What’s So Special About Flamingos?

Just for fun…and because we like flamingos so much…we’ve written several whimsical stories about these interesting pink birds! And more are sure to follow.

The fascination we have for flamingos just sort of happened. It all started out with someone giving my husband and me a flamingo statue as a gag gift. Then I decided he needed another one, so I found a really cute one. We put them both in the Florida room, and all of a sudden, before we even realized it, our little collection of these pink birds had grown and had not only become the main décor in that room, but many of them had also migrated to the family room, and of course, outside by the pool.

And somehow, new flamingos still seem to pop in when we least expect it! Birthday presents, Christmas gifts, or just picking out one in a store because, well, because it just said “buy me”! And they’re quite attractive flamingos, I might add. Of course the plastic ones are out by the pool. And this summer we added solar lighted flamingos out there as well…. In fact, we now have flamingos in just about every room.

We’ve realized that flamingos really are beautiful birds. Yes, they have a not so wonderful and undeserved reputation for tackiness, but seriously, how can you resist a bird that’s bright pink, eats shrimp and shows up in the most unusual places?

They are also quite intelligent, or at least the ones we have by our pool seem to be. They know how to withstand snow, sleet, cold weather, and really don’t require a lot of maintenance at all, except for the occasional scrubbing when their pink plastic feathers get a bit grungy. They’re always there to greet us when we go outside, and summer, well, summer is their favorite time of year, probably because they’re very social animals, and they love it when we’re outside in the pool with them, or cooking shrimp and steak on the grill!

And when we host our annual Flamingo pool party, well, they are just beyond tickled pink. In fact, they’re usually the stars of the event!

So, in honor of our flamingo fascination, we decided to let the flamingos have their say online. After all, they’ve told us some interesting stories over the years, and it’s time to share some of them!

May you enjoy their words of wisdom as much as we do!

THINK PINK!

Stop the Attacks

The attack ads, that is. Those totally irritating and most often false claims spread by one political candidate or political party against their rival. I guess the candidates and their ad agencies think they help sway voters, and maybe sometimes they do. Or else they wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars to run them

When I was younger we called it mud slinging. Smear campaigns. And it used to be frowned upon. But not any longer.

Today that’s all we hear during political campaigns. This candidate caused children to starve. That candidate wants to let all the violent criminals out. This candidate plans to take away your guns by going house to house. That candidate is going to get rid of the police departments. This candidate is planning to raise your taxes by 15%. And this one is being investigated for tax evasion. That one is going to force teachers to teach fake history that was rewritten by the other political party. Another candidate even talks about how bad it is to run these attack ads, and then in the next sentence attacks his opponent for things that were said in that candidate’s attack ad…

Wow! If any of what’s claimed in those attack ads are true, those people shouldn’t be considered as serious candidates! How’d they even get on the ballot?

Why are they even running? In many cases that’s an easy answer. Most of the candidates who use these tactics are ego-driven, wanting to have their name in the forefront; to be known as a state representative, congressman, senator, mayor, governor, and yes, maybe eventually president. Do they really care about doing good for their district, their state or their country? Maybe. Or maybe they want the prestige, the limelight, and the power to say, “I’m the [whatever office he/she holds] and I make the rules! If you don’t like it, that’s too bad!”

And to hear some of these ads, if what’s being said is true, that particular candidate should actually be behind bars instead of running for office!

We are inundated constantly with these nasty, untrue, derogatory political ads to the point of total disgust. It makes me not want to vote for any of them. Because each candidate says they supported that attack ad!

Seriously? Why would I vote for someone who can’t run on his or her platform. Whose only claim as to why he or she should be elected is how bad the other person is?! I really don’t think any of them deserve my vote.

But if I don’t vote, then I have no right to complain and criticize who won when they do something I disagree with.

And that causes me to cast my vote for the candidate I dislike the least in order to vote against the one I don’t want in office.

That’s a terrible way to vote, but unfortunately I’m not the only one doing that in today’s elections.

I can still remember political ads that actually stated a candidate’s platform. They were running to do this or that. They had a reason for running, and wanted people to vote for them because those voters believed in what the candidate stood for, and believed he’d keep his promises. Bad-mouthing their opponent? That wasn’t done. Political debates were polite. There was no yelling and screaming at the other side. The candidates made their points in a positive manner without calling the other candidate derogatory names.

How things have changed. And not for the better. Politics has evolved to the majority of candidates acting like spoiled children who want their way, no matter what. They stretch the truth for their own means, call people who don’t agree with them insulting names, and accuse their opponents of all sorts of things, that if it weren’t for the election, would institute lawsuits for libel or slander.

And our children see this and when their parents don’t disagree or say it’s not right, those kids are taught it’s ok to act that way.

But it’s not. Not for our children, and certainly not for the politicians who are trying to get us to vote for them!

I’m tired of it all. Here in Virginia we are electing a new governor and delegates, along with numerous local offices. We have one more week of this mess. But every day it gets worse. I cannot wait until this election is over.

And of course, the way things have been going lately, then we’ll have to listen to all the unsubstantiated claims of stolen elections and voter fraud.

Because that’s unfortunately becoming the new normal in American politics. I seriously doubt our founding fathers would be happy to see how things have evolved.

Maybe one day politics will change and become more civil again, but I doubt it will be in our lifetimes.

And that’s such a shame.

I’m sure many of you will disagree with me. And that’s your right. But please be respectful about it. Our state and our country’s future is more important than blasting someone for opinions you don’t agree with.

Why Flamingos Don’t Like Halloween

You know that flamingos really like a good party. That’s evident in everything they do. But Halloween isn’t necessarily a time they enjoy, and when you think about it, their reasons really make a lot of sense!

Orange doesn’t look that good with pink, or so the flamingos think. And since Halloween colors are mostly orange and black, well, all the decorations and costumes for Halloween clash with their beautiful pink plumage. And flamingos want to always look their best!

They briefly considered this feather boa and feather hat, but decided no. Not them. Not their style.

Then they thought about Halloween costumes….and that was a big “NO” as well. After all, they just didn’t want to look scary. They totally disregarded witch costumes, skeletons, ghosts….all the traditional ideas. Flamingos are fun-loving, vivacious, and well, flamboyant birds. These outfits, although popular with their human friends, just wouldn’t do! Neither did bales of hay.

And then if they were going to have a party, well, the décor would have to be mostly orange and black with all of those Halloween type decorations….skulls, skeletons, black cats, and (horrors!) witches in those ugly drab style-less black robes and pointed hats stirring black cauldrons of steaming who knows what! No, that simply wouldn’t do. The skulls with flowers, well, that wasn’t an option either. Even an elegant-themed Halloween party would have to use some of those colors and props or it just wouldn’t work.

At least they did find a couple of cute shabby chic pink pumpkin decorations to use around the house, so they were able to at least have a little touch of “elegant” Halloween décor.

Still, they really, really wanted to have a party of some kind. They just wouldn’t call it a Halloween party.

So now what to do?

Fortunately they were able to find some pink Halloween-themed plates, even though they were for a kids’ party, so they decided to have an afternoon tea party/dessert party instead. With the option of champagne and wine, of course, rather than tea! And they were also able to find pink Halloween cookies and even a couple of pink Halloween cakes.  And they all had a lovely time.

And what will they be doing on Halloween night? Why, handing out pink wrapped candy to all the trick- or-treaters that show up at their door. And being thankful they didn’t have to put up with that traditional Halloween décor or those “tacky” costumes. After all, flamingos DO have a certain reputation of flamboyant elegance to uphold!

Photo Sources: Header Photo: redshedgardenandgitfs – 1st Row: – claires.com; the hat hive – 2nd Row: – amazon; plowandhearth; amazon – 3rd Row: via Etsy – LushsCreations; blogspot.com – 4th Row: – twinkletwinklelittleparty.com; thewondrcottage.com; blacktwine.com; via etsy; via etsy; source unknown; LaurenConrad.com

Are We Actually Helping the Terrorists?

I’ve seen so many posts and memes in the last few days of our President Biden, yes the president who was duly elected by a fair and not stolen election, being made to look like a Talib, a member of the Taliban.

I’ve also seen one of them of him made to look like Bin Laden holding ice cream cones. People think it’s funny. It’s not.

And let me explain why. And yes it’s my opinions and you ha e a right to your opinion, like I do. But please listen to what I’m saying.

I do not agree on how Afghanistan was handled. Is being handled. It began when a former president decided to negotiate with the Taliban, a terrorist group not in charge of the Afghan government. He made agreements with them and even invited their high ranking members to Camp David, one of the most private and secure places for our president and his family.

Fortunately that didn’t happen. Can you imagine if it had? That would’ve been opening the door to our country and saying, “Come on in. My home is your home. We’re all friends now! What can I help you with? I’m pulling our troops out like you asked.”

I didn’t see any postings of Trump made to look like a Talib, but I may have missed that.

In my opinion, which is just that, President Biden should have not followed though with the withdrawal when he did. Yes, I believe we needed to leave, but we did not plan well. In fact, it was very poorly planned.

Even worse, people are being killed because of it. Americans and Afghans as well. We are now in a very dangerous position. The Taliban sent suicide bombers to the airport like the threatened.

Thirteen American service members were killed along with Afghan men, women and children. This is an outage.

There are countless posts about

remembering and honoring these service members. About praying for their heartbroken families. Which we should do.

And then some of these same people start posting pictures of our president dressed in Afghan garb and implying he’s Taliban.

Now what do you think the real Taliban think of that? And don’t say they don’t know about it because they do. And I can assure you, they are even more emboldened because of it.

This tells them that the Americans are weak. That we have no respect for our elected leadership, just like the Taliban had no respect for the duly elected Afghan government. Just like they have no respect for women. Nor respect for anyone who doesn’t believe as they do.

People, you’re playing right into their hands. And they love it. You’re weakening our position in the Islamic world. You’re telling them you no more respect our president than they do. And in their mind you’re actually telling them you think they’re in the right.

That world kills people for doing what you’re doing. Literally.

Just because we have the right to make our opinions known doesn’t mean we should do it in this way. And how is this honoring the Americans who were just killed in that bombing? How does it make their families feel?

I know a lot of you will say I’m crazy, I don’t have a sense of humor, or call me a communist Democrat. Call me what you will, because I am not affiliated with either political party.

I don’t care how you feel. I’m just asking you to be careful of what you post during this time. You may think nothing bad can happen here, but it did and it could very well happen again.

I had a teacher in high school who had a number of favorite sayings, one of which was “a word to the wise should be sufficient.” So I close with that thought.

A Season of Love?

Today is December 1. There are 24 days until Christmas. It’s the season of love; of hope; an almost magical time when we can actually begin to feel that spirit of anticipation. Of knowing that good things are going to happen.

It’s a time in which we should all begin to focus on what’s really important instead of complaining, griping, and spreading falsehoods and baseless theories about how things have been stolen away. Insulting others and name calling in order to make themselves look, well, I don’t really know what they think it makes them look like, but I think it makes them look small and petty. And even calling for people to rise up against others, many of those neighbors, friends, and even families, just because they don’t agree with you.

Christmas is a time to celebrate when love came into the world in the form of a tiny baby. A baby knows no hatred, bears no animosity to others. A baby looks at the new world around him and sees only wonder and awe. He sees not black and white, but a multitude of colors that fascinate him and cause him to want to explore each and every one.

So why are we so fixated on trying to make the world into something it is clearly not anymore? Why, especially in this season of love, are we so fixated on spreading so much hatred?

This has been a difficult year. Many people are still unemployed. Many are worried that they won’t have enough money to eat and keep a roof over their family’s head, let alone get gifts for their children. Many have lost loved ones, not only to the pandemic, but because their hatred is stronger than their love. And that’s sad.

My husband and I have lost friends this year to Alzheimer’s and cancer. We have also lost friends who do not agree with us, and rather than agreeing to disagree, have insulted us, called us horrible names, and even telling us we cannot be Christians because we disagree with them.

This is not the way to show love to anyone. And it’s certainly not in keeping with the spirit of the Christmas season.

Many people who read this will dismiss my words and say I’m being ridiculous. Many will say they have every right to say what they want when they want and to who they want. Yes, they do, unless they are trying to incite violence.

However, is it the right thing to do? And what does it say about them? Are their hearts that hard?

This is the beginning of the Christmas season. The season of love.

Can we maybe, just for a few weeks even, try to live that way?

Take Time to Smell the Roses

We’ve all heard this so many times. And we think what a good idea that is. To stop and take time for ourselves. To take a break from our busy lives where we’re constantly pulled in different directions. When we scarcely have time to finish one project before we have another that has to be done immediately. When at the end of the day we have more still to do than we had accomplished during the day.

It gets to be exhausting. And we find ourselves keeping so busy that we forget to take time to do the things we enjoy. The things that make us who we are. That give us that welcome distraction we all need in order to recharge our batteries.

But sometimes we don’t even have the energy for that. But it’s important.

Now for me, smelling the roses has a special meaning. My mother loved roses, and I still remember the two rose bushes she had planted beside our grape arbor when I was growing up, and how I looked forward to their blooming every spring. There was a white one that bloomed and bloomed. Profusely. There were fluffy white blooms everywhere. But there was no fragrance, no smell.

The other was a deep red rose, so deeply red it was almost black. It was gorgeous, with huge velvety blooms, and it smelled absolutely wonderful. As soon as it started blooming, I’d make sure to go outside and smell its beautiful fragrance every day. It just made me feel good.

And since I didn’t want the other bush to feel left out, I always put my nose in the middle of one of its blooms as well, and every so often I smelled that faint sweet rose smell. Or thought I did.

Maybe it was just the act of reaching out to smell those roses. Taking the time to just stop and recharge. To do a little thing that made me feel good. To breathe in a fragrance of peace and beauty that for a few moments made me forget the world around me.

Unfortunately those particular rose bushes are now gone. But I still remember them, special memories of my youth now well into the latter days of adulthood.

But my love of roses isn’t gone. I have several rose bushes around our back yard. In the spring they’re so full of blooms that all you see is a sea of pink. But if I don’t stop to take care of them, they start to lose their beauty, to fade and lose their petals, and they don’t bloom as much.

Like ourselves, roses who are untended begin to lose their beauty, their fragrance of life; they don’t continue to thrive. And unless we stop to smell that special fragrance, we too, begin to lose our beauty and our zest for life. We become untended and don’t stop to take time to care for ourselves. Caring for our inner self; the thing that makes us “us” is important.

Being active is fine, no matter what our age. But we still have to take the time to rest, to relax, and appreciate the world around us. To stop and smell those roses before they’re gone.

I’ve been very guilty of that lately, I must admit. And one night last week, I decided it was time to stop and take time for just me. To do what I enjoyed, and not what other people wanted to do. And I did. And it was refreshing.

There weren’t any real roses around to smell, but I took the time to sit and read and listen to some of the music I really enjoy. And yes, I even sang along with some of it. I took time to finish a jigsaw puzzle and even colored a couple of pictures.

I recharged my batteries. And the next morning when I went out to water a few flowers before going to work. I walked over to my rose bushes. Even though they’re somewhat faded now because it’s fall, there were still a few

blossoms waiting for me to stop and smell.

And I did.

And I’m going to do it more often.

Not always literally, but I’m going to start taking more time to stop and recharge; to do things I really want to do but never seem to find enough time for. I’m going to make that time instead of trying to accomplish a zillion things each week.

And when I see some roses, or other flowers I really like, I’m going to take the time to enjoy them, and take in their beauty.

And I’m going to keep smelling the roses.

I’m Tired of Adulting

For those of you on Facebook, we see this almost daily in someone’s status. We usually laugh it off, make funny comments, or just scroll on by because it’s, well, old news, as the saying goes.

But right now, after a few long and difficult weeks, I think giving up being an adult sounds like a really good thing! I’ve tried it for a lot of years now. The first few were kind of fun. I could sort of do as I wanted and no one told me I couldn’t. Well, that’s not entirely true, because the first few years as an adult I was in college, and I had to do what our instructors said in order to get decent grades, but that’s different.

When we were in high school we couldn’t wait to be 21 and be “adults,” whatever that meant. And yes, back then, you weren’t really an adult til you were 21, although you could get married and serve in the military at 18. And when we graduated from high school at 18, many of us started careers or got married…before we were really “adults.” We couldn’t wait to be grown up, to be adults.

We thought life would suddenly be great when we really became “adults.” Well, that suddenly happened. But it wasn’t the way we expected.

The world we thought we had grown up in, the world that seemed to have so many opportunities and such a bright future, took on a new look of war, social unrest, and rioting. And we realized that maybe being an adult wasn’t quite what it was all rumored to be.

Adulting came with responsibilities, and a lot of them we weren’t ready for. And many of us still aren’t, although we have no choice.

Adulting means making decisions we really don’t want to make; decisions that affect our lives, as well as other people’s, for the rest of our lives. If we make the wrong one, there’s no one around to fix it for us. We have to live with it or work really hard to turn things around.

We thought being an adult would make our lives simple. Instead we had to work for a living; no parents to pay our way any more. We had bills to pay, cars to buy and repair, rent or mortgages to pay. We had to buy our own food, and prepare it, on a daily basis.

Suddenly we became parents, and had responsibilities for our own children. And wondered how our parents ever did it! Raising children was certainly not as easy as we thought.

And then there were the adult problems that came along as we aged. Our health, or our friends’ or loved ones’ health, began to deteriorate. Addictions and rehab became a part of many of our friends’ lives. Serious illnesses attacked many of us or our loved ones, changing our lives forever.

The ones we married and thought would love us forever didn’t. Many of us experienced divorce, and sometimes even more than once. And it was nothing like the breakups we had in high school…the ones we never thought we’d recover from. Until we found someone else the next week.

No, divorce was far worse than that, and we really began to wonder why being an adult was supposed to be so great. Being a child was much easier.

Being an adult is tough. No matter how old we are. It’s a huge responsibility.

So many times we look at our kids, or our grandkids, as the case now is, and for a moment or two we think how wonderful it would be to have that childhood innocence back; to be a child whose biggest concerns are what they’re going to play with next, what their mom or dad is going to fix for dinner, and how they’ll avoid going to bed too early.

And I think back to those long ago times when our own lives were like that. And yes, I get nostalgic and wish I could stop being an adult for awhile and just be a child again. No worries and no responsibilities.

But then, would we want to go through growing up again? Through all it entailed? Would we want to face becoming an adult again and having to go through all the rough times again?

No. Probably not. At least I wouldn’t.

But wouldn’t it be nice to just imagine times being so simple again?

At least for a day or two. How about you?

The Dying Bird

For the last several weeks I’ve been seeing this poor hurt bird. His wings are damaged, broken. His feathers are ruffled and quite obviously many have either fallen out or been pulled out.

His eyes, although still clear, are sad. Sometimes he just closes them and shakes his head, as if trying to get certain images out of his mind. Images that he never thought he’d see, and hopes he’ll never have to see again.

He’s an old bird; he’s been around a long, long time. He’s seen way too much. Wars. Poverty. Depression. Hatred. But he’s also seen a lot of good things, things that have made him proud. And you can still see an occasional smile as he remembers them. He remembers soaring high above fields and mountains, rich with beauty, amazing colors, and clear skies. It was such a sight to behold.

The way things used to be.

But those good memories fade all too quickly as he continues to see more and more hatred. Division. Partisanship. Friends against friends, and neighbors against neighbors. People talking against each other instead of with each other. Threatening each other because they don’t see eye to eye.

His friends, once counted in the hundreds, are slowly deserting him. They see what’s going on, and they’re afraid whatever sickness he may have may infect them, too. So he becomes more and more alone.

And he realizes that unless something is done quickly…unless something changes…the life he once knew and enjoyed will be destroyed. And destroyed so totally that it cannot be rebuilt in any way that will resemble what it originally was.

The bird shakes his head sadly, closes his eyes, and lays his head down. And he cries.

He cries for what has been lost and will never be again. For innocence lost. For hope that’s rapidly fading.

And he wishes he could stop the disease that is spreading so quickly that it will eventually kill him, and everything he once believed in.

Suddenly he hears voices. And they’re speaking directly to him.

“Don’t worry, mighty bird. We’re going to fix those broken wings so that they’re both pointed in the same direction. Once again you’ll soar to amazing heights. You’ll feel wonderful again! We’ll make both wings the very same. They can point in the same direction so it’ll be easier to fly! You wait! You’re going to be better than ever!”

The bird thought about it for a moment. And then gave his answer.

“That sounds wonderful. I want so badly for both of my wings to be strong again. I want to be able to fly high again like I was meant to do. It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to do that. But there’s a problem.”

“A problem?” The voices answered. “How in the world can you see a problem? We’re going to fix your wings, and make them better than ever. Your life will be better, easier than ever! How’s that a problem!?”

The bird replied. “You see, your ideas are a bit flawed. Your hearts seem to be in the right places. But my wings aren’t designed to point in the same direction. They have to point in opposite directions in order for me to be able to fly correctly. They may appear to be in opposition to each other, but in reality they’re supposed to work together for one common goal. These wings are tired and hurting, because over the years they’ve decided they have to work against each other rather than with each other. They’ve started beating against each other so badly that my feathers are falling out. It’s exhausting, and I just don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

“If these wings don’t find a way to start working together again, instead of against each other, this tired old Eagle is going to give up. I’ve been around a long time, you know, and I’m not ready to die, but in the shape I’m in right now, it could very well

happen. And sooner rather than later, unfortunately.”

The voices continued. “But we know so much better that if both wings did everything the same way, in the same direction, life would be so much easier on you. No more controversy. No more disagreements. Just peace and tranquillity”

“That will never happen,” said the bird. “I wasn’t designed like that. Both wings need to have their own direction, BUT they have to work together to a common goal, instead of fighting to have ultimate control over the other. And that’s just not happening right now. If both of these wings don’t start working together….well, I’m done for.”

And the Eagle closed his eyes again, folded his broken wings around him, and waited for someone to help him.

So who will step up to help this poor bird? Before his freedom, his spirit, is lost forever?

Maybe if more of us thought about the situation we’re in right now in this country in terms of a broken and dying Eagle, things would begin to change.

Think about it.

Matters of the Heart, Part 28

This one is actually not about Ben’s heart journey. Certainly we are still being cautiously optimistic that he will be doing well for quite a while. But still there are those times we get concerned and wonder if we’re back on that emotional roller coaster again.

It’s a natural feeling when you’ve been on such a long journey.

But this story has a somewhat different story line. But it still concerns matters of the heart.

The day of Ben’s valve replacement surgery several months ago, Dr. T had mentioned a book to us all that he said was a fascinating history of cardiac surgery. I figured, “yeah I’m sure. You’re a doctor so I’m sure it’s really technical and way past my understanding.”

However, our friends that were there with us bought a copy, since our friend Ron had just had valve replacement surgery several months previously. And they enjoyed reading it so much, they gave us our own copy.

Which of course I didn’t start reading right away, because I was finishing a couple other books. So I picked it up this past weekend, and was immediately thrown back into a world in which cardiac surgery was unheard of.

I won’t delve into a lot of detail about what I’ve read so far. But it’s changed the way I look at all the procedures Ben has undergone, and made me realize how fortunate we are that we are in an age of technology that had made what was unthinkable 50 years ago an everyday occurrence today.

I hadn’t really thought about it before. Or I guess I had, but not to the extent this book is making me think about it.

In the early days of heart surgery, more patients died than lived. The only human patients operated on by the early cardiac surgeons were those who had no chance without such experimental surgery. To them, and their incredible doctors, who were pioneers in a new field of medicine trying to perfect techniques to save lives, we owe so very much.

Ben would not be here without each and every one of them.

Bear in mind I’ve only started this incredible book, and I’m just in the part where the surgeons are attempting to mend holes in the hearts of infants and children, the “blue babies” of years ago.

Those many stories reminded me of our friends whose son was operated on at the age of two months old to mend a hole in his tiny heart, which actually turned out to be three holes when the surgeons opened him up. The skills these early pioneers developed led to life saving surgery for baby Cash who is now three years old, and whose chest scar is barely noticeable. Who has a long and healthy life ahead because of this lifesaving surgery.

But the stories also reminded me of another baby in my own family, who was one of those blue babies. Her story, unfortunately, was much different from Cash’s.

Margie was born about 10 years after me, I think. I really don’t totally remember. I don’t even know if I ever met her, because it was around the time my father had died, and my mom and I were trying to piece our own lives back together again in our new normal.

Margie was the second or third daughter of my oldest cousin. She and her husband lived about four hours away and we didn’t see them much. My mother had told me about Margie being very sick, and how the doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong with her right away.

My cousin and her husband took their daughter to several specialists, and it was determined she had a hole in her heart and needed surgery to repair it. To me at the age of 10 or so, that sounded quite scary. I’m sure it was even scarier for my cousin and her husband.

But Margie had a successful surgery. The hole was closed up, and she was brought into the surgical recovery area. She seemed to be responding well, but as we were told, she opened her eyes, then closed them and rolled over and died. We were told her heart couldn’t handle the normal blood supply because it was so used to the heart’s diminished capacity, and the normal blood flow overwhelmed it.

That was almost 60 years ago. Open heart surgery was very new, and risky. But for patients like Margie, it was their only chance, because eventually they would drown in their own blood.

From reading this book so far, the evolution of such surgeries is amazing. And we are so thankful for all of the early cardiac surgeons who were willing and determined enough to continue to try when there were so many failures. And we are more thankful for those brave patients who were willing to risk it all for a chance at a normal life, instead of an early death. Because of them, thousands of patients every year now undergo such procedures, which today are regarded as routine.

Although I haven’t thought about my younger cousin in many, many years, this book has already brought about a lot of questions…so many what if’s.

What would she be like today? What would she be doing? Would her heart issues have prompted her to go into the medical profession? Would her children have inherited a propensity for heart problems?

When Ben’s heart issues first surfaced 34 years ago, it was scary. I had no idea what to expect or what would happen. I never thought about how if it had been 15 years or so earlier, well, the results would most likely have been a lot different.

I never thought about all the work, the research, the trials and errors, the unsuccessful surgeries that took place in the years before that led up to that first successful surgery he went through. And all the ones that came afterward to make his future surgeries successful.

For those of you who would like to read this fascinating book, it is “The Heart Healers” by James S. Forrester, M.D. and is available on Amazon.

More to follow as the saga continues, most likely in ways we never anticipated. But one thing for sure…it’s always an adventure.

Give Every Day….

…the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life!

What?

How can I do that? After all the awful stuff yesterday that’s going to carry into tomorrow…my whole life is a wreck. Nothing’s going right. I don’t know when it ever will go right again….

Is this you?

Well it’s never too late to become who you might have been.

Think about that for a minute.

You have choices. You can give up and just decide nothing will ever change. That you’ll always be in this same old rut; this same old place that you were in yesterday, and the day before, and you figure you’ll still be there tomorrow.

Well, that’s most likely true. As long as you keep thinking that way and keep making the same choices over and over again. If you don’t give every day the chance to be the best day of your life…if you don’t try to make it the best day of your life, or at least one of the best you’ve ever had, or at least one a lot better than the day before…

How are you ever going to be who you were meant to be?

That takes work, you know. It’s not handed to you without your working to make it happen. Opportunities come to you every day. You may not even recognize them because they’re little things, small steps that you need to take in order to get to where you need to be to take those larger steps.

Someone may ask you to meet them somewhere, and that meeting could possibly lead to something bigger. A new job opportunity. A new chance to get involved in something that’s always interested you. A new love interest that you never expected. A chance to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, but didn’t know how you’d ever be able to make it happen.

Yes, things like that happen every day. If we just look for them. If we’re not afraid to say no. If we’re not afraid to say “I can’t because….”

It’s not ever too late to become what you were meant to become.

Sometimes we hold ourselves back because we’re too stuck in yesterday to take advantage of what happens today that will shape our tomorrow.

Read that again.

Did you give yesterday the chance to become the best day you’ve had? Or did you just say, “Here’s another day of the same old stuff. When will it change?” And go about your business the same way you did yesterday.

And you expect today to be different. And it isn’t. Because that’s not how it works.

It’s not ever too late to become what you were meant to become. But unless you do something different, you’re not going to move ahead and into the person you’re supposed to be. We’re not meant to be stationery beings. We’re meant to move, to enjoy, to accomplish, and to make a mark in this world.

But unless you start to do things to make that happen, you’re not going to become who you’re supposed to be.

Who do you want to be?

What do you need to do to make it happen?

And when are you going to start?

There’s no day like today.

What are you waiting for?

Are You Settling or Choosing?

Sometimes you hear a phrase that speaks volumes to you. That really makes you stop and think. That makes you pause and reflect and say to yourself…”I need to think about this…”

The other morning that happened to me.

What was that phrase?

“10 years from now, make sure you can say you chose your life. Not that you settled for it.”

That’s a tough one to think about, isn’t it? Because in all honesty, most of our lives are a combination of both.

Sometimes we make good decisions, good plans. And sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we think carefully about our plans and decisions, talk them over with friends or family, weigh the pros and cons, and come up with what we think is the best plan. Sometimes it is; sometimes we find out years later it really wasn’t.

Sometimes we make long term

plans based on spur of the moment decisions, jumping into something because at the time it sounds perfect, almost too good to be true. And then find out we made a terrible mistake and have no good way to get out of it.

Many times we all look back at times in our lives and realize the plans we made, the decisions we made, were the wrong ones and wish we could undo them and start again.

Sometimes we make decisions because we don’t think we have a choice, don’t think a better opportunity will come along, and decide to make that step, even though we know deep down inside it’s not the right thing to do.

Does this resonate with any of you?

We may not have necessarily chosen the life we have right now. It may be the way it is because some one or some people made it the way it is. It was not our choice.

But….

We can choose how we handle today in order to make tomorrow more of our choice than settling for something else. Something easy. Something we know isn’t right for us, but we don’t think we have any other choice.

But let me tell you, we always have a choice. We can settle for status quo, decide that where we are now is where we’re always going to be. We can decide to just say “I’m done” and stop striving for more. And settle for what we have.

We can remain in the same place and give up trying to achieve what we know we want, because we’ve lost our hope.

Or…we can say to ourselves “I’m not settling for second best. Or third best. I’m not settling until I have what I know I deserve, and I’m choosing right now to make it happen. Somehow.”

You may not know how you’re going to do it, but just by making that determination, you’ve already started making it happen.

Yes, realizing our hopes and dreams, making our choices a reality, isn’t always easy. There are bumps along that road, but in the end, it’s worth it.

It won’t happen overnight. Anything worth waiting for never does.

But do you want to say in 10 years you settled, or do you want to say you gave it your best shot, and made your best choices?

You’re too old, you say? My friends, we’re never too old to make choices that we will live with the rest of our lives.

It’s your choice, and it’s up to you to make it. Do you settle or take a chance?

I know which one I’m taking!

I Still Remember. Do You?

I purposely didn’t write this for publication on 9/11. Because we’re all reminded of what happened on that day. We certainly remember it every year on that date. At least those of us who were adults, teenagers, and old enough to watch it unfold before our very eyes.

Almost 3,000 people died suddenly that day. Almost 3,000 people who had waked up that day, prepared for their daily routines and most likely their plans for after work.

And suddenly, within hours, those plans were gone. Because they were, too.

Families were destroyed, never to recover again. Our nation would never be the same again.

Yes, that day was one we should never forget.

But what about the day after?

Because today is the day after 9/11/2001.

That day, most of us went back to our daily lives. Yes, we were still shaken, still in disbelief. We were still thinking about all the lives lost, wondering what, if anything, would happen next. Yes, we kept seeing the pictures on tv, but a lot of them were re-runs of what had happened.

We’d already seen those pictures several times, and already we were getting a little tired of them. After all, we’d already seen, heard about it. And already our initial fears were starting to subside.

That was for those of us who weren’t directly affected. Because it hadn’t actually touched US.

Where we live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia we were a bit more watchful, as this is home to the world’s largest conglomeration of naval bases. Many of friends and neighbors, their families, worked there or were in the military. And we were concerned about them, and for ourselves.

But our day after 9/11 was mostly back to our normal work lives, our normal after work and/or after school activities, with a bit of sadness and apprehension thrown in. But we still had our loved ones.

The day after 9/11 for those personally affected was a continuation of the vast horror that had been inflicted upon them.

It was a realization that no matter what happened from that day forward, their lives would never ever be the same. No amount of time would ever be able to make them forget; to make the horror and anguish disappear.

Nothing could ever make it go away, or make things right again.

The weddings that had been planned would never take place.

The birthday parties that were planned would never be celebrated.

The babies who were waiting to be born died along with their mothers. And fathers who were anticipating the birth of their children would never be there to meet them.

Children would grow up without one or maybe both of their parents.

Thousands of funerals would have to be planned. And attended. And most likely no one knew where to start…

Life for those left behind would continue, but in a new, frightening, and uncertain way. Those left behind were most likely totally unprepared for what they needed to do. Just the sheer stress of dealing with such a horrific death of a loved one, not to

mention the hundreds of details involved in the necessary tasks of finances, insurance, closing apartments and homes….overwhelming doesn’t begin to describe it.

Then there was the wondering of what actually happened to their loved ones in those final seconds. Did they know what was happening? Did they have time to think? Some were fortunate enough to receive a last phone call. Most weren’t. And they are still left to wonder about the unimaginable.

They just wanted to go back in time to 9/10/2001. And let time stop.

But it doesn’t work like that. Unfortunately. Because reality intervenes.

We all remember the haunting photos of the buildings being hit, crumbling down. The wreckage of a plane in a Pennsylvania field. A gaping hole in the Pentagon.

But I also remember the faces of those desperately searching for a loved one who may have somehow made it, hope quickly fading as realization set in.

And the pictures of loved ones plastered on fences, light poles, building walls; the flowers and notes; a grim reminder of the lost.

So today, the day after the remembering of 9/11, let’s remember what so many were going through that day AFTER 9/11. And are still going through; still remembering.

They deserve to stay in our hearts as well. Because for them, the horror will never be far away.

We remember what happened, but we should also never forget those who were left behind to carry on by themselves.

Do you agree?