I Quit Smoking Today

13 09 2013

Yes, I have officially declared out loud with my dog as my witness under the starry designs in the darkened sky, that I am going to no longer smoke cigarettes.

My aunt passed away this evening. She was my crazy aunt who I could always count on for honest, unedited advice; she was the one that would always make me laugh with her silly faces and her silly words; she understood things yet she still took chances and made changes and knew not to take life too seriously.

I was named after her. My middle name spelled just the same as her first name. Her daughter, only a few years older while her son a couple years younger spent summers and reunions together. I feel closer to them than I do my own brother, although there are days when I feel like he’s trying to maintain a sibling relationship.

I hate cancer. It killed my grandfather, it killed my grandmother just a month ago, it attacked my mom who is thankfully heading toward remission as I type this, and today it took my aunt away forever.

I know I’m going to research the hell out of cancer to see if I can get one up on it. I know there has been a lot of research done with this nasty disease so I shouldn’t have any problem finding information out about it. There needs to be some drastic changes for me. Starting with the cigarettes. Next, I’m going to be more conscious about my diet and I’m going to exercise twice as much as the minimal daily effort I normally put forth. I’m going to get in shape and beat this depression creeping up on me. There is too much that needs to be done.

When I went through my darker times with the person I no longer mention, I got to see firsthand what rock bottom really looked like. As I made what I hoped to be my final exit to that relationship (and later turned out that it was indeed the end) I fell in the arms of my parents of course, my biological mother, my aunt and my grandmother, all of whom took me in and got me back on my feet. I was stripped to the core and they mended me back together.

While I was staying with my grandmother, trying to find a job while saving some money from my unemployment checks, my aunt happened to be staying in town for a good chunk of time with my grandmother to do some mother-daughter bonding. They were taking a road trip for about a week and revisiting childhood places, old schools and neighborhoods along the way back home. I stayed by myself at my grandmother’s house, grieving over a failed abusive relationship, feeling completely vulnerable yet safe that I could sleep without worrying what was going to happen to me or what was going to set the bomb off today.

When they came back, we had several heart to heart talks about life and love and making the right decisions and having confidence in myself. There was this one particular day that my aunt and I spent the day running errands. She drove me around to get some errands run and then we made a few other stops during our outing.

We drove to the church that my grandmother attends and volunteers one day a week answering phones and doing office work. It’s the same church where my mom and my aunt were married at. It was in the afternoon in the middle of the week and nobody was in the sanctuary. They leave it open though for people to come inside to pray when they need to.

Inside the sanctuary, the sunlight shined through the stained glass windows that outlined the walls. The beautiful huge pipe organ that fills the air with music on Sundays. My aunt went up to the alter and began to pray. I remember this feeling I had while we were in there. It was like I was being hugged. I let my tears flow and got everything off my chest and out of my mind. At that time, my aunt had beat cancer and was on the road to healthiness and happiness. She knew how to prioritize and focus on the important elements of life. She had an awesome mission organization to help the orphaned children with HIV in Haiti. Together with her husband, they built hospitals, they taught, they nurtured, and they loved these kids as well as the many friends they encountered in Haiti.

When we were through saying everything we needed to say in the sanctuary, we then drove to the cemetery where my grandfather’s ashes were. My aunt lives on the west coast so it’s not like she gets to come visit every day. She loved and missed her father so much. She talked to his nameplate and told him about everything going on in her life with tears in her eyes. She talked about her grandchild and her kids and her daily endeavors. I thought that was so cool and it really touched my heart. We left some fresh flowers and headed back to my grandmother’s house.

My aunt told me how I looked better every new day. She told me that even though it was hard for me to get up out of bed in the mornings, and not because I was tired or hungover, but because I was depressed, still climbing up from rock bottom and I had a long way to go. But I was heading in the right direction. My aunt set some goals up with me and told me she was going to check in on me and see if I had made progress. We talked about me focusing on finding a job, my soccer coaching and my writing.

So, two months ago I watched my grandmother pass away on July 6th 2013, the day my grandfather was born and only a week shy from her 92nd birthday. My aunt was not able to come be by her mom’s side and with her brother and sisters due to her health. We Skyped with her so she could see her mom and tell her goodbye. There was about 15 minutes or so where it was just her in the room, on Skype, with the camera on the laptop facing my grandmother who’s breaths were already short with long intervals between them. We Skyped with her at the ash ceremony which she put together and carried out, the memorial service, and the reception that followed. We made sure she was there and as much a part of this celebration of her mother’s life as anybody else.

We just bought our first house and moved in the day before my grandmother’s service which was almost a month after she had passed. With siblings, family and friends coming from both the east coast and the west coast time was needed to make sure everyone could make it out. It was a beautiful celebration, just as my grandmother would want. We had so much family gathered in one place. We don’t get to see each other all together like that very often. So much has changed since the last reunion. My cousins all have children now for starters. It was a good time mixed in with the sadness.

Today is Thursday, September 12th, 2013. I was at work when I got the text from my mom that my aunt was in ICU going through her final stages. Having just watched my grandmother go through this I knew what that meant. At a little after 7pm eastern time, 4pm California time, my aunt passed away. She was surrounded by her daughter, her son, two of her sisters, one of which had just flown from Florida to spend her birthday with her, her devoted husband and his son from his previous marriage. His first wife died of cancer too. She was surrounded by love and for the ones like me that weren’t there physically, our thoughts were on her all day.

As I took a puff from my last cigarette before bed I knew that I needed to do something drastic. I’ve been in a funk lately and for good reason but I’ve got a lot of good going on in my life as well. I decided to quit smoking for my aunt. And my grandmother. And my mom, my dad, my girlfriend, my brother, my nephew, family, friends, people whose lives I’m going to touch in my lifetime, my dog, my bio-mom, and anybody who cares about me. It’s only dragging me down and I’ve been struggling with quitting. I’m ready to get out of my funk, start taking care of myself, finish editing my story which both my aunt and my grandmother loved, move toward my goals and just let myself be happy.

I declared this out loud. I made sure to get my dog’s attention and said it to her since she was the only one around. Today I quit smoking cigarettes.


Why are our children being abducted?

19 07 2012

I was doing my daily ritual of reading different news websites before I got started with work and came across an article that’s hot on the web today. Apparently a man in Philadelphia was caught on a resident’s surveillance camera attempting to abduct a 10-year old girl walking home with her 2-year old brother. She kicked and screamed along with her brother and although the attacker just wanted her, and even lifted her entirely off the ground and started to run, he was unable to complete his task and ran off like the sick cowardly punk he is.

This story following another big one earlier this week about two girls, cousins Lyric and Elizabeth, who went missing in Iowa after their grandmother let them go outside and ride their bikes before dark. Their bikes and a purse was found near Meyer’s lake which is nearby and the search dogs followed the girls’ trail to the edge of the water. Now they will begin to drain the lake.

Missing Iowa Girls, Lyric and Elizabeth

I’m sure there were many other children being abducted or missing whose stories didn’t make national news but this is absolutely ridiculous. Why are our children being taken away so easily? In this day and age, trust is no where to be found. We can’t even help a homeless begger on the street because we don’t really know this person and what they are capable of doing. It’s so sad.

I would like to know what these people doing with our children? Is it a money thing? Kidnap a kid and sell them or enslave them. It wouldn’t be the first time we heard this and in some places, children don’t have the same rights as a normal human being and these sort of things are normal to them.

What makes someone take something that is not rightfully theirs? We’re not talking about a car or diamond ring, not even a family pet (which you don’t want me to get started with because they are considered family members to me). They take the children away from their parents, the freedom and innocence away from the children, and all for what reason? Are these people just sick and demented or is there something else going on?

I know these children and women can’t just disappear off the earth. Just standing in one place creates an imprint on this earth. They can’t just vanish. That doesn’t happen. For the children that are never found, where did they go? And how do we not see what happened or find their imprint which HAS to be here. I’m not talking about a physical imprint either. As long as they are alive they are leaving trails. For the unfortunate victims that do not survive, there is no such thing as the perfect crime and their attacker is leaving a trail as well. We need to figure out how to track them down.

Natalee Holloway disappeared while on a high school graduation trip in Aruba

I’m going to tell you right now, the first thing we need to do is unite as a family, a human family full of differences but with similar hearts, and step up to the plate. We start by paying attention. Enough worrying about invading other people’s privacy, experiencing a little embarrassment for overreacting is a small price to pay if that’s the case. If it’s not, you just saved a life. Hmmm, this seems like a no-brainer. We don’t pay attention enough to what’s going on outside our own world. Drives me nuts sometimes.

Now if you are one of those that happens to be in the right place at the right time, please understand that you have an obligation to mankind to speak up. Especially when you see the innocent or weaker individuals getting picked on. This world has changed so much just in the 30-something years I’ve been around and it’s not looking good.

What could possibly be going through this man’s mind as he tries to pick up and steal a little girl away from her brother and family. The little boy would have been an easier target but he went for the older girl. Not that boys shouldn’t have their guards up, we all should always, but there’s something these nasty people want with our girls.

We have got to step up and protect our children. Even if they aren’t ours by blood, they don’t have the experience or understanding of what people are obviously capable of doing. Parents, continue to train your children and prepare them for a world without mom and dad around. Everybody else who’s not a criminally insane sociopath, treat the world like a neighborhood watch society and don’t look the other way expecting somebody else to take care of it.

Jennifer Kesse disappeared one morning when leaving her apartment to go to work.

This brave girl in Philly did the right thing by kicking and screaming and not giving up. Why she was walking alone with her brother down a Philadelphia street is beyond me. I’m not judging at all. I know that’s what we used to be able to do but this world is different now. We should adapt accordingly. Countries have figured out how to invade us and kill thousands of innocent people in broad daylight. It’s NOT a safe place out there. We should always have our guards up. And we should always be prepared for the unexpected.

Don’t tempt the evilness by putting yourself in unnecessary circumstances. Embrace the idea of evil possibilities early so when it does rear its ugly face it won’t stand a chance at winning the battle. We all share this earth together. We can all look out for one another too.

To say nothing, to do nothing, stops nothing.

Changing the World One Blog at a Time

7 02 2012

One person can’t save the world right? Or maybe they can.

I involve myself in the dog rescue world because I have always had a big heart for animals and I love making positive differences. It’s sad and upsetting to hear stories on a day-to-day basis about a dog owner surrendering their furry family member of some crazy number of years because of one thing or another.

I’m not one to judge but what happened to following through with the decisions you make?

You wanted a family dog, you got one, you played with him for years, you fed him, you let him sleep in your bed at times, you made him a part of your family, you made him believe he was safe and loved and now times are tough…

…There’s not enough money to be made to continue your lifestyle, the dog’s sick and you foresee huge vet bills, you have to relocate but you can’t take the dog, you don’t have the time anymore to take care of it….


I’m sorry but that’s bullshit.

I firmly believe that where there is a will, there is a way. Can’t remember where I’ve heard that before but it’s perfectly true.

This is my response.

Make yourself a new budget, plan ahead and get pet insurance, put some money aside for these unforeseen circumstances, change your plans or lifestyle a little to incorporate your furry family member, make time for the important things, follow through and take care of the responsibilities you took on rather than pawning them off on somebody else. Stop putting your wants and needs in front of everything else.

I had no idea the amount of responsibilities I took on when adopting my first dog. I was still in college and working full time. I learned the hard way but I learned. I had help at times but I always strived to take care of my own things and would work hard at getting back in balance.

And I did.

Not to say I wouldn’t be thrown off course again but I just get back up and move forward with my goals. Leaving my dog behind though, wasn’t an option to me.

Looking back I see some of the things I could have done better, better choices I could have made. I remember many times looking for an apartment within my budget that allows big dogs and hitting one dead end after another. The thought of how much easier this apartment search would be if I didn’t have a dog did come across my mind.

Easier is the key word here. And the apartment search would have been.

But I fell in love with this dog, and I made her a part of my family and to choose the easy way over the unconditional love this animal gave me would be a mistake I would live to regret for the rest of my life.

Not only would I fail and pass on my burdens to someone else, I would fail because the other options didn’t favor my immediate gratifications. I would fail because the other options weren’t in my comfort zone and I can’t think outside that box. I don’t know how anybody can justify doing that.

Did you really exhaust ALL of your options?

Maybe bringing the dog with you on your cross-country move would be extremely difficult. Maybe it would mean you would take longer to get to your destination or maybe it means you’ll have to live in a different city close by the one you originally wanted to live in. Maybe it would cost a little more. Maybe it would require more planning on your part which takes up more of your time.

These reasons don’t seem impossible to overcome. They don’t sound like life-threatening, doomsday, can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel type of corners you think you’ve backed yourself up into. If there is a will, there’s another answer other than wiping your hands clean of what you now call a problem when you used to call him your dog.

I’m thankful to all of the people out there who own up to their responsibilities, for better or for worse, and stick through it. I’m thankful to those who lend a helping hand to people and animals that need it in tough times or just in general. I’m thankful that there are people out there that don’t mind taking on more than their fair share in order to save the lives of these dogs.

If we all just did our part, and it’s really not that big of a part, then this world would be such a different place. One to be proud of.

Which makes me come back to whether or not one person can save the world. My answer is absolutely! One person at a time.