My parents have Cable - hello HGTV!!!!
Hugs and kisses from parents and family members
Gratitude that my company transferred me - HUGE GRATITUDE for that!
Most of all, I'm happy I listened to my gut and went for this. Told my Manager on Sept 6 that I wanted to transfer and verbally accepted the official offer on Nov 1. Not too shabby of a timeline. 

We'll see how this next chapter plays out. So far, no regrets!


Thankful...

...in no particular order

* For spending my Sister's bday with her for the first time in 8 years

* For my transfer to CA

* For random last-minute Road Trip Buddies that ROCK

* That my parents are still alive

* That I get to help out while there is still time

* That the laughter balances out the sadness

* For trusting in God and The Universe

* For standing up for myself

* For no more snow and ice on the roadways

* For 76 degree November days

* For sunshiney days with no clouds in the sky

* For the strength to ask the difficult questions

* For internet

* For potential crisis averted

* For Nightblooming Jasmine, Eucalyptus trees and freshly mown grass - the smells of California in November

* For my Family and Friends 


Almost Ready

My bed, dresser, desk & chair left yesterday. Cute little white bench, small bookshelf and 2 night stands leave today. 2 boxes ready to ship home (new home) with 3 remaining. 1 more trip to ARC. OK, maybe 2.

Only snafu was the air mattress that I THOUGHT was in storage was not in storage. So I camped out on my bedroom floor. Not the best night's sleep, however I WAS thankful for being safe, indoors and warm. 

Moving...and life...are all about perspective.


First. Not Last.

Ever since I was a kid, I always marked the "Last" of everything.

Last day of Summer. Last day of the year. Last day of 8th grade. Last day at each job I held. 

Nothing's changed and I find myself counting down the days as I prepare to leave my current job and state...1 more day at the job (Thursday) and 7 more days in the state - in case you want to count along with me.

Tonite it occured to me that I've had it backwards all my life. Why have I not made the emphasis on the "First"?  The start of something new? The excitement that comes with new beginnings, new surroundings, new experiences? What's up with that, Kath?

Honestly don't know why I've made endings so significant, but I do know that as of this second, I'm switching up my perception to focus on the firsts...and the future.


Grateful

Leave for CA in 10 days.

Have given away all my possessions, asking for only good karma and prayers in return. Starting over, starting fresh, with several mementos, books, clothes and basic necessities  to accompany me on my trip West.

Thankful for the miracle I'm living and the chance to live with my parents and family for the foreseeable future.

Happy Kath :-)


Home Is Where My Heart Is...

Just told my beloved Fruitstander team, so now I can tell you guys what I've wanted to tell you for the last week 

Moving back to CA Weds Nov 20 to move in with my parents and help with their health care. Mom has Stage 6 Alzheimers and Dad has other health-related issues. My siblings and my nephew Casey have been going above and beyond to help and it's my turn to help as well.

My last day at work is this Thursday, Nov 14th. Fond Farewell at 5p MT. I will be transferring to the same position at a location very close to my parents - thanks to God and the Universe for that assist  (and my Recruiter) 

Leaving my Fruitstand buddies and my CO buddies will be one of the TOUGHEST goodbyes ever, but my heart is in CA with my family these days. It's one of those decisions I had to make and having made it, feel good about my next adventure.

Thanks to all of you that supported me in my decision - you are wondrous and I'm so fortunate to have you in my life. This has been an exercise in "walk by faith, not by sight" and trusting in God and the Universe to deliver. And deliver they did!!

I foresee lots of farewell hugs in my future :-)

It's All Gonna Be OK!


Trying everything I can do (as a time-sensitive-detail-oriented-OCD-loves-to-cross-t's-and-dot-i's-type-of-person) to control a situation I have no control over.

Let's say this week has been interesting. Let's say this week has been gratifying in that I've learned things about myself I needed to learn. Let's say the most important lesson I've learned this week is that I am who I am and I'm honestly truly okay with that. And I've really learned to laugh at myself and with myself.

Cause after all, whatever happens? It's all gonna be ok :-)


Streamlined - The "No Purse for 30 Days Diet"

About a month ago I had a discussion with work peeps regarding how much "stuff" people bring to work. I'm a self-admitted minimalist (always have the smallest purse with the fewest amount of things inside said purse) but I wanted to challenge myself and maybe (?) prove a point at the same time.

Disclaimer - I'm not a "girly-girl" who depends on lots of makeup or hair accoutrements to get thru my day. Don't wear makeup and work in an extremely casual environment where jeans are my go-to attire du jour. I also keep toothpaste, a toothbrush and dental floss in my work cubby.

For the last month, this is what I've carried to work in my pockets :

* Cell phone (the case is standing in for the phone since I used it to take this picture) in the front right pocket

* Keys - front left pocket

* Burt's Bees Lip Balm - front left pocket

* Canvas card holder - back right pocket (not in the best condition, but it was a freebie so that counts for something) (Btw, I'm frugal too!)

Pockets

 

Wasn't too difficult of a transition and I actually liked not carrying anything else into work. It's made me rethink carrying a purse to begin with and has really streamlined my life.

Would you / could you go on a No Purse Diet? What would be your imagined obstacles? 

 


Starting and Stopping and Starting Again

Talking about my blog. 

Between life and work and Facebook and Twitter and everything else, my blog gets little use these days. Spent the last hour catching up on several Colorado bloggers and it makes me want to get back into blogging.

Believe it or not, I'm considering giving up Facebook (Shock, I know - The Social Media Queen jumping ship!!) but not sure if I can pull the plug when it comes right down to it. I love  keeping track of my distant relatives and local friends...distant friends too...but I'm the first to admit it's a time drain. We'll see what happens.

Have you given up Facebook or Twitter or any other form of Social Media? Why? How was your life different afterwards?


End Of An Era

Still can't believe you're actually leaving. I'm sure a part of you can't believe it either.

It goes without saying but I'll say it anyway - working with you was one of the best and brightest experiences of my life. I've never laughed so hard or learned so much, sometimes at the same time.

Even in the toughest times you were always grace under pressure and no matter how much I try I can never come close to the example you set

I'm humbled by our friendship and will always have your back unconditionally. Which doesn't mean you'll get off easy - in fact, the standards will be higher. Because I expect great things from great friends.

My wishes for you are simple :

Always tell the truth...even if it hurts

Always listen to the truth...even if it hurts

Always be true to yourself

Always know that you are loved 

ALWAYS be the BEST person you can be

With love and gratitude -

Kath

 


This Might Sound Crazy...

...but it worked for me!

These last 6 months I've been overwhelmed with all sorts of decisions, wishes, dreams and I-really-want-to's floating thru  my mind. They've kept me up all night more nights than I'd care to admit. Then I remembered a little exercise that I used back in the day to clear my mind. Wish I would have remembered it sooner, cause it really works!

You need :

* 2 blank sheets of paper. Lines, no lines, white, colorful - doesn't matter

* 3 different colored markers/Sharpies/pens/your favorite writing instrument

On the first sheet, start writing down ALL the concerns than run rampant thru your mind. From the most pressing to the barely a blip on your radar.  Get them all out and on the paper - no matter how insignificant. I'll wait.

Still waiting (hums Jeopardy theme).

All set? Good!

Now take the first Sharpie you see (in my case, it would be the purple Sharpie) and circle everything you have control over.

Take the second Sharpie (green maybe?) and draw a line thru everything you have NO control over..

Take the final Sharpie and make an X next to those things you're not sure about.

Grab the second sheet of paper and write in order of importance everything you DO have control over. Turn the sheet of paper over and transfer all the items you're not sure about on the back side. Then trash the first piece of paper.

What remains is what matters to you. What needs to be accomplished and the  order in which it needs to be accomplished. It helped me make one of the most important decisions of my life this past weekend and I hope it helps you

And there you have it - your list of what's important in the order of importance. Out of your mind and on paper is the best way to see what's bothering you and how to corral your thoughts and get them under control to where you control your thoughts, not the other way around.


Still Here :-)

Shalom Chayale, I'm still here :-)  (pretty sure my friend Chaya is the only one that still reads my blog).

For the longest time I'm been linking my blog updates to Facebook. Great for letting everyone know I've updated, but the comments happen on Facebook, not here. So, no more Facebook updates. I'll post to Twitter instead and if people want to click over, read and maybe comment, all's the better.

My blog turns 10 in March (!!!) and lately I've been wondering if I should close it down. Between Facebook & Twitter, I post enough updates and nonsense on what's new in Kathyland. Some of you have shuttered your blogs and some are still keeping on.

Why to both?

Trying to figure out what I want to do...would love your 2 cents.


And The Hits, They Keep On Coming

At the end of Dec 2012 all my friends were of the opinion that 2013 would be OUR year! A year where everything would fall into place, the future would be all shiny & sparkly and we'd all be basking in the efforts of everything we worked so hard to achieve.

As June appears on the horizon all I can say is "not so much". 2013 has been a beast for me and most of my friends.

Heartbreak, illness, death, more death, destruction and overall sadness. Working with no reward in sight. One step forward, 10 steps back.

It's been a kick in the teeth.

On a personal level, I've been sick more times in the last 6 months than I've been in the last 10 years. And not just me, but almost everyone in my family. And friends like family.

I'm a huge fan of the number 13 (was born on 12/13) but 2013 isn't being very kind to me or many of my friends.

In an attempt to get myself unstuck from the rut I'd gotten stuck in, I had my numbers read by a Numerologist mid-February. It was the first time I've ever had them read and I gotta tell you, for someone who didn't know me or know anything about me, her findings were otherwordly and a bit too scary since they were right on the money. In a very surreal way.

The main take away was "the next 2 years will be the hardest 2 years of my life. I must work harder than I've ever worked before, cross every t, dot every i, don't take my eyes off the prize and don't overlook a single detail. In 2015 all my hard work will pay off...and then some."

Sometimes?  I'm not exactly sure what the prize is. There are the basics; a job that pays enough for me to live on my own that excites  & challenges me. Being a passionate believer of where I work and who I work with.  Having a peaceful and aesthetic sanctuary to call my own. I don't even have to own it. Renting will be just fine! Being debt free (check!). Paying off my car (check!).

But what's the bigger picture? What am I missing that maybe I don't even know that I'm missing?

How about you? Is 2013 turning out to be what you'd imagined? Is it just me and my friends or are you having a hell of a year too? What are you doing to cope with the hits that keep on coming?


The Gratitude Drive

Last night found me hanging out with old friends. Not old chronologically, but old as in I've known them for over 8 years. 

One of my darlingest, sweetest, kindest and closest friends celebrated her birthday. And joining in the fun were several friends I've known for almost as long as I've lived in CO.

As the night wore on and the crowds dwindled, talk turned to how we met, which if you ask me, is still a miracle in and of itself.

We met thru the Internet...specifically, thru our blogs. Strangers that followed links then more links and somewhere/somehow we found each other and started caring about each other and along the way we became friends. Real true-to-live-honest-to-goodness friends.

And what friends those are.

Back in the day, almost 9 years ago this March, no way in Hell did I have any concept of how much this lowly little blog would change my life. But change my life it did one hundred fold. For beyond the better. For the best ever.

As I drove home last night, the whole drive was consumed with gratitude and love. For those I've met along the way. For their grace and kindness and love and trust that has changed my life and made me a much better person than I ever could have become on my own. Feeling a huge dose of humility that I was honored to have been included in their lives. 

Seriously, the grace I've been given by having these friends in my life is epic.

I'm forever grateful to meeting Curt aka the first blogger I ever met and deciding to create a blog of my own. It has been the catalyst to so many good things and greater people in my world.

And to S, the birthday girl, for reaching out to me and becoming my Internet friend before I even moved to CO. She's also the best hugger you'll ever meet...but that's another story for another day!

The gratitude continues for everyone I've met thru their blog, my blog or this wacky wonderful amazing thing we call the Internet. This will change your life in ways you never imagined if you let it!


Last Look at 2012

2012..and 2011 to be honest...was filled with too much sadness, death, illness and did I mention the sadness?

2013 WILL be better...has to be better.

So many friends share my opinion that 2013 is OUR year. I'm partial to 13...my birthday is 12/13...and 13 has always been lucky for me.

I know we make our own luck, but I'm not taking any chances.

Almost everyone I know always says "Come Jan 1, I'm going to eat healthy, exercise, get organized, etc etc etc".  I'm no exception (except for the organizing part :->), but this year I got a headstart. Other than Thanksgiving and Christmas, I've had at least 1, if not 2 salads a day for the last 35 days. Just wanted to see if I could do it and guess what? I did!

Joined a group of friends on Facebook for a 100 Day Challenge to spend 100 days in a row exercising, eating healthier and getting to a better place in our lives. Again, a headstart. Upped my walking last week and just got home from the gym. A far cry from the level of most of my friends (Marathoners, IronMen/Women, Climbers, Slackliners, Ice Climbers, Movers and Shakers, 4 % body fat) but it's a step in the right direction and what amazing role models I have!

Joined an online motivational group 3 weeks ago to figure out how to turn the ideas I'm passionate about into a side business.

The hardest challenge of all? Realizing that I'm way too comfortable in certain areas of my life and vowing this has to change if I want to live up to my potential. My stomach just dropped typing that.

Wishing you strength and courage in your 2013 dreams. Remember, it's OUR year :-)


My 2 Cents

I've been mulling over the tragic events of the last several weeks.

First the Newtown massacre. 20 little children and 7 adults murdered. 

Last Monday, Webster NY firemen ambushed by a gunman who left a note saying he wanted to "burn down the neighborhood and do what I like doing best, killing people".

Then came the deluge of comments over Facebook, Twitter, news media.

"Gun control". "Access to mental health". "Hug your kids now, choose action later". And why. So many people asking why. 

And how to prevent this from happening again? What can we do so the next time it happens we don't feel so helpless and lost?

Is it really all about gun control? Maybe. Or maybe not?

My personal opinion is that you don't need an AK-47 to go hunting. It's also my opinion that what we have today is a far cry from our forefathers intentions that created the 2nd Amendment.

I've never been a fan of guns. They terrify me. I've had two encounters with guns. The first time, I shot a target pistol 3 times on a friend's ranch. All 3 times I hit the target so I figured I had nothing left to prove.

My 2nd encounter with a gun is when I was followed out to my car after work and my attacker brandished a gun once I was inside my car (he chased me and I made it to my car before he caught me). Short story short, I started my car, he ran, I followed him and got his license plate #, went back to work and called the police, filed a report and they caught him within 20 minutes. And sentenced him to  youth camp since he was under 17 and it was his 3rd offense.

The entire experience terrified me and even though it happened when I was in college, I remember each detail as if it happened yesterday. So now you know how I feel about guns.

Better access to mental health services? Maybe. Or maybe not?

The assumption seems that people with mental issues possess enough self-awareness to seek out assistance. And are limited through lack of funds or lack of insurance or lack of services or a combination of the three. I'm sure some people do reach out...I know many that have. But what if they don't feel they're a danger? What if they feel they are right and everyone else is wrong? What then? Or what about that person that lives their life in quiet solitude, blending into the background, never once raising anyone's suspicions of their mental capacity until the day they snap? How do we catch the ones that are slipping though the cracks?

I honestly feel it's  part of our culture. As a whole, Americans can be cruel. They bully. They're rude. Mean-spirited. All you have to do is read Facebook or Twitter or any online column and see the cruel comments tossed out on every topic imagineable. Live and let live or turn the other cheek? Nope, not so much for many of us.

We need more love. More understanding. More tolerance. And by tolerance I don't mean tolerating that which hurts and maims and belittles others. Instead I mean tolerance of people that are different. Look different, talk different, have different viewpoints, live different lifestyles.

Seek out those who are disenfranchised. Who are down on their luck. Who need a shoulder. Who need you. 

There are so many beings who are hurting than can benefit by what you have to offer. Volunteer. A day a week. A day a month. An hour a month. Or maybe just a one time gig. What are we doing to make our world a better place and to lighten the load of someone that needs lifting up, whether it be financially, spiritually, educationally or emotionally?

I've been asking myself the same question lately.

In the past, I've volunteered on several occasions. In Virginia, as a short-term Guardian Ad Litem. In Florida as an Adult Literacy Volunteer. Also in Florida as a Kennel-Guide and Foster Puppy Mom...beings don't have to be human to be hurting.  All the volunteering I've done in CO has been politically related and while the results were what I'd hoped for, more and more I'm finding the need to reach out to help in areas that benefit people with immediate needs, ie Literacy programs and Habitat for Humanity are two that come to mind.

I've often been accused of being too Pollyanna-ish or always seeing the glass as half-full. And that is very much true. But one thing I do know is that one person spreading love and tolerance is better than one person spreading hate and contempt.

Our actions define us.

Put on the rose-colored glasses with me for just a minute and imagine what would happen if for 15 minutes everyone in the world did one kind deed. Showed one extra person that they cared. That that person mattered. Just for 15 minutes. I think it would be amazing. Maybe a pipe dream, but what an amazing pipe dream.

We're a world of so many differences, but we're alike in that we're all human, all have feelings, all want to be loved, all want to matter.

So just for today, love a little extra. Volunteer. Do a random act of kindness. Give an extra smile away (Matty V says that they're free). Don't flip off the car that cuts you off. Hold back the urge to be mean and snarky. Be a little kinder. Be a little gentler. 

We have many huge issues in this world that require solutions we don't always have. We don't know the why. But maybe we can each, in our own way, get started on the how.

Just my 2 cents.


Surprises and Smiles and Lights and Longevity

It's been awhile since I've posted.

So I'm making up for lost time with a huge recap of the last 4 days which cumulatively were some of the most amazing and special days of my year.

Weds, Dec 12 was the day before my birthday. The day before a carefully crafted 4 days in a row off! Made possible by bookending the last half of one week and the beginning of another week. Working in retail - during the holidays - means NO vacation time, so I got creative. And boy was it worth it.

One thing about me you have to know - if you don't already know - is that I'm a huge believer in destiny and miracles and intuition. And six weeks ago when I asked for the time off, I told my two BFF's  (Tim and Brian) who'd moved from CO to Seattle WA that I would have this time off and "wouldn't it be nice" if they surprised me for my birthday weekend.

When they sent me my Hanukkah presents last week and said that nights 5 & 6 present would be on the way, I replied by saying "Oh sure....YOU GUYS are my night 5 and night 6 present. And I honestly and truly believed that would happen.

So back to Wednesday and being off work and running errands. Earlier in the day I'd texted Brian asking him when their plane was landing. He told me I was crazy and he was sorry but he was in Seattle, nowhere near CO.

And as I'm in the middle of running post-work errands, Tim texts me to say hi and if I'd gone to the post office to get the package they'd sent me for nights 5 and nights 6. The text is followed by a call. And the call turns out to be Tim telling me that YES - he and Brian are here in CO and YES we are having dinner together as soon as I can meet up with them.

I SCREAMED!!! My dream had come true! My besties were BACK IN CO! YIPPEE!!

Within 5 minutes we were hugging (and I was jumping up and down) then hugging some more. I have such awesome friends!

Off to dinner we went. Margarita's were imbibed. Yummy Mexican food was consumed. Stories told, laughter shared, pix posted to Facebook which unleashed the floodgates of texts from Brian's former (and my current) co-worker's excited to see that Brian was back in town.

Bri & Kath

After dinner, it was time for Night 5 Candle Lighting. And more laughter!

 

Bri Lights

One of my many Hanukkah presents - a gorgeous candle holder that magnified the light a hundred fold! (Yep, that's the Instagrammed version) ;-)

Hundred Fold

And here's Brian's version of lights (Tim surprised Brian and packed Brian's Menorah from home - which is just like Tim aka The Most Thoughtful Person in the Universe)

5 lights

There are few things in this world as special as watching Menorah lights in a darkened room with your family (aka friends-like-family, which Tim and Brian are to me).

Talk about Miracles!

 

The next day, Thursday Dec 13 was my birthday!! What better way to start the day by having breakfast at my favorite place with my favorite people? The drive into Boulder was beautiful as always made even better (as if that was possible) with a lovely birthday call from my Dad and Mom - aka Best Parents in the World :-)

Snooze Boulder

Snooze breakfasts are out of this world and it was so nice and comforting to start the day in a familiar place with familiar faces.

The rest of the day was one surprise after another! Brian stopped by his former workplace  to say hi and catch up while Tim and I had some quality time to ourselves. In the months before they moved we'd started having "Tim and Kath Days" and it was nice to have that special alone time once more.

More errands followed (they dropped me off then used my car to run their errands) followed by a dinner with former/current co-workers (more smiles, laughs, stories, memories made) and finished the night back at my place for Night 6 candles...and me SCREAMING from the surprise of walking into my room and finding a GORGEOUS headboard that matched my desk (that Tim and Brian had given me the previous year for Hanukkah/my birthday). My sneaky Hanukkah Elves had worked quickly while I was at my appt to make everything happen.

Check it out!

T & B

 

Truly awesome friends - agreed?

You would think this would be enough surprises for the day and night, right? But you'd be wrong. There was more spoiling to be had. I'm still in shock as I write this, two days after the fact.

We fired up the lights for Night 6 and listened to Matisyahu's Miracle - which I ADORE :

Just livin’ in the miracle, candles are my vehicle 
Eight nights, gonna shine invincible 
No longer be divisible, born through the struggle 
Keep on moving through all this hustle 
Head up, heads down through all of the bustle 
New York City wanna flex your muscle 
Look so down, look so puzzled 
Huddle ‘round your fire through all the rubble 
Bound to stumble and fall but my strength comes not from man at all 
Bound to stumble and fall but my strength comes not from man at all 

Do you believe in miracles 
Am I hearing you? Am I seeing you? 
Eight nights eight lights and these rites keep me right 
Bless me to the highest heights with your miracle 

Against all odds drive on till tomorrow 
Wipe away your tears and your sorrow 
Sunrise in the sky like an arrow 
No need to worry, no need to cry 
Light up your mind no longer be blind 
Him who searches will find 
Leave your problems behind you will shine like a fire in the sky 
what's the reason we’re alive – the reason we’re alive… 
Bound to stumble and fall but my strength comes not from man at all 
Bound to stumble and fall but my strength comes not from man at all 

Do you believe in miracles 
Am I hearing you? Am I seeing you? 
Eight nights eight lights and these rites keep me right 
Bless me to the highest heights with your miracle 

Eight is the number of infinity one more than what you know how to be 
And this is the light of festivity when your broken heart yearns to be free 

Do you believe in miracles 
Am I hearing you? Am I seeing you? 
Eight nights eight lights and these rites keep me right 
Bless me to the highest heights with your miracle

 

A perfect end to a perfect birthday filled with so much love from my lovely besties, family and friends.

Sadly, Tim and Brian had to cut their visit short the next morning and flew home sooner than expected, but the time we spent together was epic and wonderful and beyond my wildest dreams. They are (seriously) two of the nicest and finest people I've ever met and I am honored and humbled to call them my friends.

The last part of this post speaks to longevity. 5 years to be exact. As I posted on Facebook this morning :

"5 years ago today at 3:14 in the afternoon I signed the offer letter for a job that would change the course of my life.

5 years with the BEST Management team ever! 5 years with peers that inspired me and challenged me and continue to do so to this day. 5 years of meeting coworkers that would become my family. 5 years of amazing products that would enrich my life and the lives of others. 5 years where every single day I'm so proud to say I work for Apple.

Today is my 5 year Appleversary (yes, I coined that term) :-)

So humbled and honored. Thanks to all my Fruitstand Friends for making my journey so awesome!"

And that's my amazing weekend.

Surprises of epic proportions. Smiles & hugs & ahavachesed (lovingkindness) from two of the most important people in my life. Lights to celebrate victories and great miracles. And belonging to a world where work feels like play and peers like family.

All is right in Kathyland tonite.