Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hop on the Gratitude List

A blog I follow popped up in my reading list here at blogspot this morning. Apparently there's a blog hop called 10 Things of Thankful. It reminded me that my practice of writing gratitude lists is an important part of staying happy, grounded and in connection with my God. So without further ado, here's today's gratitude list:
My number one reason to be grateful. 

  1. Happy, healthy children. I have two beautiful little girls who have walked through the process of divorce, me going slightly crazy trying to handle the pressures of divorce, single-motherhood, work, bankruptcy, PMS (I swear I must be close to PMDD), and giving up our home. They live with their dad and then I according to our custody agreement and they know how much they are loved. They do well in school and they have lots of friends and they are such good little girls. I love them to pieces and am forever grateful to be their mommy.
  2. Our NEW home: I wrote about this before. When I finally let go of the old, run-down, overpriced condo, a new and better one became available to us immediately. Same complex, quieter area, bigger, better appliances, working a/c, a great landlady who fixes things when I ask. Oh, if I had known two years before what was waiting for us, I would have laughed and clapped, and not wasted so many tears.
  3. My job. This is the job that I was at before the end of my marriage and through the divorce. I may have some gripes lately, but my gratitude for everything that is my job is strong. I love my job, my office, most of my coworkers and the projects I am involved in. Thank you God for my job.
  4. My car. It's newish. It's nice, it runs well and I enjoy taking care of it like no other car I've owned in the past. My first brand-new car. Love it. Thank you God. 
  5. My cat, Rocky. She is the coolest cat ever. She fits into our family like crazy, and she is a funny little feline who loves her humans. Now, if I could just get her to stop creating mad art with the toilet paper, we'd be golden.
  6. My friends. When I make these lists I always just do them in random, flow-of-thought process and I always end up saying, "this list is in no particular order," and that is because I am so freakin' blessed with amazing friends who always are there when I need support, for whom I can return love and support, and we can laugh, bitch, hang, do whatever together and it is always ok because we love each other.
  7. Being of service. I just re-upped, as they say, at the local hospital where I used to volunteer when I was in high school. I passed the physical fitness test and had the medical tests yesterday to be sure I'm not sick with TB or measles...I'm not...and soon I get to help in the emergency room lobby. I also helped serve food to musicians at a local music festival and liked it so much I went back the next day (I was only scheduled to work one day for three hours) and put in another 6 hours. I just love helping people which goes against my otherwise "get the eff out of my way" attitude at all other times. Need to reconcile those two very different attitudes so I am ALWAYS feeling of service, no matter where I go or what I am doing.
  8. The power of prayer. Love this. I pray a LOT. Talk to God A LOT. Many, many, many times my prayers are answered so that I either 1) learn a great lesson or 2) am blessed by the Grace of God to live in a happy and peaceful way (i.e. the whole condo thing). 
  9. Coffee. Ok, anyone who knows me knows how much I love my coffee. I've blogged about it. I'm addicted to coffee but since I don't do drugs, don't drink, don't drink soda, and don't smoke, my gratitude for coffee is at its greatest level of all times. Thank you GOD for the java.
  10. The power of writing. I love writing. I may not be perfect at it, but it's the process more than the end-result for me. Writing is cathartic and a powerful way, especially here, to express what is going on inside my head.
One more thing to be very grateful for. My daughters and I get to go support my friend Julie as she walks through the memorial today for her daughter, Brittany. We are going for Julie, to hug her if we get a chance, to express our love and our sorrow for the loss of her beautiful, spirited, amazing daughter Brittany. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

45 and Ready to Give Back

Here I am. 45 today. And other than a few bits and pieces of me that feel a wee bit older, especially when I've been sitting on the floor too long, I feel WONDERFUL. 

My life has been so full of turmoil the last few years, much of which is documented right here in this blog, that it is amazing to arrive here, at 45, feeling happy, grateful, peaceful, content. That might also have something to do with the fact that I have taken some vacation days in the past couple weeks. I definitely was born to live the life of the rich and no-need-to-work set. Ah, well, reality is for now I get to be a hard-working woman. :) 

Anyway, with its relatively few ups and downs lately, life has been just amazing. Even the downs have provided me with insight and revised perspective, for which I am grateful. I've been saying "Thank you" over and over and over again for all the wonderment going on in my life. To an outsider that wonderment might be nothing at all, just a boring life led by a not-so-boring gal. But to me, every day is a day to have an adventure, see what's around the corner, even if it is just to go to the laundry room. Yeah sure, I get off days. Which make my on days totally awesome.

As a bit of an example...yesterday I signed all the papers to prepare me for volunteering at a local hospital which I used to volunteer at when I was in high-school.

Here's a before and after:

My "candystriping" days at the hospital as a Junior Volunteer.
Alas, they don't use the candy stripe uniforms for the juniors anymore.
Note the GINORMOUS shoulder pads and sleeves of my chosen blouse, a la 1985. 
Thirty years later, I like this look.
Mature and a lot less poofy (in many ways...) 

While in the volunteer office I came across the photo album I was in charge of during my tenure as Historian Officer on the Junior Volunteer Board in 1985-1986. It was a very surreal moment to see one's teenage penmanship and scrapbooking attempts (before scrapbooking became such the rage it is today with its gadgets, doodads, background paper and stamps), bringing up sensory memories of what I had available at the time: glue and glitter and markers. Seeing this again allowed a recapturing of that youthful ambition to be better than the Historian before me. There, my handiwork, in a book that had been out of sight and mind for thirty years, harbored for so long on a business bookshelf, was open in front of me. 

My handwriting is still very much the same, and, as a professional graphic designer, I am happy to report my sense of design and layout have improved dramatically. Most importantly, I felt again the spirit of the eager, fairly happy 16-year-old me which still imbued the pages. There were photos of myself and friends in events at the hospital, which I had to fire off some cellphone camera shots of before leaving. Faces and names (thanks to my quirky-humor captions and penchant for details [which I also still have to this day]) came back to me with "aha" and "awww!" and "ohmigawd" clarity. 

It was a wonderful birthday present. Especially since one of my best friends whom I met while volunteering and lost track of found me on Facebook just last week. We spent a good hour talking on the phone Friday and then, there came Monday, and there we were in the book in front of me. 

No wonder I feel so happy. Everything happens for a reason. Maybe this is God's way of allowing me a mini do-over since life after volunteering became problematic for quite awhile. Maybe this is God's way of saying, "I walked you through hell, now it's time to give some love to others who now have to do the same." Oh, thank you so much God. Sincerely, honestly, gratefully, THANK YOU. I am honored and will do my best.

Today my heart swells with gratitude, and I am so very thankful for the many not-coincidences in my life. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Justice for Brittany Jane Royal

On May 28, 2013, the body of Brittany Jane Royal, pregnant with her first child, was caught up in a fishing line. She had been strangled and thrown off a cliff in Hawaii. She was found in the waters of Kalapana.

Brittany's mom, Julie, is a friend of mine. I didn't get to meet Brittany, but hearing her mom talk about her, Brittany was a happy, free-spirited woman, who loved life. She played music, traveled, appreciated the beauty surrounding her. The photos on the Facebook page, Justice for Brittany Jane Royal, show a glowing young woman with a wide and beautiful smile who exuded happiness and spirituality.

Julie is one of the most amazing women I know. She has not crumpled under the tremendous volume of sadness and injustice that has befallen her, her family, her friends. Yes, she cries as she speaks of Brittany, but it is momentary. Julie believes in God, and she knows her daughter and grandbaby are now up there watching over us. She believes the spirit that resided in Brittany in life, permeates all those who knew her and those of us who, unfortunately, only heard more details of her life after she died. Julie combats the sadness by being of service to others, by praying, by hugging, by talking about her pain, by allowing others to support her through this, by remaining strong for her two sons – Brittany's little brothers. Julie smiles and laughs and she moves forward and she will not stop, ever, trying to aid the police in apprehending the prime murder suspect, Boaz Johnson, Brittany's boyfriend and father of her unborn child. He is still missing, although the police in Hawaii believe he is alive and on the island. 

A memorial will be held for her in her hometown in a beautiful garden setting full of faith and spirituality. Like her mom said, it's right up Brittany's alley. The "after party" will be at a local beach and everyone is encouraged to bring instruments and be ready to sing and dance. It is the only way to celebrate Brittany's life.

Please, if you are reading this post, PLEASE forward this to all you know. Get Brittany's case out there. The more media coverage there is for her, the better the chances of finding her killer. I know I have a small following, the largest percentage of my page views are spambots for crying out loud. That's why I am literally BEGGING you...if you are a human being reading this through, please pass this on.

Please look at Justice For Brittany Jane Royal's page on Facebook. Read the messages from her little brothers, her mom and dad, friends and strangers who care. Read her bucket list...things she wanted to do before she died.  Look into the eyes of a beautiful, gentle soul, look at her smile, she was so glad to be having a baby...look at the photos of her with her mom and family...look into those eyes of a mother-to-be who was murdered and please pass the link on to help bring her killer to justice.

Thank you. I have much gratitude for ANYONE who read this far and especially for those who have passed this information on.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

One of the first jokes (riddles?) I recall my dad ever telling me wasn't so much a joke as it was a tricky little test of my young analytical skills. I failed miserably.

When he asked me "What other countries have Fourth of July?" I answered, "None dad! That's America's special day!" Or something like that. I felt so smart. Perhaps smugly so. Silly dad.

*oops...silly young Kris*

Of course, the answer is ALL countries that follow the Gregorian calendar (aka Western calendar) have  a fourth of July. 

The trick is that the United States of America celebrates its freedom with a national holiday called Independence Day, which falls on 4 July. Somewhere along the way, it has become known simply as Fourth of July.

In fact, as I tried to find banner and profile photos for my Facebook page, I googled "Independence Day" and all the photos that popped up were of that fine cinematic masterpiece by the same name (honestly, I enjoy's a great little sci-fi flick...I just find it difficult to watch Bill Pullman's cheerleading/propagandist speech before We the People kick alien ass without cringing just a bit). When I amended my search to "Fourth of July" BAM!!!! picture after picture after picture of American symbolism popped up...Lady Liberty, the American flag, fireworks, eagles...sometimes all in one photo. So, I acquiesced and grabbed a couple I liked and uploaded them to my page.

Awww. I love our Lady Liberty. 
Even so, I admit I easily fall into saying "Happy Fourth of July y'all!!" 

I don't always say "y'all", but when I do, it sounds stupid. 

To remain true to my anal-retentive, historical nutcase self, I did officially state "Happy Independence Day" on Facebook. Just to keep things on the historical up and up and to make it clear I know the answer to that riddle my father pulled on me soooo lonnnnnggggg agooooooo. (echo echo echo).

Have a great Independence Day America. And to all the rest of the world, Happy Fourth of July. (Unless it's past midnight, then Happy Fifth of July).

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