A Happy and Thankful Life


Halloween Parade

Today, I’m thankful for a work party and silly Halloween parade. Our team works in an open office space that we share with the events and catering teams. It is a great space as we all tend to be a bit on the social side. We’ve already had one lunch party to socialize and celebrate the new space. It was a pot-luck Halloween party. And really, these people know how to do a pot-luck right. There was so much good food.

Even better was that most of us were wearing costumes.  We had Forest Gump, a monster, Red Cross nurse, pregnant guy, Santa Claus, hippie, plumber, Harry Houdini…and a few other creative stylish folks. I decided to do something simple and went as a fork in the road. I borrowed the idea from Real Simple.  After stuffing our faces with yummy food, we decided to share the Halloween spirit with the third floor team by having a parade.

It was a fun, light-hearted afternoon and good start to the week. I think we all needed that.

 

third floor workers by having a parade. We wanted to share the halloween spirit.

 

 

The third floor office space is a bit more quieter.

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slow pace

Sunday’s have been pretty consistent for me the past few months. I’ve written about them before. I get up and head out to get the newspaper. Go through the ads, cut coupons, read the paper. Clear out the DVR from the past week. Rarely do I leave the house a second time. I’m okay with that. It’s a quiet, peaceful day where I strive to be calm and take things slow. I sometimes feel guilty with all the stuff around the house that I need to take care of. But it’s not going anywhere and having a peaceful day before the start of a work week is more important than filing papers and cleaning out closets. Slow pace Sundays are good for me and I’m thankful for them. And I’m working hard not to feel guilty.


young and insightful

Today I took my youngest niece, nephews and sister to Boo at the Zoo. I know this is a common thing around the country; costumed children run around the zoo stopping by different treat stations dispersed amongst the animal exhibits. I took the two youngest last year and they had a blast and were excited to go again. We had a great time checking out the animals and all the cute costumes. I also got to have all their pixie sticks as my sister didn’t want them to have the pure sugar. I can’t imagine why! 

I’m thankful for the time we had together today. But I’m also thankful for what I heard my oldest nephew say when I was talking to my sister. We were in the car heading home and were bouncing between talking between all of us and just me and my sister. I heard the youngest nephew say out of the blue, “J sick”. It shocked me and as my sister kept talking about something, I zoned her out to hear how the oldest nephew responded. I was very touched and proud of what he said.

He said, “No, J isn’t sick anymore. He’s up in heaven. His body is here because he doesn’t need it in heaven. He isn’t sick or in pain. He’s in heaven with Jesus.” I tried hard not to cry.

I had struggled with telling the oldest when I knew J wasn’t going to survive. He overheard my sister telling a cousin and he was devastated. We tried hard not to talk about cancer around him. J didn’t want to say that “C” word around him. He knew that J was sick at times and had to stay in the hospital. We made sure to explain that he had something that so few people ever get and no one could catch it. It just meant that he had to be really careful around germs so he didn’t get sicker. 

In June, I found myself with the even harder job of explaining to the oldest nephew what was happening. How do you explain to a nine-year-old that his favorite uncle and one of the few consistent, positive male role-models  in his life has died? I spoke from my heart. I explained that J loved him very much. That J had a particular type of cancer that so few people get and he and his doctors worked so hard to beat it. But he was so very sick. I answered the oldest nephew’s questions the best I could and with a lot of tears. J’s body was on earth but he, his soul, was in heaven. He wasn’t sick or in pain anymore. And I’m sure that he misses us as much as we miss him. That it’s okay to laugh, to cry, to joke, to be upset, to be sad, to miss him.

I sometimes underestimate kids. I think many of us do. I struggled with what to tell him as I wasn’t sure how much he understood. But, today, I know that he gets what is important. As much as we may miss J, he’s in heaven and finally free of cancer. It took a sweet voice from the backseat to show me that he knows and will share that grace and knowledge with his siblings.


Friday!

I’ve been feeling a bit off. It’s been a long week and I’m caught up at work after being gone for a week and a half. I’m a bit terrified about what will happen being gone for two and a half weeks! However, my boss and I discussed how to handle my absence today and I trust that all will be well. There are enough people at work that will be able to solve any challenge that arises.

So, today I promise that I will update this blog for the days I missed. I have things written down, just not online yet. That will change on Sunday. Today, I’m thankful that it is Friday. The vibe in the office felt relaxed, not frantic or rushed. I was able to get quite a bit done the last few days and left work not worrying about what may be left to do. It was a good day.


perspective

Today I’m thankful for perspective. It is something that I’m working hard to have. Some days are easier than others.

I had a conversation at work today that reminded me of the importance of  perspective and outlook. I wrote earlier about getting what you need, not necessarily what you think you want. Life is far from easy. unfortunately horrible and tragic events happen. The most challenging tend to be the things that we have no control over. Some months and even some years are ones that are best forgotten. 2011 is that for me.

 I won’t ever say that these happenings are good or fate. I don’t believe that. For my situation, there is nothing good about what happened when J passed. It was out of his control and nothing could have changed that.  But we do decide how to deal and cope with things.

Our perspective helps us to get through these rough times. J called himself realistic. I used to be very optimistic. But when the leukemia entered our lives, he started to turn more towards optimistic and positive in regards to his health and loved ones. He remained realistic and opinionated when it came to current events, politics and sports. Whereas I internally became more realistic and fearful. There were a few times that he mentioned that I had lost a bit of my carefree and optimistic nature. My laugh and smile wasn’t quite the same. He didn’t like that this uncontrollable aspect of our lives had done that to me. But that was necessary. We believed in the power of  a positive attitude. Not in curing the cancer but in helping the body and spirit to cope with the cancer and the impact of treatment. We were both positive but in different ways that helped us cope with our new normal.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as lighthearted and joyful as I used to be. But I’m purposely trying to find something positive and something to be thankful for each day. To help my perspective. It is easy to find something to be upset and bitter about. And I do have my moments. But those normally rear their ugly heads when I miss him the most. When the realization of all that I lost hits me the hardest. But I remind myself that J would not want me to become a bitter, hateful person. I’m not that person. I just miss him.

I have a choice in how I live my life. I can choose to be bitter and hateful for what I don’t have. Or I can choose to be grateful and thankful for the life I had with J. I made the decision in June to honor him and do my best live a thankful life. It hasn’t been easy and I don’t imagine that it will get easier any time soon. But it will. I trust that it will.

It is all about perspective and the choices I make. There is a silver lining. I just have to wait for the fog and storm clouds to clear.


fall show

There is a certain joy in festivals that happen in the fall. The crisp weather, the turning of leaves, the yummy food. It is my favorite season.

Today, I was able to take in one thing that is unique to fall. In the county that I graduated from, there is a show that shuts down the town for four days in October. It has all that is great about small town events but with thousands of people. The local bakery has great pumpkin donuts. There is a competition to see who can grow the largest pumpkin. There are lots of arts and crafts that make you smile and cheesy vendors that make you laugh. There are local organizations and high school groups that use this time to raise money. And there are very few places better for people watching.

Today was good not only for all that this show is but for who I got to spend the day with. With our work schedules and personal lives, it can be hard to get all of us together at once. This is a happy Saturday when we can spend some hours together enjoying the show. I’m thankful for these sorts of days and the conversations we are able to have. It was a really good day.


quiet day

I’ve said it before but I’m grateful for the quiet days. Especially when I know that upcoming days won’t be so quiet. I’ll have errands to run tomorrow and will be busy at a local show on Saturday. Having a peaceful Thursday at home was what I needed to prepare.


tucked away in the rain

Today is the first in a series of days that I am taking off. As much as I can’t wait to share everything I learned with my team, I’m glad that I was able to have today off. It rained all day long and I was able to tuck myself away on the couch. I was able to nap a bit, catch up on the DVR and cuddle with the cat. The cat is the biggest surprise. She has been super cuddly since I picked her up from the kennel last night. She is normally friendly but this takes it to a whole other level. I’m not sure how long it will last but I will embrace it.

So, for today, I’m thankful that I was able to spend it indoors in the comfort of home instead of driving or walking in the rain.


tour and friends

This morning marked the end of the conference. As I wrote yesterday, my first conference experience has been a positive one. I’m looking forward to working with certain museum professionals for next year’s conference but also to continue to learn more.

At the end of the last session, a co-worker and I ran up to the Baltimore Basilica for the scheduled tour. The Basilica has a commanding presence when you first walk up. From the street we came up, this is what we saw.

Baltimore Basilica - personal picture

 This picture doesn’t do it justice. If I had a better camera than my cell phone, I could have spent all day taking pictures. The inside of the church is stunning. It wasn’t what I was expecting as I tend to think of older Catholic churches having a more gothic style. This one doesn’t. Thanks to the Architect Benjamin Latrobe, it is considered neoclassical architecture. He is also responsable for the design of the US Capitol building. The Basilica has an open and airy feeling. It felt bright, welcoming and calming. I can’t post all my pictures but they do have better quality pictures available to give a better idea of what this place looks like. Check out the Basilica today.
 
A kind older gentleman took the two of us and another gentleman around the upper church while pointing out the unique aspects of a Basilica and its importance in the Catholic church. As he started to take us into the crypt, the other gentleman left us and we continued down into the crypt and rest of the church. I’m so glad we didn’t miss it. Our guide proceeded to explain that under the church, where we were standing, used to be covered in dirt. During the renovation a few years ago, they decided to remove the dirt and create a new crypt and undercroft chapel according to Latrobe’s original plans. It is a quiet and peaceful area. The architecture is amazing.
 

Baltimore Basilica - personal picture

 
 They discovered a unique use of inverted arches to support the weight of the church. I’ve never seen this before and found it intriguing. All this was hidden by decades of dirt. There is a small museum in the back that reminded me a bit of the St. Peter and the Vatican exhibition I saw during the spring of 2004. There is a strong sense of history and importance when you think of the people and experiences behind some of these pieces.
 
The tour took longer than expected and I felt bad but K didn’t seem to mind. We were both enjoying hearing about the history and architecture behind the church. He was also kind and saved my butt when I was checking out in the store and realized that they didn’t accept my credit card and I didn’t have enough cash on me. He is far too kind and I’m really grateful. We then checked out the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden.
 
That is when we realized how late it really was. We rushed back to the hotel so he could get to Penn Station and I could get to the airport for my flight home. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to learn more about this church and the beginnings of the Catholic Church in America. I’m also very grateful for K coming and experience this with me. I find it refreshing to hear his perspective, especially after he visited a few churches in NYC the week prior.
 
It was a good way to wrap up my visit to Baltimore. I didn’t get to see tons, but I got to see the things that meant the most to me. I’m happy with that.

conference experience

I’m quite thankful for my conference experience. I have gained some valuable insight into other museum’s programs that can’t be obtained from a website. All of the programs are a variation of the same general idea but have a distinct method that works well for the museum. For us, our method is to weave the science in a story based on a theme. We then build on that as the day continues. It works well for us and has become part of what is expected by our customers. However, other programs have a minimal theme. I wouldn’t think of doing that, but it works well for them. The great thing is that there is no right or wrong…just what works best for the program and the team.

I’ve met some interesting people and played with some pretty amazing exhibits and science experiments. I’ve taken lots of pictures and videos to share with my team. I’m excited to go back to them and share everything I’ve learned with who are equally excited to learn and try something new.

While I still have one more day, I’ve been able to enjoy the conference at my pace. Which is to sit, observe, walk away, process and then talk. unfortunately, that means that I’ve been bombarding my co-workers with ideas and information when that’s the last thing they want to discuss. I really do talk about other things than work. But the things I’ve been learning the past few days puts things into a different perspective and I want to share.

It also feels good to have some of my enthusiasm back.  I have another morning worth of sessions before I fly home and one includes more programming. I’m excited!