Monthly Archives: May 2016

My Friend Commadore

Those of you that have followed my Facebook page, 365 Days and Counting, for a number of years will remember Commadore.
I met Commadore during the summer of 2014. Him and his dog had travelled to Fort Worth from Florida, by bicycle, to take care of some personal business. When I first met Commadore and Missy (his dog) they were sleeping on the street. Over the next couple weeks we visited and got to know each other. Commadore never asked me for anything, he seemed content to have a friend.
Once Commadore’s personal business was complete he packed up the bike with Missy’s wagon attached, and headed back to Florida. Missy

We stayed in contact during his journey to Florida and fortunately we have stayed in touch off and on over the past two years. I say off and on because there have been times Commadore fell off the grid and I had no idea if he was ok. Eventually he would surface and call me to catch me up on what had been happening in his life.

His life has never been easy. It seemed each time we talked he was either excited about an opportunity or had hit yet another brick wall and was picking himself up and trying to move forward again.
Today Commadore called me. We talked for a few minutes before he told me he was in the hospital. Apparently he is quarantined with Tuberculosis and they also found a few spots on his lungs and are talking about doing biopsies. He has hit another brick wall. Needless to say he is scared.
As always Commadore put the needs of Missy before his own. When I asked him where his dog was staying he said she is with a friend and that he made sure she would be taken care of before agreeing to go into the hospital.Commadore

I am worried about Commadore and wish there was something I could do for him. The only thing I know to do is ask for your positive thoughts, prayers and good energy all directed at Commadore for strength and healing.

I told Commadore that he has a lot to do with the work I now do with the homeless and I am grateful for his friendship. I appreciate his willingness to allow me into his life.

A Child’s Future

I first met “Sue” when she was 3 years old when her mom became one of my clients. They lived in an apartment building that was slotted to be demolished. Two different women babysat the little girl when her mom went to work. One had Alzheimers and the other one was a drug dealer.
We immediately moved them into a homeless shelter for families in hopes of getting them into a housing program.

Approximately six months later “Sue” and her mom moved into an apartment. A nice apartment with nice neighbors and a safe environment for a little girl to grow up.
We began surrounding “Sue” and her mom with a variety of supports in hopes of helping the child have as normal of a life as possible.

By the age of 6 years old we realized this child was quite smart and was already surpassing her mom intellectually. The child was becoming the parent, the parent was struggling, trying to figure out how to parent.

As the child worked her way through elementary school she was being recognized by teachers for her intelligence. Her grades were A’s and every once in awhile a B.
We continued to surround them with supports in hopes of helping “Sue” find her way through childhood, through teenage life, through school and hopefully onto a future.

Today I was honored to watch this young woman walk across the stage to receive multiple honors, including A – B honor roll. She is a pre-teen, heading into middle school. She has a long way to go but she has overcome such odds that I can’t imagine she won’t make it.

When I first met this young lady I said, “The fact that she survived the first 3 years of her life tells me she is meant for great things.” I believe this is true and i believe with the right supports she will make it.

I am thankful for those that have made an effort to support this family. The social workers, teachers, volunteers, and the people that see a young lady with great potential.

The Meaning of An Owl

It was a few years ago, we had just finished a training walk for the Susan G Komen 3 Day, the walk leader passed out stickers of owls (yes, owls). She asked us to keep one of the walkers in mind. The walker she referred to I did not know but I learned she was battling breast cancer (again), and she liked owls.

As I left that training walk I stuck the owl sticker on one of the air vents in my Jeep. Every now and then I would look at it and think of this person I didn’t know, fighting a fight I had been fortunate not to fight (at this point in my life).IMG_2371

The summer went on and I still didn’t meet this mystery person but I continued to look at the owl sticker in my car and think about this person out there in the world fighting breast cancer.

When the 3 Day rolled around we all loaded in the bus and headed toward opening ceremonies. Through all the chatter in the bus I overheard something that made me realize the “owl woman” was on the bus. I asked the woman I suspected and learned I was right. I told her about the owl sticker and that I still had it in my car. We talked, we laughed, we hit it off.

Walking 60 miles in 3 days is a huge challenge. I learned that JoAnne had just finished chemo and would be walking the 60 miles. I was impressed by her determination and courage.

3 day with Joanne

(L to R) Anastasia, me and Stan, JoAnne 

She liked the sock monkey (Stan) I was carrying during the walk.

After the walk we played Words With Friends, we chatted occasionally on Facebook and at Christmas she sent me a new sock monkey…but we didn’t have time to really become friends. What I knew of Joanne I admired. She fought to the end, she had strength and a beautiful inner spirit that I was only able to get a short glimpse at.

I believe everyone comes into our lives for a reason and I believe Joanne came into my life to remind me to fight gracefully, take care of the vessel I have been given and to laugh.

I still have the owl sticker in my car and Stan (my monkey) and Cassidy (the monkey JoAnne gave me) ride along in my jeep everyday.IMG_2366

Though it makes me sad that I did not get an opportunity to know her better, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know the lady behind the owl.

Weight Loss…or not

Is it possible to lose weight at 53?
I am finding it a struggle.
This morning I went to my primary care physician to get my thyroid checked. We talked about all the things I already know…but sometimes fail to do. You know, don’t eat sugar (but cookies have sugar, chocolate has sugar and I love chocolate and cookies.) Sugar has been known to call my name in the middle of a TV show…causing me to pause the show and walk all the way to the kitchen to locate the little chatter box chocolate bar.

The majority of the time I eat healthy. I don’t eat meat. I don’t drink soda. I rarely eat fried foods. I do eat healthy breads. I do eat a lot of vegetables, fruits and plenty of beans. If I eat pasta or rice it is whole grain….so why is my belly still jumping around showing the world there is absolutely no muscle tone anywhere in that region?

I don’t know.

Did I mention I exercise? Oh yes….I do that frequently.

I’m guessing my thyroid results will come back fine. But I decided it was important to make sure I wasn’t beating my head against a brick wall. So assuming it comes back normal I need to rethink what is going in my body and where I might be lying to myself about my actual food intake.

As I ramble on, writing about what to eat and how to lose, I realize my moment of gratitude is that I have such a silly, 1st world problem.

There are people throughout this world that don’t have the opportunity to eat the diet of their choice.

I know I am fortunate and certainly blessed to have the opportunity to look at my diet and choose to make changes in whatever way I think is necessary.

And I’m certainly grateful to have the opportunity to whine about the struggle of weight loss at 53!

Lost Soul

I could see him sitting against the building, about a block away. He was flicking both hands repeatedly. It was difficult to tell where one body part started and one ended because of the dirt that caked his clothes, face and hair.

We were passing out food bags to individuals living on the streets. Usually when we park our cars and begin passing out food, word spreads quickly and people come from all directions. This young man didn’t budge. He just sat, against the building, flicking his hands.

I’ve seen repetitive behavior like this before, sometimes from people that have been institutionalized, sometimes from people with intellectual disabilities (especially autism) and sometimes from people with mental health disorders.

I grabbed a bag of food, 2 small bottles of water and asked my friend Corey to walk with me. As we moved closer I mentioned to Corey the unpredictable behavior we could encounter. But I felt a need to try.
I began speaking to him before we got too close. I wanted to make sure he knew we meant no harm and I wanted to gauge his possible reaction to us.

I asked him if he needed something to eat.

He looked at me with kindness in his face, “Yes ma’am.”

I wanted to talk to him, but I was uncertain of his mental status.“Here is a bag of food and some water.”
“Thank you.” He accepted the food politely.

As I walked away from him I tried to wrap my head around the emotions I felt. He looked young, yet worn and old. He looked kind, yet on the edge of uncertainty. He looked like someone’s son, yet a lost soul walking among strangers.


Puppy Love

It’s not always love at first sight.

Meet Sugar’s new cousin Harlee. She is a 3 month old Yorkie. She joined our family at the beginning of April but Sugar didn’t meet her until yesterday.


The morning started off a bit rough. Sugar has never been around a dog as small as Harlee. I think she had the appearance of a chew toy.DSC_0044

As the day progressed, Harlee became more determined that she could take down this big dog. Every chance she got Harlee lunged toward Sugar, and in response Sugar growled at the puppy. We were all on edge….what if Sugar nipped the puppy? What if she smashed the little thing? We spent the day keeping them at a safe distance…yet close enough to do whatever it is dogs do to become friends.DSC_0074

By the end of the day Sugar and Harlee were licking each other and laying calmly beside each other. Harlee continued to lunge…but now it was out of playful puppy-hood instead of “I am big and tuff…I am not a chew toy!”DSC_0054

Not only am I grateful Sugar didn’t hurt the puppy, I’m also grateful for the new puppy family member and for all the puppy love in this crazy world.


She did it again…and she isn’t wrong!

Yesterday I wrote about people with developmental disabilities and their ability to love unconditionally. Today I visited with one of my clients that is brutally honest. Her honesty isn’t meant to be hurtful….its just meant to be honest.

I’ve mentioned this client in the past….she tends to catch me off guard with her comments.

Today our conversation went something like this…

Her: Are you still a vegetarian?

Me: Yes

Her: What do you eat?

Me: Fruits, Vegetables, beans, etc.

Her: That must be why your skin looks so nice. I just don’t understand the weight.

Me: Me either 😦

Where is the gratitude in this conversation? I actually appreciate her honesty. Sadly she isn’t wrong….and I too am confused about why I’m not dropping weight.

Of course it could have something to do with the bag of mint M&M’s I found in the cabinet…but I’m not totally sold on that!


I’ve been pondering what to write about tonight. I was about to give up when I found my way into a conversation with my friend Ski (AKA Karen). She has wanted to volunteer for Special Olympics but because of her hearing loss she has been afraid it would be awkward to communicate with the athletes.

I told Ski she would likely find the athletes willing to find a way to communicate with her.
Her response…”Life is funny. I’d be going to a place with lots of people with special needs – and worrying about them – accepting me. Kind of lets you understand how they feel every day of their lives.”

She is so right.

Even though people with developmental disabilities tend to be discriminated against they don’t typically discriminate against people for their outward appearances. Sonya is a fine example of this. I have never witnessed her judging people for the physical appearance…she judges them on their kindness. If a person is nice, Sonya likes them. She does not judge them by their size, color, hair, clothes, or their gender (even if it is different than their birth certificate!)

I have learned so much about acceptance from people with developmental disabilities.
Many years ago I watched a white lady with Down Syndrome sit on the floor with a 4 year old african american boy…they had a conversation none of us could understand…they had a connection only the two of them understood….we, the “adults” stood around and wished more people could be like the two of them. A true unconditional connection of friendship.

Over the years I have had the privilege to know many people with developmental disabilities. Just like those without developmental disabilities none of them are perfect….but the true difference is, they don’t judge the imperfections they simply love the person.
I am grateful for the many people with disabilities I have gotten to know over the years and I am certainly grateful for the lessons of acceptance they have taught me.

With Love…

I hang my towel on the right, Tina hangs her towel on the left. That is just the way things started. No one said, “I want the right side.” We simply fell into the routine.
Another routine that started early on in our relationship was replacing each other’s towels and wash cloths with clean ones.
Again, no one mentioned it. Actually we were probably together over a year when I finally said, “I really like this little thing we do.’
When Tina finishes with her shower she places a clean wash cloth on my towel. When i finish with my shower I do the same for her.
It is a silly little thing. But it means so much. When I go into the bathroom and see my towel and wash cloth hanging over the shower door, I know Tina thought about me. I know she took a few seconds out of her day and did something especially for me.

I certainly don’t mean to say this is the only thing Tina does for me. She does so much and supports me through all my crazy ideas (like riding my bike for 100 miles) but there is something about this tiny action. Not only does it mean something to me that she replaces my towels. Each day when I replace her towel and wash cloth I realize I am actively thinking about her and it makes me smile and realize how important she is to me.

I am thankful that Tina is the person I get to spend the rest of my life with. I am also happy to know neither of us will face another shower without a clean towel and wash cloth, placed neatly over the shower door, with love and thoughtfulness!

Strength…Where Does it Come From?

In 3 weeks I will be riding 100 miles from Boston MA to Hyannis Port MA.
Today I rode 56.61 with my friend Rachael (she is also doing the 100 miles). We completed the 56 miles in 3:55:57. This means we will hopefully finish the 100 miles in less than 8 hours.

We only have one more long ride between now and June 4th. It will be an organized ride of 63 miles.

Today I lost my “umph” during the last 10 miles. I kept riding and I continued to push myself…but I was beat!

Why do we push ourselves to do physical activities that are painful?
I realize not everyone does this…but for those of us that do….why?

For me it has something to do with proving to myself that I can do certain activities. I need goals to reach. I need obstacles to knock down and I need challenges that are just out of reach.

I know I mentioned not long ago how my negative talk was trying to convince me to give up. My own brain was working against me. I like the saying “The hardest part of working out is putting on your gym shoes.” Well I think the hardest part about accomplishing certain goals is “the ability to ignore my own negative talk.”

I felt strong today…I beat “Smiley Hill”, I rode 56.61 miles and most importantly I strapped duck tape over my own negative words and chose to be successful.

I am thankful for my ability to be strong, even when my brain is trying to convince me I am weak.