We were a part of history

4 Feb

Anna and I got to be a part of a little bit of history on Saturday.  We joined the thousands, (20 +) who were at the Target Center to see & hear Barack Obama.

I got up early on Saturday to do some of the chores I usually do.  I also had some quiet time.  I set an intention that things would go smoothly for us during our day, that we would have very good seats, and that we would have fun!

Roger wasn’t interested in joining us so my friend Julie came along.  We left Owatonna at 10:00 am.  We got a little goofed up getting to the rail station and I remember thinking, “I hope this isn’t the way the whole day is going to go.”

However, we got to the rail station and as we waited for the train, met a very nice couple who also going to see Barack.

 They were precinct captains and had already spent many hours working on the Obama campaign.  We had a great time talking politics all the way to the Target Center.  When we arrived they invited us to follow them, as they were going to find someone in charge who could explain where we needed to go.  It took only a few minutes and they found someone who explained the method to the madness of lining up 20,000 people!

We found the line we needed to be in; it was 11:45 am and thus began the wait.  It wasn’t bad though.  It wasn’t that cold, it wasn’t snowing, and there was no wind.  The line wrapped all the way around the Target Center and we watched as it continued to grow and grow.  It ended up wrapping around a huge parking ramp quite some distance away.  The crowd was excited, but not out of control.

At 1:30 pm the doors opened and our line started to move.  Things went very fast and by a little after 2 pm we were in our seats … just five rows up from the floor.  We had a fantastic view of the podium where Barack would be standing.

We were set!  We could visit the restroom, buy some food, and relax … and we did all three!  Music was playing and it was fun just to sit back and people watch.  It took a while but the Target Center was filled to capacity with many people choosing to stand on the floor rather than sit in the nose bleed seats.

Barack arrived about 4 pm and spoke for about an hour.  It was so much fun to actually see someone you have only seen on TV.  He is a very charismatic speaker. 

Watching Anna was priceless.  She was so happy and so excited to see the man she thinks should be our next President.  I was so glad that everything had come together so perfectly to make that happen for her.

Afterwards we made our way to Itchiban’s and had a wonderful Japanese dinner … where the chef cooks right in front of you spinning his knife and spatula and entertaining us while we ate and he cooked.

We were home by 8:45 pm. 

It had been a fantastic, memorable day.  And everything just flowed.  I realized our little trouble with directions to the rail station really worked to our advantage.  If we had reached the station without getting lost, we wouldn’t have met up with the wonderful couple who were not only great conversationalists, but were so helpful once at the Target Center, and our seats were fantastic.  It was another validation for me that setting an intention for what you want to happen is a powerful tool and one we can all use when we need to. 

It was one of those days that will live in our memories for years to come.  And there is nothing better than making those kinds of memories with those you love.

Ahhh …

30 Dec

Another Christmas has come and gone and another year is all but history.

As much as I love Christmas, each year I keep thinking we shouldn’t do so much.  We really don’t need to buy presents  … after all we are at a point in life  (or at least I am) where I don’t really need anything … and if I do, I can just go buy it.

I certainly don’t need to do any Christmas baking … after all cutting back on food intake woul be a good thing for my physical body.

Of course, I really don’t need to send out Christmas cards … after all everyone that is meaningful in my life, I already keep in close contact with.

Here’s the thing though … if I cut out the presents, the food and the Christmas cards, I would most definitely be less stressed out, of that there is no question.  But each of those things are all a part of Christmas for me … and if I didn’t do them I am certain I would miss them.

So I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve always done … because it feels right for me.

Our house is quiet once again, and I have time to be alone with my thoughts and do as I please. 

2007 has been one of the best year’s of my life.  My family and I are all healthy and happy …  I traveled to many places I have never been before.  I spoke at a gathering in the Twin Cities, my story has been published in a wonderful book.  I’ve met some amazing people who I now call friends.  I started my own blog.   Work was, well work, but always proved to be”interesting!”   All in all, I live a very blessed life; and I am so very thankful for that.

I am excited to see what 2008 will bring to the journey!

Wow! What a Weekend!!

4 Nov

I just had a really great weekend!! I’m so jazzed right now I can hardly stand it.

Yesterday I met up with JoAnn Bruhn.  We have always known each other, but just met up for the first time in this life time.  Never, in a million years did I ever think I would find someone who has had such a similar path as mine over the past 4 years.  But, then I met JoAnn!

She spoke at the October Forum and it was so good! JoAnn’s son Craig passed away in 1995 and she has been on the journey of intuitive knowing and peace ever since.  She is an intuitive as well as a gifted speaker and songwriter.  I have added a line to her website, Sundance Project.  The song that was channeled to her thru Craig three days after his death is just phenomenal.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I have listened to it since she gave it to me yesterday.

We got together on Saturday morning to share our journeys.  It is sooo much fun to talk about it all!  It is simply incredible.

Today our church had an All Saints Service.  This year it was held at St. John’s cemetery.  5 people were asked to speak about their loved one buried there.  I got to talk about Liz and I also shared a little bit of the amazing and wonderful connection that we still share today.  I hope I opened a few eyes and made a few people scratch their head and wonder.  My parents were in attendance which will also prove to be “interesting.” 

They know something has been going on with me … but they never ask me … I decided a while ago to adopt the “don’t ask … don’t tell policy” regarding intuitive happenings in my life … once in a while they’ll be brave and ask alittle something … but then they are quickly overwhelmed by the little I do share … so I have to back off.  Maybe this will be the start of something big … I hope so. 

Life is good!

Make your week great!

Weekend in Wisconsin

23 Sep

Roger and I headed east yesterday morning.  It was a beautiful day for a drive.  We were heading to Racine, Wisconsin to the home of Rich & Darlene Heiden, the parents of Brian, who died along with Liz and Amanda Spekien.

It has become a ritual around the 20th of September … we all gather — parents, siblings, college roommates and friends — to remember and laugh — the stories flow freely and they make us all smile and remember our kids.

Two years ago everyone came to our home, last year we were in Vadnais Heights at the Spekiens; and this year we all made the trip to Racine.

I’m so proud of Liz’s roommates.  They also lost so much that day.  Not only did they lose their friends who had become their family, but they also lost their home and the majority of their belongings.

They have each persevered.  Fik is in med school in Washington DC, Monique and Bri graduated in May and are working … contemplating grad school next year.  And Afton will graduate in May.  They are doing what Liz, Brian and Amanda would want them to do … go out and live a good life … to the fullest.  That is the best way we can all honor them.

We made a trip to the cemetery to see Brian’s stone.  I’m still amazed when I see each stone.  As parents, we never discussed the headstones for our children.  But one by one as we made the visit each September 20th … we were astounded to see how strikingly similar they all are.

Each are black granite … Liz and Amanda’s stones are the same shape (a tear drop) and we each have a picture of our child etched into the stone.  Each are beautiful and wonderful tributes for three lives cut short.

The sadness has lifted … I feel free to go out and live my life with JOY … always remembering and always loving.

Emily and the Demo Derby

27 Aug

On Saturday Roger and I took care of niece Kelly’s 5 month old baby girl, Emily … it was so much fun! She is such a good baby … and she always woke up with a huge smile on her face.

Now it’s been a very long time since I cared for a 5 month old … I wondered if I would still have the touch … I’m happy to report things went very well …. of course Kelly’s schedule helped enormously … hmm …. I never thought about a schedule when my girls were babies …

Yesterday I tagged along with Roger and his “Little” Omar (that’s Big Brothers/Big Sisters lingo) … we went to the Demo Derby that was postponed from last Sunday due to all the rains.

It was fun … but I never realized how many women there are who have tattoos … and not just one … and they aren’t small and they aren’t in inconspicuous places either … who knew a huge spider web on the back of your neck is cool??  Oh well … to each their own.

The Demo Derby was an event that we always attended as a family when the girls were young … it was a great way to end our week of fair activities.  We were huge fair goers and the Derby was the final harrah for us.

I reminisced in my mind about those days as I watched yesterday.  But … it just wasn’t as much fun as I remembered it being.

Vendors were everywhere selling refreshments … the last event was just about over when a girl walked through selling beer …. and she looked exactly like Liz!  It literally took my breath away.  I watched her until I couldn’t see her anymore and then a few minutes later she was back again walking through the stands.  I continued to follow her every move … even her mannerisms and her clothing said LIZ …

You might think this would be upsetting for me … but it really wasn’t … for me it was just another confirmation of our continued connection … it was her way of telling me she was there and remembering too … and it just doesn’t get any better than that …. thanks Liz.

On Thursday Roger and the rest of the men in my family head to Canada for their annual fishing expedition … as for Anna and I?  We are going on an expedition of our own … to Sin City … Las Vegas … should be interesting and fun! 

I wonder what I’ll see there … more tattoos … in wierd places??  

 Look out Vegas!  Here we come!

Who You’d Be Today …

12 Aug

As I write this,  I’m listening to the Kenny Chesney song, “Who You’d Be Today.” 

“It ain’t fair … you died too young, like a story that had just begun … but death tore the pages all away.  God knows how I miss you … all the hell that I’ve been through …  just knowing … no one can take your place.  Sometimes I wonder, who you’d be today?”

Liz’s five year high school class reunion was last night … what would she be doing today?  Would she have graduated from college … or would she be still working on it?  Would she have kept her psychology major?  Would she be going to grad school to become a criminal psychologist?  Would she have a boyfriend?   All questions that will forever remain unanswered.

But a very bright spot emerged yesterday for Roger and me.

“The Girls” came to visit.  The Girls are Liz’s high school friends.  They are a group of about 12, and 8 came yesterday.  I doubt they realize just how much it meant to us that they would take the time to come and visit. 

But perhaps they do.  They each told us how good it felt to be in our home again … to look around and savor all of the memories.

They got to read Liz’s letter and I was able to share the amazing extraordinary experience of that day and receiving that letter.  They were surprised and amazed, and I think they all realized that part of Liz will be with each of us forever.

As they walked out the door, off to the reunion, I said, remember Lizzie tonight … oh, she’ll be there, they chorused … and I have no doubt she will … after all, Liz never misses a good party … not even today!

The house was once again quiet … and my sadness had faded into bittersweet happiness …. just as the words of my song are now fading … “some day … some day … I’ll see you again … some day. ” 

                                         THE LETTER

It was August 30th and there it was.  The article on fatal off-campus house fires was on the front page of USA TODAY.  I had been so pleased to receive a call from a reporter working on the story.  They had done extensive research on all fatal off-campus fires across the US since 2000 and the article was running just in time for students moving into off-campus housing for the upcoming year.

It was everyone’s hope that this article would keep other college kids from making the same mistakes of, not only my daughter Liz, but also the 60 some other college kids who died in a similar manner.  Prevention was key and I was happy to play a very small part in doing whatever I could to keep other families from experiencing the devastating loss of a vibrant young adult.

I stopped at the store on my way to work and bought 3 copies of the paper.  I couldn’t wait to get to my desk to read it.  But, once I did, it made me so sad.  The senselessness of Liz’s death hit me again in such a powerful way … it felt like 9-20-03 all over again.

I should have expected that kind of reaction, but it had taken me by surprise and I was very mad at myself … how could I have possibly thought this article would make me happy?

I threw it on the back credenza in my office and tried to put it out of my mind … but I couldn’t because all day long I had a steady stream of co-workers stopping by to see it … and it was all I could do to keep my composure.

Late that morning I got an email from Liz’s high school French teacher.  Jan had been Liz’s favorite teacher and we had kept in touch after her death. 

I assumed her email was about the article … but it wasn’t.

Kim, you are just going to treasure this, she said.  I was in my classroom yesterday, cleaning out my files, getting ready for a new school year.  A lone file folder fell on the floor.  I picked it up and on the outside I read “LIZ WENCL ESSAY.”  I opened it up and discovered an assignment I had given out over four years ago.

The assignment was to write a letter to one of your parents in french, telling them what they represent in your life … Kim … this is a letter Liz wrote to you!

Now, I don’t speak French, so Jan translated it for me.  That letter was a mother’s dream.  In it, Liz told me how much she loved and missed me in so many different ways … and even though it was written while she was in high school … it made perfect sense for our lives after 9-20-03 ….

Dear Mom,

I know that you love me.  You show me each day that it is true.  Don’t think you are a bad mother … it isn’t true!  When I look at you, I realize how much I am loved.

When you are feeling bad … don’t forget … I truly love you.  I would like to be a better daughter … we argue sometimes and that makes me sad … I feel bad and unhappy if you cry.

I remember when I was little and you would hug me and say, I love you so much, Lizzie!  Sweetheart, sit here with me for just a little while.  Those times were so special for me and you made me so happy.  I use to wish those times would never end.  To be cuddled up next to you like that today would be like a dream come true.

Mom, I feel sad when you feel sad … and when you are happy I am happy!  You are my mother and I would never choose anyone else.  Without you, I would never be who I am.

I love you with all my heart.

Kisses, Liz

**********

What had been a very difficult day, suddenly became an amazing one … I was once again emailing family and friends to share this wonderful letter with them.

That night, Jan brought the folder and letter to my house.  She put it in my hands and she looked at me and said, “You have to know, this was no accident.”

I said, “Oh, Jan … believe me, I do know that.”  She went on to tell me that she remembered telling Liz what a beautiful letter it was and she had encouraged her to share it with me.  She even remembered what Liz’s comment had been … “I will, when the time is right.”

That letter is now framed and hanging in my living room  … with the french version on one side, a picture of Liz in the middle, and the english translation on the other.

Whenever I have a bad day, all I have to do is read that letter and I can once again feel the bond of love that we will always share.  Some bonds can never be broken … not even by death!

Life IS joyous!  Make your day great!

Family, Food, Weather and … Fun??

5 Aug

I did it, it’s over, and I survived — but I’m sooo tired! 

Yesterday we hosted the 24th Annual Wencl family get together at our house … not a big deal you may be thinking … but let me give you a brief synopsis of the past 23 Wencl family outings.

Up until just a few years ago they were camping weekends.  Anyone who knows me, knows I DISLIKE IMMENSELY (hate is a better word, but it’s so harsh) any and all  forms of camping.  But, just for that one weekend every year, I would grit my teeth and soldier thru … all for the sake of family.

But bad things were happening … let me list just a few:

1) 1-1/2 yr old Anna falls out of our rented camper narrowly missing the hitch … scared and covered with dirt she is no worse for the wear and has no memory of it

2) a bat somehow gets inside our rented camper at night-I ran screaming out into the dark with Roger close behind.  Both girls peacefully sleep thru the entire episode

3) it freezes in mid-June and we spend the entire weekend huddled up around the campfire watching the frost melt from the grass

4) we wake up to find an all night rain has made a lake all around our tent (this happened 2 different years, at 2 different camp grounds).

These are just a few of the incidents from over the years … I finally came to the conclusion that all of these bad things were happening because I was there.  My negative energy had to be making bad things happen to these good Wencl people. I would be doing them all a huge favor if I just stayed home .  So I did for a few years.

In 1998 I decided to give it one more try … that year  a tornado went thru our campground (luckily they had a shelter and we were in it) … but that was it …. it was over … I would never again camp … family or no family NEVER, NEVER, NEVER … did I say NEVER!! 

But my Wencl family, they are a resilent clan … the day after the tornado they started to plan another camping outing for that same summer … we had to they said … this outing got cut short.  I looked at them and said, “Are you crazy?  We could have died yesterday!!  They looked at me and said … oh no, it was just a little bad luck …  I was only a visitor at the 2nd gathering that summer.

Fast forward to 2007, thankfully, the Wencl family is now reaching the age where they don’t want to  camp anymore … ALLELUIA!  This year, we would start a new tradition …  a day long picnic event.

Sounds good!  Now we are talking.  I love picnics.  Roger and I volunteered our home for this first inaugural picnic … how tough could it be … they come  … we eat … we play a few games …. we eat again … play a few more games … then everyone goes home … NO BIG DEAL … RIGHT?

Only … after months and months of sunny blue skies and warm temperatures, Mother Nature stepped in and decided that yesterday was the day to rain buckets and buckets, be extremely windy, and only reach a high of 63 degrees.   

But, we Wencl’s, a hearty throng of 28, are a strong, resilient bunch … we huddled together and still ate, played games, ate again, and played more games … all within the confines of our garage … and if that wasn’t enough togetherness, everyone came back for breakfast this morning before heading out to yet another reunion … the Calverley reunion (my mother-in-law’s side of the family).

What?  You’re not coming, they said?  They looked at me like I was crazy when I quietly mentioned I wouldn’t be attending … luckily they didn’t ask me why.  I would have had to tell them that I was exhausted, that I needed to clean up my house and my garage, but mostly — I just needed to bask in the solitude of own my humble abode.  I desperately needed A-L-O-N-E  time.

It’s 6 pm and I’m just barely beginning to claim my sanity and feel “normal” again.

And sadly, yesterday’s weather has shown me that the spell hasn’t been broken … I’m still bringing bad luck to our Wencl gatherings.  I guess I have a whole year to ponder attending next year’s event. 

And, the way I look at it, in 7 years when our turn rolls around again … I’ll be just too darn old to host another picnic … and if they don’t buy that, I think I’ll claim a sudden onset of Ahlzheimer’s.

Aaah, thank God, tomorrow is Monday … I can go to work and rest …

That’s life in the Wencl lane ….  

PS I really do love my family, I do, I do, I do …  really!  I do!

Happy Birthday ….

31 Jul

to me … today I start year 53!

Family and Fun

24 Jul

The play with the Baldwin women last Thursday was a great time … lots of laughs and a nice dinner … we got back to Owatonna about midnight … a tad past my bedtime. 

Friday was Michael Buble day!  I’ve never seen Anna so excited about anything as she was to see him.  I’ve heard her gush over him for the past 2 yrs!!  Funny tho, most people have never heard of him.

We took the light rail to downtown MPLS (I LOVE light rail) had some cocktails and nice dinner at Old Chicago and then it was off the the Orpheum.  I LOVE that theatre … it is so elegant and regal.

Michael did not disappoint!  He is a real showman and great with the audience … I was won over.

Another night past my bedtime as well … but I’m not complaining mind you … Anna will be be moving to Mankato soon and our one on one time is at a premium.

Saturday … back to reality and paying some attention to my house.  I did the usual Saturday things … clean… wash clothes … cook … with a few extra “rest periods” in between.

Sunday … church and breakfast with the folks and then I have the house to myself for most of the day … Roger is at a huge WENCL reunion … the one that only happens once every 5 years …. Anna is working …

Monday … back to work!

My First Post!

19 Jul

My first post!  How exciting.  This afternoon the women of our family — Mom, Anna, me, my sister Sue, my sisters-in-law, Barb and Nancy, and my niece Maddy are going out to dinner and to the Plymouth Playhouse to see “The Church Basement Ladies”  … let’s hope I don’t identify too closely with them …