What’s it all for?


Birth. Existence. Death.

What’s it all for?  Why are we born knowing we must die? It makes everything in between the birth and death so futile and insignificant in the scheme of the universe. I mean, we’re all just tiny little microscopic specs in the vast expanse. How could we make any impact on this thing called “life”? We’re really nothing compared to eternity. Sure, some of us will burn bright, and like a star will continue to burn bright long after death because we somehow left a light behind that still resonates. But most of us will shine for a moment in time and then burn out.

So why try to find a way to burn forever when we know there’s a good chance we’re going to fizzle?

For me, it’s because I know each and every one of us is a star to someone. You may not be the star on a rock stage or the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You may not be the President of your senior class or the most popular kid in school. You may not be the one to always gets the promotion, and many times you’re going to feel looked over, insignificant – as if no one sees you or cares.

But the thing is, we’re all stars to someone. Your parents, siblings, your next door neighbor…they may think you’re an angel sent from the heavens. To that lonely kid at school, you may be his/her hero. To the lady you helped in the grocery store, you may be what put a smile on her face. The truth of it is, we tend to underestimate the impact we have on others. We all may appear to be insignificant, but we’re not. Not all of us can be stars. Some of us need to be grains of sand on the beach.  You know why? Because without each and ever single grain of sand on that beach, there would be no beach. You may not stand out individually, but put together with the whole, look how magnificent you are.

Never, never underestimate your importance.  You are important, and your life matters to someone.

My mother-in-law passed away Sunday. She’d been ill for a while and lived in a nursing facility. She wasn’t a star that will burn like the sun into eternity. Someday her light will blip and will go out. But for now, it’s burning bright even though she’s gone. I look at how she touched the nurses and CNAs where she ‘lived’ her final three years. They loved her and when she passed Sunday, a piece of them went with her.

I see the posts on social media, from the people who barely knew her. They are all saying how Nancy touched their lives, how she always made them feel welcome and part of the family. Even those who had little contact with her thought her to be an extraordinary woman. She was a star then. She’s a star now.

She’ll always be a star to her family. She’ll always be a star to me. She was my second mom, and I am blessed to have this star streak through my life. I can only hope and pray to burn as bright in the lives I touch along this journey of life. I hope I will be as kind, forgiving, thankful, and just. I hope I will be as much a symbol of strength and honesty to others as she was. I hope I exude as much compassion and love and understanding. I pray I am as kind, thoughtful and present to those who need me.

I am a grain of sand hoping for star status.

To me, that’s what it’s all for. We’re not here to make a giant impact on the universe. We’re here to make positive impacts on each other. As long as we do that, we’ll always shine in the eyes of those lives we touch. Just remember, eventually, even the brightest star will burn out, but until then, be everything you can be. Make your life count. Touch a life, or two or three. Shine bright and never forget how valuable you are. Someone loves you, and that makes you the brightest star in the universe.

 

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And they call it puppy love – a Dalmatian love story


My husband came home from work one day and told me that a friend had a Dalmatian he could no longer take care of. My husband asked me if I knew anyone who was interested. Was he serious? I laughed. “Duh,” I said. “Do I look like chopped liver?”

I don’t know what I was thinking. After all, I was in my forties and had just started pre-menopause. My husband and I worked full-time jobs. We had four kids spanning elementary, middle and high school, two dogs, three cats, a cockatiel, a miniature blue rabbit, two ferrets, a hamster, a four-foot iguana, a small decorative fish pond, a 150-gallon saltwater tank and a fifty-gallon freshwater tank with Oscars. We were stretched thin with all the vet visits, the kitty boxes, the dog walks, homework, cooking and laundry. The last thing we needed was another mouth to feed. But my husband and I agreed to think about it over the spur-of-the-moment weekend vacation at Disney World with the kids.

During the hour and a half drive to Orlando, we saw signs from God and the universe. There were billboards featuring Dalmatians. We followed behind a car with a Dalmatian in the back seat. We saw Dalmatian bumper stickers, but the kicker came when we tried to check into the All-Star Music Resort and found out they had no more rooms available; however, they did have rooms available at the All-Star Movies Resort in the 101 Dalmatians section.

Talk about destiny.

My husband and I knew then what our answer was, and on our way home, we swung by the house of my husband’s friend and adopted Baby into our home.

From day one, she was the best dog I ever had. She was full of life, energetic, full of expression and personality. She followed me around like a shadow and she loved to cuddle. She was a beautiful dog, one brown eye, one blue, and she was covered in spots. Baby wasn’t “show” quality, but she was perfect for our family.

For two years, she led a spoiled-rotten life. Before we adopted her, she lived outside, chasing squirrels, barking, not getting much attention. With us, she curled up at our feet, slept in our bed, enjoyed the dog park, played in the surf at the beach, and lived a blissful, happy life inside in the cool air-conditioning, out of the hot Florida sun.

Then, one day, I got a call from my husband while I was at work. Something was wrong with Baby—something terribly wrong. I was perplexed. She’d just been to the vet, and he gave her a clean bill of health. By the time I got home, she was lying in the hallway, unable to lift her head or move. Her tongue hung out of her mouth. My husband and I lifted her into the van and drove her to the emergency vet, a five-minute ride from our house. I ran inside to get a tech, but by the time I returned to the van with a gurney, Baby crossed the Rainbow Bridge while being held in my husband’s loving arms.

At the time, I hadn’t experienced so much hurt since my father passed away two weeks before my twelfth birthday. It felt as if my heart had been yanked from my chest and no matter what I did, the tears kept coming. We managed to go back home without her, my sweet Baby, but then we had to face the next hurdle. We had to tell the kids. There was nothing that could prepare us for the loss of a family member. We sat around, hugging each other and sobbing. Our Baby was gone, and an incredible emptiness settled inside our home.

I went to work the next day, my eyes swollen and red, and I still couldn’t stop the tears. My friends were supportive, but there were others in the office who didn’t understand. “She’s crying over a dog?” I heard someone say.

No. Baby was more than a dog. She was my sweetheart, a soul mate in her own right. She gave me and my family unconditional love. The vet said she died from a ruptured spleen, but it didn’t matter. All I could think was that I’d never see her face, kiss her cold nose, hear her bark, or watch her run and romp in the waves. Who was going to curl up at my feet when I read, or lay her head in my lap when I was sad?

She was so young. Only six. My age, in dog years. My own mortality sank in.

It’s been twelve years since Baby passed away. Since then, most of our other pets have passed on, too. I am not looking forward to my dogs or cats dying, but they are getting older, like me, and I know it’s inevitable. And while it makes me sad to think of losing these precious creatures in my life, it soothes my soul to know that Baby will be there, waiting for them on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, ready to romp and play. And when my time comes, I know she’ll be there waiting for me, too, alongside my mom, my dad and all my other critters. I couldn’t ask for a better welcoming committee.

Baby - February 2001

Happy Superhero, I mean, Mother’s Day


Today is a day to honor all moms. Guys, this doesn’t just mean your mom. It means all moms, including:

–  the lady with the crying baby in the grocery store. Don’t be angry at her for not ‘shutting it up’. She’s more than likely not slept an entire night since giving birth. She’s zombie-fied, tired, irritable and may break out in tears if you look at her the wrong way. Or she could snap and take your head off. Either way, she’s a mom. Honor her.

–  the mom in the clothing store trying to be diplomatic with her eye-rolling, snarky teen.  As an observer, you may want to give the kid a quick kick in the behind, until you remember you were the same way at that age. Some things never change, right?

–  the mom at the kitchen table trying to help her child with math homework she hasn’t seen in maybe – ever. Throw core teaching methods on top it and well, give that woman a glass bottle of wine.

–  the single mom who is working two jobs to make ends meet, the same mom who sacrifices what she wants so that her kids can have. In case you haven’t realized, moms do this from the moment they hold that baby in their arms. Their life is no longer their own, and it never will be again.

–  your wife, the woman who takes care of you, makes your dinners, washes your clothes, makes sure your prodigies are well taken care of before somehow finding the energy to be alluring in the bedroom without falling asleep from sheer exhaustion.

And let’s not forget all the the moms who hold the following positions 24/7, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year:

  • CEO of household
  • doctor
  • nurse
  • teacher
  • referee
  • taxi driver
  • personal chef
  • professional cheerleader
  • food tester
  • family therapist
  • search and rescuer of lost toys
  • accountant
  • boo boo kisser
  • lullaby singer
  • dramatic story-teller
  • banker
  • hair stylist
  • makeup specialist,
  • bargain shopper
  • pet sitter
  • maid
  • laundry queen
  • housekeeper
  • janitor
  • art director
  • potty trainer
  • personal assistant to all family members
  • birthday event coordinator
  • wardrobe stylist
  • personal shopper
  • stain removal expert
  • vacation coordinator and tour guide, and
  • scary monster destroyer.

To all you moms out there, remember this:  you’re beautiful and special to those around you, even when your hair is a mess, you don’t have time to put on makeup, you can’t sing a lullaby on key,  and your house looks like an earthquake and a hurricane passed through it at the same time.  Be kind to yourself. You’re amazing. Don’t let anyone undermine all that you do, all you have sacrificed, all you have become. There is nothing more wonderful than a mom.  Take pride in what you are.  You’ve earned this hallowed spot. Show off your battle scars with pride. Today is your day.

Enjoy.

Okay, I’ll admit it – I’m a hopeless romantic


“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.  I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.  I love you for the part of me that you bring out.” ~ Roy Croft

When I was young I used to eat, dream and breathe the whole love/marriage connection thing.  I dreamed about my wedding day a lot.  I always had a beautiful white gown, full and flowing, with a veil a mile long.  The event would take place in a magnificent castle garden in Spring.  I would have a classical string quartet for the wedding and Bread and Elton John would perform at the reception (hey, I grew up in the 60s and 70s).  My cake would be six tiers, each one a different flavor to wake up the senses.  My dream husband would be tall, dark-haired, green-eyed; a gentle but confident soul, a man who loved me for me for all my faults and all my attributes.  He would be funny, someone who longed to be with me as much as I wanted to be with him when we were apart.  Someone to grow old with, to share good and bad times with, to laugh with, to love, honor and cherish.

Funny, but neither of my two marriages ended up anything like my dream.  In fact, they were quite the opposite, yet, through all the heartache, I remain a hopeless romantic.  And I owe it all to a man who entered my life between my two husbands.  

Six foot four, dark brown hair, emerald-green eyes, he was a dream brought to life.  He was a Tennessee gentleman with a voice as smooth as molasses, a heart the size of ten universes, and a smile that lit up a room.  He wrote music, was a jazz musician by night, computer geek by day.  He loved animals, kids, traveling, life, reading, but most of all he loved me…unconditionally.  Just thinking of him even now makes my heart swell to the point it feels like it will burst.  I still love him with every ounce of my being, not only for who he was, but who he helped me become.  Sadly, he died in an auto accident 6 months after we met.  Killed by a drunk driver.  My life would never be the same.  

Why God took him away I don’t understand.  What I do know is this man’s love still burns bright within me.  It sustains me, keeps me going; it is my beacon of light through the storms of my life.  It is my strength.  My rock.  It is eternal, and it will be there waiting for me when I leave this life and pass into the next.  What more could a hopeless romantic ask for?

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E is for Extraordinary


This is a continuation of the A-Z blog challenge.  Click here to see the list of all 1935 participants!

Extraordinary. What a glorious word. Just saying it conjures all kinds of ‘feel good’ sensations. What other word says amazing, bizarre, exceptional, fantastic, outstanding, uncommon, wicked, unique all at once. Why, the word by itself is extraordinary!

Extraordinary is all around us. Look at kids for one. They are sponges, soaking up every bit of information fed into them. Their imagination is wild, crazy, untouchable…

Extraordinary

Look at food. Look at what nature has given us to maintain our bodies and minds…fruits, vegetables, fish and crustaceans (can anyone say lobster and king crab legs? Heaven). Legumes, sweet potatoes…truffles (such exquisite delectable yumminess)…

Extraordinary

Look at the artists you gravitate towards. Who else can paint like Van Gogh or Dali? Who else can weave sonatas like Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, or whip out a classic rock tune like Queen, Electric Light Orchestra or Pink Floyd? Who can bring you to the edge of horror like King or Koontz, or drop you into a love story like Sparks or Steele?  Who can fill children with fantastical wonder like Rowling or Kagawa, or leave them breathless and stunned like Collins? All of these artists and so many more are nothing short of…

Extraordinary

Last but not least, don’t forget your friends (real and virtual), and those certain family members that put a smile on your face when you think of them. Something magical pulls you together. Something lights your soul when you hear their voice or see an e-mail or a blog post from that someone special. It is the most simplest yet most complex of all human emotions…Love. Love can be many things to many people. It doesn’t  necessarily mean romanticism. One can love the way a car looks or the way a tree bends in the wind. One can love hearing a baby laugh, or the smell of rain after a freshly cut lawn. Love is something you can’t touch but you can feel it deep in your soul, your heart and with every inch of your being. It is the one emotion that ties us all together because it is the one thing we, as human kind, need in order to thrive. Love is

Extraordinary

And so are the people that fill our souls with it. So go hug them, write them a letter or an e-mail, pick up the phone, send out a blog…do whatever you must to tell those close to you how much they mean to you. When you spread the love, that makes you

Extraordinary

to those on the other end.