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The Summer of Weddings

26 Oct

This summer was the summer of weddings for  Roger me.  Many of Liz’s high school friends as well as her cousin were married over the span of the last four months.  As I attended each wedding I  secretly wondered if Liz was present  … I always felt she was … although an outward sign as proof seemed like too much to ask for.

However, as I sat by the shores of Pelican lake and watched Suzy, Liz’s cousin, marry, I began to ask Liz for a butterfly so that I would know for sure that she was there.  This was a joyous wedding, but it also brought home the fact that Liz is gone and we will never get to experience her wedding day.  It was bittersweet and I was filled with mixed emotions.  I didn’t see any butterflies during the service … I was disappointed, but I reminded myself that you just don’t always get what you ask for.  I put it out of my mind and enjoyed the beauty of the day and the fun and joy that the reception held.  What happened next was indeed a very pleasant surprise.

Numerous people came to me and asked if I had seen the two butterflies that were flitting around during the ceremony.  I was very surprised to learn about this, since I had been asking for just such a thing to happen, and it did … but I just didn’t see it.  No matter, it happened and there were several people who saw it and realized the significance.

The last wedding of the summer was that of Tanya and Steve.  I was surprised several days later to see a picture of the bride and two of her friends — all close high school friends of Liz posted on Facebook.  Just above Nicole’s head was an orb. “Hey Nicole, someone wrote, it looks like you have a ghost above your head.”

I started to laugh – it wasn’t a ghost – it was Liz.  Once again, visual proof of her presence on one of the most important days of her friend’s life.

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Rain – Rain – and More Rain!

25 Sep

My town of Owatonna, MN made the national news yesterday … although I dare say it isn’t how we would have wanted noteriety!

Beginning early Wednesday evening it began to rain … and it continued all night and the next day.  In all we have approximately 10 inches of rain.  We have several rivers that run through town.  They all completely escaped thier banks and made getting from one part of town to another virtually impossible.

Many people have several feet of water in their basements, many families were forced to evacuate and some homes even had basement cave ins.

There are huge sink holes in other parts of town.

It is now Saturday and it is cold and grey and spitting rain … but the meteoroligists are telling us that the sun should appear this afternoon and there is no rain in the forecast for the next week.

My family and I are very fortunate.  We live on the north end of town which is much higher than the rest of town.  But with an unprecidented 10 inches we also got some water in our basement.  We have been vacuuming it out for two days now and my husband is cleaning the carpet as we speak.

Here are some links to what Owatonna looked like over the past two days:

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/09/23/photos-flooding-in-minnesota/

Bright Spots in the Midst of Pain

16 Aug

Liz & her Wencl cousins

Sometimes you go about the business of daily life and you put yourself out there and you never really know if your words or the sharing of your experiences are helpful to anyone other than yourself.  Sometimes you even begin to question whether or not you should continue to do so.

But then, something happens and you know that there is no doubt … you are making a difference.

That happened to me yesterday. 

This identical post was published on the OWNING PINK website(http://www.owningpink.com ) on Friday.  I really had no intention of re-posting it here.  But, after receiving a remarkable piece of feedback that literatlly took my breath away, I changed my mind.

        Every now and then I will share some of my life experiences when a bright spot has emerged and helped me through a very difficult time — because no matter what our situation may be, there is always a sliver of gratitude that can be found. I will admit that sometimes we have to dig really deep to find it, but it will always be there when we need it most.  And, sometimes, if we don’t find it, it finds us.

Unbelieveable Circumstances

I was numb as I sat in the chair between my husband and my father. I could hear the funeral director talking…I could see his lips moving, but nothing was registering in my mind. Even breathing was difficult. In the past twenty-four hours, life as we knew it had ceased to exist.  Our oldest daughter, twenty-year-old Elizabeth, had died of smoke inhalation from a fire in her duplex just a few blocks from the University of Minnesota, where she had just begun her sophomore year. Two of her roommates also died with her.

How can this be? Liz is gone? It just can’t be true. How can I go on without my precious first-born daughter? I had so many emotions running through my mind and I couldn’t deal with any of them. I was too shocked even to cry.

Question after question had to be answered. What is her birth date? Where was she born? What year did she graduate from high school? I answered each question without any thought, more like a robot than a mother. It was instinctual – it was rote – it felt void of emotion.

Part of me — no, all of me, wanted to scream and run out of the room, go home and find my beautiful, precious Elizabeth, safe in her room. She would look at me with that coy smile of hers and say, “Oh Mom, you just worry way too much! Nothing is going to happen to me! I’m just fine!”

Why couldn’t this be a horrible nightmare, or some cruel joke? Please God, please. No, this was real, and I had to sit and question-by-question try to acknowledge what I just couldn’t believe was my new reality.

Intense Sorrow and Pain

When the funeral director left the room for a few minutes, the silence was overwhelming. We each sat like statues, staring into space blankly. Conversation was impossible. The silence in the room was deafening. Each of us was trying so hard to keep it together, but it was an impossible task. My husband put his head in his hands and sobbed. Then he got up and said, “I’ve got to get some air.” We barely acknowledged him, as my Dad and I continued to sit in stunned silence with tears streaming down our faces.

The funeral director returned and gently told us that we would need to bring in clothing for Liz to be buried in. There was no hurry he said, but in the next day or two. As his words began to slowly sink in, I mentally scanned Liz’s closet – and it was empty. There was nothing left – she had taken everything with her when she moved into that duplex just three weeks ago.

An Unexpected Shopping Trip

The harsh reality was that I would have to go out and buy Liz an outfit to be buried in – one last, final new outfit. She always loved to shop and she loved new clothes, so it seemed fitting that a new outfit was needed for this occasion as well. But how could I shop without her? We never agreed on clothing, and now in this difficult, painful state of mind I had to pick out her final new outfit?!

My sister drove me to the mall – I knew I would go to a store where Liz used to work, as she had always liked the clothes there. As I pulled open the door and stepped inside I whispered, “Liz, you have got to help me here! I have absolutely no idea what to pick.”

I slowly walked around and began to peruse the racks. It didn’t take very long before I found a pair of khaki pants and a light blue sweater. I showed my sister and said, “I don’t know if this is what Liz would want, but even if I don’t get this right, does it really matter?”

A day after the funeral my sister-in-law came to visit. We sat in my kitchen drinking coffee and talking. The grim reality that Elizabeth was gone had begun to sink in.

A Precious Surprise

“I was going through pictures last night,” Karen told me, “and I found one of Liz taken last Christmas. I thought you might want to see it.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a picture, and laid it on the table in front of me.

There she was – my Elizabeth, smiling and happy sitting with her cousins. But… suddenly my breath caught in my throat and I couldn’t speak — Liz was wearing …  a pair of khaki pants and a light blue sweater!

your beautiful daughter

By Scott Sheperd  on Sunday, 08/15/2010 at 1:52 PM

Harsh reality, stunned, finality, sinking in, overwhelming and many more words that transcend discussion. I have worked for years with people who have lost loved ones, many times suddenly and unexpectedly. My oldest daughter lost a baby six months into her pregnancy totally unexpectedly. I sat here and read this and had all those words and feelings hit me as if your daughter was my daughter. I felt I in some way knew her. In these situations I always picture the survivors as almost like trapped animals. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to turn. Everywhere you look the truth is crushing. To not panic and go crazy just in and of itself is a major feat. You have shared and taught and inspired with this article. Most of all, I think, you have let us be moved by the beauty of your daughter. Your strength and that of your family is incredible but rising above all that is this beauty of your daughter. Her presence and spirit are tied into those khaki pants and blue sweater. Her smile in that picture shows a life raised in love and a life that loved and still gives that love. Words fail me Kim. I’m glad I got to know you and your family a little bit and most of all I feel honored to have met your daughter. Thank you for sharing her. In my own way I will pass her on to a lot of people.  

Owning Pink

12 Jul

I now “own pink” and you can too!  You don’t have to like pink or even wear pink – you can just “own pink.”

What does it mean to “own pink?”

You own pink when you are who you are, warts and all.  A blog called Owning Pink was started alittle over a year ago by Dr. Lissa Rankin.

Over the course of the past year, women and a few men, have found her blog (including me) and we became part of “the pink posse.”  We share our thoughts, our beliefs, our difficulties and our triumphs.   And it is all done in a very warm, nuturing and loving environment.

It was an amazing and wonderful opportunity to share my life’s stories with this great group of people.

A month ago, Lissa took the next big step by making Owning Pink a website.

She asked some of us to be regular contributors.  I was thrilled and honored to be asked to write for Owning Pink!

I will still be maintaining my blog, Love Lives On, as well as writing for Owning Pink.

Come on over and check us out.  I guarantee there is something for everyone!

http://www.owningpink.com/

If you would like to read my blog posts on Owning Pink, go here:

http://www.owningpink.com/blogs/owning-pink-bloggers

Father’s Day Reflections

20 Jun

  June 20, 2010

Father’s Day Reflections

Today is a day to honor our fathers. But I don’t need a special day to honor my Dad. In my world, every day is Father’s Day.

Learning values

When I was growing up, my Dad worked his tail off to support my Mom and his  four kids. If I ever needed a definition of hard work, all I had to do was watch my Dad.

The most important thing in my Dad’s life has always been his family. I like to think he instilled that in me as well.

Closeness

I’ve always had a good relationship with my Dad. We are very much alike, and I’ve always felt like we were kindred souls. When I got married and had my two daughters, I was fortunate enough to live only a block away from my parents. It was – and continues to be – a blessing to have them so close. I’ve enjoyed watching my Dad, over the fifteen years since his retirement, enjoy the life and fruits of his labor. He taught himself to play golf, which he does at least two or three times per week. My siblings and I get him a golf pass every year for Christmas.

At least three or four times a week, Dad stops over. He doesn’t stay long – just time enough to say “hi,” pass on any news he has, and see if I have any. After giving our dog, Murphy, a quick pat and sharing a quick smoke with my husband, he is off again. I love this little ritual so much!

Memories

Just a couple weeks ago my parents joined my husband and me on a fishing trip to northern Minnesota. We are all avid fisher people and we spent four days together on a houseboat. The weather wasn’t the best and the fish were not very hungry, but in a year or two, we won’t remember those details. The most important thing was the time we spent together. We will always have the priceless time spent together.

Time versus stuff

Do I give my Dad a Father’s Day present? You bet I do. The common conundrum on Father’s Day is often what to give someone who doesn’t need any more “things?” I address this by giving not things, but time. Dad and I go golfing together and share a meal together. And at the end of the day we will hug and tell each other how much we love each other, even though that doesn’t need to be said in words … each of us knows how much love there is between us.

I am well aware of how blessed I am to have such a wonderful relationship. There are many, many fathers and daughters who will never be as close as we are. But even if you’re not as close as I am to my dad – even if you  haven’t seen or spoken to him in a very long time – it is never too late to pick up the phone or send a card. Don’t pass up your opportunity to reach out and let those you love know it.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad!

Blessings & Love,

Kim

Spoon Fed

15 Jun

I love that I now have the time and desire to read more.    I just fnished reading the book, Spoon Fed, written by Kim Severson, Food Editor at the NY Times.

It’s a great book for a number of reasons.  I admire Kim for telling her story and not worrying about what the world thinks.  I love how she weaves her life lessons around the kitchen table and the every day ritual of cooking and eating.    I have some things in common with Kim, in addition to sharing her name.  I love family, food, and cooking (and in that order).

Prior to reading Kim’s book I really didn’t give much thought about the importance of cooking together and eating together as a family.

The cooking and the sharing of a meal together promotes family unity.  It brings us back to those long-ago, far away days of The Cleavers in the TV show Leave It To Beaver.  Granted I don’t bring out the white linen table cloth or even eat at our formal dining room table, but we do sit together (outside this time of year) and talk.  Food brings people together and gives them the opportunity to interact.  Of course, even if a meal is made it doesn’t necessarily mean the family will eat it together – but it does provide an opportunity to do so.

After reading Kim’s book, I couldn’t help but think back on some of the wonderful meals that I have had the good fortune to be a part of over the years.  One particular  memory came to mind that I hadn’t thought about for quite some time.

Thanksgiving has always provided me and my family with a wealth of abundant and wonderful food and cooking that also lead to special time together.

Those of you regular readers here know that my oldest daughter Elizabeth died in a fire in September, 2003.

I will always remember the last Thanksgiving that we shared with her in November of 2002.  We shared a wonderful meal of turkey and dressing and all of the wonderful dishes that go along with it.  After a long while of sitting around the table and talking, we did the dishes and decided once they were done a game of some sort was in order.

I don’t remember the name of this particular game, but it was charades of some sort.  I don’t even remember if I actually played or who did play other than Liz.  She was given the word thimble and she had to get the rest of the game participants to say it.

The only problem was, Liz didn’t know what it was, or even what it was used for.

So she described it as only Liz could – as a “finger condom.”  Huh?  Where in the heck did she come up with that?  I remember being a tad horrified with my mom and my aunt sitting nearby.  What on earth would they think hearing my daughter call a thimble a finger condom?

Time ran out and Liz had to reveal the word.  That’s a thimble we all cried out?  What’s a thimble Liz asked looking perplexed.  It’s used when sewing we all said.  We laughed and laughed – where on earth did she come up with the phrase “finger condom.”  Only Liz.

Little did we know on that day just how important that “finger condom” would become for all of us.

Every year when we once again gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, missing the physical presence of our beloved Liz, we all laugh and celebrate and ask if we can play a game … how about charades?  Remember, the finger condom we all say.  We laugh and remember and think of Liz in joy … which is just the way she would want it … her time with us was way too short and sometimes rocky …  but it’s those finger condom moments that we now remember and it gives us the opportunity to laugh and remember Liz  in JOY instead of sadness.

Here is a link to Kim Severson’s website and further information on Spoon Fed.

http://www.kimseverson.com/

ENJOY!

From Tragedy to Transformation – A Mother’s Story

26 May

After many months of waiting and anticipation on my part, I’m happy to announce that I have an article in the June edition of THE EDGE – SOUL OF THE CITIES magazine.   This is the twin cities premiere metaphysical magazine.

As many of you know, for the past six years, Kathryn Harwig has my teacher, my mentor, and my friend.  I would not be where I am today if Kathryn had not come into my life.

So I wasn’t surprised when I read Kathryn’s article – just a few pages beyond mine.  They tie in together quite nicely I think and of course this is yet another example of how The Universe works.  I was getting impatient and wondering whether my article would ever be published.  Now I understand why it happened when it did.

Another lesson for me in trusting that The Universe has it all under control.

http://soulofthecities.net/digital/2010/06/

See page 12-13 and page 16.

And, have a GREAT day!

Gratitude

25 May

The Universe has been nudging me to write a post about gratitude.  Last week I watched Laura Ling tell of her time spent in a North Korean prison when she and fellow reporter Euna Lee accidently crossed into North Korea while working on a story.  They were thrown into prison, put on trial, and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor.

To make matters even worse, the  United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and at the time of their arrest, North Korea was shooting off rockets and the underlying threat of a nuclear war was lurking.

Laura was in a precarious predicament, with not much hope for the future or release and a return to her family and the life she knew.

She was asked how she got through it.  What she said amazed me and has really resonated with my soul.

She said she was able to endure because she focused on gratitude.  Many of us go through our lives unhappy and complaining about what are really inconsequential and trivial parts of our lives.  The question is — when the chips are really down, can you still find your gratitude?

Gratitude is easy when we are happy, our family is doing well,  jobs are secure and meaningful, health is abundant, finances are stable — then it is very easy to be  grateful … most of the time we take it all for granted and assume that this is how life is suppose to be.

For many people in this world they do not have even a fraction of what we take for granted … and they are  grateful … gratitude can be found in the midst of deplorable, desperate conditions, death and destruction, famine and disease.  Just as God is always present no matter what – we can always find gratitude no matter what – we just have to be intentional and seek.  Once we seek, we will find. 

Once we start, it will become contagious and we will be able to find more and more in our lives to be grateful for

Laura Ling said it was easy to find the gratitude as she sat in her solitary, cold, damp, dark cell.  That in itself is a blessing to be grateful for.

She was grateful for the three meals she was given each day.  The meals were small, but they sustained her and she knew that there were many  in North Korea who were starving.

She was grateful to see a butterfly occasionally flit by her window.  It gave her hope, even though she could not smell the fresh air or feel the sunshine, she saw a butterfly go by and she was grateful.

This morning I received an email containing a you tube video of Nick Vujicic.  Nick is 26 and was born without arms or legs.  Nick is filled with gratitude.  Here is a link to the you tube video and to Nick’s website, Life Without Limbs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc4HGQHgeFE&feature=youtu.be

http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/

Thank you Laura and Nick for reminding me that there is so much for me to be grateful for.

Wishing you gratitude!

Listen Live Tonight At 5!

3 May

I will be Suzane Northrop’s guest tonight on Blog Talk Radio. 

Listen Live at 5 pm CDT    OR    listen to the archived show

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suzanenorthrop/2010/05/03/the-suzane-northrop-show

We Have All Knelt At Different Graves

28 Apr

Sometimes you strive to say something, but you cannot articulate it in words as you would like, so you say nothing.

Sometimes, however, you come across other blogs that say it perfectly.  Such is the case for me today.

So I’m re-printing Phil Bolsta’s blog post for today.  If you haven’t yet found Phil’s blog, I highly recommend it.  It can be found at http://bolstablog.wordpress.com

Phil’s post quotes Deepak Chopra as well.  So thanks Phil and thanks Deepak!

While reading Deepak Chopra‘s insightful book, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, this excerpt on page 183 spoke to me. In this passage lies the reason why one religion or spiritual path is not right for everybody.

We are all born to travel our own path; when we find the right one, it feels like we have come home. What works for me may not necessarily work for you and vice versa. Understanding this removes judgment from the equation. How can we judge another’s destiny? The answer, of course, is that we cannot. All we can do is focus on our own journey.

Intention springs from our deepest desires, and those desires are shaped by karma. You and I don’t have the same karma; therefore we dont have exactly the same desires. We have loved different people, knelt at different graves, prayed at different altars. The specifics of desire are unique to each of us.

Yet if you follow the chain of desire, in the end we are all the same. We want to be happy. We want to be fulfilled. We want meaning and purpose in our lives. We want a sense of connection with God or spirit. We want other people to respect us and love us. And we want to feel safe. These desires are universal. But the route each of us takes to satisfy them is uniquely our own, based on our individual experiences and memories, or karma. Were all heading for the same destination, but we take different roads. We arrive together, having traveled our different paths.

This is quite a wonderful book. It explains in great detail how and why the universe lives in each of us and works through each of us. This knowledge is the key to realizing our full potential as human and spiritual beings. I highly recommend it!


ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA

SiSe_fullcover_final.inddPhil is the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.

 Click here to buy Sixty Seconds. Click here to ask Phil to add you to his e-mail list for updates on his blog and books.

Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.

Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.