Category Archives: Spirituality

Loss and hope


I’ve been back in the good ole USA for two weeks now. I go back to Australia on February 19 and we land on the 21st Australian time. I returned to the USA because another sibling has died. To say I am a basket case would be putting it lightly. I feel like a yo-yo emotionally. This is my last full day in Crestview with Judy and Eric. Adam and I fly to Oklahoma City to visit Margaret’s daughter, Cassie for six days tomorrow.

Please don’t feel sorry for me. We all lose loved ones at sometime. Bittersweet is how I feel most of the time on this trip. I have been reunited with loved ones that I haven’t seen in a very long time. Next year when I comeback, it will be celebratory. I guess you could say that this trip is celebratory as well but it’s filled with sorrow. I am happy that my sister Margaret is no longer suffering. She is with God and other family members who have died. I just wish I had more time with her but I can hear my mom’s words of wisdom echoing in my head when I was trying to feel sorry for myself when my dad died, “Be grateful for the time you had with him. There are others out there who never got to know their father or had their father as long as you have.” Mom was right though as moms usually are.

Those who were blessed to know Margaret Mason know exactly what the world is missing now. Margaret was a very humble lady who didn’t think she effected those she had come into contact with but I can assure you, Margaret may have been quiet but her presence will be sorely missed. She tried to live her life by the example of Jesus Christ and from the outpouring of condolences that we have received I can proudly say that my sister exemplified her Saviour and lived a surrendered life.

Chuck, Judy and Cassie spoke very eloquently about Margaret at her Mass. I know Judy wanted me to speak at the Celebration of Life that they had at Lifepoint Church but I was not drawn to do so. She and Cassie both spoke of Margaret eloquently. It is now that I will share my experience of Margaret and of loss but also of the expectation that I have of hope.

Margaret Alice was the 6th child of Alice Margaret Miller and the first child of Clement Miller. She was a quiet child with a gentle disposition. She had a great love of the Lord and lived by his example. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Cassandra Marie when she was 28 years old. She was a kindergarten teacher for a time and then became an enrolled nurse. 

Margaret, Judy and I were very close. The last eight years, Judy and Margaret were pretty much inseparable. Margaret moved in with Judy after her husband Glen was placed in a nursing home because Margaret’s mental state had severely declined. She was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder which effected her so much she could not work. The stress had gotten too much for her of working, taking care of others, and neglecting her own needs so much to the point that she could no longer function. 

Margaret was a staunch  supporter of Adam’s and my relationship from the start, she trusted my decision to move to Australia and always knew what to say to make me feel better about what was going on in my life. I would say that she was like this with everyone she knew and loved because that is the type of person my sister was.

On this trip as Judy and I go places and people ask her about Margaret, I am moved to see just how much she impacted others. We went to a restaurant that they frequented and Judy had to console the waitress because she was shocked and horrified to hear about Margaret’s death. Words can’t seem to do justice for the way I want to express myself about my sister.

Margaret and Kevin are both now in heaven. Why is it that I have lost two siblings that I felt close to? I always thought that I would have more time to spend with Kevin but that didn’t eventuate. With Margaret there is less regret but the shock of not having on this earth is still feeling unreal. I thought that she would be here for my 50th birthday but I have to be thankful that I have had her as a sister. What a gift I have been given! Kevin was the fifth child of Alice’s and Margaret the sixth. They were 4 years apart I think. I thought of this parallel as I lay in bed with Adam. Chuck is the eldest boy of Alice’s with 3 younger sisters and a younger brother with the same father. Kevin was the youngest boy but the eldest to Alice’s three youngest daughters with the same father, Clement. 4 children with an older brother and 3 girls with Edward Koval. 4 children with an older brother and three younger daughters with Clement raising them. I grew up idolising Kevin and Margaret and now they are with God watching over us. 

I will miss singing with Margaret and Judy at Mass like we did growing up or around the house harmonizing. It is such a beautiful memory to have but at least i was blessed to have the experience. Yesterday Judy and I went to a birthday party of one of our cousins that we hadn’t seen in 40 years. She has two sisters as well. We were all together and I felt Margaret with us. We learned how to paint a weeping willow and the colors we used reminded me of Margaret. I hung both paintings in Margaret’s room where Adam and I sleep. It just felt right to me. 

Yes, I am sad that I have lost my sister but I live with hope that she is in heaven with all our loved ones who have passed because I believe in the resurrection of Jesus who lives and reigns now and forever more. 

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Reflection on Easter


I have been way too quiet as of late with my blog. Things happen and often do which is why I not been writing my blog as much. I am now studying by distance for my bachelor’s degree in Health and Leisure. This term I am taking Management 100 and Recreation 167.

With Recreation 167, I am learning about leadership and communication. This is actually the course’s true title. In this course, we learn about leadership and styles of leadership. It also focuses on reflection as a huge part of the process of leadership so that we can become better in leadership roles figuring out what works best and what needs tweaking. Naturally I am very big on reflecting anyway.

It may seem like I am waffling a bit here but hopefully I will pull all these tangents together. A few nights ago I was talking with Adam about how many Easters we have had together. In fact, Adam and I met in person for the first time around Easter 2001. This would make our 15th Easter together.

Easter is a very special time for Christians because it is when Jesus rose from the dead giving us all an opportunity to have new life through Him. It also occurred to me that when I met Adam, I had no idea the opportunity that I had in front of me. I was not really looking for a soul mate yet I had come face to face with him even though I tried denying it and was scared at first to admit it to him because we had only met.

Easter is not about chocolates and boiled coloured eggs. Easter is about renewal to me. Everyday when I wake up, I face a new day with all its challenges and rewards. Lent is a time of reflection leading up to the great celebration of Jesus’ new life which He wants to share with us if we choose to accept it.

This Easter, I am reflecting on the greatest gift I received which is love. Love comes in so many different shapes and ways. It is platonic and it is familial. It is romantic and all encompassing. I am blessed with all sorts of love for which I am very thankful.

I have had the privilege to spend Easter in the Spring when living in the United States and in Autumn because I now live in Australia. I am sure there are quite a few people out there that have also experienced this. The time of year doesn’t really matter. It is the reflection that counts.

May your Easter be filled with love and awe. May you reflect the love which you are given and receive not just for Easter but every day of your life. This is my wish for everyone.

 

Rotten But Not Forgotten


This title pretty much sums up the way I am starting to view the process of death. I see patterns to things. I know there are patterns to the weather as well as cycles in life. I wonder if perhaps there are cycles in the universe too.
In science there is a theory about energy which is termed the conservation of energy. There is also the theory of relativity which Einstein formulated an equation that is E=MC2.
There seems to be a process that everything goes through. It’s almost like a huge recycling cycle where nothing is totally destroyed instead it gets transformed into something else. A couple of weeks ago while Adam, Lisa and I were walking at Dorrigo National Park we passed a sign which said Rotten but Not Forgotten. It stuck with me. It sort of confirmed what I had thought about in my mind.
Since Lisa’s arrival with us, I have been doing a lot more exploring and discussing things with her. I don’t go mountain goat climbing with Adam on the edges of the headlands on the beaches. I had done this before with Adam on the rocks. It’s kinda of different with Adam though because he can’t see where we are heading. I am the eyes of the operation which isn’t a bad thing. It’s nice having another pair of eyes around though. I hadn’t realized how much I am enjoying having her around.
I had often thought of parts of the beach as a seashell graveyard where there are lots of broken rocks and shells being transformed into bits of sand due to the wind, sun, rain, and bombardment on rocks.

DSC00226

seashell graveyard

Even when you walk in a forest or rainforest, you can see the process of change in the ecosystem. Everything is interdependent on something else. Although the tree may not think it is dependent on the soil it is because it has nutrients which are provided through other things such as insects and bacteria. When something dies, it is actually providing food or something relevant to its own environment.

rainforest

rainforest

With humans though, it seems like we are independent to others yet we are still interconnected via relationships. Even though someone we know dies, they still live on with us when we remember them. We glen things from our relationships; they transform us whether we like it or not. It may seem that part of us dies when we lose someone close to us. I am starting to think maybe I am not dying but being transformed into someone else. Changes take place whether we want them or not. It’s part of life. It’s how we deal with the changes that can form us into who we are as well as the choices that we make on our journey of life that make us. We can choose to take the rotten things that happen in our lives to help or hurt those in our circles. I hope to help all I can.
What do you think?

The Bridge


view of Sydney Harbour Bridge cropped

view of Sydney Harbour Bridge cropped

I’ve done a lot of study over the years about Catholicism and some soul searching. One of the key principles that I have grown to love is the idea that Jesus came as a bridge to breach the gap between God and man that occurred when original sin corrupted the world.

What if we are also sent to be a bridge to others when there is a gap between each other based on the idea that God sent Jesus to be a bridge for us? It is a beautiful concept that I have seen in action throughout my life. Most recently it has been through the death of my brother Kevin.

Kevin was the last child born from the marriage of Alice Albano and Edward Koval. His parents divorced and Alice married my father, Clement Miller. To the older 4 siblings he was their baby brother but to me and my two older sisters, Judy and Margaret, he was our big brother. Our family dynamic wasn’t the best. The older Koval children were pretty much out of the house when I was born. Only Roberta and Kevin were the ones that I got to know before they moved out.

I had a pretty special connection with Kevin. I guess it is due to the fact that when we moved to Leesville, we roomed together until he moved out. I know I have written about how jealous I would get over his girlfriends until my mom sat me down explaining the fact that I couldn’t marry him because he was my brother. If I really loved him, I would have to let him go since he would have to do the same with me some day.

The years went by and he married Lori. I was the flower girl at the wedding. I was happy for them but sort of jealous. I know how silly that might sound but I thought I would never find anyone as charming or special as Kevin to call my own. More years went by. We drifted apart as we were bound to do. We all have our journeys to make. I tried to stay in contact. Some years were good and others weren’t the best when it came to keeping the connection alive. Kevin’s marriage to Lori failed. I didn’t even realize it had happened until my mother informed me. I was married too and my own marriage failed. Kevin felt broken I am pretty sure because I knew how much he loved Lori. I ended my own marriage but I was not broken due to it. I just knew I couldn’t continue living a lie or existing in a marriage that didn’t produce anything nourishing to myself.

To my great surprise I found my soul mate when I least expected to do it. I contacted my sister, Aggie, to let her know about something. I found out that my brother Kevin was staying with her due to an injury to his leg. Our connection was ignited again for a little while. I tried emailing him or staying in contact through MySpace but that sort of dwindled out too. I know he was quite excited about meeting someone online. I tried teeing up a time to meet up when I went over for my sister Judy’s 40th birthday but it never came through. Years went by again. In 2012 I let family know that I was returning again for a visit. A mini-family reunion ended up happening that June but one important person wasn’t there. I tried messaging him through an email but no response. I believe it was my nephew Dan who finally got a hold of him so we spoke on the phone. It was nice but not as good as actually holding him. It was through this phone call that I connected with his love, Lisa. I vowed to myself never to let go again of my brother.

In all the years we were apart, I always dreamed of hugging him tight. Hearing his voice on the phone was great but nothing can compare to actually being in the presence of the one you love. I always thought that I would get to hold him again but it wasn’t meant to be. May 24th our family got together again just as it did in 2012. The one thing that I always wanted finally came true. We were all together but Kevin was in an urn. I got to finally meet Lisa but it was a bittersweet moment. All the hours of talking were great. The most important person in our lives was gone. We all loved him and I know he loved us too.

The bridge in my family is gone but not forgotten. He gave us Lisa and Sandy. He wanted us to be there for each other. In some ways it is working but in other ways it is a massive fail. Lisa could have easily not told us about Kevin’s illness and passing. She did the best that she could. In her own way Lisa is a bridge to me and vice versa.

In some ways my own mother was a bridge to my father’s sisters when he was sick and dying. I know he had asked my mom not to let them know but she convinced him otherwise. My father’s death in some ways mended some wrongs that occurred between my mother and his sisters. I am not sure why death holds such power over us. If anything I am learning that life is precious. We never know when our last day might be so we had better make the most out of what we have. We need to cherish each other.

I am going to take the time and try to be a bridge to others like the great examples I have been given before. Have you ever been a bridge for others?

Cling To Me


You have no strength.

Everything has got you down

and in the end you can’t think of how you are going to make it round.

Do me a favor if you please

And sweet darling just cling to me

cause one day and it might be soon

I’ll be the one to cling to you.

Feels like this rain will never end

Too much pain to deal with 

But sweet darling just believe 

that in the end you can cling to me

cause one day and it might be soon

I’ll be the one to cling to you.

You may feel as if you have no hope

and you are at the end of your rope

there’s nothing else you can do to cope

But I beg you to just cling to me

cause one day and it might be soon

I’ll be the one to cling to you.

 

For those who are dealing with loss and feel there is no hope don’t give up. Hold on and know in the end what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger! Lisa this is for you!

Parting Ways


 

Adam and I parted from Lisa yesterday. We knew it was going to happen at some point since she had things she needed to sort out before she comes out to visit us. It wasn’t an easy day for me and  I am pretty sure it was the same for Lisa. She was flying with Delta while Adam and I flew with United. It was pretty cool that her gate was right next to ours. She almost missed her flight to Atlanta so we didn’t get to hug. I suspect that was a good thing because if we had, I think I wouldn’t have let go.

Our two weeks together were pretty great. We were almost glued at the hip. I have never experienced this sort of connection with someone outside my family with the exception of Adam, even with him it took a little time because our friendship blossomed over time. We had conversed for many hours via the phone or ICQ. With Lisa though, it was different. Sometimes it’s hard to put this into words.

I went to bed on the 14th feeling very melancholy. I had been fighting off tears and finding it very hard to sleep because I knew what the 15th was going to bring. I always hate leaving family. Margaret and Judy I grew up with. It hurt to leave them too. I started crying as we pulled away from their place and headed out towards VPS. I wanted to be brave for Lisa. I didn’t want to break down and cry in front of her because she’s hurting too. She has lots of things to sort through. I am thankful though that we had two magical weeks together. We drove all the way from Huntington, West Virginia to Philadelphia, PA. We then drove from Philly to Crestview, Florida with a drop off in Augusta, Georgia for Sandy. I had always wanted to do a road trip and Lisa was great company as well as driver. I will never forget the fun we had and a few scares too with crazy drivers.

Lisa and I in the Altima

Lisa and I in the Altima

I am writing this on the 16th of June in Las Vegas at my eldest sister’s house. I know we will enjoy our 5 days here and then fly to Los Angeles for 4 days before we fly back to Australia. Yesterday was hard but aren’t we always parting ways in one shape or another? In this journey of life, I am beginning to realize that I am always parting ways with others. Sometimes the connections are very short but the ones with the most meanings are outstanding. They really impact you in your life. I can only speak about my own realizations. I firmly believe that things don’t happen without a reason. God sends us blessings in mysterious ways even when we are parting ways. God is love and love lasts forever.

Party on Garth: December Peace Challenge


I am not exactly the best party planner around but I do like to be in good company with family and friends around the world. I was thinking to myself about  New Year’s 99 and how the Today Show in the states showed the year 2000 coming into the world across the time zones. Wouldn’t that be a fantastic way to have a party for peace! I certainly think so! If we could have parties for New Year’s Eve, wouldn’t it be fun to have it for Peace.

Image

This is my invitation to the world to bring in Peace one time zone at a time. We can all participate and play our favourite artists. I would like to have my family and friends around the world connect with me via Skype for some quality one on one time. If you don’t like skype, just put out positive vibes on 31/12/2013. We can bring about a change for peace one moment at time. We can savour being in good company and promoting peace together.

I will leave my Skype open all day on 31/12/2013 until it is 1/01/2014 in every part of the world encase you would like to join my peace party on-line! Email me at yaussiechick@damorris.com to let me know that you would like to participate in my party for peace for my Skype id!

Party on Garth! Party on Wayne! Party on for Peace!

Here are a few of my favourite peace party blogs:

http://lauriesnotes.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/b4peace-monthly-challenge-a-gathering-of-kindred-spirits

http://www.kellykuhn.com/2013/12/a-family-peace-party/

http://everydaygurus.com/2013/12/02/monthly-peace-challenge-party-on-garth/

http://appletonavenue.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/december-blog-for-peace/

Thanksgiving Yaussie Style


The majority of my life, I have lived it in the northern Hemisphere in the great state of Louisiana on the central west side. Thanksgiving Day always holds a very special place in my heart because it normally fell close to my mom’s birthday. I love my mom to bits. She was an amazing cook! Thanksgiving is a special time to be with family and friends. Any North American can identify with this wonderful holiday. It doesn’t matter if you are from Canada or the USA, you know what Thanksgiving is all about. The only difference is if you are Canadian you celebrate in October and if you are a native of America (USA), you celebrate it the 4th Thursday in November. Another special thing about Thanksgiving is that the two sisters I grew up with both married fellas whose birthdays also fall around this special day. Glenn was on the 25th of November and Eric is on the 28th which means this year is the actual day he shares it with the holiday.

When I first moved to Australia, I would still celebrate this holiday inviting friends over who didn’t quite get the special day. They didn’t really like the way I did the sweet potatoes with marshmallows but they ate politely. This year, I didn’t do a big Thanksgiving meal. I didn’t invite anyone over but I often think of my family across the world. As I type this blog, they are getting ready to get together and celebrate. They will watch the parades, eat turkey and football (not soccer or rugby but gridiron as the Aussie’s term American football). I will be with them in spirit and try to call.

It’s sort of strange trying to explain something that I grew up with to friends here. Adam gets it but we always seem to get each other. I always say I was made for him and vice versa. It is like trying to explain mate-ship or Anzac Day to Americans who would just have to experience it for themselves. Some people still might not get it which is what I found when I try explaining Thanksgivings Day to Australians. They get it but not quite.

Also, when I first started celebrating Thanksgiving in Australia, I would do it on Thanksgiving day Australia time but then I thought maybe I should do it on the actual day that Americans do because I would have the dinner on the same day as my family. I know this might seem strange to some that I was so wish-washy about it. It was also easy for people that I invited over to come over on the Friday instead of the Thursday.  It just made sense to me.

I am not feeling the best which is another excuse but I don’t see a point in doing a huge meal when it’s just me and Adam. We took our dogs to the beach and enjoyed our companionship.  I feel like I had an epiphany yesterday, which was my mom’s birthday (27th). I had been struggling with something for the longest time inside of me. I thought I had given it up long ago but I had a dream.

In this dream, I came to realize that I don’t need anyone’s approval to proclaim the Good News. I had felt the Lord had draw me towards Evanglisation when I was living in St. Marys. I went to classes to learn more and wanted to contribute more. I was well on my way to do this because I had finished a course on St Paul and it was as if the scales on my own eyes on my feeling of unworthiness fell away and I could see the greatest potential God wanted for me.  I just got side tracked is all. Someone asked me a question about something and I was honest with my answer.  This person was the one who I looked up to and felt mentored by. It was after my honest answer, that I was instructed that I could not teach for the School of Evangelisation because I needed to do something which I felt was unnecessary. She let me do more menial things. I could lead songs and write a piece for the newsletter but actually talk in front of people…. it just wasn’t allowed.  I wasn’t worthy enough in her eyes. My dream though had a mixture of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in it and my own mother and they told me that if I felt the need to speak the truth about Him there was nothing to stop me.  I didn’t need a sanction from the church to do God’s work. I just had to be lead by the Holy Spirit.

God has a way if you are open to Him. It may not be the way you may have ever imagined but if He wants you to do something, you will do it with His guidance on His time table not yours.

I am thankful for the opportunities the Lord has put my way. I know I am not perfect but I strive to love like He does, with acceptance and compassion. Lots of forgiveness and openhearted, with anticipation of what He has in store for me. He has given me a unique family and some very wonderful friends (Shauny G and Bishop Eddie Tatro, and Rachie from WordPress a huge hug too from me). I will try and give thanks not just because it’s Thanksgivings Day but because He has given me another day to simply BE!

Monthly Peace Challenge October: I Have a Dream


It’s been pretty quiet on the Yaussiechick wordpress site. I know I have been very silent with my blog for a while now. I always like doing the Monthly Peace challenge that Kozo Hattori puts out and the month of October is almost done. I haven’t written a word about this challenge. I have been grappling with it for almost the entire month though trying to think of something provocative to say but sometimes I strive to do something and fail epically. I do want to write something though so here goes my attempt.

My dream of peace for our world isn’t very original. It has probably been stated before in more grandeur ways. On Sunday I was lazing around watching a documentary that Tom Shadyac had made entitled: I AM. In this documentary he actually made some very valid points about changing our world. It also falls in line with what we peace bloggers are trying to do and that is create a world of peace.

Imagine a world where Cooperation is the normal and not competition. Imagine a world where Compassion spreads across the world like a bushfire and not greed. If only we could make that change happen NOW, then the world could be transformed. In my dream world this is the alternative. In my world, it has happened and I can try and transform the world that I am living in today by remembering that living my life in cooperation, compassionately and valuing sharing instead of striving to be the best at all costs, I will be able to impact the world I am in RIGHT NOW.

The greatest philosophers and religious leaders know that in order for humanity to continue there needs to be cooperation and compassion. Jesus Christ, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and the Dalai Lama speak of change through peaceful ways. They were seen as radicals of their time but they impacted the world they lived in one day at time and look at the legacy they have given us.

My dream world of peace which I hope to live by in reality revolves around cooperation, compassion, and most importantly sharing love. The following are other dreams of peace:

http://electronicbaglady.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/b4peace-imaginings/

http://fishofgold.net/2013/10/03/a-lesson-in-peace/

My First Memories of God


If you don’t believe in God, that’s ok. He still believes in you. I know how silly it may seem to an unbeliever. I am not writing this to chastise the unbeliever but to maybe give them a clue about why I so fervently believe in God. I can thank Kozo Hattori for this blog because his post on 15 September started me on this train of thought. He posed a question about first memories of God and wanted comments but what I have to say will eventuate into a blog all on it’s own.

I was raised Roman Catholic. My very first memories were of going to church with my family. I am closest to my sisters Judy and Margaret because we were raised together. Michele, Aggie, Roberta, and Chuck were out of the house by the time we moved to Louisiana. Kevin left us when I was about 5 years old. He got married I think when I was 11. I know the month was June of 1978. I feel closest to him brother wise even though it’s been almost 30 years since I have seen him face to face. I feel as if I am digressing but I also feel this is sort of pertinent to understanding me.

We three girls were more than sisters. We still are close friends and confidants. We feel quite comfortable having discussions about God and spirituality. We could also thank our mom for this too because God was always the center of her world, followed by us and dad.

One of my first memories of God I was outside on Vernon Lake Road in our front yard playing with Judy. I am not sure about my age. I could have been three or five. We were just talking about all sorts of things. I know it was before I ever went to kindergarten. We were looking at a caterpillar. Judy was saying that it was going to turn into a butterfly one day. I looked up at the sun closing my eyes feeling the warmth of it. Seeing the images of Judy’s face and the caterpillar in all the different colours I had an aha moment. I thought about the creator, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit because that is what I was taught. It’s hard to put these sensations into words because it is hard to remember exactly but the residual is He is real. He created everything.

As the years go by and I get older, sometimes doubt creeps in. It’s at these moments when the doubt seems to stifle the feelings of wonder of God, I get little reminders of how special this world is and everything that is in it. We take things for granted.  I hold on to the inner child I have and try to let her out a lot. I love those aha moments when they come. I share them a lot on WordPress.

Throughout my spiritual journey, I have often gone to courses where I have had these aha moments. I know I am being called to being a really big work that I have already shared on my blog about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. One day, I hope to have started one or help start one. I am struggling with self-doubt but I know one day I will make it happen. I do believe that we are lucky to start out as little children full of wonder and awe because compared to God we are just little children. He is always there with us even when we think we are all alone. He sends special people to us in our most dire times to help us on our journey of life. We might think things will turn out one way. The reality of the situation may be even beyond what we ever expected.

Little children are wise. They are believers in magic. We all have magic inside ourselves. Children seem to see more than us so called adults. We can learn lots of things by being with little children. They can make us see more aha moments than we ever thought we could see for ourselves.

Thank you Kozo, and Jett for sharing your thoughts on God. It was a true pleasure listening to your wisdom! To listen to the pearls of wisdom given by the Hattori family please use this link: http://everydaygurus.com/2013/09/15/god-is-in-your-poop-and-pee/