Posts Tagged ‘Celebration’

Steps on the Journey

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Earlier this month one of our Under The Cuckoo Clock members - Cindy Strandvold - shared a paragraph that was part of a year-end message she received from her agent's agency:

"While it's exciting to see the year's successes listed this way, there are so many more things we are proud of that cannot be quantified--most notably, the countless times that all of our clients, published and unpublished, have pushed through self-doubt, gotten past rejection, continued to focus on growing in their craft, started new projects, brought others to completion, finished revisions, taken note of their own successes (in all forms), and held on to hope.† Each step on the path is worth celebrating, not just those that come with publishing contracts or starred reviews."

For weeks now I have not stopped thinking about the concept.
It was "each step on the path is worth celebrating" that touches a chord in me. I am endlessly trying to improve myself, to mindfully steer my course and reach long term and short term goals. My list is long!

Often I get so caught up in achieving a particular goal, I forget to be glad - in the moment - for what is happening right now.

Celebrate each step

*† Like celebrating when I sell a story to a local publisher.
*† Like celebrating when the subject of an article I write brings me flowers.
(Thanks, Heather Janssen!)
* Like celebrating when I write a blog entry here and post it on time.† 🙂

Each step is part of the journey, and thus, a big deal indeed. Thanks to the writers who sit Under The Cuckoo Clock for bringing chocolate (!) to give us pause, to notice, and transform each step into a noteworthy celebration - sweet in every way.

Eyes Wide Shut

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

When my husbandís health problems escalated to where he needed intensive medical care, a friend suggested he contact the Veteransí Administration.

ìAs a U. S. Navy Vet,î he said, ìyou should be eligible for health related benefits.î

Eddie inquired, and indeed discovered that because of his military experience he qualified for a basically cost free health program. One that provided an array of medical services, which, because of his personal needs, turned out to be extensive.

On several occasions, Eddie had to undergo high tech diagnostic testing and treatment that led to specialized medications to operations. He also needed follow-up well-care visits and numerous, lengthy hospital stays. Along with these services he encountered countless skilled and compassionate doctors, nurses, specialists and a highly trained general staffóevery one unique and unforgettable.

In addition, he made and cultivated friendships with other servicemen with their own physical difficulties, some of which seemed far worse then his; at least to me.

During the first few visits to the V.A. Hospital, I must admit to being overwhelmed, embarrassed and frightened at the sights I encountered. It was here, my eyes were opened and I became exposed to the effects of war on both men and women of all ages in a way I had never could have anticipated or imagined.

Now I thought I was as patriotic as the next person was. Didnít I sing the patriotic songs and praise the vets for their efforts? Didnít I send donations to the appropriate organizations and attend local parades to honor our soldiers? Didnít I hang my flag out to acknowledge them on Veterans Day and Memorial Day and wear handmade trinkets to show my support?

Yet nothing prepared me for the experience of being in the company of so many who had gone through so much.

I felt humbled by my lack of real world knowledge and the obvious ignorance I held about the veteranís who served our country. I questioned what those of us, and I believe that statistic is high, are not truly aware of what they experience for our benefit.

History ìteachesî us about cause, effect and outcome of war. Television and specialized websites show us the weaponry, destruction, and fatal statistics. News media personalities and politicians analyze the pros and cons of war.

Yet what we donít see, hear or learn much about is the human experience of those who actually do the fighting, how soldiers are affected, how the aftermath changes their lives.

Old-timers from World War ll and Korea, my contemporaries from Vietnam and the youngsters from the Gulf War at the Denver, CO and Cheyenne, WY V.A. Hospitals opened my eyes to a different world; one I never realized existed is such a significant abundance.

The dramatic impact of wheel chair bound vets; single-limb and multiple-limb amputees and long-term bedridden patients whose ailments are not obvious struck an unsuspecting emotional response. I never knewÖ

And those who lost lifeís luster and wander in search of themselves their dreams and the life they once knew, jolted my sense of appreciation for life. I never really knewÖ

Most of these Vets were not ranked as heroes. They were instead regarded as victims of a tragedy during war maneuvers.

Becoming part of this world showed me exactly how little I actually knew of the consequences of war and the sacrifices others gave and suffered for a freedom I took for granted. Itís then I realized how much I didnít understand the far-reaching effects on, not only them, but upon their families and friends. Itís then I realized that despite how their ailments came about, they were, indeed, all heroes who served our country because they believed their efforts would impact the worldÖmake it better place in which we could all live.

I'm thankful for my husbandís care, having my eyes opened, being filled with a profound gratitude for every vetís service to our country. I also have a deeper respect and sense of the meaning of veteran, patriotism, freedom and making the world a better place in which to liveÖone day, one action, one person at a time.

This Land is Your Land! This Land is My Land!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Independence Day, a.k.a. the Fourth of July, is the ultimate holiday event celebrated throughout America. This day is marked by those who honor the history, government and traditions of the United States. There are many different patriotic displays where citizens of all ages pay homage to our nation.

People wear red, white and blue hats, shirts and other clothing, decorate their homes, public places and everything else with streamers, balloons, ribbons and other ornaments. They proudly fly the American flag. All this enthusiasm is to commemorate our historic evolution and encourage our progress for the future.

In the mornings, people of all ages gather along Main Street, USA across our country to view local parades, cheer on the marchers and salute the American flag.

During the afternoons many attend carnivals, fairs and baseball games. Some go on picnics, have backyard barbeques and grill their favorite foods. Others gather at a pool, lake or oceanfront to splish ën splash trying to keep cool in the hot afternoon sun while they await the traditional finale of the day.

When evening arrives, the parks, fairgrounds, town squares and waterside facilities fill with families who gather to watch the sky light up with colorful fireworks.

They attend concerts and listen to patriotic songs like† ìthe Star Spangled Bannerî, ìGod Bless Americaî, †"America the Beautiful", "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", "This Land Is Your Land", "Stars and Stripes Forever", and, regionally, "Yankee Doodle" in northeastern states and "Dixie" in southern states.

Some military bases give a one-gun-salute for each state in the United States, called a ìsalute to the union,î on Independence Day at noon.

If you've never been to our nation's capital, I strongly recommend you take a trip to Washington D.C..† Regardless of your political affiliation, I guarantee the experience will impress you. Indeed this land is your land and this land is my land. This home of the free and the brave (with all its faults) deserves a celebration.

How will you celebrate July 4th this year?

Gone Home

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

A 50th high school reunion beckoned me home to NJ.

100 + class members attended. Some came with spouses others without. Many still lived and worked throughout the state. Others traveled from NY, CA, SC, FL, OH, VA, MA, VT, and CO to join in the festivities.

What surprised me most was the instant connection we made with one another. Seemed like yesterdayÖOh sure, a few years may have passed, gray hairs sprouted and an extra pound or two found its way to intrude, but still present was the same zest for life. One success story after another brought a sense of pride for these old friends who so aptly represented East Side High School out in the world.

Good food, lots of fun and rekindling of friendships...fantastic. DJ played "our" kind of musicÖRock ën Roll of the fifties. Lots of chatter, laughing, singing and dancing! We let the good times roll!

Next day after the reunion breakfast I was on the move.
I drove all over NJ to visit with several high school friends who couldnít make reunion, college friends and family. I scouted old jaunts, rode by homes we lived in, WALKED, really walked, the boardwalk in several beach townsóSeaside Heights, Point Pleasant Beach, and Belmar. Oh the memories generated in these places!

Sand dunes, salty air, ocean waves caressing the sandy beach, sun bathers tanning on colorful towels and blankets and small boats cruising the shoreline were a welcomed sight. Amusement rides for adults and kids, including the carousel and its magical calliope music, drew children of all ages who, with ticket in hand, waited their turn. Hawkers at the game stands challenged the vacationers to take a chance at winning a prize. Carnival type food, pizza at Tomato Joeyís, salt water taffy from Jenkinsonís Beach teased and pleased my taste buds. Miniature golf, fun houses, souvenir shops and the fun filled arcades still lured the crowds. Aside from a few upgrades, the boardwalk hadnít changed much. And how could I not mention the spicy, Lobster Diablo dinner I savored while sitting at a window table watching the boats come and go along Shark River? Nothing like melt-in-your-mouth fresh seafood to top off a wonderful trip.

So happy I went because Helen Pepsin (maiden name) rose to the occasion and uncovered/rediscovered her old self, the one from a lifetime ago...LOL. She was and still is lots of fun. I wonder how she got lost in being Mrs. Eddie and Jimmyís mother, Andyís mother, Matthewís mother and Amyís mother.

Gone homeÖyou bet I did. What a trip! A true blast from the past.