Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Our usual conversation, "I have a meeting at 6. I am going to do my cardio on the way there and then we can do dinner after"
and then I looked up and I kept driving down College Acres drive I saw this thick black smoke rising up high over the trees, coming from our neighborhood.
"Michael, there is a fire!"
I pulled into the neighborhood and for a brief moment I thought the plume was directly over our town home, but as i adjusted I could see that it was down the street.
"Our house is ok...but this is bad..I love you and will call you back"
I dropped the phone and pulled into the street. I saw two police cars that had blocked the street in front of a unit that was engulfed in smoke and flame. one officer was headed up the street and other was running, literally running around the back, darting in and out of the doorways, in what appeared to be making sure that people were out of the units around the burning building.
One of the oldest neighbors (in terms of living here), whose home was only two units down from the fire was trying to pull her car out of her garage. People were gathering on the street and no one seemed to know what was happening.
One young woman responded that those who lived in the home that was burning had been at the pool, so they were ok. My other neighbor in the car said she thought the unit next door was unoccupied as that person was away and was getting married. So we focused on moving her car and securing her precious dog..of whom an entire group of people took possession so that Jeannie (my neighbor) could attend to securing her home and then getting out.
All along this tall, dark haired officer was going from one unit to another with his comrade and ensuring that there were no other folks in danger. The speed he was moving was incredible and he/they were focused. I can tell you this, that no one was injured because that officer and his comrade were on it from the that moment to the last. It was impressive to watch and a blessing during all the choas of those first minutes that seemed to last forever.
The WFD got there in record time and with one truck after another and like precision clockwork they got to work. When they opened up, and the crashing of the windows and the front door began, I have never experienced seeing smoke and flame like that in my entire life. How they endure that is beyond immagination..but they did so without stopping a beat and went to handling the blaze. We saw the flames break through the second floor roof and rise high into the air..and they fought back and eventually brought it under control.
At the end though, we found out that the three dogs that had resided in the home perished.
The tenants in this home, the residents, the victims of this awful and tragic fire, were varsity players at UNCW.
So much loss..
It is hard to fathom.
I also found out that those two officers that were so heroic..that should be recognized for acting so bravely and so responsively as the first on the scene were TR Williams and BW Sommer. God bless them both! 

There is a blessing in human life and physical injury being spared by the flames, but there is deep mourning for the loss of their beloved animals. There is mourning for the loss of whatever "things" that might have gone to ash in that home. We have "things" that remind us of good. Remind us of people. Remind us of ourselves in many ways. To turn to ash in such a quick moment...I cannot fathom, but I can imagine.

So, I offer my prayers of solace, of peace, of love to the victims. I also hope that whatever they lost, their memories, emotions, and feelings that are associated in the positive with the physical "things" can remain with them once the mourning has transpired.

I can still smell the smoke. It is so powerful. But that smell will dissapate. Renewal will come. It reminds me that what is forever lasting is goodness, all else passes.

thanks be to God!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 482: Greater than through love and support: Journey with the Cape Fear Heart Walk and Adam Freeman

I bought a belt. I know..that is not really news..but I posted it on my facebook nonetheless. It was the first time in years..and I mean years that i bought a fabric belt. The reason is that they really don't make those causual belts for big and tall. It has been embarassing wearing leather belts with casual shoes, but that is what you have to do when my waist got to be a 54!  Not that having to wear a belt was all that essential since it was usual that most of my clothes were pretty snug even when I tried to by the next size up.

I am serious. My eating had gotten to the point where in the morning I put on my clothes and they fit ok. I was then off for the day. I would stop at Hardees or Bojangles or some fast place. If hardees, it was a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit AND a steak biscuit with cheese and hashrounds and a diet coke. When i got to the office I would drink coffee and somewhere in the morning, I would usually have a muffin, a doughnut or something of that nature. At lunch, I would have something equally as "quick"..dropping though a drivethru and grabbing a burger and fries...usually Wendy's triple with cheese, pickles, and mayo..fries and a diet coke. Then in the afternoon some snack...and then a big dinner with sweets and eating until I passed out. That was an average day for me of eating. I was eating for convenience and I was eating out of pure stress...filling and unfulfillable place with the easiest and worst foods imaginable. And by the end of the day, the clothes that fit the morning literally left an indented pattern around my waist because I would have swollen throughout the day and everything would feel so tight.

Not anymore...yesterday, I bout a belt and it was a size 38! It was not a belt that had to go to the very last hole..there was actually space on it..and it fit beautifully and gave me hope that while I have hit a goal with this waist size, I can set new goals and go even further towards my health and wellness. It was even better because I know that at the end of the day, at the end of a full day, that belt will not leave a dent, an impression on my body..because I am not killing myself anymore with my eating..my gorging..the choices that i made that began to make choices for me.

There is a new sense of freedom in all this and it is amazing!

Don't get me wrong..I still have to watch my eating. That is a daily walk. In fact, we have decided to do custom fit meals for our dinners to help with not only with portion control but also with controlling out eating out and making sure that we have something healthy and well prepared in the house each and every evening.  I just picked up our first round of meals today and am looking forward to this new addition today!

I also need to get out that it is hard for me still to see my body and changes. Lateley in particular I have looked in the mirror and it is hard for me to see me as a 38 inch waist. I see the larger man staring back. Only when i put on clothes that are slimmer or I see a picture do I see it..but my mind's eyes makes it hard for me to see my progress...muscle tone..changes....it can be discouraging..even hard to deal with sometimes....But i know it is just the old tapes playing in my head and I am pushing through..
Particularly when the scales are showing that I have lost more weight and i have pushed through the stagnation period and i am trimming up more!

I am so very grateful today for all it...but I am the most grateful today for a belt...so simple..but a symbol fo so much!

thanks be to God!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 474: Greater than through love and support: Journey with the Cape Fear Heart Walk and Adam Freeman

I have found some pretty amazing snacks lately..not so bad on the health side...fig newtons are making cookies now and they are delicious...low calorie and low fat. Hell, they are making these little "bars" with fruit filling too just like special K with very little sugar and like 100 calories! Love them!

But, again, there is a catch..I have blueberries and oranges in the house. I have fresh fruits and veggies in my house and I have really integrated them into my life..but as soon as I bring in the low fat snacks..well, after 40 years of habits...I gravitate to the "cookies", the "bars", the whatever if packaged and convenient instead of what is packaged by nature. So, while I am a complete advocate for having them, I just have to make choices for me about what is right in this house. If I am to keep on this track, I need to surround myself with those things that keep me healthy and that keep me moving forward. Even if these snacks are "healthier", if I am gravitating towards them exclusively, or if I am eating them like I ate the other foods that were unhealthy (chips, cookies etc)...then, like anything else that jeopardizes my good health...they have to go. Period. So, time will tell...

Last night we celebrated my Mother's 68th birthday. It was a night I will not soon forget. First, we decided to go to Airlie Gardens to the concert. I was really looking forward to this as Airlie is one of my favorite places...ever. The concerts are amazing and there is this "life" that is there that is like no other. I have to admit that what happened when we got there was completely unexpected.

Understand, my Mother has endured for 10 years or more, the debilitating effects of a chronic illness called Chronic Fatique with unreal pain and effects from Fibromyalgia and other issues, that for days, months and weeks at a time can leave her in constant pain. What has been worse for a woman who was a professional, independent and incredibly articulate, spiritual,  and intellectual woman, was that because the disease has no cure and doctors spend a great deal of time trying to "figure out" how to treat it, she has also endured "treatments" that have literally left her drugged for years at a time.

She also dealt with those, even family, who did not take the time to understand her illness becuase on many days she appeared "normal". It was horrific to deal with that kind of constant pain and have to explain it at the same time. When she and my step father moved to Wilmington, I knew that it was hope..it was a chance for, not a cure, but at least for change...and while she still deals with this damned disease, the quality of her life and the ability for her to live well while having it has been so much better due in large part to gaining control over the "treatments" and being the captain of her own destiny regarding the drugs that they give her (did I mention how smart she is! lol), having an enormously spiritual and beautiful group of friends, and an amazing husband unlike any one could dream of. I write about this because she is heroic in her own way with overcoming so much and demonstrating how one can thrive through adversity and come out of it LIVING! She has done it her whole life....and it is powerful!

Well, last night...I got to see her dance. Something she has not done in YEARS. I can remember as a child when Mother was in graduate school, she and her friends dancing to what I think was bluegrass on the eno river when the Eno river festival first began. She was as happy then as I have ever seen her. It was like that some 40 years later in Airlie...but this time it was the Imitations and we were shagging to some great beach music!

She says it was her present. But it is my birthday, Christmas, Easter, and everything else present all in one to see her smiling, laughing and celebrating life! And for the first time in my life, I got to dance with her! I do not take for granted how many folks would give their eye teeth to have that chance with their mom or dad...it was a special moment...but for me, to see all she has endured, and then to see that pure and absolute joy...was the best moment I could have asked for. It was magical.

Today, well, today, she is in bed all day..and she knew that would happen. But that is ok. That is part of what she deals with in her own day to day. But like she has my whole life, she is taking the circumstances she has and living the best life she can with those as they are. It is a very potent lesson: accept that which you cannot change. By doing so, the struggle ceases on so many front and energy can then be extended to a dance I (or she) did not even know we had. If we were fighting against what is, then the futility is where all the energy goes. But by accepting...there is this wonderful way to LIVE and DO..and BE...and DANCE!

I love the vision: 

I danced at Airlie with my Mother on her 68th birthday. My family, my friends, my God, all of us where there...and it was perfect.

thanks be!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

the power of three

three amazing people I have encountered in my life here in Wilmington have passed in the last 10 days. It is perhaps a sign that I am getting older and I know more folks who are dying or a sign that I have cast a wide net in which I have encountered and had the priviledge to know people and so therefore it is bound to happen that I will know of many who pass as well..but I have to say that here, in these passings, I am just grateful because knowing these souls..being known by these people and having a chance to hear their stories, must less hug their necks or share time with them is a treasure.

Gary, Anne, and Dora...three people who probably met each other...I have no idea. Considering the lives they led..one influencing parks, one navigating all things good for planned parenthood, the colleges in the region, educaiton, and the other making a career out of reporting for a small newspaper nearby and then ending her life turning a horrific tragedy into a courgeous advocacy..but all intrinsically linked to selflessly giving and living lives that are such amazing powers of example....It is humbling to know and be influenced by each.

I have shared about Gary in a post recently. I met Gary over 10 years ago when a Mayor at the time appointed me to my first city board: Parks and Recreation. I remember very much why I wanted to be on that board: I wanted to influence gaining more green space and I wanted to see what could be done to get more facilities for seniors in our region. The very first meeting of the board I was a fish out of water, but as you can imagine I dove right in. Gary just sat back in his chair and across a wry smile listened as I babbled on..and at the very end said "I like you..we are going to do good things".

Today I know what he saw in me was someone who was willing to speak out for things that he spent his life working everyday on. I soon learned that Gary was the one that, behind the scenes, slowly and methodically, from one city council to another, from one Mayor to another, from one ploy and hoy to another, made it possible in a county that does not like taxes and is conservative about the way money is spent on things that may appear "non essential" but prides itself on its charm and its eminities, ensured that what parks and recreation was out there was for ALL people in the region and that everyone had a seat at the table and all concerns, wishes, and desieres were heard. I watched a master of consensus building before me and someone who understood that while you cannot get everything for everybody, you can do great things for the whole community that can satisfy the majority looking forward and seeing how it impacts the future. This is man who single handedly engineered a parks and recreation bond referendum in our county and got it passed as the tea party movement was on the rise. He demonstrated how this would effect our future and how got partners together that could make it happen. Make no mistake, no one did this more than Gary. And no one would have sooner run from trying to take credit or stepping into the spot light than Gary. This was just what he did. It was who he was..and for 100 years into the future and then some, what he did will impact this city in a positive way. But in my life, once I shut up from that first meeting and listened to him, learned how he got things done..how he forged ahead..stayed on target with what needed to get done and let the detractors, the racists, those who needed power and priviledge have at it with what they needed..and just stayed focused on doign what was right for the community...once I understood how he did that..well..I saw a soul that, though human, was admirable and someone to be not admired, but cherished. His spirtit is probably trying to push through right now and cramp my fingers so I can't write this..saying this praise was not what he liked...he loved the work..but it is good to say..it is good to remember..it is good to see and it is an honor.

Mrs. Ann Rowe first came into my life years ago at the Albert Schweitzer Honors Scholars Event that our Honors Office Hosts. Each year we reconginze somone in the Cape Fear region who exempliefies the work and life of Albert Schwietzer. This lecutre and award grew out of a program that one of our founding fathers of Honors at UNCW, Dr. Gerald Shinn and others started here with the Albert Schwietzer International Prizes. Those prizes hosted the likes of Beverly Sills and Mother Theresa at UNCW..and Anne Rowe was on that board and a leader in the community and development for making that happen. She was a force for education and health in the region and devoted her life to planned parenthood (healthy babies, women's reproductive rights and good health) and everything imaginable for all people for education. She got it atht what she had could make a difference for others and believed fervently in the responsibiltity to see that happen in everyting she was involved in.  After their prizes disappated, they were turned into the awards and each year Anne would come to the ceremony where we have honored folks like Dr. Ken White, Margaret Weller Stargell, Susan Dankel, Jock Brandis and the like. Each year, her angelic and warm presence lit up the room and she was a delight to the students. Mind you..that as the ceremony progressed she was in her 90's, but the involvement with the students, the engagement with the good works, and the opportunity to give was never something that slowed her down. She was always at UNCW or Cape Fear Community College doing something for students..and a hug from her was like a warm breeze from a kind soul. You just knew you had been engaged with someone who genuinely cared about the world and the people in it and that was the business of her day. She made it her business to help and create good things for others...another life to exemplify..another to be humbled to know.

Dora Corbett was someone I only met twice. That, frankly was enough to make me grateful and will keep me grateful for a lifetime.

Let me back up..I am not some big shot when I say that that our District Attorney is my friend. I knew him long before he was our district attorney and he and his amazing and lovely wife strarted to try and re-populate Forest Hills elementary school with thier own family (LOL)...He just happens to be an amazing man for which good things have happened and in turn good things have happend to a lot of folks with him becoming out DA...That said..we were planning a fundraiser for Coastal Horizons, which is the board I have served the longest on. Coastal serves the largest popluations for Substance Abuse and Mental health in the region and is also home to our Youth Shelter as well as our amazing Rape Crisis Center. Ben , being the amazing DA that he is, had someone special that he wanted to bring to the event.

As he stood on stage he began to tell the story of sexual assualt in our region and what he had seen as our chief law enforcement officer. He talked about the violence and he talked about its effects on everyone and then, as his voice broke a litle, he told the story about a woman, 78 years, old who had spent her whole life as a professional, writing, and living a goodlife. She lived in a small town area, in a pleasant home, very ameicana, and in one day, her life was altered forever. She was, and I have to admit I have blocked out some of the details of what happened, brutally and savagely raped in her home. At 78.
She was left for dead..
As he finished the story, his voice rose in a way that was..and it is hard to explain..but there was a mixture of emotion, pride, and celebration..he said, and today, "here, almost two years later, joined with us today and her detective who helped to capture and bring to justice her attacker, I would like to present, Mrs. Dora Corbett".
Everyone in the room turned to the spot from which his hand gestured and rushed to their feet in applause..with tears streaming down their faces as the demure, courageous, and amazing woman..this survivor..rose to her feet and allowed the crowed to collective hug and embrace her...all 300 people in the room...It was a moment I will never forget and one I have told Ben time and time again, one I will always be grateful for. Here was hope, survival, justice, triumph, LIFE! standing before us..and she was power! The power....She never slowed down becoming a witness and an advocate, though Cancer was ultimatley what took her at 84. But knowing her..knowing how she took such a horrific moment and taught us all how to LIVE...again...a life to exemplify..a life to be humbled by.

Now, all this is not here to eulogize..that is for others in thier lives..this is just for me to note becuase this is part of the journey that I would never have had without the blessings of the connections...the "greater through love and support"..the connections by being tapped in..the perfection that is part of it all...Just recognizing the power of the lives that are around us sometimes is the most beautfiul thing that I can witness in a single day...and I am so so very grateful!

thanks be!

Monday, May 16, 2011

another benefit of it all....

So I am walking tall today and I have even had one hell of a workout this morning complete with lunges, step ups with 25 pound weights, squats with 30 lb weights, and all sorts of other cool stuff including dips...which are not to be mistaken with anyting to do with taking a plunge in a pool or getting a dip of ice cream..oh no, these are so much fun while lowering oneself up and down on a machine!

But why is this anything of note? the big deal is that this workout followed a weekend where I was able to do some major renovations in the yard. Something I have not done in years..and something I have wanted to do for a long time. In fact, there is a lot fo things that I had gotten used to hiring someone else to do or just not doing if we could not afford it becuase I was not physically able...but no longer. This weekend, Michael had been wanting to replace the retaining walls around the flower beds. years ago when we put in the back yard I built those walls by stacking up slate pieces. It was functional and natural, but he wanted something more uniform. So, we found a sale (everyone knows I don't do retail) at home depot and off we went. I moved over 500 pounds of block from the front of the house to the back yard, took out the old walls and put in the new walls. With so much slate I had an idea to redo the white pebble bed in the back yard and literally moved a ton of rock and made a design with the slate and laid in a "labryinth" in the back yard. Now mind you, a year and half ago I was huffing and puffind up a single flight of stairs. Here I am being able to do this in a day AND we had and awesome weekend of doing things together to boot AND today I was still able to go to training and do my work out  AND I am still stanidn and feeling good!

Now, daggone it, that is just the deal..that is another pay off of all of this...I get to do something else cool...and it is something that this summer I we can share and we can share with people that we love too and have over for evenings and time togehter. It is amazing and I am just so grateful!

ok..nuff said..but I had to write about it...I was reminded this morning that this blog is about what I need to say and that if I need to write a "litany" out, then I should do just that. I have been blessed with being asked to keep this record and as I move forward it is so awesome to stop and realize how awesome it all really is!

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 468: Greater than through love and support: Journey with the Cape Fear Heart Walk and Adam Freeman

The last time I was on a rollercoaster it was 1996 and I was still at Carolina. I convinced my Area Director to let me take a bunch of international students to Carowinds for a "cultural" experience. So loaded up with a bunch of Brits, a Chinese med student, someone from Italy, France, and a few other Europeans, we piled into a campus van and off we went.

I will never forget getting on that coaster. It was the big one...the "scream your guts out and loose all sense of pride and self respect" ride. But, alas, I was their Resident Assistant and I was determined to suck it up and "take it" silently on that thing. I got in the car..thinking i knew what was coming..but frankly not sure. I got stuck in the little car with my resident from Italy. She was petite and spoke little English. I say stuck because she was scared to death and needed reassurance. Here I was scared out of my mind and I was giving an oscar winning performance to say the least. I needed to at least look like I was ok so I could be there for her..and off we went.

The car pulled out and we began this slow, lumbering incline. The climb was as terrifying as any part of journey because of the heights...and the slow pace completed the anxiety for setting up the ride to come. We creaked and lunged forward to the top and when we finally got there..it was as if we were held in suspension for a moment. Everthing stood still and then, in a flash...we were off. My stomach lept into my mouth, my heart ceased to beat and if I breathed I was unaware. But i felt every turn, every new hill...and we kept moving forward..plunges that were pleasurable were met with sharp turns that knocked the breath out of my body and caused me to whimper. Every time i felt a sense of joy or a sensation of freedom it was followed with a shut down of pressure or a turn or what has to be described as pain. And I was riding with someone else. I was not alone and I could not let my own feelings go without communicating and reacting to her...

This was a journey we shared in all its intensity and at every turn, it actually was comforting that I was not alone, but there was something that I did not do well: I did not scream, laugh, cry or share..I held my breath and tried to look stoic during the experience and not let her know how afraid I was thinking that would be helpful to her. I was also prideful, thinking I should not let others see my emotions. I wonder to this day what she must of thought. I do know that my back was hurting so badly at the end of the ride from trying to stay so stiff during that ride and that I literally had a hard time walking when we do to the end. I was so pent up. I did, however, learn that I could get through such a ride, and that was pretty amazing, but i still had a lot to learn about connecting during intense times.

So, why this story about the coaster? Well...I blogged a little about this week...but that is how I felt this week and how I felt lately. I have been on a rollercoaster of experiences and emotions. Like that experience in 1996, I have not been alone, but unlike that experience, I have grown and have been able to share how I feel and while it has been happening feel it. As a result as I write my body is not sore, I am feeling a sense of ease, and I have not done some of those things that I used to do that would have stuffed or filled emotional voids along the way.  What an extraordinary gift. What blessings.

Wednesday I wrote just enough to release the valve of all that was going on. Yes, it is that time of year for me in my work where our students are finishing and there are so many bittersweet celebrations of graduations and rites of passage and success. It is such privilege to work in a profession where I get to watch these young men and women evolve and grow into such amazing contributors and they give me such hope.

One of the rushes of this week was the connections that were made with them as they were transitioning out this year. I can promise you that more valuable than money or any thing is a hand written note from a student that says how they feel about what you did or something to that affect. I sometimes feel like my Aunt Thelma who I believe when she passed had every card that anyone ever sent her over her life time stored in a box. I have every card from every student. They mean the world and like Thelma, there is just no way to let them go or not to hold them tight and be so very grateful. I literally treasure everyone...so grateful. 

But when that rush was taking effect, I got the call...My friend and one of the men I have literally revered in this community for years succumb to cancer Thursday morning. Gary Shell was one of the biggest influences in my life over the last 10 years as I worked with him as a volunteer on his board for Parks and Rec...but he became such a good friend..someone I..well, treasure. Thankfully it was my mother who called me to say that she had heard. I was running errands and moving through the library office when she called..moving so fast through the day and all that had to be done.. and as she told me it stopped me dead in my tracks. As I got off the phone, my friend Jen saw the look on my face and grabbed me and I lost it. I hit that bank..that curve..that intensity...and I was not alone and becuase she was there...I was able to grieve. So grateful. I went into the staircase nearby and called his brother and connected and we even laughed and shared some time remembering. We will have time to do the memorial soon...but in the midst of all the craziness, there was time to feel, to connect, to grieve.

I will stop before this gets to be a litany of ups and downs, but to suffice to it to say, it has been a rollercoaster..and frankly..that has been ok for a lot of reasons. But the most important of which has been the connection to people and when that connection is made acknowledging those feelings and really showing them.  Not pretending or trying to be something someone else might want me to be (as I did on that coaster), or stuffing what I am feeling and hurting myself.

If you have read this journey you know the connectors: Windell, then Ashley and Kristi, to Adam then Kayleigh...and then from there as the journey began all the folks who have shared each day, have joined in, who have been inspirational and who continue to be "the gift" of a power much greater than myself.
These are the "true friends"...no expecations of thanks...no ledger being kept of what he did or she did vs what I did..it is us doing and out of that so much good can come...and no, there is no need to ever have to say thank you to each other..but becuase it is real, we do. And they are the most beautiful thank yous in the world.

What, if anything that I have learned over the years is to see the connections, see the perfection in how love works through events, people, situations and has the power to heal, power to transform, to create something so special..genuine..more than just personal gain, influence, or wealth, but real and transmutable, transmittable relationships of community and love! It is so perfect in its own way...well, it must be, becuase I see God in all of that, working through that, and living in all of that.

We have had, Michael and I, one of the best weekends we have had in a very long time. After all this rollercoaster, it was time just to be..and we did. We played  in a zoo..ate at the greek festival and created something special for each other and to share with our friends and family....I am breathing more happily than I have in a long time...and still just amazed.

I am ready for the coaster anytime...would prefer a lighter ride...but I am not the determiner...I will take it as it comes, but be certain..as I hit the highs and lows, I am gonna share it...and if that connects and transmits...well, thanks be to God.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 465: Greater than through love and support: Journey with the Cape Fear Heart Walk and Adam Freeman

Whoever said "everything in  moderation" is a real ass (and yes, I think it originated with Aristotle, so I realize I am really stepping out here today! LOL). The facts are for me that "moderation" is not the key to happiness. There just simply are some things I don't do well with at all, and then there are some things that, well, are going to be less than "moderate" and it is about how to take it "one day at a time", "first things first" and rely on the best way to deal with it all to stay first and foremost healthy while it is all going on.

I am sounding crypitc. I don't mean to. It has just been an intense month or so. Amazing. But intense. I have hardly had time to absorb all the blessings, all the emotions, all of the connections with events, people, situations, opportunities, moments, that, well, just astound me. That said, what it means is that I have to take care not to let it all get overwhelming because what my old behavoir has been when I got completey overwhelemed was to let go of the priority of taking any care of myself and eat out of stress, eat things that were completely unhealthy, eat eat eat, and do absolutely the opposite of what would fuel being able to thrive during a time when so much was happening.

I am happy to report..that ain't so right now. Today, like most days, I got my butt up out of bed, on time...got to the gym...Adam has had amazing work outs for me, and i have been doing them. I went off to my day..and yes, I prayed, connected, and set myself straight for the day. I got into my day and at stops along the way, I caught myself as I got wrapped up in the hectic nature of it and I stopped and restarted. I ate good things and keep good fuel in me and did well by me!

Now I also ate chocolate today! OH HORROR! but I did! :) and it was soooooo good! But I did not eat the whole basket of chocolate. I ate three pieces, and I enjoyed each and every one of them. Lest anyone forget, much less myself, that moderation with sweet stuff was not part of my past by any means. In fact it really is not part of my present and i am not trying to reintroduce "trigger" foods into my diet by having them again.

But today a student walked in with a basket of chocolates to thank us for all that we had done for her thoughout her time in Honors. It was so wonderful and truly a lovely gesture. I really enjoyed having something from her gift and don't feel bad about it. I remember a time when I would have had the entire basket and then some, but today I was able to just enjoy the small treat. While I did want, physically more (craving)...it was nice to think it through having more and stop. 

I do want to share that today is the anniversary of the passing of Kayleigh Anne. Most of you know that on this past Saturday we did a balloon release to remember her amazing life and be there for Adam and Aimee as this is only the second year since her passing. Adam and Aimee were joined by Adam's parents and many friends at the Homewood Suites at Mayfaire. Jason Smith, the general manager of that hotel hosted the event at the hotel and it was lovely (by the way, that is an amazing place to stay!). I am still hoping that the prayers and messages attached to those balloons have landed into places far and wide and will find a way to bring more of the blessings that she has brought into my own life and so many others. The release was a way to celebrate a life that has inspired so much and continues to make so much love happen for so many.

No matter how busy it gets, I will never tire of telling the story of how love makes and creates so much goodness. How what can appear as tragedy can bring about so much change and create opportunity for good. How we share a spiritual experience that connects us at intervals and places that have no coincidence and are perfect in everyday.  It is so very powerful....and at the end of the day today, I am just grateful....

lots of blessings!
thanks be!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Special Post: AHA Breakfast: Why sign up?

I do makes some folks nervous when I take a podium because a lot of the time I don't write out what I am going to say. Oh, don't get me wrong, I do write things down for events, but I learned years ago that if it comes from the heart and I truly love and care about it, it will usually come out alright. I just need to keep on track and not go on and on (ok..so ya'll know that I am working on that one! LOL) Not to mention the fact that I have the "gift of the gab"(no ego there, just know a talent) As I said this morning, my mother said a long time ago..actually, I think even when I was little "as long as you have that mouth, you'll never starve!" LOL!

Anyway, the bad part about speaking impromptu is that I rarely remember what I say. But this morning was special. We had the annual kick off the Heart Walk for the business community for the CEO breakfast. My new role this year is the "community chair" and i am to recruit teams for the walk and to share my story about how I got involved and others can get their companies, employees and even their families and friends in with the heart walk. Well, I was sitting there at the table and something hit me and it just took off from there. I don't remember it word for word, but it came up in me pretty powerfully and it was special memories and feelings that came through it, so here goes trying to remember it:

My friend and one of my mentors Windell Daniels used to sign his name and then after each signature he would place three dots. We were at the conference table in the board room of the Housing Authority and he was signing something when I first noticed him doing that. I asked him why he was signing that way. He said that when he signed his name it was always followed with "the Father, the Son/ and the Holy Spirit"...thus the three dots. For him, everything he put his name to, he wanted to not only know that it was something he prayed was blessed, but he gave credit to God for as well and knew that it is where all he had came from.

Well, this morning, I was thinking about that I know too that all I have comes from a power much greater than myself who I choose to call and I know is God and while I was not trying to be blasphemous, I was thinking that my story was in many ways a story of three: A story of Sacrifice, A Story of Birth, and A story of Gifts.

The first was that of Sacrifice: it was at dinner at Port City Chop House. We were gathered together to celebrate the service of one of our fellow board members. Windell's wife Wilma had just given the prayer and in his usual, life filled way, Windell was leading the room and turning to have us all start with a table full of appetizers. In biblical terms, it was in the "blink of an eye" that I now hear that sound that I will never forget. It was a deafening "thud". I turned and their lay Windell at my foot. I know now, but would not accept then, that he was gone. A massive and complete heart attack. It was just that quick. And while we all rushed and choas insued trying to push life back where it had already left, he was gone.

But here is where my belief that there are no coincidences only gets more and more affirmed. After Windell passed, Jim Bryan from First Citizens called me and asked me to join the Executive Leadership Team of the American Heart Association. He also wanted me to bring Wilma Daniels on board and we would dedicate the Walk in Windell's honor. Here was the begining of a new chapter in my life. Through Windell's passing, I began to hear and see information that I had perhaps seen before, but I was hearing it in a much more intimate way. I was seeing it in a much more clear view. His death was bringing new site.

See, when he passed at my feet, remember I was 350 lbs, I was on three medications: diabetes, heart and cholesterol. My stress level was through the roof and the person I was least likely to take care of was me. I was begining to see, through his sacrifice that I had to change. In fact, I was led to Dr. Buchannan's office at Coastal Cardiology, and that is exactly what they told me. The only problem was that I just did not know HOW!

Little did I know that at the time all this was happening a birth was going on. An 1 lb miracle entered this world in Novemeber of 2008. Her name, Kayleigh Anne Freeman. She pushed through enormous obstacles to come to life and underwent over 248 different procedures. She became a beckon of hope for thousands and she was a point of suspension for worldly cares for her parents and so many others and became a lightening rod of focus on Faith, Love, and Hope. One of the most amazing things was that she was one of the smallest children EVER to undergo open heart surgery. Through the advances that have come from the work of the American Heart Association, this child was able to have this surgery and live. Her life was helping others to live give hope for others in the future. While she did not survive in physical form past May 11, 2009, she was a power of life and she transformed all those around her, particularly her Father, Adam.

That is where the gift comes in...Adam moved in Wilmington to begin a-new after Kayleigh passed and began working at O2 Fitness. His then wife Aimmee met some folks who told them to go see him about getting involved in the American Heart Associaton. It just so happened that my best female friend Ashley had become the corporate liasion for AHA and another dear friend Kristi Tomey, who had been trying to help teach me how to work out (but I was not following through) worked out at O2..and they conspired with Adam an idea. They would help someone in the community to change their lives as long as that person would pay it forward and help others.

So Adam, forever changed by the selfless love of his own daughter, so desperately wanting to give back, took me on for free and trained me as part fo a gift to the American Heart Association to show how to live a heart healthy life. 115 pounds later, learning how to live a life where I can run, be active, take care, do things I never dreamed of, be off medications, my life is forever transformed, and not only is Adam my trainer, he is the best friend I could have every prayed for outside my own marriage.

Now, tell me you still believe in coincidences...
But tell me that you don't want to be a part of something like the American Heart Association? These Walks, the things they do, the connections that are made, the life changes that happen, and the connections..they sound miraculous, but they really aren't. They are the kinds of things that happen because WE BELIEVE in each other enough and have FAITH that they can happen. Kayleigh's legacy is Faith, Love, and Hope..well, that is what all this is about too...We love ourselves and each other enought to want to be healthier..to be heathly period. Faith is a cornerstone of that living and the bedrock of that life, and hope..every step of the way..there is hope that we can be healthier..and stay healthier and live good lives!

Please consider signing up for the Heart Walk of the Cape Fear or Donating for this October:
or even sponsoring:
Cape Fear Heart Walk

Well, as best I can remember, that was what I said. I ahve added some, cause I can't remember it all. But I hope everyone will join us!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Day 455: Greater than through love and support: Journey with the Cape Fear Heart Walk and Adam Freeman

All day I have been on a collision course with myself emotionally...it has been that way since I got up...just rushing and moving forward and not feeling like I could breathe. In the shower I was ahead of my prayers and my thoughts for a good day with what i was going to do when I got to work and when I got to work nothing I had been thinking of doing was actually happening so it all was feeling pressed and pulled and interupted and stressed and ARGHHHH...and in the mix of it I got an email from my HOA..in particular one of the members of board who just LOOOOVES me (sarcasm) and I did not breathe and took the bait and off I went..and so there I was balanacing all that was going on in my office and this stupid mess with this insipid sniping on email, and oh yeah...last night I was up late watching the President and listening to the news of the Death of Osama Bin Laden with the rest of the world and still trying to process and amazing weeked, and then I was trying to get names to one luncheon and settle an arrangment with another...and oh yeah there were calls from parents who students did not get in, and students dropping by and a dear student who graduated coming by to see me and connect and.....


Yep, it was a day and believe it or not..I had the audacity to look at Michael in the eyes when I got home and say "I just don't know why I feel like I am on the verge of tears every second today and I feel so out of sorts"...WOW!....maybe, by doing exactly what I am doing right now and just looking at what I did today and how I went about it...it is amazing I was not only not balling the whole time, I did not end up in a corner with a pacifier babbling baby talk! :)

Here is what I know..I ran into my day....and I did not stop and pray (and yes, that is off a prayer card..but hey, if it is true, it is true! LOL). I did not stop and take care of me this morning..go to the gym...have that time to set my self on the right path and as a result, the rest of the day never slowed, and I did not stop and restart my say (which is my option).

Now, what i did for myself this evening was go to the gym..I made sure that no matter what, i was going and it was that "settling" that I needed. I got on the treadmill and at 5.6 miles an hour, I ran my heart out for 10 minutes...and I felt it..I felt the day release and I felt it go from my bones...and my soul...and I could breath for the first time in the day.

I went downstairs and did the routine we have been doing lately. Squats with 25pound weights, 20 plus push ups, 20 pull ups on the bar (at an incline), with 45 seconds on the bike at 110 RPM's in between each set, x2...then Chest press, pull downs and 45 seconds on the bike at 110 RPM's in bewtween x2. I forgot to do the leg press..but that was ok.

I am still not feeling completely grounded, but it has helped so much to see the day for what it was and know that for the rest of the evening that even though I have to work this evening, I can take it easier and tomorrow I can take care of myself.  Michael was so great tonight as I talked about the week ahead. It is pretty packed and while there are great things, it is intense....so I have to take care to be good at being good to me in order to be able to enjoy what I am doing and do things better and well. After all it is a life worth living and one that I am grateful for in more ways than I can list...and as you all know..I can list a lot! LOL!

Anyhoo..off to some paperwork!

Thanks be!