If You Give Connie a Glass of Wine

26 10 2012

If you give Connie a glass of wine,

She’s going to ask you for another.

She’s going to notice that you break a lot of wine glasses because your wine rack is flimsy.

Then she’s going to start thinking.

She’s going to think it’s a grand idea to start a business with you.

Then she’ll tell you Greenview Designs will be the name of the business that will house your designs and her ideas.

Soon she will design several logos for Greenview Designs and make you choose only one.

That reminds her she wants to start a blog.

Sometimes unexpectantly, a hurricane will happen.

And she will blog about it and will make you read everything she writes.

All the downed fences from the hurricane gives her an idea.

She’s going to make you build a piece of furniture with the old downed fence boards that will hold glasses and bottles of wine.

She will make you go to her favorite restaurant because she remembers that she liked how they hung their wine glasses in their bar.

And she will invite friends to go on a reconnaissance mission to drink in the bar and to enjoy the delicious food at her favorite restaurant.

And you will eat and drink too much.

Soon she will have to buy many bottles of wine to go in the wine refrigerator that she bought to go inside the Hurricane Bar.

She will ask her photographer friend to take a picture of the Hurricane Bar that you have built from recycled and repurposed things you found lying around, while she was spending hours and hours on Pinterest getting more and more ideas.

She will ask you to attach your trailer onto your truck.

She will get you to load the Hurricane Bar onto your trailer because she wants to take the photo with a swampy background.

She will want to show the Hurricane Bar to her friends.

And she thinks that her friends will want one too.

They will come to your house to discuss building them one.

And if you get them a glass of wine.

Connie’s going to want one too.

email: greenviewdesigns@gmail.com


My Own Little Shop of Horrors

20 10 2012

I hate the effin’ bamboo in my backyard. Yes, it makes me foul mouthed and foul tempered. If you’ve ever dealt with the monster, then you understand. Its firmly entrenched having been living there for two decades. I would have to literally take down the fence, destroy the deck, and bring in earth moving equipment to dig up my tiny yard, to get rid of it. It’s woven its evil tentacles under every square inch of this sliver of a garden space that is supposed to be my Zen garden.

So I have resigned myself to live with it. I just try to contain it. It’s growing season is usually 6 months. In the spring I can sit outside with a morning cup of coffee and come inside for a refill and by the time I return, there’s a stalk as tall as me growing between the deck boards.  It’s now Halloween season and it’s scaring me because it won’t stop growing. I think it’s somehow involved with global warming and is conspiring to take over the world with it’s cousin, kudzu.

It had been a few weeks since I had gotten out there to prune it as it continued it’s relentless attempt to take over the world. As I’m stooped over cutting it out from beneath the garden rocks, I thought what are the life lessons I can learn from bamboo.  As if on cue, I get back-to-back calls from my adult daughter and aging mother because they also need attending to.

Living with Bamboo

Deep roots help you survive adversity. My ex-husband planted the bamboo. He’s long gone, but what he planted is still here. Post divorce I stayed in the home we had built. My ex and I wanted our daughter to keep her home roots when her life was unsettled during this tumultuous time. My home has now been reinvented as my own creative oasis.  My daughter has moved out and the effin’ bamboo is still here.

Accept things for what they are. Like bamboo, my daughter may annoy me at times. She operates in her own time frame, which is rarely the same as mine. Because she knows I love her unconditionally, she feels free to call me in the middle of the night because she’s locked her keys in her car with the engine running. I am not going to change her, but she will continue to grow into adulthood. I can only change my own reaction to the things that annoy me.

Things that bend with the wind are usually stronger than things that are inflexible. My 84-year–old mom is stronger than she realizes. She has created a full and happy life in a nursing home, no small accomplishment. Her age and frailty may bend her down at times, but her inner strength has her bouncing back after the storm passes.  And calling me because she has lost the remote control— that’s an easy problem to fix.

Find the gift in the problem. I have decided to live with this annoying weed that grows before my eyes. It is not worth the money and effort to get rid of it. My backyard fence travels along my neighbor’s driveway. They hate my effin’ bamboo which invades their yard too. Our homes are very close to each other. When I decided to embrace what I can’t get rid of, I allowed it to grow along the fence line. It helps diffuse visually how close my neighbors are. It also naturally filters the hot afternoon sun that would pour into my kitchen window.

Everything has it’s own beauty and grace. As much as I hate the effin’ bamboo, I must admit to the beauty of it when the sun streams through it’s leaves and it’s dappled light filters through. And the sound of the wind through its leaves along with the sound of the wind chimes, is soothing to my soul.

Some things thrive no matter where they’re planted. So while I still hate the effin’ bamboo, I know it‘s not a personal vendetta from God. Maybe there are lessons I am meant to learn.

Or maybe…I just need a panda bear.

Seeing Miracles

14 10 2012

A while back I read a little book called “Small Miracles”. It was about coincidences. The author said a coincidence was God tapping you on the shoulder saying, “I’m right here.” I’ve come to embrace that belief. Believing that, I see miracles in my life all the time. The challenge is being present when they happen. Often my life is hectic, stressed, totally pugged in; with the computer on and the Kindle in one hand and the iPhone in the other and the TV or Pandora on. When I get like this, which is far too often, I don’t see the miracles the universe sends me. When I allow quiet time in my life—when I make the time to meditate, to walk, to unplug and be quiet—then I see them all the time.

I work for a hospital. Often when friends have appointments they’ll stop by to say “Hi” and let me know what’s going on. There are now laws in place that say I can’t ask what’s going on medically in their life, so I’ve had to learn to be a better listener and let them tell me what’s going on. D stopped by on the way to her doctor’s appointment. She shared what was going on with her. Her medical issues were getting worse. D was pretty sure that surgery was in her near future.

Sure enough, she let me know of her surgery date after her doctor’s appointment and I made a note of it. The date slipped off my radar and she called me the morning she was admitted. I told her I would come see her with my co-worker, B who was also friends with her.

Work kept getting in the way of walking over to see her. D called at lunch to see if we were coming because she was ready to take a nap and didn’t want to be asleep when we dropped by. I told her to please take her nap.

The hours kept slipping by. When I was ready, B was busy in a project and then when she was ready, I wasn’t.

Finally as we were about to walk out the door, the skies opened and an afternoon monsoon hit. We simply didn’t want to walk across the parking lot in the pouring rain and our umbrellas were in our cars. By the time it stopped raining, it was 5:00 on a Friday. I was ready to go home and start my weekend. There was a glass of wine waiting for me somewhere. B said she was going to go see D. I rather halfheartedly went with her.

D was glad to see us, she was in good spirits. She wasn’t expecting anyone to come by, not even her family. They had already been there and she’d be going home the next morning.

We hadn’t been there more that five minutes when the doctor came by. B and I excused ourselves and waited at the nurses’ station. Again, we work for this hospital, one of our nurse friends was on duty and we got caught up in a conversation with her. It became a long conversation; we hung around for about 45 minutes before the doctor finally walked out. When the doc saw us she said, “I’m so glad you’re still here.”

The first words out of D’s mouth when we walked back in were “I have cancer”. We were stunned. As we listened we were able to grasp the hidden glimmer of good news buried in the bad. The surgery she had just had probably had gotten it all. The lab results had just come in and that it did show that it was cancer and it was probably contained. It was hard for us to take this news in. We listened, we hugged, and we cried together.

We did what friends do. We were just there for our buddy. We were totally present in this most intense and personal moment in our friend’s life. Her husband uexpectantly showed up. She hadn’t had time to call him, so he didn’t have the news. With her biggest supporter by her side, we left so they could be alone.

As B and I walked to our cars, we knew we had experienced a miracle. Everything in our day had conspired against us being there at any other time.  The universe put us there at exactly the moment when we were needed. We felt humbled and blessed. We knew that by simply being present that we made a small difference in our friend’s life. We were there at the moment when she didn’t need to be alone.

We were part of a small miracle by simply being a friend and being present in that moment. We felt God’s tap on our shoulder, “I’m right here.”

Epilogue: Our friend is fine and cancer free.

Soul Mates and Angels

6 10 2012

Tabitha’s Wish was a post I read floating around on Facebook. The story left me reflective and humbled by the ripples that each of our lives creates. Tabitha was a young girl who on her own decided to be an organ donor. No one could have imagined that one-week after signing an organ donor card she would pass away from a rare brain bleed. Her donation went on to save seven lives. This is what her Dad was able to hold onto as he grieved.

This story breaks my heart; I cannot imagine losing a child. I won’t even watch movies like “Taken” or “The Lovely Bones” because it is simply too painful for me to even contemplate. But as I thought of Tabitha’s Wish, I realized how the gift of organ donation had really deeply touched my life.

Steve and I first met decades ago when we were new and fresh in our careers. We had both volunteered to work on our local ADDY Awards show. He’s a bit older than me and I knew him by reputation having been honored with Cinematographer of the Year the previous year. Steve can be a bit intimidating. Think the comedienne Lewis Black or the TV character Lou Grant—remember that line from the Mary Tyler Moore show, “You’ve got spunk…I hate spunk.” Well, that could be Steve.

I became friends with Steve and his wife Jane. When I saw Steve with Jane I quickly realized he is really more like Ferdinand the Bull—big and intimidating, but really all heart.  I also knew from the ad community that this was a couple that adored each other. And that Jane had diabetes. From the outside looking in, I did not see the impact of her disease. I just saw this hilarious, fun, welcome-everyone-who–entered-her-home-with-open-arms person.

Over the years that I knew them, I always admired the love they radiated. Jane was Steve’s biggest cheerleader and this bull of a man was always so kind and tender with her. I did not see the devastation this disease brought into their lives.

As some point diabetes destroyed Jane’s kidneys. She got on the transplant list and got the transplant and her life was given back to her and Steve. Her gift of joy, and humor, and selflessness stayed in the world for another 20 years because of a stranger’s donation.

Jane’s health was always in the forefront of her relationship with Steve. They talked of the probability of her going before him. Jane’s wish was for Steve to continue to live his life to the fullest. I read of her death on Facebook with a simple post from a friend, She died in his arms. It was shocking for those of us who knew her; we all felt she would continue to beat the odds. At her funeral I remember the same friend who left the Facebook post saying what would Steve do without Jane.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose your life partner in death, but I do know what it’s like to be single again after decades in married world. It feels like an alternative universe. Steve took to Facebook to fill his alone hours. And I started including him in group invites like the event, Live after Five. I knew it to be a fun, music-filled downtown party that was full of people—couples and singles—that Steve knew. Soon enough he joined the krewe.

Days turned into weeks and into months. Facebook time became face-to-face time. Our friendship started to evolve. We decided it was time to have an official first date, just us. I shared my real concerns up front. I knew I could never compare to what he had and I was not willing to just be a date to “practice” on right after losing his wife. He told me simply that Jane was gone and he would never compare me or anyone to her. He was in a new chapter of his life.

Steve and I fell fast and hard for each other. It was in those first few intense weeks as we became a couple that I first felt Jane’s blessing. Steve was getting his house ready for an estate sale. He was boxing up things to keep and things to sell. He casually handed me a book that he said was something Jane liked and maybe I would too. It was a book of daily affirmations for every day of the year. It had a bookmark in it, which is where I opened it up to. It was marked on the current day. It said that to enjoy each moment and to live it to the fullest, you never knew where you’d be one-year from today. I asked Steve if he had bookmarked it for me and he had not. We both knew it was an angel sending us a message that we were meant to be.

I will forever be grateful for Jane, Steve’s soul mate. How could I not be, she taught him how to love deeply. That ability to love continues in the world today.

Yes, love endures and lives on. Sign the organ donor box on the back of your driver’s license. It’s really that easy to leave the gift of love.

Me and my sweetie, Steve