Flight of angels

Recently, I attended a dear friend’s great nephew’s funeral service; a thanksgiving for his life. Jayden was just eleven years young when he was called home to meet Jesus. I’ve only been in Jayden’s presence a handful of times, but have followed his story and his life since he was diagnosed with Sanfilippo Syndrome, eight years ago.

Hundreds of people came together to honor a beautiful soul; which included overflow seating in another area of the considerable sized church. What I witnessed at the celebration of his life, touched my heart to it’s core.

Pictures of this precious child were projected on large overhead screens, as beautiful music accompanied the memories. Tears of joy and sorrow were sprinkled throughout the room, and my heart ached for the family. Losing a child has to be one of the most devastating things to experience. I can’t begin to imagine the heartache, as writing this post has tears streaking my cheeks.

During the celebration of thanksgiving, a young man spoke of the impact Jayden and his parents had on his life. It was his testimony of the miracle Jayden and his God had on this young man. He was grateful for the love and grace Jayden had unconditionally given him. It was heartfelt, sincere and filled with love, hope and understanding.

Next, Jayden’s Dad talked about the dreams he had for his son’s life; one of which was basketball and how the dream felt short for himself, but would share it with his son. After the disease had taken Jayden’s ability to dribble and shoot the ball with ease, his Dad found something far greater and more rewarding. He saw the light Jayden was shining deep into his own heart; and that God had a special plan for his son. It was love; Jayden radiated love to everyone he met.

Jayden’s Mom spoke next, and I couldn’t believe she or her husband had the courage to speak through their sorrow. She wrote a letter to her son that was heartbreaking, beautiful and brave. A mother’s love is so raw and so real; as I choked back tears of my own. Both Jayden’s Mom and Dad made people laugh, cry, and remember their precious boy’s life.

As the thanksgiving service ended, it was announced the family would like everyone to gather together outside to help sisters Brooklyn and Elliotte release balloons into the heavens; purple hearts representing Sanfilippo, and white balloons I’m guessing for purity, hope, grace and love. As hundreds of balloons were released into the air, it was as if a flight of angels were soaring into the heavens to meet Jayden at the door. I can just picture him running to greet them.




Trusting strangers

As part of a recent women’s retreat, we were asked to gather into a circle at the beginning of the day. Chairs were already in place, as each woman arrived and claimed her temporary spot. It’s always interesting to watch the dynamics of personalities as the group of strangers come together.

As the leader described how the day would go, and explained the information in our packets, we all looked around the room, as we made random conversation with those in near proximity. I had thought it was a bit odd the facilitator didn’t take the time to have people introduce themselves, as I made a mental note of what not to do at the future workshop I planned to facilitate.

After going through our packets, describing the day and expectations, the facilitator stated she would like the group to say a little something about themselves and tell what brought them to the retreat that day. Ah, note to self…..”I like how she waited for us to introduce ourselves.”

As the facilitator directed the woman to her left to start the group off, one by one each woman gave a brief description about themselves and what drew them to the event. The second woman introduced herself and then passed on offering any tidbit of information about herself. Hmmm…..I wondered what was keeping this woman from sharing with the group.

It’s not always easy speaking in front of a group of strangers. Everyone tests the waters, being the best versions of themselves they could muster up. During my turn I had talked a little about my own journey of discovering myself over the last few years, and admitted how I fell in and out of my mindfulness practice. How irritating it was to know how good I feel when being diligent about my routine, but somehow still manage to mess it up. I could see a few women shake their heads in agreement. I could tell women connected with my truth as if it were their own.

As the day continued, the women began to open their hearts and share more about themselves and why they came. The more we shared our truth, the more we connected with one another.

In another activity, the facilitator talked about her rosemary bush and how it is said to have qualities to open our hearts. In front of the lush rosemary bush was several sayings typed on little pieces of paper. She wanted each woman to silently read the quotes and take the one that spoke to our heart. After we all read and picked, our leader asked us to share about what quote spoke to our heart and why.

Again, the second woman from her left opted out. Her friend or sister mentioned something about a situation being tough. Again I wondered what could of happened to this woman that was preventing her from sharing her truth. However, later in the day she was able to share her experience about walking the labyrinth. I was glad she finally felt safe to share her heart.

The retreat was fabulous, as were each and every woman I met and connected with that day. You never know what people have happening in their lives. They may have struggles far greater than our own. Sometimes trusting strangers might just crack your heart wide open.




Home sweet home

Shortly before I left for an extended business trip, my son and his fiancé put an offer on their first home. I’m guessing many would have had some of the same emotions as I felt. When my son first told me they would be looking for a house, I was both excited for him, yet somehow sad for me. I’m not sure sad is the word I would use to describe the situation, but I know sadness filled my heart with the thought of his soon-to-be empty room.

The two of them had in their minds what was non-negotiable, and within a short amount of time put an offer on a house. There happened to be a bidding war, and wisely they set a limit on how far they would go. As I listened to a few negotiations that went back and forth between them and their real estate agent, I was tickled how Andrew held his ground. His fiancé had her heart set on the house, and without raising his voice stated they wouldn’t be going over what they had decided together earlier in the day. She was speaking from the heart and he was speaking logically from his head. I probably would have been speaking from my heart too……you know how us women can be….LOL. Anyhow, I was delighted to hear his common sense speaking loud and clear…..that boy was right.

As you may of expected, they lost the house, and realized something better for them was waiting around the corner. While heading to an appointment on another open house, their agent called to say they would need to meet later. In the meantime, by happenstance, they saw an open house and decided to check it out. They fell in love with this place, that as if by magic, appeared.

When Andrew told me about the house he was so excited, it far exceeded the one they lost. He told me he also felt like throwing up once they made a solid offer. I commented it is a normal reaction for any first time home buyer; I know it was for me. After a few negotiations, it resulted in a happy ending, and the offer was accepted.

I was able to see the house before my business trip, and felt bad I couldn’t help once they closed. This past weekend he called me on the spur of the moment, and asked if I was free to come to dinner, along with his cousin, sister, and her friend.

Prior to the purchase, the house wasn’t visible from the road, due to overgrown brush and trees. As I pulled into the long driveway, I could see a darling cottage style house peeking through the trees; much of the overgrown brush had been removed. I felt such happiness for my son and his fiancé as their first home together was warmly lit up, and I could see them working together inside. They had done a wonderful job over the last month with their little cozy cottage in the woods.

As they worked together to put a thoughtful and delicious meal on the table, it was apparent their love for each other, and their new little nest they call home sweet home. The feeling I had as I left that evening was pride and love. I could see my son’s desire to be a good provider, and it made my heart fill with joy. He’s a good man, and I thank God for choosing me to be his mama.


Into the circle

This past weekend, I went away with my bestie and her husband to Door County, Wisconsin for a long, overdue get-away. My friend and I had planned the weekend for months and had signed up for a “Cultivating Mindfulness” retreat.

The retreat was held at The Clearing; a beautiful location nestled between a forest of beautiful trees in all colors, shapes and sizes and the rocky shores of Ellison Bay. The sturdy and handsome stone and wood building housed the thirteen women that came together on a chilly fall day.

Part of the agenda included an outdoor hike through the woods to the labyrinth walk. For the last several years, I’d heard a lot about labyrinths, and had wanted to walk one; even though I didn’t know much about them.  Early morning it was raining upon our arrival, but I was hopeful it would stop, in order to experience the outdoor hike and labyrinth walk.

Preparing for the hike, the facilitator explained we could enjoy each other’s company and surrounding nature on the way to the labyrinth, but had asked us to be silent through the circle and then continuing on the walk back.

Blessings fell and the rain cleared up shortly prior to the hike. The facilitator led twelve women into the woods, on a narrow, rocky, uneven trail that opened into a grassy meadow. To one side of the meadow was a star gazing circle and on the other side, the labyrinth.

A labyrinth is a single path leading to a center and used for a spiritual and meditative walk. We each entered the path with several seconds apart, slowly walking with an open heart. There may be a answer you seek or just prepare to receive any blessing or guidance. It was a humbling experience.

It usually takes ten to fifteen minutes to walk to the center circle. The path twists and turns throughout the journey, just as life does for each of us. At one point, I was looking down at the pebbles that were embedded in the dirt, and I randomly thought about the heart shaped rock collection at home and wondered if I would find one along my path. I don’t think it was even ten seconds before I looked down and there was a heart shaped rock waiting for me to gather it up and tuck it in my glove…..holy cow! Chills of excitement, then gratitude ran down my spine, and I knew that rock had been waiting for me.

Once everyone reached the circle, together without a word we felt each other’s energy for a few powerful moments, each one feeling and knowing their own heart. Then one by one we began the journey back out of the circle, on the same path that took us there.

The hike and labyrinth walk was a memorable experience as I felt the power of the earth under my feet and nature all around as the forest welcomed us back to where we started. Going into the circle with an open heart was exactly what I needed for my soul; I would guess the other women would echo my sentiment. How do you cultivate mindfulness?


Boodle Fight

Boodle Fight…….say what? Recently, while away on an extended business trip, my colleagues and I became close friends with a group of our USA counterparts. They were some of the nicest people I’d ever met. They were hospitable and cared for our needs as if we were family.

During the last week of our stay they started commenting about how they were going to miss us, and couldn’t believe how fast the time had flown. It was true, the time seemed to speed up with each passing week. It’s a nice feeling to know that in some little way, what we did made an impact in their lives.

In an act of kindness and appreciation I couldn’t believe what they created and shared our last night in the office. They had planned, cooked and beautifully arranged a special traditional meal, called Boodle Fight for us to share as a team, one last time.

Somehow they were able to put everything together without us having a clue what was going on just down the hall. When it was time for the surprise they all managed to get to the room ahead of us. I was finishing up on a project and was lagging behind my colleagues by a minute or two and walked in to find a thoughtful, and beautiful display of their traditional foods, laid out in a way that touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

Each person had taken part in creating the masterpiece that was spread out before us. It was touching to think about the effort and expense it took. They were proud to share an important part of their lives and tradition. The food was prepared on banana leaves that ran down the length of the table. Rice was neatly lined up along the middle and piles of assorted roasted pork, chicken and fish cluttered the rice, while sweet and juicy mangos and other delicacies lay along the edge.

They asked us to wash our hands and explained we could use plastic food preparation gloves, but they would prefer us to use our just washed hands, as we shared the meal. Oh my gosh…..YES, we would love to. It was such a treat to use my hands as utensils to scoop up delicious bites of goodness and love.

Boodle Fight is an odd name for such a beautiful display of a wonderful tradition. It was not only thoughtful and delicious, it was heartfelt and memorable. Our hosts couldn’t have been prouder or happier to see the joy and surprise on our faces. The group did a pretty good job of polishing it off too….HA! How do you share your traditions with the ones you love?