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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.

 

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?

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.

Better Laid Plans


Maybe you have been reading my thoughts for a while and maybe this is new to you. I always try to keep things light and breezy. I know I don’t like being the one who is dark and gloomy. Who likes being around somebody who is all doom and gloom? Realistically it’s not possible to be little miss sunshine either but I do try to stay positive.

My husband and I traveled to America for my brother’s Memorial and decided to turn the trip into a month-long vacation. We were hoping to come back on happier terms. You have to make the best of a situation however you come across it. I think that is a no brainer. We wanted to do this trip next year. We had wanted to see all my siblings individually. We are doing this now; it’s just been expedited. I had wanted to be reunited with my brother, Kevin, to hug him and get to know his lovely wife, Lisa, and his step-daughter Sandy. I did get to see Kevin when we face-timed. Nothing though can compare to actually being in the same room with the one you love. I do take solace that I had got to see him even if it was through a video link because I hadn’t seen his face for over 20 years.  We laughed and looked forward to seeing each other. Every thing though changed for us all as it is apt to do.

We are getting to go places that we had never been to before. Adam and I have never been to West Virginia. We have gotten some really great quality time with Lisa and Sandy. I know Sunday the 15th is going to be a very hard day for Lisa and myself. We have been pretty much inseparable since I have hugged her on the 21st of May. We felt as if we had known each other very well even though it had been long talks on the phone or typing on Facebook.  I am dreading the 15th pretty much. We are going to have to part sometime. I know we will stay in contact because Kevin got us together. I feel very strongly about this.

I asked Lisa to join me on a road trip to see my brother Chuck in Philadelphia and my sisters Judy and Margaret in Florida. I would love to take her to see my other sisters in Nevada and California but Lisa has things she has to take care of back in West Virginia. We fly back to Australia on June 24th. The 25th won’t happen for Adam and myself because we will be flying across the international date line. We are used to losing and gaining days when we fly back and forth to the USA. Lisa and I had a great time traveling together down the eastern seaboard of the USA. I had never driven that much in the United States. We even took a trip to NYC with Chuck. Chuck was born in Brooklyn and I had traveled to NYC in 1996 with my mom, my sister Judy, and niece Cassie. Sandy, Adam, and Lisa were the “virgins” in NYC.

We started off in West Virginia and drove to Philadelphia. After Philadelphia we drove to Georgia so Sandy could stay with her cousin Mary. We then continued down to the panhandle of Florida to the city of Crestview. It’s sort of funny but I lived in the Fort Walton Beach area 20 years ago. It was interesting seeing all the changes and growth in the area. I looked forward to showing Adam the places I used to work and play at. We played in the Gulf of Mexico for a little bit. Today we are going to get our hair cut.

On the 15th we fly out to Las Vegas and Lisa returns back to West Virginia. I can’t wait for her to get her passport so I can show her our little piece of paradise. I know we are going to have a blast like we have had here. She has things though that she needs to sort out first before her trip to see us. I do know we are going to see each other again which is making me look forward to the reunion we will have. I know another post will be happening when that happens. After Las Vegas, we are heading to Los Angeles and then it’s back across the Pacific Ocean to Australia for us.

Yes, I know I had better laid plans in my head for our trip in 2015. I meant to take more time to visit friends as well as family but sometimes life happens and you have to make do with that you can. I know things didn’t turn out the way I had expected or desired. It’s not a perfect world. I had to make the most of what I have even with the sad ugly bits. I can build on what I have to make things better even if it’s just a little change.

If I can make someone smile or lighten the load even a little bit than I know I have done something good.

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Solitary Island Way


View of the Solitary Islands from Muttonbird Island

View of the Solitary Islands from Muttonbird Island

I was driving Adam and I home from our training in Coffs Harbour when I took the turn off for Woolgoolga and noticed the name change to the road we take to get us home. It’s called Solitary Island Way. This gave me an aha moment which I wanted to share with you today.

Today we heard a lot of things at training however I am not really wanting to share all the pearls of wisdom that I heard there because I am still processing everything in my own sort of way. Please bare with me as I muddle through my thoughts to express exactly what my aha moment sprang from. I am always searching inside myself wanting to improve things not only for myself but for those who are in my life. I was just driving when I thought about how sometimes we all feel like we are alone but in actuality we are all connected.

The Solitary Islands are on the eastern coast of Australia.  The Coffs Coast which is part of the Mid North Coast of New South Wales is also part of the Solitary Marine Park. You can see these islands dotting up and down the coast of the area where I live. I was thinking to myself today how alone I could feel about my life if I let myself fall into that trap but I have to take a look at the bigger picture. Things are not so black and white. We are only as alone as we make ourselves. If we reach out to others our sense of loneliness diminishes. We just have to watch our attitude because that is a key to impacting on others. If we have a can do attitude we will be able to do whatever we put our mind to. If we get in a rut and are happy to wallow in mediocrity, mediocrity is what we will sow.

I always love going to Muttonbird Island because I always see things in a different perspective. I am very blessed to live so close to Solitary Marine Park. I live in a country for the most part that values its environment. Australia isn’t perfect but I find that I am very blessed to call it home. I can choose to live a solitary life or I can choose to share what abundance I have been given be it a kind word or positive thought to someone I come across.

The Solitary Island Way may seem alone but it is part of a wonderful environment which impacts on every living thing it touches. Even a rock or grain of sand can make a difference to the world that it is in. Take a part of it away and it could impact something or someone else in a negative way.

May you find the blessing of another day and never feel alone. There is someone out there who needs to hear from you. You can be the difference to brighten someone’s day!

Be the rainbow and light the way to a better day!

Be the rainbow and light the way to a better day!

Photo Credit for lighthouse Michael Scott taken at Woolgoolga Lookout

The Blind Leading The Blind


Adam and I were on our way down to Canberra for a wedding. The drive from our piece of paradise is probably about 10 hours. I am guessing this because I haven’t actually driven from the Coffs Coast to the Australian Capital territory.  We have a friend who lives in the Newcastle area of NSW which is a 2 hour drive from Sydney. The drive from our place to Newcastle was about 4 hours due to road construction.  Canberra’s approximately 3 hours southwest of Sydney. We asked him if we could come and see his new place that he moved into. He agreed and right now as I type, the boys are piecing together his computer room.

As you know my husband is blind and his friend Mark, that we are staying with is also blind. I am trying to let them do their own thing. I am trying to stay out of their way and not try to interfere. I am almost wanting to step in but I want them both to have their independence. I have already stepped in once already and am wondering if I am doing the right thing with them but they would call me if they needed help.

It can seem like a slippery slope being married to a blind person when you want them to have their independence. I am not trying to sound condensing and I am afraid I am seeming that way. It isn’t hard to be married to a blind person especially when they have confidence in what they are doing. It’s really cool listening to the two men work together as I type this blog. I actually went to bed leaving them to their business.

It’s been a week now since I had started this blog. I had meant to do a few for our trip to Canberra and back but as best laid plans can be, mine never came to fruition. I did want to finish this one though because as a sighted person it was a privilege to see Adam and Mark work as a team. I often take for granted the sight that I have but to listen to Mark giving Adam directions as to where things were and how he wanted things done was really good. It just goes to show that things can be done properly even without sighted assistance.

When I got up in the morning, Mark was thanking Adam for the work they had done. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help him with getting his main computer set up with sound but I believe he did get it working again with someone else’s help.

The slippery slope of knowing when to step back and let the blind lead the blind isn’t that hard to do if both people have faith in each other. The guys didn’t squabble or belittle each other. They worked as a team which I loved. I want to take a step out of their book and I try to most of the time. They didn’t worry about how long it took to get done but took pride in a job done well as well as properly.

Soul Searching


Ever had one of those moments when you just go where do I go from here? Yeah, I am having one of those moments a lot lately. In fact today, I was instructed to just go have a good think about what I want to do. I am really good at that. Thinking, it’s like a natural thing to do especially for me. I do it non stop. In fact at times it can cause insomnia. I can focus on things a bit too much at times that it will actually prevent me from moving forward. I will ponder, wonder, and concentrate on something come up with nothing but it’s still fermenting in the back of my mind until I finally get the light bulb going off. I like that moment the most when I know exactly what I will do but the real challenge can be finding that light bulb moment.

I can fumble around in the dark so to say not as good as my man but figuratively. You would think at 45 I would know exactly what I want to do with my life. I find though even though I might plan something, it won’t go according to plan. I can adapt. I am not afraid of change. I can actually adapt well to change and try to work with it sort of like a willow caught up in the wind bending to whims of the wind but not breaking totally.

I can be a very passionate person. I have lots of varied interests which can take me down many different tracks. I am just trying to find out exactly what I want to do professionally which will reward both my employer and myself.

There are so many things I need to or want to do. I know there are things that need to be done more like praying and meditating. I sort of pray while I am thinking. I have conversations with God a lot. I look for the answers in subtle signs or turns in conversation. For non-believers I know you may not believe but it helps me to do this sort of prayer while soul-searching. I can hear the sceptics going ‘Hogwash’ but it works for me and that is what is most important.

I need to sit down and do SMART goals. I know that would help me a lot. I need to look at the big goal and just break it down further into more manageable short-term goals so that I can get to the big goal.  It just getting that big goal sorted out. I feel a bit like Robert Frost in The Road Not Taken. I have two paths I can go down and even if it doesn’t work out the way I think it will, I will still be glad I went on the journey that I took.

I will be soul-searching for a bit but I am sure I will find my focus. I will get encouragement and draw on the strength that I know I can handle whatever may come. Each day brings new challenges which will help make me be me. 75fc536f-fe51-4eaa-bef7-1bdb9cfa4b21

Dreaming Of A White Christmas……..NOT!


Do you know how many years it has finally taken me to be comfortable with saying this? I would have to say a good 7. I never really had a white Christmas growing up in Louisiana but I eat white Christmas at Adam’s sister’s house when we go for Christmas celebrations.  I am pretty positive she will have a batch ready for us to take back home with us after our next visit which will be this weekend. Just encase you don’t know what White Christmas is, it is rice bubbles, glace cherries, and Copha mixed together sometimes with nuts if you like for texture. I know I am missing some other ingredients. It’s a lovely sweet treat. Oh Rice Bubbles is called Rice Krispies in the States because this cereal goes by other names. I never had this treat until I came to Australia.
White Christmas

Some people may think that what I am saying is a sacrilege. I know a majority of my readers are in the Northern Hemisphere and relish having a cold Christmas. Australia has a tendency to follow British tradition with a hot baked dinner but sometimes they do their own stuff. I love listening to Australian Christmas carols. I remember fondly my very first Christmas in Canberra with Adam’s family. I was so excited to be able to go swimming in the pool. I could never do that in the states it was too bloody cold. The pool wasn’t exactly warm but I was game to do it. It also helped I was tipsy too and determined to say I was in the pool on Christmas Day. Adam’s Dad got a great laugh when I came back in shivering and tipsy but ever so pleased with my dalliance in the pool. Adam refused after he put his toe in. He stood outside with me and listened to me while I splashed around. I didn’t stay in very long but I did boast to my sisters’ when I rang them on their Christmas day that I did swim on Christmas day.

This Christmas will be a quiet one. We are having our good friends the Jary’s come over for Christmas lunch. We’ll probably head down to the beach for the dogs to run on Mullaway beach. It’s suppose to be a very lovely day. It will be nice to be home for Christmas for a change. I have only had 3 Christmases in my own home since I moved to Australia. I am not complaining but there is just something special about being in your own house. 

I have never been one to really like cold weather. I know I was born in Alaska but we moved when I was 6 weeks old. I was then a southern raised lass. First two years were in San Antonio, Texas and then we moved to Leesville, Louisiana which I gladly call my hometown.  The majority of my life was in the South. Now I can really claim to be a Southern because I live in Australia which is in the Southern Hemisphere. All my seasons are opposite to what I was raised with and I can drive north to visit Adam’s sister but be reminded of Southwestern Louisiana where my dad grew up and we visited as a child as I pass the sugar cane fields heading up past Grafton.  I could almost imagine myself near New Iberia if it wasn’t for the dang mountains covered in Eucalyptus trees in the background.  It’s as if I was graced with everything I ever dreamed of since I discovered this great Southern Land which gave birth to my dream man and took me in with such love and compassion.

So no, I am not dreaming of a White Christmas that Bing Crosby sang about but I am dreaming of a White Christmas made with love for me and my darling by his beautiful youngest sister and her darling boy Jack. May you have a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

I leave you with this lovely Australian Christmas Carol I found on youtube!