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Adjusting to a new era


Yesterday Adam retired Lenny (Leonard) his guide dog of eight years. I have to say this man inspires me as usual. He has this sort of Spock logic which can be astounding. I am the illogical one at times when it comes to all things emotional like giving up a pet but the whole thing is Lenny was not my pet.

Lenny was a very special kind of dog. His love of work never faded and he is still full of life but Adam wanted to do the right thing for Lenny and for Guide dogs so he decide he was ready to retire Lenny because frankly he wasn’t working him. He tried to give him back to Guide dogs about two years ago but someone told Adam Lenny was too old to retrain. Since neither one of us are working at the moment we can’t afford the medications that Lenny is on due to irritable bowel syndrome that he was diagnosed with not long after he turned 2 but Guide dogs helped with reimbursing us the cost of the medicines.

Another circumstance that affected Adam’s decision was the fact that Lenny was dog distracted. It didn’t matter if he was in or out of harness. If Lenny saw a dog, “George Bush” (He had to get them before they got him) came out in him. He had to show that he was the dominant one so that the other dog would be intimidated. Grady, the bane of Adam’s life, was also vying to be the dominant dog but Lenny always held his own. It was Mitch our eldest Labrador who acquiesced to other dogs.  He has gotten stitched in his ear from Grady but for the most part our pack was tight.

I didn’t want Lenny to go but I know in the long run it was the best decision for all of us. The house is certainly quieter. Adam got to sleep in to 6:30 this morning. Lenny would always want to be up at 5:30. The stress of walking the dogs and keeping an eye out for other dogs was pretty tolling on my nerves. I am pretty certain that I can let Mitch and Grady go at the beach and everything will be okay except when Mitch gets wanderlust in him.  Mitch is going to be 12 in July and getting arthritic but let him free run and you wouldn’t have any idea about his problems.

Lenny will be 10 in December but he still has lots of life in him. We want him to find a great home and are pretty certain he will get what we want for him. He is well loved in Glossodia (The Guide Dog Centre in NSW). I know everything will be ok for Lenny because he is very lovable and energetic. He is a great head thrust-er. He knows how to get attention but he could also be a tad clingy. He always had to be near you.

We had a good chat about Lenny with the instructor who picked him up in Coffs Harbour. She reassured us that everything would be fine and she would let the new owners know we would like to stay in contact. She also saw Lenny’s progression from puppy to trainee to full fledged guide dog. She has helped Adam and Lenny in their work together.

I feel very privileged to have seen for myself the potential of partnership between a guide dog user and guide dog. I have seen them grow and know what a wonderful team they became. It was sad letting go of Lenny for me but I can’t ever phantom how strong Adam has been about letting go. I guess its his Spock logic that comes through so strongly. I hope one day after I get my degree to go on to become an orientation and mobility specialist and perhaps even become a guide dog instructor.

Some people can’t let go of the past but Adam truly knows when to let go and when to hold on. His vision on what he wants in a partnership whether it be canine or human is breathtakingly extraordinary. Words can’t quite express the emotions coursing through me. I feel inadequate in translating this into words but I had to attempt to do it.

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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.

 

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.

Hero


He is our hero.
We are two sides of a coin.
You are his lover, his partner in life.
I am his sister who loves & wonders though distance is great.
He is so charming.
He loves so distinctly yet completely.
We both adore him.
Some may say love is weakness
But we know love is strength .
Love endures
Love heals
Love in every form can be a hero.
Our hero is love.
Love sustains us.
Love remains to comfort us when all else fails.

This poem was inspired by my brother Kevin, his loving wife, Lisa & of course my feelings about him.

My Australian Favorite Groups Top Ten Picks


My taste in music can be called eclectic. My fave genre would have to be funk but I do enjoy other sorts varying from pop, smooth jazz, classic rock as well as pub rock. Lately it seems I have been grooving to house and electronica too. My main focus today will be on Australian groups. I have heard some really great groups and solo artists from Australia since I moved here. It seems a lot of groups think they have to go the USA to make it big or leave their mark on the entertainment world but this list I am putting out today are the top ten that I love.

There have been groups that have reached icon status from Australia. The biggest one has to be INXS followed by Men At Work and Midnight Oil. The Little River Band made it big in the 70s. There are so many great groups to choose but this is my top ten.
10. Sneaky Sound System: the first time this group came to my attention was at a NYE that channel 9 promoted in 2006. They were quite lively and I really like their style.  I Love It!

Off their second album

Adam and I love this one which is from their latest album. “From Here To Everywhere”

9. Rogue Traders: Another band that I can’t seem to get enough of. They seem to sample quite a bit but who doesn’t these days. The first album I bought by them was “Here Comes The Drums” which featured “Voodoo Child”. I brought this album with me to share with my family in Louisiana at my niece’s high school graduation. Every track off that album I really loved. Here are 3 tracks that I can’t seem to hear enough!

This one I have song on my Playstation 3 so much I think Adam wants earplugs!

8. The Presets: This group reminds me of Depeche Mode a bit but I really love their style. I got this album for my 40th birthday. I could be quite upset but when I hear this song the good mood comes back to me ever strong!

7. The Potbelleez: Their song Don’t Hold Back was used in a jeep commerical but it’s on my mp3 list. I do love dance music! and this one here reminds me of my family reunion in 2012!

6. John Butler Trio: The leader of this group writes some really great songs. I love his use of lyrics. He’s more folk and blues. My all time fave by him is  Another fave: Losing You though makes me cry.

5. Icehouse: Iva Davies is another wonderful songwriter who also has an amazing voice.

4. Men At Work: I know my age is showing here. I was a child of the eighties but these guys were terrific! I am not going to feature the usual songs by them but the ones I really loved that never got airplay much! My all time favorite is:

3. Cold Chisel: I didn’t know about these legends of Aussie Rock until I settled in Australia. I am sure this band has paid it dues. This is from their latest album and I must say it’s a keeper. I get goosebumps listening to it. I featured this tree before on my facebook once but it’s still a great song. love Ian Moss’ voice and Jimmie Barnes’ harmonizing.

2. Australian Crawl (Aussie Crawl): Another group I never heard off until I migrated to Australia but they do have some great songs.

1. INXS: I loved this band since I was living in the states. There is something about them that just defies words. Andrew and Michael together created some awesome songs.

Because we all have a devil inside!

I know there are many other great groups from Australia but these are my top ten. There are many honorable mentions but I thought I would just share my top 10. Please feel free to share/add!

Racquetball revisited!


I’ve always loved tennis and never really thought I was that athletic but I really enjoy goofing around with a racket and ball. This goes all the way back to the my youth. I begged my parents for a tennis racket and balls to bang on the barn my dad built with the help of my brother, Kevin and myself. It wasn’t a really huge barn; it was more like a wooden shed but it really fed my imagination into overdrive. I would ask my sisters to play tennis with me but when they would get bored or didn’t feel like playing I could be found banging the tennis ball against a wall of the barn before or after I did my chores. I would pretend I was competing in Wimbledon or the French Open. I was just mad about it.

When I went to Uni, I discovered racquetball. I always wanted to keep banging the ball against the wall, any wall that I could find but as I got older I just didn’t follow through like I used to do. In the numerous moves that I have done, I always wanted to go back to playing racquetball even by myself but of course, I never did do it.

Last week, I was talking with Adam and we decided it was time for me to get another racquet as well as balls so that I could pick up my favourite sport that I liked to do. Today we went to town because he had an appointment. He also booked me some time at a squash court. We both thought it best for me to start out with half an hour. Lenny was with us too and when we got to the squash court, I was given court 4 which had a glass wall. Adam sat outside the court I was in on a couch with Lenny in harnass sitting on the floor. I went inside and started banging the ball with my new racquet. I wish we had recorded Lenny’s reaction. He was actually making a crying sound. He was very excited in his harness trying to get to me so he could play as well. It actually got pretty distracting for me. Poor Adam couldn’t even listen to his podcasts that he had on his Iphone. I had to move them away so we both could be able to do what really wanted to do. When I came out to talk to Adam, he asked me why I was crying. I responded it was Lenny not me. I am having fun and laughing at your dog so I moved them to a table further down so that Lenny couldn’t be tormented by seeing me enjoying myself in the court.

I learned two things today. 1. Don’t take a guide dog with you when you want to play racquetball because the dog will create a racket because he can’t be in the court with you. 2. I really loved playing racquetball and was glad I only did it for 30 minutes. I think the last time I played it was 1989. I am looking forward to doing it again and building up my stamina so that I can play for an hour but I think that will take a little more time.

I am a little sore and tomorrow I may regret forgetting to warm up and cool down but I had a blast. I can’t wait to do it again.

Racquetball revisited: I loved every minute of it and hope to do it at least 3 times a week!

A Lasting Imprint


Sometimes you think that you don’t really influence things around you or impact others but I came to a realization the other day after reading on Facebook about the death of a former coach whom I had as a homeroom teacher when I was in Seventh grade. Coach Causey was a really awesome teacher. He inspired a lot of students. I was really shook up and still can feel the effects of knowing he’s not back in Leesville. I feel so sad for his family because if I feel this bad, I can imagine how much worse it is for them since I have lost my own parents. I have an inkling of  the sense of loss that they are going through at this exact moment.

The role of the teacher is quite important in my eyes. Although I don’t have qualifications as a teacher through university training I have done scripture teaching in Australia voluntarily for a few years. I have stopped for now because I am doing a sort of hiatus on that. I felt strange teaching scripture in a public classroom even though the parents have chosen for the children to attend the half hour course that our parish church provided for the area where I lived. I found it very daunting at times because when I grew up in the United States, it was a no go zone. In the first amendment of the Constitution Thomas Jefferson wrote about separation of church and state. In some ways, I totally get where he is coming from because the government doesn’t have a right to dictate to its citizens how they should or shouldn’t worship God. It’s up to the individual to do so which is another reason why I pondered the decision to continue teaching the children in public school. The government didn’t supply the scripture teachers with any funds. It was truly up to the parents to decide if they wanted the child to go to the classes. There was separation of church and state to the fullest extent but I still felt funny. When I tried explaining my feelings to some of my colleagues they just didn’t quite get what I was trying to say. I suppose it’s because you had to experience living with the concept of separation of church and state. It’s like trying to explain to a natural-born Australian  why Americans think it’s their God-given right to bear arms (not all Americans do but a majority would rather die than contemplate giving up guns because they feel so strongly about this constitutional right.) You just have a mindset that feels ingrained. I know I am making a huge generalization here but if the shoe fits, by golly, I am going to wear it. For me it’s like trying to explain mateship if you have never been to an Anzac Day presentation, you just have to be there to experience the camaraderie that Australians have down to a tea.  One of the things I really treasure about Australia is how relaxed they can be. They know not to take things too seriously but they also know when to be serious. I find growing up in the United States that some Americans can be very narrow minded or think they are better than others because they were born in the best country in the free world. I know I was guilty of this impression myself for the longest time until I decided to move across the Pacific Ocean to be with the man I loved.  It was getting away from the USA that I actually found the scales of close- sightedness fell off of me.

I feel as if I have digressed here but I am hoping to tie this all together because even my generalizations have a lasting imprint. Coach Causey had a great love for the USA. I don’t think he had ever left Vernon Parish but he really understood to the best of his ability about the sacrifice Americans have done to try and protect their country for their future generations. In his own way, he left a lasting imprint on me and I am sure on many others who were fortunate to be taught by him. He instilled pride and respect to me about the great country of my birth. My own father served his country to the best of his ability.

In every life we come across, we do leave a lasting imprint. Sometimes the imprint maybe of love and happiness. Sometimes the imprint maybe of hurt and pain but I really hope that the lasting imprint I leave behind is of compassion, forgiveness, and love. In the end that is what I really want to strive for leaving a lasting imprint of love, peace, and tolerance.

What would you like to leave as a lasting imprint for future generations? 

July 3rd


20130703-184810.jpg

This is a photo of my father taken  I know not when but I am assuming when he was stationed in Korea. Today he died 21 years ago. In two years, it will be the 23rd anniversary of his passing. It occurred to me the same amount of time from his passing will be the same age I was when he passed away in two years.

Sometimes time just slips by and you don’t notice how quickly it has gone.  Time does heal old wounds. It dulls it a bit but at times, I seem to notice the wound more especially on birthdays, anniversaries, and memorials. My memories of Daddy are mixed to say the least. He did the best he could.  He used to say he was god in the house. He used the Lord’s name in vain and blasted us if we followed that example.

Daddy used to say he was glad he had 3 girls because we all look like him. I think of us 3 youngest girls, I look the most like him. I was his helper. I loved helping him outside with the yard or the animals we had. I know he wanted to be a veterinarian. I wanted to be one too except, I didn’t follow through.  Daddy loved to sing songs with different words. I find myself doing that too.  Daddy had a huge ego. I don’t have a huge ego. I am a lot more humble than he ever was.

I know Daddy is with me always. He really treasured Cassie, Margaret’s daughter, because he always called her his little angel. I know he would be proud of her too. I know he watches over us.  He may not have been perfect but he loved us the best way he could.

Daddy this song is for you! The years fly by but I hear you sometimes in my dreams.  I always think of you fondly! Much love always!