Daily Journey Journal #355: a family miracle

From May 17, 2015

A couple of winters ago, my grandfather’s memory took a drastic turn for the worse. Until that point he had had an incredibly sharp mind, capable of remembering detailed information about almost anything, his favorite topics being WWII, his childhood, rules for dozens of card games and observations of societal changes. His mind was like an encyclopedia.

And then it slipped away.

He couldn’t remember what he was doing when asked to get something from another room. He couldn’t remember the rules for card games he’d been playing his whole life. He couldn’t remember any new information.

The changes were alarming and I worried that we were about to lose him down the foggy road into dementia. It happened to A’s grandmothers. It happened to the father of a family friend. It happens all too often today.

But, it seems a miracle is in store for my grandfather. His memory is returning.

This weekend he engaged in conversation, not repeating the same story over and over. He could bring my grandma the things she asked for. He knew how to play our traditional game of Hearts. And, he told the stories from his childhood again.

Hope against hope, I pray these improvements last, that we can have as many years as possible with this man who brightens our lives. I pray he is given the dignity of keeping his memory until his final days. And, I give thanks for this miraculous turn around.

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Daily Journey Journal #354: mission accomplished

From May 16, 2015

Today was our last day of She’s A Runner Girl. For the past six weeks we’ve run, talked, set goals, learned from and supported one another. This morning we brought all that together for our biggest day: race day. Lucky for us, the day dawned beautiful and sunny with a cool breeze, optimal for racing.

The race was a 5K, the furthest that most of our girls have ever run. For some girls, this was intimidating, for others it was a challenge that they were psyched to take on. Whatever their feelings, nearly all of our girls arrived this morning, decked out in their purple Runner Girl shirts and ready to go. Seeing them all there is one of the most amazing sights. Though they may be different ages and come from different backgrounds, they are a team united.

My favorite part of this day is watching the girls surprise themselves and seeing how much they’ve learned these last weeks. This year, my running buddy was one of the 3rd graders from my team that I had not had the chance to run with yet. We started out with some of our other team members, but she was ready to take off, so we upped our pace and off we went.

For three miles, she chatted me be about everything from her family to friends to school to flowers and beyond, weaving in all the little things she’d learned about running. At one point she told me that one of the other girls dared her to run a mile without stopping for a drink. We’d just passed mile two and she had no idea she had gone so far without water. Knowing that she was going above her own expectations powered her through the last mile and she met her goal: to finish the race. She not only finished, but she did so in 41 minutes, arriving before several of her teammates and other racers in the community. Her pride when she crossed the line, the confidence she had in herself is exactly what I hope to see on every girl’s face at the end. It means that we’ve done our job: one more girl has learned how to empower herself.

Daily Journey Journal #275: small gestures

From February 26, 2015

Today was one of those days where I was starting to feel a bit down about humanity in general. It seemed that everywhere I looked there was negativity and rudeness. A bumper-sticker on a truck I passed going to work ridiculed a celebrity for her weight while throwing gun politics in the reader’s face. Drivers cut each other off. Something I saw on Facebook critiqued women’s fashion sense, insinuating that women should only wear what men find attractive. Derogatory comments bounced around the real and virtual worlds. People seemed to be looking for ways to dig at one another…

It just felt that everything was a bit gloomy, a bit off. Then I went to get my haircut and everything changed. This sounds silly, I know, but bare with me.

It was a cold, snowy afternoon, the kind that chills you through and through. A is working out of the main part of town and takes the car to work, so I walked to get my haircut. When I arrived, the man who cuts my hair, Dar*, was sharing a joke with one of his customers. Their laughter filled the small shop and it brought a smile to my face.The brightness and warmth of the shop, the joyful conversation blocked out everything else.

The day and gloom melted off me as they finished their conversation. It reminded me of another cold winter day when I had come in and Dar helped an elderly woman to her car, just to make sure she didn’t fall in the parking lot. It reminded me that good people are everywhere and that Dar is one such person. He remembers his customers’ faces, knows their stories, cares about them beyond their monetary amount. He treats each person as a neighbor, as a friend. And today, his kindness went beyond simply getting a haircut.

He trimmed my hair per usual, with us chatting back and forth. As he was finished, he asked if I would be walking home. I said I would and he wondered how far I would be going, given that it was snowing and blowing, and that my hair would be damp. I told him that I lived across town and said it wouldn’t be too bad. I would just bundle up. He would have none of that though, especially when we realized that we live in the same neighborhood, on the same street, in fact. And so, when my appointment was finished, he closed up for the night and took me home, just because that is who he is.

Small gestures can change so much in a day. Today, Dar turned my whole perspective around and reminded me that good people are everywhere, you just have to open your eyes and heart to see them, and ignore the rest of the hub-bub.

*this is not his real name, for the sake of privacy

 

Daily Journey Journal #202: finals nostalgia

From December 15, 2014

Today marks the start of finals week for many universities across the United States, including the one on my hometown. As A and I sat in the student union, mapping out a pros and cons list of options and considering the possibilities for our careers, I can’t help but feel an incredible sense of nostalgia. The sound of book pages turning in a frantic frenzy, the scribbling of notes, the smell of ink on the page, the late nights at the library and the sheer exhaustion every night, how I miss it all.

Life as a student seemed so intense when I was in the thick of it. The tests, the papers, the presentations and the projects, they all add up. But then, there is that beautiful, perfect respite, when everything is finished, all tasks accomplished and the impossible completed. I always loved this time of year and the incredible sense of freedom that came with being done for the semester. It felt like anything was possible.

Today, listening to students mill about in between tests, I realized how wonderfully simple that existence was, despite the intensity and stress of it all. It was a nice reminder that everything seems intense and difficult when you’re in the middle of it. Stepping back, however, can give you a whole new perspective.

Daily Journey Journal #197: list of little joys

I like to read about a lot of things, especially tid-bits about ways to improve life for more happiness. Today, I came across an Elephant Journal article called 50 Ways to Feel Like a Million Bucks which made me think about the things in my life that make me feel fantastic and bring each day great joy and happiness. So, I thought that for my post today I would write a list of the top 20 things I do almost daily that bring light, happiness and magic to my life.

  1. talk to people
  2. spend time in nature
  3. be creative
  4. do something that makes me feel confident or successful
  5. be greatful
  6. drink coffee (or tea!)
  7. pet the dogs
  8. go for a walk
  9. follow a routine, especially regarding sleep
  10. but, don’t be afraid of breaking that routine once in a while
  11. write
  12. read
  13. keep my living space clean/organized
  14. go for a run
  15. be inspired by the world around me
  16. eat food that makes me feel good
  17. laugh
  18. get enough sleep
  19. spend some time reflecting
  20. spend time away from electronics and being plugged in

Daily Journey Journal #196: new lessons

From December 9, 2014

The adventure in job searching has proven to be a bumpy ride. My first two interviews were painfully horrid and I walked away from them feeling completely inept. Fortunately, these experiences also created great learning opportunities. I started seeing patterns in the kinds of questions interviewers ask and figuring out professional responses to them. I learned the best way to field difficult questions and ways to present myself. And, most of all, I found that like most things, practice makes perfect.

So, this afternoon when I had my third interview, I was prepared. I read through articles of interview advice. A had helped me prepare by asking me all the questions we imagined could be asked. I read through the job description so many times that I could almost repeat it word for word, and by doing so, I grew more confident that I was capable of doing the job based off of its description.

In addition, before the interview, I went for a run, had coffee and imbibed in some humor so that I was completely relaxed when the interview began. And, much to my delight, my interviewers were so kind and light-hearted. I felt as if they wanted me to succeed in the interview and the intimidation I’ve felt during my other interviews was missing, thank goodness. When the interview ended, I walked away feeling successful and positive. Even if this position does not work out (but, oh how I hope it does!), this was a fantastic experience and one that I will carry with me as I travel down the road of this journey.