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re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Gioiamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3024, member since Sun Jun 20, 2004
On Wed May 22, 2013 08:47 PM
I am so sorry, Christine. You and your family have been and will continue to be in my thoughts. Sending lots of hugs!
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Sumayah Comments: 6875, member since Wed Nov 12, 2008
On Wed May 22, 2013 09:16 PM
I am so sorry for your loss. However I hope her family will find peace and you will all be able to heal. Love to you all.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 25878, member since Tue Jul 16, 2002
On Thu May 23, 2013 05:44 AM
I'm so sorry to hear that. May she find peace and your family is able to heal.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Thu May 23, 2013 05:57 AM
Bless you all. I'm sure she loved being your daughter in law as much as you loved having her as part of your family.

(((Auntie Christine)))
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By leogirlPremium member Comments: 637, member since Thu Aug 15, 2002
On Thu May 23, 2013 07:11 AM
I will light a candle today for your daughter in law, you, and your family. My love is with you.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 4)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Thu May 23, 2013 10:01 PM
Thank you all for your kind words. I know they are sincere, and I genuinely appreciate every one.

It is so difficult to write about any of this yet. For the moment, the most important feeling among the huge complex bundle of raw and contained emotions is relief for Kate. Thank G*d it's over. It is just horrific that she spent the last two years this way. I am so grateful that this didn't drag on one minute longer.

I hope her parents will find peace and perhaps a return to some kind of normalcy. It would honor my daughter in law's memory greatly if this family could heal. I know it won't be easy.

I'm sure I'll be back to write more in the next several days. The wake is Monday, funeral mass on Tuesday. Her parents arranged everything without my son and he wisely stood down. Although he was prepared for this, he is understandably sad. Very, very, VERY, sad. He loved her most of his life.

My granddaughter has a little friend at the studio who lost an infant brother, Ryan, a few years ago. When she told her about Kate, she and her friend agreed that Kate would be Ryan's mommy in heaven because Ryan was just a baby and Kate was a very good mommy so she'd take care of him until the rest of us got there. Believe it or not, I think these children have a better sense of navigating peace than I do.

Again, thank you all for your tender thoughts.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Wed Jun 05, 2013 09:30 AM
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2013-06-05 09:32:37 try again
It is still too painful to write about the last 300 hours, so I'll start with today, (which of course, is full of yesterday and tomorrow.) I appreciate the patience of anyone reading this.

As dancers, musicians, teachers, or comedians, we know timing is everything. I have to say, there is a certain comedic intricacy to the timing of recent events in my family life lining up so forcefully with my business obligations to the students and families at my dance studio. Kate's funeral was Tuesday, recital tech rehearsal was Friday. I spent all day Monday in New York with my 82 year old mother who just had her knee replaced on Saturday, and dress rehearsal is on Saturday. Recital on Sunday, Father's Day here in the US. I could write six paragraphs between the beginning of those sentences and the end, but I will spare us all the agony of reading them.

Pollyanna reminds me that I shouldn't let the volume of this ___ storm weigh me down. It is actually a blessing because of the 24 hour day. A perfectly good day might be ruined by any one of these things, if they happened months apart, they would consume several more actual "days". This way, we can just grin and bear a few bad days and be glad that's all we have. At the moment. And be glad when it's all over.

Or something like that.

As I started writing this I got yet another call from a parent saying their children will not be in class tonight or Friday because they had to miss the game last Friday because of tech rehearsal. *Yet Another Note To Self:* "Rethink this June recital thing."

Rethink lots of things.

I had a ton of stuff to write about, but it seems I now have to switch around a bunch of stuff for class tonight....so
Image hotlink - 'http://static.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/1344719971547_7777335.png'

See y'all later.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Josianemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 1643, member since Sun Nov 06, 2005
On Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:14 PM
I'm so sorry :( Sending many hugs your way
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Thu Jun 20, 2013 01:21 PM
Image hotlink - 'https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1004040_10152906807930487_284320671_n.jpg'

No time to report on Sunday's recital except to say it went well.

Studio pizza party/certificate presentation/dance round up, tonight at 6 PM. Then time to spend some time thinking and planning.

What to do, what to do.....?
Keep On Dancing?

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Thu Jun 20, 2013 04:14 PM
ALWAYS keep on dancing. Alllllllways. :)
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:09 AM
Image hotlink - 'https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/945264_563230670394360_869214876_n.png'

and dance we did.

Inspired by the title of another rather lovely diary here on DDN (www.dance.net . . .)following Thursday's studio event, I packed my bag and drove to Atlantic City to spend some "alone time" with my husband. He called on Wednesday morning and suggested I pack a particular dress and join him. I arrived sometime around 3AM on Friday morning. Long drive, but he seemed happy to see me.

The hotel room was right above the boardwalk but because it was on the 32nd floor it wasn't noisy. The ocean view was lovely. We slept late, then had a great breakfast at a Hooka Lounge/Restaurant right on the boardwalk. Everything was so pretty...white and re-purposed natural woods, tropical plants...from my spot at the table, it could have been Hawaii.

The weather was perfect. Warm sun, cool breeze, uncrowded beach. There was a sand sculpting World Championship going on,www.pressofatlanticcity.com . . . and some of the artists were still working on their pieces. Very impressive.
Image hotlink - 'http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/pressofatlanticcity.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/93/393dd8a2-6600-58a6-914a-89e5d01735cb/51c4e2b30d3a0.preview-300.jpg'
Image hotlink - 'http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/pressofatlanticcity.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/26/d26fd409-51cc-556d-a524-c5feb71a206c/51be3893e6216.image.jpg'
Each artist displayed a flag from their home country/state at the perimeter of their plot.
Image hotlink - 'http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/pressofatlanticcity.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/c0/2c04d37b-7293-547f-aafc-d15405b9b93f/51be341b14ef1.image.jpg'

It was worth the drive just for this.

We had a nice dinner at Mortons (always a safe bet, no matter the city)and then played some games. I'm not a gambler. When I was up $9./ at the slots, I cashed out. Did the same thing three times for a grand total of $27.00 over two days. My husband keeps things even and suffice to say the casino is always happy to welcome him back.

We were planning to drive home on Saturday but circumstances on the other end changed so we stayed an extra day.

There were boat races (cigarette boats) going on Saturday and Sunday. The prelims were going on so we went down to the beach, got a great spot to watch the boats and promptly fell asleep in the sun. Ahhhh . Lovely.

We went to Bobby Flay's for dinner and drank a bottle of champagne that cost more than my dress. No regrets. The food was perfect from the chopped salad right through the sixteen layer chocolate cake (two forks, please). We saw the light show a few times and wondered why there isn't a flash mob dancing along on the boardwalk. The last time we saw it, I made my husband dance with me (in the dark). So romantic!

It's nice to be home. There is lots of stuff going on that I haven't mentioned here yet. A premature baby, grandchildren finally out of school, apres recital stuff at the studio.... I'll get to it another time. But for now...

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Mon Jul 08, 2013 07:44 AM
A bit of catching up.

First...recital. This was our 15th show. Wow... time flies. I was pleased with the structure of the show, the costumes, and generally speaking the kids did a good job. There were time sucking frustrations with the venue but all in all, it was ok and I was satisfied with the outcome. That said.... I am seriously considering reconsidering the studio.

The things I love about it... dancing, teaching, kids,my wonderful adult dancers, having a "Play Place" for my grandchildren...are still solid and if these issues were the only ones involved, I'd do this until I died. Unfortunately, the other aspects of the experience are wearing on my last nerve and I'm in a very dark place about the future. I am so tired of being taken advantage of, lied to, and put in the position of either being a bill collector or a doormat I am wondering if it is all worth it. If I were making a ton of money at this perhaps I'd feel differently, but I'm not and I don't. I work so hard at all of it and honestly I don't feel like the outcomes justify the input. Perhaps after a few weeks off I'll feel differently about it, but right now, if someone wanted to buy the business I'd happily finance it for them just to make it happen. I want to feel good about my work and right now I'm not feeling it.

For the third year in a row, the county's Senior Citizen Agency asked us to do the entertainment for their annual 4th of July picnic. Before I said yes, over 20 dancers committed to this performance. I blocked out the show to fit the venue and the time allowance and held two extra afternoons of rehearsal the week before. The day of the picnic I had only 11 dancers show up and not without a bit of drama with one of the more reliable families concerning transportation. The venue was a joke. Half way up the side of a hill, the old people divided between two pavilions, and no arrangements whatsoever for dancing. I did figure it all out and the kids who performed were proud of themselves and the seniors seemed happy but once again.... 40 hours of work, some hard feelings, and maybe 30 minutes of "good vibrations" resulted. Yes... I have some serious thinking to do.

Moving on...

The week after recital I always do a "cast party" at the studio where the kids all gather for pizza, we hand out their "certificates", everyone dances everyone else's dances, hug, kiss, and promise to "keep on dancing" (but rarely sign up for summer classes). A few minutes before the party was over, my daugher in law gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who was born 5 weeks before his due date. Needless to say it was very scary for the parents and exhausting for the time he was in the NICU but happily he is already home. His birth weight was 6 pounds, so although there are the usual concerns with his lungs and other "unfinished business" he is going to be fine. I am told the majority of premature babies end up back in the hospital at least once in the first year of life but we are hoping for the best. My mother tells me I too was 5 weeks early, weighted 6 pounds at birth, and developed pneumonia when I was 5 weeks old and had to be hospitalized. Of course that was eons ago so hopefully he'll benefit from a half century of new knowledge and inovation and be spared.

My mother had a complete knee replacement a month ago and is working hard at her recovery. I drove into the city to visit with her at the hospital right after the surgery but didn't get to see her again until yesterday. It makes me so sad to see her getting old. She spent most of her life doing remarkable things and seeing her like this is very hard. Luckily, she is determined so with enough time I am confident things will get better. Unfortunately, both she and my father are now in their 80's so "do the math."

I've kind of been running my own "Meals on Wheels" lately. I delivered several meals to the new parents as well as my aging parents and the grandchildren have been here just about every day since school ended. I also have a former student visiting for a few weeks and she has been inviting friends to visit with her here. I do like to cook and I know the meals are appreciated by all so perhaps focusing on this aspect of my day to day life will help me keep my mind off the depressing aspects of the studio business. I hope so. Even though it's really hot, I think I'll bake some cookies.

Time to get to work. Another busy day.

Hugs to all
xoxo

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:49 PM
I thought things in the real world were leveling out. Things were so "routine", in fact, I actually thought I'd have time to engage in a bit of DDN frivolity in the form of an on line baby shower for several DDN moms and babes.

I now have something else to feel stressed about. I feel like I'm dropping the ball on these much deserved well wishes for the moms here but....

just when I thought I'd rounded up most of the real world stuff....

my dear friend called me a few days ago to tell me she is dying. She just learned she has 11 tumors throughout her brain. After fighting breast cancer 15 years ago, she had a re-occurrence last fall when cells showed up in her lung. She took treatments through out the winter and things looked pretty good, but at her check up last week, the news of the brains stuff was the end for her. She is a psychologist by trade, so when the cat scan report came back the doctors had to pull her license to treat people as well as her license to drive. I am just heartbroken for her.

anyway......

She asked me to have an "Irish Wake" for her. One catch.... she wants a living wake. She says that if there is going to be a celebration of her life, she doesn't want to miss it. It sucks bad enough that she will miss having grandchildren and miss Hawaii, she doesn't want to miss "the party".

So..... it seems I have a task

Time is short. She asked we do this at the end of July or the beginning of August as she doesn't know how fast this is going to spread. Her doctor's give her 3-6 months, but there is not telling how long she will be able to communicate.

She wants an Irish band. Perhaps we can scare up a back yard troubadour. The big challenge is going to be finding a group of Irish Dancers who will be willing to do some kind of performance at an outdoor picnic. And what kind of dancing might they do? Finnegan's Wake?

Food? I haven't a clue. Unfortunately, every Irish wake I ever attended was mostly about shots of whiskey.

It is going to be very difficult to keep on dancing through this.

Yet, somehow I know I'll manage.

Suggestions are welcomed. Let me rephrase that.....

SUGGESTIONS.....PLEASE......I'M DESPERATE!

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By leogirlPremium member Comments: 637, member since Thu Aug 15, 2002
On Sat Jul 20, 2013 07:59 AM
Christine, I'm so very sorry to hear about your dear friend. I know nothing about Irish Wakes, but the little I know about you is enough for me to be sure that whatever you do, it will be exactly what your friend needs. Perhaps the most important thing for a memorial of any kind is to send the person off with love. You will do that for your friend.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By kandykanePremium member Comments: 16415, member since Mon May 01, 2006
On Sat Jul 20, 2013 01:47 PM
Hugs, Christina. What a heartbreaking task. I encourage you to approach it with joy in your heart as a fitting tribute and farewell to your dear friend. Celebrate her life, all of life and everything and everyone she loves. I applaud her decision to be in attendance at her own wake. Talk to her and get her input on all the details. Let her have fun with it. A toast to you both!

I've been so busy with my own messes I haven't had time to visit the baby shower. I'll try to help if I can, but a delay announcement might be called for.

kk~
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Tansey Comments: 2367, member since Fri Mar 27, 2009
On Sun Jul 21, 2013 09:49 AM
Oh Christine, I am so very sorry. It would be difficult enough to be faced with the impending loss of your friend, but now you have this task too. If we lived closer I'd try to hook you up with some Irish musicians and Irish dancers. Are there any Irish dance schools in your community? If so the teacher there could probably give you some leads on good Irish musicians in the area. The same would be true if you have any Irish-American social organizations in your area. Or maybe some other DDNers from your area will know. Might be worth posting a query in the Irish section.

As for food, it depends on what kind of event this is. Are you having it at home, or in a hall? Catered, or potluck?

Like KK, I have been swamped but I would like to help with the baby shower, particularly if it can be postponed a bit. My life should quiet down after 8/15.
Hugs.
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:00 PM
Thanks for the encouragement. I think postponing the shower...or at least stretching it out, like the 12 days of Christmas or something (40 days of Lent?.... g*d, I really feel for the pregnant moms in this awful hot weather....)might be a good idea. I'd really like to do justice to all the moms and babies, but real life is just crazy...

There is some progress on "The Wake".

One of my sons lives in the same general area as my friend, so he and his wife have kindly offered their home for the gathering. I think it will be better for my friend to get out of her own house and not have the stress of visitors. Hopefully, her family members who live out of state will be able to follow directions across town to find their house.

I am extremely grateful to these adult children. Using their place saves a whole lot of headaches, not to mention $$.

My oldest daughter has located a singer/storyteller, who can do the job. She knows someone who hires him every year and as long as she pays him cash and a big bottle of Powers he is happy to return when asked. My daughter explained the request... a wake for the not yet deceased... and he was so touched he knocked a bit off his price. I tried to find his website, but I must be spelling his name wrong because I can't find it. Then again, maybe I imagined this whole thing as most of it is rather nightmare-ish.

She also spoke to a lovely woman whose kids dance at an Irish Dance School in that general vicinity and they will be performing in the area that day, so they are going to try to work something out. I hope we won't need to build a stage or a platform, but if we do, we will.

Fingers crossed for both these details, as I believe these will brighten the day considerably.

For food, we are thinking that it will be best to keep things simple. Someone suggested "pot luck", but I think it is going to be more of a "modified pot luck"... limited menu, "assignments" for anyone who asks, "Can I bring something?". Platters of sandwiches, cold sliced meats like London broil and corned beef, cookies, small cakes, assorted breads, scones, melon, bunches of grapes, cheese, make that cheeses.... Lots of iced tea and lemonade.... not everyone drinks (I hope!)although she also has a very specific list of "libations" in keeping with the Irish theme. We don't want to get too involved with grilling or hot food as it just makes things more complex and honestly, I don't want to take away one minute from my friend and her enjoyment of her company. We all agree that four hours may be just about long enough for her. I don't want her to be too tired and talking is difficult for her after a while.

I am trying to be grateful for the chance to do this for her.... but....well..... this really sucks. I remind myself that I wishI could have done something for our Kate...wish we had been allowed to honor her memory at her funeral...and at least I can do this for my friend. But I am just so damn tired and so tired of dealing with so many sad, sad, life events, I really have to push myself to keep focused on this task with a joyful heart.

Someone suggested making "Song Sheets". I'll know more after taking to the singer.

I am going to miss my friend so. damn. much. when she is gone. I've been spoiled by her friendship all these years. It is a rare and wonderful thing to have a friend who is a shrink. Of course, there are a million other things I will miss about her... she grew up in a dance studio, her mother was a ballerina and ran the studio for 54 years, ever since my friend was a child, so her insights are priceless. I've known her for almost 25 years and in some ways I feel like we just met a few years ago as I always discover something new and wonderful about her every time we visit. I still can't believe she is leaving this earth so soon.

NOT FAIR!
(duh.... life isn't fair...)

so....we shall

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 2)
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Tue Jul 23, 2013 07:43 AM
:( I'm so sorry, Christine. If you were here I'd give you an Irish band and dance performance totally free.

I'll be praying for your friend, and for you as well. <3
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11321, member since Sun Nov 23, 2003
On Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:58 PM
Edited by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2013-07-23 13:00:23
If you want to PM me with your location, I might be able to point you in the direction of some Irish dance schools in your area (if the current ones don't work out). I know I don't live close by, but the Irish dance world is very small and chances are I have some connections up that way.

So sorry about your friend, but just by her request I can tell she's a really special person.
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Tue Jul 23, 2013 09:56 PM
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2013-07-23 21:58:09
^Thanks for the offer. I may be in touch when I know the details of our current lead.

My head is spinning with the details of this and as usual, I am asking, "Why the Ark?". Suffice to say, there are more than a fair number of Narcissists in my friend's family so of course, they are making this all about THEM....and frankly, I just don't have the patience to "handle" them. It is unlikely that this dynamic will improve in the next two weeks, so I am already chanting, "Smile...this will be over in less than two weeks." My friend has to undergo three weeks of radiation to her brain. I hope there is something left of her by the first week in August. I also hope I am completely wrong about how radiation treats a human brain. Ugh....

and to think, when i was 19 and my boyfriend broke my heart for the first time, I didn't think it was possible for ANYTHING to ever feel as devastating.

There is a disturbing "numbness" overtaking a piece of me. I can't imagine what it is like to survive the atrocities of war and move forward afterward. Just plain old livin' and dyin' are just beating the crap out of my soul, these days.

Thanks g*d for tap shoes

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:08 PM
I should be sleeping. My brain will not allow it.

I found the website for the musician. Yup... I was spelling it wrong edsaultz.com

I am hopeful.

I have a few important meeting tomorrow early in the day, but later on I'm going to drive down to see my friend (about an hour from here), bring her a basket of fruit from today's farmers' market, and just give her a hug. I think it will be easier to address details face to face. I am dreading the visit. I know I'll be glad when I see her as I'm sure she'll be glad to see me, but I know she is going to be lookin'frail. Ugh...

The radiation therapists tell her that by next week she may have trouble swallowing and such, so the menu for her party will have to include a bunch of soft stuff. We can do this. Rice pudding is one of her favorites.

I've been working on a few other ideas for her "send off". I'll share them when I've worked out the details.

Until then...we shall

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 25878, member since Tue Jul 16, 2002
On Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:51 AM
I'm sorry to hear about your friend. You're both in my thoughts and I hope this last bit of time for her is peaceful and loving.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 2)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Mon Aug 05, 2013 08:00 PM
I have exactly eight minutes to write, so this is just a brief update.

"The Wake" was joyful and "story-ful". Many highlights to follow in future posts but I'll start with the dancers.

A wonderful Irish Dance school director/teacher brought 10 of her girls to dance. She was a total stranger to all of us, but when my oldest daughter explained the request, she was kind and generous. The guest of honor was seated on a high bar stool and after a touching testimonial from my daughter, the dancing began.

It was stunning. Really.

www.ogradyquinlan.com

After the performance I overheard one of the parents telling Maureen (SO, I think...)how much she appreciated all the wonderful experiences her daughter had through dancing with them and she was sincerely grateful. It made my heart shine. I am so glad this kindhearted woman is appreciated by the families she serves.

My friend was deeply, DEEPLY, touched.

One last item before I stop.... for the closing, Maureen invited several of us up to learn a jig. Everyone was too shy so....

Jig I did!

and loved it.

A ton of other details to share at a later time. There just isn't much time in my life these days for computer stuff but I promise... I'll catch up on everything (baby shower....) soon.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By hummingbird Comments: 10414, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Mon Aug 05, 2013 09:41 PM
I knew you'd get up and dance Christine, I hope your friend had a good time, it really sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate a life and a friendship.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:52 PM
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2013-08-25 22:55:08 fail...let's try this instead
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2013-08-25 22:55:40 or this
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2013-08-25 23:10:33 oh my... I really do need to get some sleep!
Christine wrote:


There is a disturbing "numbness" overtaking a piece of me. I can't imagine what it is like to survive the atrocities of war and move forward afterward. Just plain old livin' and dyin' are just beating the crap out of my soul, these days.

Thank g*d for tap shoes

Keep On Dancing*


^ I wrote this one month ago. Again I say, thank God for tap shoes. And silly costumes. And solid cars with great air conditioners. And my generous husband. And, and, and....

After spending almost two weeks doing just a few things for others who have good reason to feel just the way I did a month ago, I am happy to report I've discovered the secret to a happy life:

Discover your own personal gift and share it with others who need it.

Rather than be redundant, a few details of my trip to volunteer at the Give Kids the World Village in Florida.
www.dance.net . . .

Our first volunteer assignment was in the Theater. (imagine that...MEEEEEEE ... in the theater?????) It was a Winter Wonderland celebration and Santa was on stage to have pictures with the wish kids and their families. Each child selected a nice gift from the racks at the back of the theater and I chatted with each family as they waited on line. It was delightful. So many happy faces, no matter how exhausted. Not a word about treatments, sickness, fear of the future, or any of the other things that make up the daily lives of families with sick kids. It was all, "Did you see Mickey Mouse?", "Oh...you're from England? How lovely! Have you seen Hogwarts over at Universal, yet?" "Why is Santa here in July? Why, he missed you, of course! He heard you were here so we wanted to stop by with an extra present for you. You must be VERY good."

With the parents.... there was that secret connection, the unspoken moment of understanding between us when I pointed out my beautiful daughter who was taking pictures for the families with their own cameras while the pro took the "family portrait" shots for their souvenir CD. "She'll be happy to help you. She had a wish when she was six years old and nothing makes her happier than to help make your wish the most wonderful time of your lives." "Would she mind taking a picture with both cameras and all four phones?....she would LOVE to." I didn't tell them that when she was six, she used to draw ten fingers on each hand when she drew self portraits because she thought, Just imagine what I could do with ten fingers on each hand! .

For her, the week wasn't about her lost vision, her lost time in college,her lost sister in law, or any of the many, many losses our family has sustained this year. It was about returning to the village that claimed her as its own when she was frail and weak and was now a part of her. At the time of her wish trip I remember saying that being a wish child changed her self image. Instead of seeing herself as a sick child, she saw herself as a "wish child", a creature of hope, joy, magic, and wonder. This is as true today as it was 13 years ago.

Despite a long car ride and working five shifts as well as visiting family (joyful but can be exhausting)she returned to college yesterday, on time, to continue with her education. She took a class over the summer and got yet another A. Hooray for her!

In addition to the Winter Wonderland party (which included a craft and decorating cookies as well as the presents and pictures with Santa)she worked pictures with Mickey Mouse one morning while I did the Castle of Dreams, she took orders for pizza one night (busy, demanding, and something she was good at!)and polished nails in the La Di Da Spa as well as other "special treatments" for the families. I worked the spa too, and had the thrill of learning to do air tattoos for some of the kids.

One night, I was a cab driver. It was a beautiful van and everyone who used the service was nice, VERY nice, and once again, there were several opportunities for me to choose to go the extra mile and really help a person in need, or just do what was expected of me and know I'd done all I'd been asked. At every opportunity, I choose to go the extra mile and I felt like a million bucks after I did. I am so, so, grateful to have had these opportunities. I am healed.


I have more to report, and I still haven't filled in many blanks about the rest of the summer, but I will get to it soon. Right now, I'm still so blasted tired I have to crawl off to bed and hope I wake rested.

Keep On Dancing*
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