It Sounds Like A Story To Tell It

If you knew our Mom, you would know that she was fiercely dedicated to making everything even. Growing up, our tradition was that when one of us had a birthday, the other one got a ‘little something’ too. Mom always made sure that we felt special, even when it wasn’t our day.

So it would perhaps come as no surprise that when my sister recently attended a breast cancer fundraiser, that she might win something because she put her raffle tickets into many buckets in the hopes of winning. But when she put her ticket in for number 92, without telling anyone, she said a little prayer and asked our Mom to let me (her sister) win something as I’ve had some health issues. My sister thought this basket looked like it belonged to me as it looked like our Mom. She scattered her other tickets in different baskets, including 95 as she’d always wanted a kindle…

As the gift basket tickets were being called, she was unaware that she won number 92. When her friend pointed out that she had the winning ticket, she went up to claim it and was startled to see that it was the exact basket she had asked our Mom to give to me. A few minutes later when 95 was called and it was her ticket that won, she began to cry and explained to her friend the story.

It was my sister’s birthday the other day. Hence the gifts, equally won, from our Mom to her girls. Even as I write this story to you, I know I am not giving it the justice it deserves because it’s so much more than just winning two baskets. It’s not even about the wins. It’s about the big picture in so many different ways.

It’s about my sister feeling our Mom heard her prayer. It’s about Mom showing that she’s listening. It’s about my sister thinking about me too when she’s at a fundraiser. It’s about the sharing of so many memories together that has so powerfully bonded us in times of strife. It’s about the tradition of giving, even when it’s not your birthday. It’s about inclusion, sisterhood, love and camaraderie. It’s about knowing that nobody else in the world has the childhood memories that we have, nor the silly stories, nor the experiences we’ve been through as we’ve traversed the adult journey into losing our loved ones.

It’s about believing that the veil is thin to the other side. It’s about everlasting, unconditional love which our Mom taught us. It’s about sharing. It’s about gratitude. It’s about kindness. It’s about so much more than I could ever have explained in a post.

So when we went out to lunch, after she shared the baskets with me and we opened them, each of us donned a necklace and smiling the whole afternoon, we enjoyed our time together as we do. As we waited for our table for lunch, we ducked into a small store and found a vase and flower to decorate our lunch table with Mom in mind.

A simple, yet elegant, white dahlia just like Mom. What a beautiful reminder of where we came from and how we’ve grown. Thanks for reading…

Shine On!

xo

The Road To Recovery

As I drove home from an unsuccessful cardiac rehabilitation session, I was reminded how many times I have been on the road to recovery. With more than 15 plus surgeries, you would think I would get used to the fact that I am never ‘normal’ and whatever is ‘normal’ when someone is recovering is probably not going to be my experience because of the many different circumstances that I’ve endured. I’m complicated and therefore my recovery requires tweaks that aren’t per the usual.

I don’t know why I would assume things would go smoothly this time around when they haven’t ever really been that way in the past. But I did, which probably explains the tears of frustration on the ride home from what should have been my first ‘workout’ since the open heart surgery to replace my deformed aortic valve.

Long story short, due to my lymph node removal from the breast cancer surgeries, taking my blood pressure requires that it’s done on my leg and not the usual arm. But the cardiac rehabilitation people weren’t used to doing it that way. I encounter this often, so I am used to teaching them how to put the cuff on my leg and taking my blood pressure. But for whatever reason, every time they took my blood pressure it was sky high – once it showed 208/117 which if you know anything about blood pressure, this is super duper high. Because during the rehab session, the nurses need to take your BP a total of 4 times, this wouldn’t work since I couldn’t even get a decent reading to begin any type of exercise.

As any breast cancer survivor who has had many (or all) lymph nodes removed in both arms, blood pressure readings can’t be done in the usual way on your arm because of the threat of lymphedema. Therefore it’s taken on your lower leg. But I’ve learned that when you take the BP on your leg, the numbers are usually higher. Cardiac rehab requires your blood pressure to be under a certain number in order to begin the workout. Mine, as you can imagine, is not within range.

I get a certain ‘white coat syndrome’ every once in awhile when I’m going for my twice yearly tumor marker check up with the oncologist and my blood pressure can spike, but after the blood draw, it usually subsides. I’m not good with blood draws or needles of any kind. I tend to almost faint which isn’t fun. Not for the clinician, nor for me. You’d think I’d be used to it by now being that it’s been part of my routine for over 20 years, but my body has her own mind and does what she wants. Now that I know it’s a heart thing, there’s not much I can do about it. Just ride the wave…stay afloat and keep going.

I was trying on fall clothes the other day with my sister. The scars on my chest are very visible as any open heart surgery survivor knows. Perhaps they’ll soften over time like the others, but in the meantime, they’re raised, angry red and obvious. Much of my clothing is v-necked which shows my latest scar. She was baffled that I would wear something that might show a bit of my scar instead of covering up to hide what’s happened to me. But it’s all a part of me. The tracks of my tears, my experiences and I don’t want to hide anymore. I want to help. I want to be comfortable being me.

Perhaps people will find it ugly to see my scar. That’s ok. Because lucky for them, they’re not me. They don’t have to live with it or the constant pain. But me, well, I’m on the road to recovery…one baby step at a time…

Reason, Season and a Lifetime

A teacher is a candle who spends their whole life giving light to all of their students.

I never knew there was a World Teacher Day until I saw it on my calendar, so here I am. Because as a retired Spanish teacher, and a blogger who uses – SHINE ON – to end her posts, well, it was only fitting for me to write today.

Perhaps though I’ll go in a bit of a different direction. Because I think that the world is our classroom and all of her inhabitants are our teachers. Each relationship we have teaches us something else. We learn much from the people in our lives. That poem about reason, season or lifetime seems fitting at this juncture. We are blessed to learn something from each relationship we are in. I found this poem by Brian A. Chalker which I think explains it very well. Read on…

Reason, Season and a Lifetime


People always come into your life for a reason, a season and a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are. They are there for a reason, you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die, Sometimes they just walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season. And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall, the season eventually ends.

LIFETIME, relationships teach you a lifetime of lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway), and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. Thank you for being part of my life…..

My heartfelt gratitude to all of you with whom I have been in contact, had a relationship, and learned from as my teachers. You have shaped my life in amazing ways and I am truly grateful for all of you.

Shine On!

xo

Good Thinking

I did not write this – but WOW does it speak to my heart!!! Worth the read.

“Barely the day started and… it’s already six in the evening.

Barely arrived on Monday and it’s already Friday.

… and the month is already over.

… and the year is almost over.

… and already 40, 50 or 60 years of our lives have passed.

… and we realize that we lost our parents, friends.

and we realize it’s too late to go back…

So… Let’s try, despite everything, to enjoy the remaining time…

Let’s keep looking for activities that we like…

Let’s put some color in our grey…

Let’s smile at the little things in life that put balm in our hearts.

And despite everything, we must continue to enjoy with serenity this time we have left.

Let’s try to eliminate the afters…

I’m doing it after…

I’ll say after…

I’ll think about it after…

We leave everything for later like ′′ after ′′ is ours.

Because what we don’t understand is that:

Afterwards, the coffee gets cold…

Afterwards, priorities change…

Afterwards, the charm is broken…

Afterwards, health passes…

Afterwards, the kids grow up…

Afterwards parents get old…

Afterwards, promises are forgotten…

afterwards, the day becomes the night…

Afterwards life ends…

And then it’s often too late….

So… Let’s leave nothing for later…

Because still waiting see you later, we can lose the best moments,

the best experiences,

best friends,

the best family…

The day is today… The moment is now…”

Shine On!

xo

Spinner Blessed My Sunday

Hi! I’m Spinner!

Good morning and Happy Sunday! I’m excited to introduce you to my date this morning. This 28 year old bay named Spinner was my companion on my early horseback riding lesson today. It’s been a few years since I’ve ridden, so it was back to basics for me and Oh, how good it felt!

I was told that Spinner’s a bit of a grumpy old man so we fit together perfectly because I’ve got a soft spot for those and apparently he had a soft spot for a heart-monitor wearing open heart surgery survivor who’s trying to get back in the saddle slowly after a few years of being away…What a win win for me!

I have to tell you, I had butterflies this morning. It’s been a few years since I’d been back to the farm. But the smell of hay and horse felt like nostalgia to me and although a bit nervous, I was calm. Because it felt grounding and centering as horse healing does. I’d forgotten what magnificent creatures horses are and especially I’d forgotten how BIG! I couldn’t even brush the top of his back because I’m too short, but we did the best we could. He was pretty patient with me, only showing his grumpy side a few times and more to my teacher May, than to me. I think he instinctively knew I needed kid gloves today especially. They’re so intuitive! Who could blame him though because I’d interrupted his relaxing morning with a lesson?! Big smile..

It’s interesting to me because in my head, it’s all so natural to ride and yet, when I’m there, in reality, I’m nervous which is why I keep coming back to riding. Because I want my imagination and reality to merge, to blend, so that I am riding with more ease. Of course, I’m always looking to soak up that horse healing energy!

I’m so much more aware of my body when I’m on a horse. Aren’t you? That was another one of those revelations as May led us around the outdoor arena. I’d forgotten what it’s like to ride, to sit up tall, to hold the reins, butt in the saddle and feet angled in the stirrups (heels down). To be so high up off the ground is surprising too! (Maybe that’s a short girl thing?)

We worked on steering (not sure if that’s the right vocabulary word?) while in the outdoor ring. It’s been awhile so I was a little rusty. I remembered how to hold the reins, but the nuances were buried. They’re getting unearthed now though! After awhile, May took us on a riding tour of the farm which was awesome too. To be relaxed, on horseback, seeing the ponds, the deer, the other horses, the barns, the trails, to be outdoors on a cool day…just magical. Truly. Magical.

So, Happy Sunday everyone…mine started out beautifully and I had to share with you because, well, we have to count these small moments of triumph even if they don’t last long. They deserve to be heralded a little bit because they count.

We all count…Thanks to May and Sasha for their infinite patience with me as this next chapter unfolds. You’ve heard horses are healing, but to experience that healing is beyond words…I feel a lil’ teary as I write this (sorry for the long post), but I’m feeling very grateful and very blessed.

I hope you have a lovely Sunday too…

Shine On!

xo

Emergence

I want to introduce you to my dear friend Iris, by way of her blog which you can find here! While she’s not on WordPress like the rest of us, she’s got amazing insight to share and her post today had me immediately writing one to present her to you because I feel many of you will resonate with her messages.

The post I am referring to is titled On Loss, but after 9/11, perhaps it’s fitting that it should be now. (Fitting, the southern term – my Mom or her family must be around!) – because you know the veil is currently thin with the full moon in Pisces and six planets in retrograde etc. But alas, I get off subject…

What came to me after reading Iris’ post was: a deep harkening to the soul…be present it whispers…be grateful…take the time to listen, to hold sacred which is just what I’m planning to do today.

Many of us have suffered losses. I have many loved ones who have passed away and their love stays with me in the deepest part of my soul. Tucked away like a small reminder of what once was. A treasured memory now almost dusty, but still warmed by my soul’s affection for and with them.

Iris has another website as well so you can really get to know her which is thelightanddarkofday.com As someone who has benefited from her gifts, I can heartily recommend booking a session with her as she is warm, inviting and full of inner wisdom which radiates within us. Please tell her I sent you if you should decide to reach out to her. She can let you know what session would best benefit you. She’s been a dear friend to me, as well as an insightful companion and mentor. Her understanding of our world and its creatures as well as the humanity and heart of all that beats within is incredible. You will find yourself grateful for the gift of Iris as I do.

Shine On!

xo

Twenty One Years Ago Today

Does it seem like it happened twenty one years ago? Do you remember where you were? Because I do. I was teaching in my classroom. My class had left the room and the front office called to tell me what was going on. I quickly turned on the television as there weren’t any students in the room and watched the South Tower of the World Trade Center fall in real time. It was surreal to me and I remember how my mind couldn’t quite grasp the reality of what I was seeing at that very moment.

Students came back in for the next class I was teaching and I had to remain calm, but I was a little more than shaky. Luckily, at that time my students were still blissfully unaware of what was occurring and we forged on, business as usual. By later in the day word had spread as parents had come to take their children safely home. We had many parents who worked in NYC at the time and many at the World Trade Center. Some of those parents never came home, which was a tragedy that as a community we all mourned, along with their families.

I remember how my Mom used to talk about the day that JFK was shot and how everyone remembered that day and where they were. I feel that 9/11 is similar especially for those of us on the East Coast. It changed our world in ways that we still feel today…twenty one years later.

I still get teary on this day. I don’t know why, but I do. So on this quiet Sunday morning, I ask that you take a few moments in stillness with me for all of the souls who passed in this tragedy and for all of those who were so affected by it.

We have not forgotten. You are always remembered. God bless.

Shine On!

xo

Remember You Are Loved

There have been a few people in my life who have sadly taken theirs, so when I heard it was World Suicide Prevention Day, I felt it was important to honor it. Please accept my heartfelt hugs to those of you who know someone(s) who have chosen this path. For me, I know that any passing leaves a deep sadness in its wake, but somehow it seems a suicide feels more tragic to me, as if it were preventable on some level, even if we didn’t have control over it ourselves.

Preventing a suicide is key:

The key to me is to listen with an open heart and mind to those who are hurting. To care about them and let them know how much you care. To be with those who are hurting. To listen beyond what’s being said to what is silenced. To hold sacred space for them while encouraging their participation in this world. To gently take their hand and walk with them for as long as it takes. To be aware that ‘I’m fine” may not mean “I’m fine” in the way you want to believe it does. To always let people know you love and care for them and that you’re really here for them through thick and thin. They are never alone…

For those who are hurting:

To allow someone to hold our hands when we’re feeling low. To open up to trusted friends and family. To talk about it. To write about it. To get the feelings out when they are messy so that the despair doesn’t fill us up inside. To try. To share. To ask for help. To receive help. To believe that this will help us. To see beyond the present moment and ourselves. To realize there are other choices. To take baby steps towards healing. To feel the love that others have for us. To realize and know we are never alone. To think beyond that present moment as to how an potential action affects those around us and question how we can save ourselves and others. Because we can stay here and get help and feel better…

While I am not suicidal, we have all had low moments in our lifetimes I think and so we can understand how someone may feel in that moment…let’s make sure that all who inhabit our earth feel our heartlights shining so that we can help each and every person so that no one feels alone again.

Shine On!

xo

Do You Have A Teddy Bear Story To Share?

I never knew there was a National Teddy Bear Day, did you? Well, it’s today which means I have to write about it! Because I still have my original Teddy Bear – aptly named Teddy – who looks all of his age plus a few decades. Yes, he has been loved that much over the years! Then, I have his sibling named Tedriana. Tedriana was made with much love by my Mom who decided one year to make my sister and me matching teddy bears as Christmas gifts. I have to ask my sister if she still has hers!

There’s something quite charming about a Teddy Bear, don’t you think? While mine doesn’t look very pretty anymore, as he’s lost all of his hair, I don’t care. He’s very special to me and I can’t get rid of him. I don’t sleep with him anymore (obviously), but I will confess that he holds a special place in my heart and if need be, I would hold him for comfort. So far, I’ve been able to resist, but knowing he’s there is helpful.

What is it about a Teddy Bear? Is he part of the comfort of childhood? Was Teddy the friend when you were younger whom you trusted to tell your secrets to? Who was always ready with a hug to calm you? Did you even have a Teddy? Or was your comfort stuffed plush a different animal or a precious blankie?

Come on…spill your secrets to me, please! Don’t be shy…I’m sure your Teddy or Tedriana would love the notoriety on this special day!

Shine On!

xo

September Rabbit Rabbit

You know what happens on the first of the month if you’ve been following me for any stretch of time – we say Rabbit Rabbit, White Rabbit, White Rabbit – for luck for the month ahead! I found this sweet photo on Canva and wanted to use it because I was imagining that’s me (as a white rabbit) giving you a kiss! Mwah!

I adore September and the beginning of the school year, even though my teaching days are long over. There’s something magical about the fresh start and it clicks in place within me every September. It’s even better than New Year’s Eve for a new beginning for me because it’s gradual. Forget about January and making resolutions! I’m more into hopefully opening new pathways in September!

Just in case you might have thought I’d forgotten you or my blog – no, I haven’t. I’ve just been recuperating from the open heart surgery I endured and trying to heal from it. It’s not been what I had thought it would be – a smooth uphill battle. Instead it’s been a roller coaster, full of twists and downs and ups and sideways motions, none of which I could have predicted.

But I’m still here – being more in the present than ever because I haven’t a choice – and making the most of it!

Shine On!

xo