"The biggest acts of kindness to mankind, come in the form of the smallest gestures."
As some of my followers know, my blogs, radio show and website have been quiet for most of the last year.
As some of you also might know it was due to my Daughter-in-law, Sarah, having been diagnosed with breast cancer.
I made the decision, the easiest I've ever made, and traveled to PA. to help out as best as I could with my two young grandsons.
My whole life as a state trooper, volunteer soldier and Tactical team member, my job was to go into a crisis situation and neutralize the treat, secure the hostages, rescue the lost or injured and basically kick ass, and get the bad guys. Done and done.
Cancer in this case had other ideas. No matter how much I tried, I could not destroy or get rid of the bad guys looming inside Sarah's body.
In the two years she lived with Cancer, and when I say lived, I mean lived; Sarah did more living, in between chemo, radiation, all the meds, ups and downs that came with it, than the average healthy mom, sister, wife, friend, daughter, in-law, or person will do in a lifetime.
Sarah never made it about her, she always strived to make sure everyone around her was taken care of and okay, even those that honestly did not deserve it.
She baked treats for friends' showers, parties and get togethers. She took her two baby boys to the park almost every day. She took the oldest to school every day and picked him up in the afternoon, then it was off to the zoo, museums, to the beach, and community events. She painted with them, made play-doh creations, baked, cooked, laughed, watched TV, ate ice cream, and at the end of the day, she bathe them, read them stories, sang to them and made sure that they were safely tucked in bed, always knowing without a doubt that they were loved unconditionally by their mommy.
Sarah made home cooked meals on the rare days that scores of friends did not send over food. Sarah was by far one of the best cooks I knew and she always said love was the special ingredient that added the something, something to her delicious meals!
She was attentive to my son, no matter how much he tried to get her to rest, even on days that she could barely lift herself out of bed.
Sarah was doing all of this while cancer was ravishing her body, but make no mistake, Sarah might have had cancer, but cancer sure as hell did not have her.
Cancer could slowly destroy her body, but it NEVER, ever, touched her spirit!
On Sarah's 32nd birthday in February, we gathered as family and friends to celebrate her day. Sarah had just gotten released from the hospital from yet another bout with pneumonia.
As weak as Sarah was she still flashed that million dollars smile, she hugged and rejoiced with her "family" as anyone that was blessed to have known her would instantly become.
Sarah was so happy holding her little nephew from MA., Alex Jr. and was content to cuddle with her dad on the couch.
Before I left for MA. after her birthday weekend, the last thing Sarah said to me was, "I miss you." I had been fighting a bad cold and did not want to get her sick which is why I was going home for a few days.
The few days turned into two weeks as an upper respiratory infection kept me away.
Deep in my heart I knew Sarah was reaching the end of her journey. She was tired and I felt she was only hanging on for the boys and my son.
But, honestly the stubborn side of me refused to accept that anything could derail Sarah, even cancer, once she made up her mind to overcome any obstacle.
I got the call from my son late in the evening that we needed to hurry back to PA. and I knew it was the end for our Beloved Sarah.
Within an hour we were on the road with our daughters on the longest drive of our lives. We arrived at her hospital bed as they were getting ready to remove the life support equipment she was adament she did not want keeping her alive for any prolonged period of time.
Sarah was heavily sedated when I said my good-byes, yet she struggled to respond to me. I had the peace of knowing that she knew I was there, we, were there and wanted her to know that it was okay for her to go.
The last act of love that Sarah performed on this earth was to kiss both her boys good-bye seconds before she passed away.
The next two weeks were a blur, with a wake and funeral mass in PA. followed by her cremation, then a celabratory mass service in MA., add to this a one year old and a three year wanting to know where "mommy" was.
I have to say going into the most dangerous situations as a cop, was a piece a cake, compared to the difficulty I experienced trying to correctly and lovingly explain her absence, and the concept of death to the boys, while not losing my composure at the same time.
Sarah always said to me that everything happened for a reason. She also said, that good things will always come from the worse situations.
I honestly struggled to see it in this situation, but slowly I saw a glimmer of what she meant.
Over the last months I have been floored at the kindness of strangers and love of friends.
I know that a lot of it was due to the sweet person that Sarah was and how loyal a friend, loving a family member, and loyal to a fault she was, but it went way beyond that!
When people from all walks of life came out of the woodwork to be there for my son and grandsons, as well as us, it just blew my mind.
We got visits from beloved "FaceBook" friends, notes of support from total strangers who were moved by her story in the paper, tons of food, meals, cards, flowers and emails of support.
Even people who Sarah and my son had know in childhood paid respects and wrote or called.
The most amazing thing to me was people who didn't write or call, because death is difficult for them, but still made sure that others knew of Sarah's passing or organized meals. Quietly, they were in the background, supportive and there for us.
The other most amazing aspect was the tons of total strangers offering prayers, kind words of support and sometimes just leaving sweet posts on our Facebook wall and other media outlets.
When I say the smallest gesture is the biggest at times, I speak from experience. I had an old Guard buddy stay up late on several occasions sending me funny cat videos, jokes and notes. While he said he couldn't do much, he didn't understand he did so much!
While they say time heals all wounds, and I know it does, the void left by Sarah, is irreplaceable.
The one thing that keeps me going every day, actually its four things: one is my son, two and three are my grandsons, and the last one is the promise to Sarah to always live life to the fullest.
While I know that Sarah did accomplish a lot in her short life, I also know that there were tons of things on her "to-do" list.
In honor of her spirit, her love and her zest for life, I am motivated to live for both of us!
I will take more photographs for her.
I will talk to strangers and make them my friends more often for her.
I will laugh at my mistakes and accidents more for her.
I will love more for her.
I will hug and kiss more for her.
I Will paint, create and grow more for her.
I will dream, hope and aspire more for her.
I will hope and be more positive for her.
I wil look for the good in everything and everyone for her.
I will cuddle with the boys and play more for her.
I will take more chances, try more new things for her.
I will admire the ocean, the sunrises and sunsets more for her.
I will hold more babies and send more cards for her.
I will bake more cookies and feed more people for her.
I will have more family gatherings and more friends over for her.
I will feel the fear and insecurities and do it anyway for her!
I will have faith enough to take the first step for her!
I will write more emails, send more letters and yes, even make more phone calls for her.
But mostly I will never take a moment, a person, a memory, a chance, a day for granted, or miss the opportunity to say I love you, for her!
So to all our family, friends, Media friends, soon to be friends and kind strangers thank you, because of you, we have seen a glimmer of the light at the end of this sad tunnel.
And while you are at it, going through your day to day details, can you too pay it forward, enjoy it more and take it more in, for Sarah?
But, mostly for you!
Don't miss a chance to live life to the fullest!
Love you my beautiful Sarah, and I know that this world is a lot better because you were here and Heaven has gotten a lot better because you are there!
All things unknown, are strange, until we take the time to learn them.
Ordinary wmn 2011
When my daughter-in-law Sarah and my son Eric were expecting their second child, I was thinking of asking them if they needed me to go down to help out during the transitional period when the new baby came home. They already had an almost 2 year old son at the time and I figured they might need the extra hand.
Imagine my surprise when Sarah called me to ask if I could go and help.
Okay admit it, not too many people really want their mother-in-law to visit, never mind to stay for a while!
It is true that I had been blessed with two extremely amazing mother-in-laws. My first husband's mom was great to me and I got along well with her.
My hubby Mel's mom, was well, simply, the best ever!
She became like the mom I never had, and I made a decision to be as much like her as I could.
To my surprise my grand-babyTony was more in a hurry to meet me than we thought. He was born almost three weeks early and arrived exactly 2 hours after I did to the hospital!
Because he was a premie, he had to be in the hospital a lot longer than expected.
I quickly got down to the chores of taking care of Tiki, the two year old, and maintaining the house.
I have done more laundry in my life time with 9 kids, who played all kinds of sports, than a small nation. So I consider myself a bit of an expert at the deed.
Sarah always commented on how she was amazed at how quickly I could get through a pile of clothes. Little did she know that I had tackled bigger mountains of dirty ditties!!
For those of you who know me, I an the queen of systems. The assembly line system for lunches, and cleaning and, well laundry.
My way or the highway!!
So when I got to folding clothes I noticed that Sarah had a different way of folding her clothes.
I folded pragmatically over once in the middle and then a few times more to the size that I needed to fit the drawer.
Sarah on the other hand folded retail style, in thirds then over once or twice.
I thought what a waste of time, Ahahhhaaa! My way is so much better!!
My way was so much better that I felt the need to re-fold all the clothes in all the drawers just so they would all look the same!!
After weeks of this, one day I caught myself in a hurry and absent-mindly folded the kids clothes Sarah's way! Horrors I had been drawn to the dark side!!
When I went to put the clothes away, was when I noticed what I had done. What the world??
I was almost tempted to re-fold them "my way", when I realized that by putting the clothes away folded Sarah's way, it was easier to see what the item was and who it belonged to without having to unfold it.
I chuckled to myself when I came to the conclusion that even a laundry guru like me, could learn a new thing or two!
Growing up I was told by my mother, in no uncertain terms, that only her way was right. When I became a teen=ager and cooked better than her, cleaned better than her, and was more organized, it did not matter, she made sure my self esteem believed only her way was right.
I had insisted that when I grew up, I was not going to be that petty! Yet in small ways, without realizing it I had started to adopt some of those annoying set ways!!
I took all the clothes out of the drawers and refolded them my baby girl's Sarah's way. It was ironic that when I was done, the clothes fit better, and did not take up as much room! Not only was Sarah beautiful, kind, but so smart!!!
Duh, who knew!! Okay well Sarah did, but you know what I mean.
I continue to fold clothes that way in my own home now and while it might seem like a small thing I am grateful that I never became so narrow minded, as to believe that only my way is right.
Now that my youngest son is in culinary school, I love picking his brain about what he's learning and new techniques he can teach me!
In life, we are truly never too old to learn new tricks, the trick is never beliving you are too old to learn!!
Ahh, there goes the time to the dryer, folding awaits!!
I wonder what other new, amazing things I can learn today??
Our youngest son Alexi is leaving to New York this summer to attend culinary school, yeah I never saw that coming either, the kid who would starve, because there was nothing ready made!
While as a mom of the heart, I feel a sense of sadness to see our baby go out the door and into the real, big wide world, the adventurer in me kind of wishes I could tag along.
When Alexi was growing up he struggled with school work at times and he struggled with trying to fit in and doing the right thing.
This struggle even resulted in Alexi putting his needs and feelings behind the desires of others. He was the perennial peace keeper and just wanted everyone happy, even at the expense of his own well being. Alexi struggled at times and made mistakes and some were kind of bone-headed, but he somehow forged ahead.
Some time during his sophomore/Junior year Alexi, discovered Alexi. Not the Alexi I wanted, or his dad wanted, or his team mates wanted, but the Alexi that did what was right for Alexi and stuck to his beliefs.
I was so proud of the fact that he could go the path less traveled, quietly doing his bit to help the world, further his learning and understanding of life.
I know at times because of me being gone so much during his last year and half of high school, due to our daughter-in-law's illness, he might have felt that we did not notice his path.
That's the funny thing about being a parent, just because we are not holding you up while you walk, or pushing the stroller to keep you going, we are still there.
I was there in spirit when he received his MVP award even though I was 600 miles away. I was besides him when he, along with his art class, painted a mural at the homeless shelter.
I was with him in thought at the soup kitchens, and various non profits he volunteered to work in, during school vacations.
I am even more proud of where he is going, off to a new exciting city, to follow his dream. I am even more pleased because he did this on his own.
Alexi was true to Alexi by picking the school, looking for his own housing and never refusing to give up even when challenges arose.
What Alexi might not know is that as his mom from the heart I will be there on his first day of class, I will be there when he is alone in his new little apartment for the first time, I will be there when he ventures off into that big city to discover new people, places and adventures.
I would have loved the opportunity to have lived in a big city when I was a young adult, but I chose a different path.
Now as a parent I have the unbelievable opportunity to live it through Alexi's eyes!
I get to share in his joys, triumphs, disappontments and courage.
So even though soon, there will be none left at home, I am so blessed to have been given the chance to be Alexi's mom of the heart and most of all I am even more blessed because Alexi let me in, and made room for me in his heart, and as such I will always be with him no matter how far he roams.
Ahhh, can we hope for paris, or Italy next??
Wait can I be your official food taster?? Yum Yum!!
"Youth is wasted on the young"
George Bernard Shaw
When my youngest son graduated high school this past month the realization hit me that I no longer had anyone to go see playing on a team until my grandsons start in a few years.
I really enjoy watching sports live and even more so when I know someone on the team.
My husband did point out that we live near several little league fields where I could just walk down and watch a game any time I wanted during the spring and summer.
I told him that I did not want to be "the creepy old lady who no one knows lurking around the bleachers during the games!"
The funny thing was that I was having this conversation as we were driving on our way to my hubby's own baseball game.
While I sat on the bleachers with the only other wife that goes to watch the men play regularly, I had a sudden realization.
When boys are young they play sports for a few reasons, one, they see it as a way to a better way of life; two, their parents make them play to get them out of the house, or lastly because they really like to play.
Boys take for granted their stamina, their energy, their flexibility and most of all their health. Boys also take for granted the amount of free time they have in which to play those sports.
As boys of summer become men of life they must focus on college degrees, career development, getting married and making a living. These newly developed men slowly come to the realization that the things they had taken for granted before, suddenly become a treasured past time that must be etched into their tight schedules in order to be able to continue to participate in their beloved sport.
As I watched these men warming up, on that warm, breezy, spring night, I was touched by what I was seeing in their eyes. These men come from all walks of life and vary in age, size and athletic ability, but as they gathered on that field slowly the years melted away and the sheer joy of boyhood was once again visible. There was an unmistakeable twinkle in their eyes, a glimmer of mischief and a twinge of anticipation at the excitement of the upcoming game.
I was mostly touched by the look on my hubby's face. I knew he loved baseball as much as I did, but I had never loved and lost. By this I mean I had never had the opportunity to actually play baseball on a team like he did in middle and high school. My Hubby had to put his beloved game aside for family, responsibilities and life.
When he finally took me up on my nagging, I mean persuation, of playing again, I was so happy for him, but I never looked at it like watching my kids playing, never thought it mattered whether I was in the stands or not.
Now that we were practically empty nesters, and watching his face it made me realize that this game mattered a lot more than any world series play off game.
It did not matter that there was only two of us in the stands, that no one would read about it in the paper, or see any highlight reels at 11.
What did matter was that these men, for a couple of hours a week, were able let go of the world, and tap into their youth of days gone by.
Their throws might not go as far, their sprint might be more of a trot, and the side winder might be more of lob, but to these men of life, being boys of summer for a little while longer, makes them feel like they just closed out a winning series.
Do you think we could do a wave of two??
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
This past weekend our youngest child graduated from High School.
I thoroughly enjoyed being a mom, a cab driver, coach, tutor, dishwasher, well not so much the dishwasher, but all the other jobs involved with being the mom of nine kids in school.
As much as I might have been overwhelmed at times, and would day dream of time to myself, I never really thought about what came after the last child left home.
When I was a cop, that is what I identified with, it was what made me, me. Then when I took an early retirement to stay home with my blended family of nine kids, I became a mom, and that became what made me, me.
Now with Alexi moving on to further his education in New York, I feel a need to once again figure out what will make me, me.
I will always look back so fondly at the chaos and pandemonium that our life was when they were all at home. I will miss the pillow fights, the oldies nights of roller blading in our kitchen. The long late night talks with a downcast teen or being up with a child who needed comforting. I will long for the days of making different voices while the "puppets" read the kids stories and lugging sweaty sleeping kids into bed.
But most of all I will miss the little gifts made with love, the home made cards and school recitals and hearing the musical note of one of my children calling out "mom" just to make sure I was there.
I realize that all journeys must come to an end, but the most important thing that I, we, need to remember is that when one road ends, another is wide open for us to take.
My children have gone on to have kids, careers, lives and adventures of their own and we can continue to show them the way by having adventures of our own that we can share over the rare times that we can all gather together as a family.
The story telling, the sharing, the sheer joy of being together once again will re-enforce to me how much the memories of the past make way for the possibilities of the future.
Grab the toothbrush baby, my bags are packed and I am ready to hit the road!
So its been humbling to have to figure out how to lose weight when I never had that issue before. I was always the one that could fit back into her clothes days after giving birth to my kids. I gave birth 4 times and with the exception of the last one, that had always been the norm, me back in my old clothes.
When I had my last son, due to a surgery and stress due to a marriage coming to an end I used food for comfort and it took me two years to take the weight off. But it came off and stayed off until a few years ago.
I was always active as a police officer, as a runner and into martial arts as well as running around with my four kids and the new four I inherited when I got re-married. Once again i was my normal weight and normal size.
Due to a bunch of circumstances and an annoying illness i was unable to workout like I was used to and the weigth came on. When I retired from being a cop and lost my identity in the process more weight came on.
Now I have decided that I can continue to use my illness, my retirement or my life as an excuse for my weight increase or accept the fact, that since I have dropped 3 pounds in two weeks since I have been monitoring what goes into my mouth, that excuse is null and void.
So I have finally taken my life and my body back, by doing what I already knew worked. Eating healthy and being active. It has nothing to do with me getting older, or being ill. it has to do with me losing focus and making excuses for not working out or eating healthy.
So as I embark on this journey, at a time when circumstances has dumped a very sad situation in our lives, I realize that exercise and eating healthy is the most important thing I can do for myself and for my family right now.
So to my fellow travelers on this road of rediscovery and re-affirmation, cheers and let's keep each other on the straight and narrow!
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When we think of going somewhere, we assume it includes actual physical movement. Case in point would be when we move from one state to another, get divorced or change jobs.
I came to the realization the other day that movement does not always apply to physical actions.
We as humans, can at times, become mentally immobile.
We can become stuck in our lives due to fears, insecurities, regrets from the past or refusing to acknowledge that certain changes need to take place in our lives.
I guess I have come to a cross roads in my life that is difficult to understand at times.
This year will mark the milestone of our youngest child graduation high school and moving away to attend culinary school in another state.
In the short span of six years I have gone from three kids in high school, one in elementary school and six of our children at home, to the fact that by later this year it will be just my husband and me.
We have seen the birth of our first three grandchildren with another one on the way. Our three oldest sons have gone from single youth to grown men with families of their own.
I find that these cross roads are somewhat challenging for me to navigate because it is such new terrain. I feel that just as I was getting the hang of being a mom, I have been bumped off that job to that of grandparent and empty nester.
Since I was seventeen years old (Yes I know I was insane to get married that young!) All I have known is being someone's mom or wife.
I would have loved to have been a stay at home mom from the beginning but was unable to as our finances dictated otherwise.
I was unable to fully enjoy motherhood or my oldest children because trying to juggle working as a cop, going to school full time, and trying to deal with all the dysfunctional people around me left little time or patience for my boys.
In my second marriage I was able to finally become a stay at home mom, but it felt like too little to late, because my youngest was already five, his older brothers were in their teens and the damage was already done.
I am consumed with guilt and anger over some of the decisions that I made in my life and in particular for not having realized that a lot of people, most of them family, really had no place in my life.
I also was upset by the fact that just because I was willing to see my kids, all my kids, step and otherwise, as my own and treat them as such; not everyone felt or acted the same way, it was quite evident that certain people treated their "blood" relatives way differently than those obtain through marriage.
The other thing that had caused me to be stagnant in my growth, was being overtly concern with being a support system to people that really did not want to help themselves.
Nothing burns you out quicker that a person who sucks everything and everyone around them dry with their negativity and selfishness, until you feel like nothing more than an empty shell.
Once we realize that those mistakes are in the past and you need to learn from them, or you are trying to figure out where you need to improve is where the question comes in, "Should I stay or should I go?"
Again I am not referring to physically leaving, but how do we mentally move on?
For one thing we need to realize that as much as we hope, dream and pray, we are not going to magically stumble upon a time machine to take us back to the precise moment of our chagrin and afford us the opportunity to change it completely. The quicker we stop dwelling in the past and take action in the now, the quicker we can get back on track.
The second point is that we will never be able to change anyone, no matter how much we hope, dream, pray or barter with God. We all have free will and as some people keep exercising their free will to be selfish and narrow-minded. Once you finally accept this fact, you can start to focus on you and live your life.
In my case I find that figuring out what direction to take when you are almost fifty can be intimidating, especially when for the last umpteen years its always been about someone else.
Learning to stand on your own two feet when you have had to submit to others whims, is quite an intimidating proposition. When you finally understand that you need to "do you" and get that point across to others, its quite liberating.
While I honestly must confess that trying to start a career in any field is a challenge at my age, it would be an even bigger challenge to not start.
I could continue to rely on someone else's paycheck and hope that all goes well, but the resentment created from the having to ask for things and the other person having the responsibility of giving all the time is overwhelming.
The question, "should I stay or should I go?" refers to the fact that I need to mentally let go of the past and move on to my future. A future that is mine and mine alone.
A future where I come to the full understanding that I am no longer at the beck and call of my children or my spouse. Where it is finally okay to "do me" and pretty much tell everyone else that they can......go get a life of their own. Which in reality isn't that what we should all be striving to achieve??
I think I will go out and venture out alone into the great, wide world and dig me up a dream or two to conquer, after all staying really ins't much of an option now is it?
Happy travels everyone!
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disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with political agendas, or points of view in favor of or against any current issues in the media. It is my point of view and as such, do not lose track of the main focus of the article, which is honoring ALL our men and women who served , serve or sacrificed their lives in defense of our freedom.
"The saddest loss to the families of those fallen in battle, is if the world forgets their sacrifice.."
Ordinarywmn May 2010
Memorial Day May 31
Today, as I usually do on Memorial day, I stop to reflect on the lives lost to defend the freedom we so many times take for granted in our country.
I thought of those I knew, like PFC John F Landry Jr., 20 years old, who was a schoolmate of my children at Lowell Catholic High school, and was killed in action in March of 2007, and I wonder about all those I did not know.
A while ago I was doing an internet search on one of my son's, as he was preparing to apply for a new job and did not want any weird pictures of him popping up!
While I was doing this search I came across a young man from Sun Valley California. I did not know this young man and the only reason he popped up was because he had the same last name as my son and he had served in the military.
The difference was my son was home, this young man did not make it back.
It has been a couple of years since I found this young man on-line and I have never forgotten him.
Are my boys related to him somehow? Maybe, maybe not, but the day I found out he died for my freedom, he became another brother, another son and another comrade in arms, and mostly my hero.
I now felt compelled to write about him, in hopes that others do not forget Felix either.
Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta was only 25 years old when he died on May 3rd, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq.
Sgt. Gonzales-Iraheta died from wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire.
Sgt. Gonzales-Iraheta was married with two small daughters, he had a mother, who loved him deeply, and when his father had a stroke, Felix stepped up to help the family financially.
Sgt. Gonzales-Iraheta, when he was only eleven years old was responsible for rescuing his younger brother, Sesar, when a strong current was dragging him under water. Without thinking of his own safety, Felix dived into the deep river and pulled his brother out and saved his life.
This selfless act was an early indicator of the type of young man Felix would become, because Gonzalez-Iraheta, better known as "Gonzo" around the barracks, had already led members of his unit to the safety of a bunker that day in May, and was fatally wounded when he left to make sure no one else was in danger.
Once again Felix was more concerned about the safety of others, instead of his own.
Gonzales-Iraheta is an America hero.
While to some narrow-minded people this hero does not fit the image they have of what a hero looks like.
No blue eyes, no blond hair, no milky skin. He was born in El Salvador not mid-west America.
His parents came to this country in search of a better way of life. They worked hard, and built a piece of their dream in a small tight knit community.
When his mother was notified of her oldest son's death, she stated 'That she was at least glad that he had died a hero saving other people's lives."
His family didn't threaten to sue the government or protest at military funerals.
This amazing woman, who said her son was her right hand, took his loss with grace and dignity. The same grace and dignity that her son, Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta, showed on that day in Baghdad when he laid down his life for the men in his unit.
Ironically, this young man, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, had he made it back alive would probably have been profiled in certain parts of the country because "He didn't look American! He didn't look legal!"
It is very easy for some people to say that it is no big deal if a cop asks you for your green card as part of a "routine" stop, but I wonder how those same people would feel if they had been in the hell holes of the world risking their lives for our freedom, only to be told "they don't look like they belong!" when they are walking the streets of the country they protected?
You think they would be upset?
Minorities have long been a viable resource to the armed forces and according to statistics are over represented in military ranks and contrary to popular belief 98 percent of those in the military are not poor or under educated; they come from average income homes of over 40,000.00 annual income and are at least high school graduates with some form of college credits.
When I hear someone say that the only reason some people go into the military is because they had nothing else, I have to resist the urge to be not so motivational and more hard core educational, if you get my drift!
I am an American. I served my country as a police officer, as a proud member of the Mass. State guard, in the Red Cross, PTA, Boy Scouts etc.
Do not insult my college educated intelligence by telling me that when you single someone out because of their "look" that it is not profiling!
A large amount of illegal aliens in this country are blond, blue-eyed people from Europe, and other regions.
I know, because I ran into them as a police officer, yet if we were standing next to each other and I was not in my uniform, guess who would be asked for identification and proof of citizenship?
I am not using Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta or Memorial day as a visual aid for any political agenda.
I believe that everyone in this country should obey all the laws of the land, from immigration, to paying taxes, to not using insider trading to make yourself rich, to buying under age kids alcohol, illegal drug use or drunk driving.
My point is that "American", no longer means a certain look, a certain genetic make up, gender or cultural heritage.
And the most important point is that our freedoms were defended, protected and continue to be protected by heroic people, like Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta.
Some might think they do not look American, yet they are a thousand times more American than those people protesting at military funerals. They are more American than those burning our flag or the group saying that 911 was God's punishment for our way of life.( Who I might add is run by people that would never be asked for their green card cause, well, they sure look "American!".)
What ever side of the immigration battle you are on has nothing to do with my point.
My point is that when Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta was saving his men, I do not think the MP's stopped him to see if he was American; I think the unified color of green and the red, white and blue flag that he wore so proudly on that uniform proved his patriotism and nationality; and If that was not enough proof, then maybe the red blood spilling from his body, as he breathe his last breath, so far from home, from his loved ones, to save his men, sure as hell is proof to me!
Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta is buried at Arlington National cemetery and was awarded a bronze star,a purple heart and posthumously promoted to SSGT. for his acts of bravery.
I want everyone to know what an amazing young American he was; I also want his family, his mother, his wife and his daughters to know that we, the American people, will never forget the great price they paid to protect our land, our home, and our United states of America.
Go quiet into the deep night...rest easy my brave warriors and orahhhhh~!!
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"Could there ever be anything more beautiful on earth than one of God's paintings?"
Years ago when the kids were little any time we saw a rainbow, a beautiful sunset or just plain awesomeness (yeah I know, but I love this word!) in nature we called it one of God's paintings.
I was surprised as the kids got older that they would be the ones to comment when they saw nature at its best.
This picture above was take by my son Alex when he lived in Florida a while back. While the fact that he sent me the picture did not surprise me, what did surprise me was the caption he included.
Alex stated, "God sure out did himself with this painting!"
This was even more heartwarming to me because as a young, single man in his twenties, I am sure that there were a lot more things on the beach that could have caught his attention!
On that note my daughter Jess called me yesterday to let me know that her ballroom dancing team was going to be performing in Snowflake, Arizona!
This was funny, weird, for two reasons, one being that I, for the last few years had been obsessed with visiting this tiny town.
I have no idea why! The name struck me as an oxymoron and I felt drawn to go visit to see what it looked like. When I was in Mesa three years ago, I was unable to take the five hour drive to Snowflake due to family commitments, needless to say I was bummed!
The other reason that was strange was, is seriously what are the odds that of all the places her ballroom dancing team could have gotten booked to perform it turned out to be this particular town??
Jess called me to let me know what a cute, quiet town it was and that I would absolutely love it!
We went on to have a nice long conversation about how much she has traveled, not only physically, but metaphorically, in her life. I have to say I am so proud of the growth she has undergone as a woman, as a human being, but mostly as just a great person to be around.
I knew that because she was there to perform, sightseeing and taking photos of the town was the last thing on her agenda but she did say she would do her best.
The great thing about our weird relationship is that this morning she text-ed me letting me know how amazing the sunrises were in Snowflake and that she was sending me a mental picture to enjoy!
The best part was that I got the photo! I could visualize the hues of coral, turquoise, magenta and splashes of orange with reds. I could see the landscape of cacti, with the backdrop of mountains and desert so vividly, as if there was a 22 mega pixels photo in my hand!
When I described what I saw to her, she text-ed me back that I was on the money!
I have to admit what Jess and I do, our deep connection, call it psychic, spiritual or whatever is amazing.
She knows when I am down or ill, and that goes both ways!
We joke around that we really do not need phones because we get each others messages as soon as we think them!
While our other kids think this is creepy, and do not get it, Jess and I do!
I got a little choked up at how lucky I am to have such an amazing person in my life.
I know that the divorces that my husband Mel and I went through, before we met and got married to each other, were painful to our kids, but how blessed we are to have arrived at the place we are now.
Every time I see Jess she reminds me of the strength of the human spirit. The strength we can build if we refuse to give in, give up or use hardship as an excuse for failure.
I know that for years I was the parent, the guide, the chaperon, the coach, the counselor, the cook, the mentor, the shoulder to cry on and the object to be mad at when things didn't work out, but now it is actually quite amazing to have my little snuggle bunny be the teacher.
She has taught me grace under fire, the willingness to stand up for her beliefs when they are not popular, and the courage to be herself, not a bad imitation of someone else!
But the greatest lesson Jess has taught me is that if we but have faith in God when we are going through difficult trials, there is always an amazing outcome after the storm.
Much like the incredible paintings God creates with nature, he too greatest works of art in our lives.
The main thing to remember is to stop, take a breath and enjoy those masterpieces, because if we get to wrapped up in the negative aspects of live we miss the beauty right under our noses.
The other cool thing about the mental picture my Jess sent me, is that I never have to worry about losing it, misplacing it or it getting damaged!
Hey Ms. Snuggle bunny-pooh bear-how about sending more of them awesome pictures!?
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"Days are like suitcases, everyone's is the same size, its just that some people can pack more into theirs than others"
Source unknown to OrdinaryWmn
Earlier today I was doing laundry and I was going to put some of my hubby's clothes away in one of his drawers when I noticed it was full to the top. It was so packed I had a hard time opening it. I stared at the overflowing clothes and thought that I had no place to put way the newly laundered items.
As I looked at it I realized that all the items were just stuffed randomly and without any organization. My hubby had been nice enough to help out in the last few months because I was sick and I guess stuffing everything at once was his organizational style!
I took everything out of the drawer and started to fold all the clothes and put them back in my typical OCD style. I put all the t-shirts together, boxers in another section and shorts in the middle. I noticed when I was done that I now had more than enough room to put away the additional clothes I had just washed.
When I was done with the additional clothes, I was surprised to realize that I still had room and the drawer closed without any resistance.This made me think of the fact that drawers are pretty much like our everyday lives.
Some people stuff their days jammed packed without rhyme or reason and then wonder why they feel overwhelmed, angry and unfulfilled.
On the other hand productive people are able to neatly fold and organize a seemingly endless array of activities, careers, volunteer work, hobbies, family commitments, etc. and still have room for more. Not only that, they are happy, content and truly enjoy life!
Ever wonder why?
Because in today's society we have had a tendency to fill our lives with activities that are really not important, urgent or put simply, provide little benefit to us as human beings.
Productive people are usually involved in activities that enrich their lives, bring them closer to their families, friends and their community.
Over-stuffed people are weighed down with fluff stuff, like endless, mindless internet surfing, TV watching, over drinking, overspending, overeating, and constant negative banter about how "busy" they are!
Don't get me wrong I love a good video game, or TV show, but spending all day on the computer pretending to have a life on a simulation game, is really not as rewarding as having a real life, with real people, real activities and real experiences.
We have 168 hours in a week, if we average 8 hours sleep a night that still gives us 112 hours left over to use for our career, enrichment, fulfillment, well you get the drift!
How much growing could we as humans do if we truly focused on bettering ourselves? Would we be richer, healthier, happier?
Would our communities be better, our families more enriching and satisfying and we as humans more in balance?
As I stared down at my hubby's drawer I realized that I wanted my drawer, suitcase, day to be full, but full of useful and amazing things.
I could enjoy my family more, enjoy nature more, even enjoy the wonderment of the internet to enlighten my mind with useful knowledge.
I could use my TV viewing time to experience science, history and great movies that bring inspiration to my artistic side as well as motivate me to become better at my chosen profession of acting.
You see, in order to make the best use of our day its not all about boring textbooks,( if you think they are boring, I rather enjoy certain textbooks! Weird, I know!) Its more about exploring new horizons, new ventures, new roads and new experiences.
Sometimes now a days when someone expresses the desire to experience new adventures it is with a negative tinge. It refers to leaving your spouse, doing drugs, getting drunk, getting arrested! Really? How that work out for you??
I realized that I was no longer going to make excuses! If I want to learn how to play a piano, I could use the excuse that I did not have the money right now to pay a full time instructor or I could go and peck away at the piano keys until something resembling a song comes out!
Just because you do not attend a physical school does not mean you stop learning! there are plenty of places on the internet where you can take courses for free and get certificates for completion. You can learn a new language, explore far way lands even learn funky dance moves all available at your finger tips with your computer or at your local library.
Join a book club, photography club, writing club, a fill in the blank club, all free and available by looking up the listings in your local paper!
Start a garden! If you live in an apartment a tiny herb garden in your kitchen is just as doable! Just make sure the herbs are legal people!
I chuckled to myself as I walked away from my laundry duties because I never knew that an overstuffed drawer could give me such an awesome outlook on how to best live my life!!
Good Job with the laundry babe!!!
Now where did I put that old piano for dummies book?? Watch out now world, new budding piano sensation coming through! ;-)
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Ofthe greatest treasures we can possess on earth, family is the most valuable. On this Easter Day as we celebrate the Savior's rebirth for our salvation, I am grateful for my amazing family! I love you all so much, miss those not near and words cannot express what you mean to me!
I had the best weekend ever with my family!! Thank you for being in my life!!! All of you Rock!!! Can't wait for camping season! WOo Hoo!!
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April 1 2010
"There is no greater joy, than the ability to express yourself through the written word, painted stroke, spoken verse or agile movement, unless that ability is the ability to awaken a dream within a child's heart"
When I was growing up my life was chaotic to say the least. As an adult I marveled at people when they talk about their childhood friends, supportive parents, loving siblings and various support groups they had in their inner world.
I know that for the average person that is part of their every day existence, but that was not the case in my world.
My world was made up of abuse, neglect and mostly people that were only interested in one thing, themselves and nothing more.
I very rarely talk or reflect on the dark side of my upbringing as I refuse to give it validity in my present day life. Unfortunately once in a while someone will make a comment that brings it all rushing back and make me realize once again how hard it is for the average person to fathom what I experienced or how much I have had to heal to be at the place that I am now.
The other day I was feeling a bit frustrated and dejected because of an on going health issue.
I was venting in my own weird way because I am angry that I cannot do the things that I love to do as my body chooses to betray me at times.
While I was reflecting on my course of action I got upset because a conversation came up about a person I know who does nothing but bring up the fact that life is not fair and no one ever gives them a break.
Mind you, God has given this person every opportunity to succeed, a supportive network of people that are there for them. Instead they choose to think everyone is out to get them, persecute them and sabotage their success. The reality is this person is doing a dang good job of sabotaging themselves, so they really do not need anyone else to do that for them!
I guess the timing was not the best because I was really tired of able-bodied, talented people wasting their God given gifts and then having the gall to complain about how people keep messing up their lives. This is when the rope snapped and I felt the need to vent!!
Since I try real hard to mostly keep a positive spin on life, this tirade on my part was just viewed as taking a "hissy" fit because life had dealt me a hand I did not want. I was also quickly told to suck it up and get over it!
This is when the flood gates of all the selfish people in my life came rushing back!
While I do blog, and have a very public persona due to my writing and acting, I do not really dwell into certain particulars about my private life and as such some people act like they know every detail of my existence when in reality they know very little!
This person felt the need to say to me that I acted like I had never had anyone in my life to help me or support me. They also further said, you act like you have always been alone or surrounded by selfish people that only think of themselves!
I have to say I was so angry at how ignorant this person was that all I could do was walk away to keep from saying or doing something that was going to bring me down even more.
It actually took me a couple of days to purge how upset I was from my system and then just chuck it up to mere ignorance on that person's part.
I have made a conscious effort to focus only on the positive aspects of my life with that said I usually do not feel the need to share what traumatic experiences I lived through as a child, teenager and beyond.
Anyone that knows anything about psychology knows that when a child is abused early in life they carry around a victim sigma that predators gravitate to and capitalize on. I was no different.
On top of the fact that I was abandoned by my mother and constantly reminded of the fact that I did not fit in within the adoptive family structure, my adoptive mother was a cold, indifferent woman who played emotional mind games to keep us in check.
As a result of this, I was shy, meek and an easy target for bullies, selfish, abusive people and users. I was surrounded by people that were interested in one thing and one thing only, what I could do for them. My needs or wants were inconsequential to their lives.
Add to this equation a crime ridden neighborhood, roach infested tenement building and a revolving door of "uncles" I had no security, sense of well-being or safety. No surprise when I became a statistic and dropped out of school to have my first child at age 17.
My first husband, while not a monster, was manipulative, controlling and had a drinking problem. These issues were not out of mean-spiritness or evilness, but simply learned behaviors that were the norm in our world.
I was expected to do only what was allowed by my husband and my mother and nothing else. This included how I raised my kids, how I dressed them and myself, where I went and who I was friends with.
When I say I had no one to turn to in my inner world, I was not being melodramatic.
God though, in his infinite wisdom, will send us angels where we least expect them.
While my elementary school was a haven from my home life, it was a hateful place due to gangs, violence and very angry dysfunctional students whose families were just as bad.
Yet with all that said, the teachers in that school were true angels in every sense of the word.
I know without a doubt that if God had not sent people like Mr. Newton, my middle school English teacher, Mr. Dancy our assistant principal, Mr. Richie the other assistant principal, and mostly Mr. Gallagher whose picture you see above, I do not know where I would be today.
In all that chaos they threw out a life line to anyone that was willing to take it. I was one of the few who did, even though I did not realize it until much later in life.
Mr. Gallagher was my homeroom teacher as well as my math instructor in 7th and 8th grade. I thought he was a mind reader because he always knew when life had beat me down at home, but reflecting back it probably did not take much to put two and two together with the bruises, unkempt appearance and shell-shocked demeanor mistaken for shyness.
Little by little Mr. Gallagher's mentoring and guidance turned me into the person you see in the picture. I was introduced to the written word, the joy of drama and the power of speech.
Because of Mr. Gallagher I was one of the key note speakers on my graduation day, as well as the recipient of various art, writing and drama awards.
Sadly the passion Mr. Gallagher had for teaching was sorely missing in high school and I quickly got torn down again and got swallowed up whole by the system. With no support system at school my home life became unbearable and I opted out to motherhood and early marriage.
I am not writing this to blow my own horn, but just to let people realize that nothing is impossible, unless you say so. No one can take anything way from you unless you let them.
I am not even close to the goals that I had set for myself. As I became a mother, because I had none, I felt a need to do all I could for my kids. In doing so I put a lot of my desires on hold, not because I had to, but because I selected to!
So when a person who has had a support network complains about the unfairness of life, I get a bit upset because I know that life is not fair, because I lived it.
But with that said no one can stop you from overcoming any obstacle unless you use it as an excuse.
This is the first and last time that I will write about the challenges I overcame to do the things that I have accomplished. Here goes;
I was abandoned at age two, but I was there for my kids even to this day. I love and accept my non-biological kids just as much as my biological kids and view them all as my "real" kids. Could that phrasing be any more detrimental to child's self-esteem? As if a child could be non real!
I was born with a physical birth defect that resulted in my feet being totally flat and my left leg being 1/2 an inch shorter than my right leg and my hip being dis-aligned.
This condition was not diagnosed until I was in my forties yet I managed to graduated from the police academy, be a drill instructor in the academy after graduation, qualify for the tactical unit, Be a Sergeant in a military state unit, run a half marathon, play soccer, dance, do gymnastics, train in Tang Soo Do, rappel off buildings and out of helicopters, all while being constantly teased about how uncoordinated and clumsy I was. Most of these activities were taken up as an adult as I was not allowed to do them before.
I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 44 years old yet managed to earn my GED without having to take classes, go to college and make the dean's list repeatedly, as well as other various accomplishments that society tells me I can't do because of my learning disability.
Speaking of learning disabilities I was told that my left-handedness was a disability and was constantly shamed into trying to write with my right hand so I could be normal! As a result of my left-handedness I had to teach myself to crochet, sew, knit, and do calligraphy as they told me left handed people cannot be taught to do this!
Last thing about left handedness, in spite of being called a left handed female that should have been drown at birth during a military police training program, I qualified expert with the M-16, MP5, Remington shot gun and .40 caliber Glock. Did I mention that there were three courses we needed to qualify in? Night shoot, day shoot and stress shoot! I went 40 for 40 on each course. Imagine what I could do if I was right handed?
The Major came up to me after the graduation ceremony and told me maybe I was the exception to the rule!
Thank goodness society has finally caught up to reality!
I had four biological kids and still managed to maintain a healthy weight after I had them. I did not use them as an excuse as to why I could no longer do...fill in the blank or fit into my clothes ten years after I had them!
Did people pick on me and want me to fail?
Try being a Latina, female in 1983 trying to be only the 8th female on a state police agency in Boston!!
I was flat out told that I would flunk out academically, fail the physical fitness training and probably get pregnant and have to drop out before the training was over! This was all before they brought up that left-handed crap!
I graduated seventh out of a class of 44 even with the fact that I had three boys under the age of 5 to take care of and a first husband who was none too happy with the independence and confidence I was learning. Enough said on that one!!
When I got remarried I was told that I was nuts because blended families rarely worked out, especially one as large as ours with nine kids all together. I would be divorced within a couple of years and all the kids would hate me.
Well sixteen years later I am still married and my husband's youngest who came into my life when he was only 18 months old, will be 18 years old this year. He is my heart and soul and every bit mine as if I had carried him in my own womb.
Our children get along and are not only family but friends as well, and they hang out together as much as possible.
I have developed several neurological and physical diseases that can slow me down considerably but I never feel the need to use them as a crutch to explain to the world why I am not where I want to be in life.
The only reason I am not closer to my goals and dreams is because I have not focused enough on them. The illnesses, the negative people and life's hiccups are just that, temporary. They will never become permanent unless I decide to let them become a fixture in my existence.
It is difficult at times to stay upbeat, especially when some people feel the need to try to tell me how easy it is to deal with my challenges.
Ironically their own life is falling apart because they can summon a boat load of excuses that in their mind are so much bigger than anything I have ever seen or experienced.
After the initial anger wears off, I just chuckle! I laugh because since I rarely feel the need to unload my burdens on others, of course they would have no clue what I have overcome and continue to overcome.
But mostly I chuckle because it reminds me how strong I am, how much I have overcome and how much further I can continue to grow as long as instead on making excuses I continue to make strides.
And believe it or not this positive attitude, this never quit mentality all came from a teacher I was exposed to for 4hrs a day, five days a week for a total of only 20 months.
Thank God this man picked a profession he was passionate about and never let the administration, politicians, violence or budget cuts diminish that passion for teaching.
The only regret I have in life is that I never got to thank Mr. Gallagher in person. I wish he and the other amazing educators in my life could somehow know that I am who I am because they and God, who saw fit to send them my way, were the only life line this statistic had.
With their love and God's love I felt and continue to feel the Master's touch in my life everyday. Even at times that it seems dark and pointless to go on. At times that I feel that there is no way out and that the struggle will never end. At times that life throws you obstacles and things that might seem unfair, the Master's touch is there reminding me that God loved me so much that he took the time to send angels to ease my burden.
The challenge was I had to be willing to see them, listen to them and most of all refuse to let anything or anyone force me to quit my journey.
For if God be for me, who be against me? No one! that is, no one unless you are the one to be against yourself by doubting in God's grace and power!
Where ever you are Mister Gallagher thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such an amazing person!!
The advocate waits around a clipped unfortunate.
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