Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Angels among us....

There was a song that I used to love from Alabama "Angels Among us" I am reminded of the words even now. Especially these days due to many many people....this song is ever so true in my life right now....
Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with a light of love.

When life held troubled times, and had me down on my knees.
There's always been someone there to come along and comfort me.
A kind word from a stranger, to lend a helping hand.
A phone call from a friend, just to say I understand.
And ain't it kind of funny that at the dark end of the road.
Someone lights the way with just a single ray of hope.

I am reminded that we (me) have to open our eyes to see the angels and to see the blessings. I have been caught up in so much anger with what has been going on with my body that it gets misplaced. I get upset over small things, cry over things that can easily be fixed, most importantly....I have shut a door on someone that can help me the most. And for me, that is God. I know that God has put several angels in front of me to help me understand. George S, it is truly divine intervention that you were brought back into my life. Because there is not many (actually one other.. Michelle T) ministers that I trust. You helped me see where there was light. You didn't even know it. Michelle (Charlotte), you girl...have done wonders and I know you don't have a clue that you have done. But, Hannah...I have spent countless hours trying to write you back and the words seem so inadequate. What you wrote me the other day has changed my life. Literally. I will write you back. My family, and my in-laws...you never give up on me....thank you!! PATI, PATI, PATI....wow.... you are truly a blessing like no other. You pick me up even when I don't think that I need picking up, and the case is...I usually always do and you do it so easily.

There are angels like my husband who never grow weary of searching for ways to make me better and to love me, and our babies for finding ways to make me laugh when I couldn't lift up my head....and out of no where...countless friends new and old. My Florida girls Alison and Kirsten, wow..I am so grateful to have you back in my life, and Teri L., you never stop trying to get through the me to just tell me that you love me just as I am, same for you Regan. The Spransy's ( Beth, Scott, and Alison ) your words, get together's and even just a smile at the different times we have been back in touch. I needed that more than you knew. My old SQ buds...Scott G. you always say something so encouraging to me and Mer you too!. Tammy A., you have soul that I want. My other Beth (SC), you have saved me time and time again, and Christy..girl...there are not enough words, My brother and two sisters, The Ashley's (two in Raleigh), Kennneth, Ed, Meg, Jeff, Clarence, Todd..Tracy and Telly and Byron...you guys have truly blessed me by just praying or sending a note or sending a joke. It is those things that make me believe again. And what a great group of neighbors. ALL of my old LHHS, and Montreat friends and all my new FB friends, the things that you have encouraged me on and reading your stories. I feel my heart beating again..

When I wrote to you all last week, the outpouring was overwhelming and it opened my eyes, I realized that I am not alone, that there are angels everywhere. I realize that sometimes people pop in and out of my life rather quickly. And that shouldn't make me feel sad. Because for that moment in time that they were there, they were an Angel and their work was done. And others stay a little longer and some leave and come back. Everyone has their purpose. So, in all of these words...I say...THANK YOU. I am not alone, and I will heal and everyday, I will sing my blessings. And I will learn to continue to reach out. Without reaching out...I would have stayed and hidden in my own little world.

Thank you for being Angels among me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

As a good friend said "Time to put on your Big Girl Pants"

Well my friends, I realize that I was starting to shut the world out again. I thought that by going into my little isolation world was the right thing to do. But, I see that in order for me to get back to optimal health....that I need you all. I need positive people in my life regardless if they live nearby or across the earth.

Those are the hardest words for me and for most people. Asking for Help. The truth is...I thought it would be better to handle this all on my own. But, I really can't. And I think if the tables were turned....I would want to pray or do anything for that person. I grew up prideful. I was always taught that you keep things to yourself.

There is a fine line...sometimes if you say too much, then you invite negativity. Then if you don't say enough, people think that you don't want them in your life.

The truth of the matter is that I have been sick for almost 18 months. I have had kidney, bladder, heart, major digestive problems. As time has gone on...it has gotten worse. I have been in the ER so many times, I know exactly the procedures they are going to do. I have been in almost every Major hospital in the Triangle (NC) area. To put things in perspective, we have 3 small children and my husband works a full time job and he gives it everything he has. He gives everything to his family also. He has stood by my side and has taken care of me, our children and has given his job a 100%. So have my parents, and siblings. I couldn't make it through without them!

I have had to have multiple surgeries that I personally think has brought me to where I am now. The loss of a gallbladder, appendix, and an emergency hysterectomy, and multiple cyst removals prior to that. All of that causes substantial adhesion's and your insides do not always appreciate everything that has happened. I am told that I am an "unusual case"....hello? don't I know that already!!! :)

Where we are now is that it is very difficult to eat or drink anything without getting very sick. My stomach distends to what looks like a 9 month pregnant woman. Mind you that I have lost close to 110 lbs. Who knows what that did for my insides. We have gone everywhere to find help. Each specialist has said that it isn't their department. Others, my surgeons want to cut out my colon immediately. Others feel that I have MS. So, we decided to get aggressive and seek outside help. We are going to the Cleveland Clinic at the Digestive Disease Center.

Since I cannot absorb anything, I am malnourished and dehydrated, although I eat and drink like I am supposed to. But, most of the time I can't keep it down. So, now I am forced to be almost like a child. Help walking, eating, I cannot drive lately. My husband has to take care of me, or go to my Mothers with our children. I feel very angry at my body. I feel like I have been betrayed by it. BUT....in saying that I see hope now. I really believe in the Cleveland Clinic. I see the light.

The interesting thing is....I only show the good pictures when I am feeling well. I didn't want to be that person that everyone says "Lord, what does she have now?" Or I put on my cheery voice on the phone, or when I do go out and see friends..I put on my best side of myself. I hide being the way that I am. It is exhausting. But, I am reaching out to each of you to ask for prayers, good vibes, light, encouragement. I know that I can't do this by myself.

I am not supposed to have any stress...I laughed in the doctors face!!! So, if any of you are out there with tips on how you de-stress...please write me. Also, I believe that I have to start juicing too. I need to cleanse my body with recipes for juicing (veggies,, fruit, protein) to keep me going. So...please forward whatever you have. Also, any suggestions on how you stay positive. I believe that illness is dis-ease.. Meaning something is not at ease in your body. I am obviously with dis-ease. I also don't want people to feel bad for me or think of me as selfish. This is very hard to do...reach out like this. My family would call it being "selfish" for sharing with you and asking for help. But, I firmly believe that when more than one come together, good things can happen.

I know that I cannot change some things...the way people talk about me, think about me....But, I know me and what is in my heart, I am such a loving person, non-judgmental, and I have to come to peace that I cannot please everyone. I know who my friends are and I know my husband and children love me. And that is what I have to concentrate on. I have to be there for my family. And I am over the nasty comment on my blog about losing a friend. With much counsel and prayer, I realize that is such a small blip on the screen in the scheme of my life. I pray for them and pray that they will come back into my life. BUT...as I mentioned...I can only have positivity in my life right now to help me keep up my health. So, maybe certain friends will drop off. Who knows? I can only pray for them and wish them the best.

So, I am asking you...my internet world friends to help me keep my spirits up. I will pray for each of you. Send me what you need in your life to be prayed for. I can't do this alone and my poor husband has carried so much of the load. So, I pray that these are the right doctors, that the right house will come about and where, and that my friends who I have lost touch with....please know that I care about you and need you all in my life. But, I have given it all to God. Writing is my therapy. It is the essence of who I am. Writing, reading scripts, movies...all of that is positive for me. I am reaching out....and that is huge!!! Thanks for reading and all the best to each of you!!!

As a dear neighborhood friend said..."Girl, it is time to put on your Big Girl Pants and get moving!" I hear ya....and It's on!!

Dedication to my sisters.....

"Sisters are for sharing laughter and wiping tears."
Author Unknown

I wrote this Note earlier and thought that I had all the perfect words to say. But, wouldn't you know that I touched the wrong button and lost everything. So, let me try again.

My sisters learned yesterday that their birth father passed away. There were a lot of mixed emotions. It was strange for me too. Because never ever in my life have I thought of my sisters as half sisters. They are a part of me through and through. They never really knew this man, but, I highly respect them for going to his funeral to pay their respects and to be their for our Aunt and Uncle.

Growing up, I thought that I had 3 sets of Grandparents, An extra set of Aunt and Uncles. I figured whatever they had, I did too. Still to this day, I call them my Aunt and Uncle...even though that are in no way related to me.

My sisters are my heart and soul and my best friends. They are beautiful (both inside and out) women, intelligent, caring, strong and amazing women. I am proud to be called their sister. I am just as proud to call my brother...my brother.... we are all there for the other. Not many people have that in this world. We have been through everything together.

As my sisters make the trek to the funeral this weekend..I want them to know that they are carrying my heart with them. It is like we are quadruplets. Whenever one hurts...I hurt. One cries...I cry. And when they feel joy....I feel that same joy.

This man helped bring my sisters into this world. I am with my mom on this one...for that I am incredibly grateful. But, because you were a participant in helping bring a child into this world does not automatically win you a "Father" Badge. The only Daddy they have known is the one that all four of us have. He is their "Daddy".

To my sweet sisters...I love you more than words can say. If I could, I would go up there with you and sit right in the middle and give you a part of my shirt to cry on (no snot please), or a shoulder to lean on or use me as a punching bag if you get angry. Regardless, you are carrying my heart with you. I know that this will be a strange weekend for you both...mixed with many emotions.

I love you both more than words can say. I am so blessed to have you and our brother as siblings. Because you are so much more than that...you are my best friends.

My heart is with you and all of my love....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Taking a sabbatical for a while

As much as I love to write, I am taking a sabbatical for a bit. I will come back again...I am sure. Writing is my passion, my love and the way that I express myself. I wish the best for everyone out there!!

May God bring you many, many blessings.... you deserve it!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Anonymity in the electronic age

Is there such a thing as Anonymity in the world of Email, Blogs, Websites, IM's, MySpace, Facebook and so many others? My answer to you is No. No, we no longer live in a world where we can hide behind a different name or ID, or replying to a blog with the name Anonymous, or commenting on an humorous, magnificent article that was published in a National newspaper by one of my dearest friends. And when those people commented, they hid under a different name, or the word Anonymous. They ripped my dear, dear friends personal life apart and ate it for breakfast. It could have taken her down. But, she is strong and resilient. I am proud of her.

Having worked in many different industries in the HR capacity and having come face to face time and time again with people who tried to break into a database, or send threatening emails to the President of the company, or sexually harass an employee via email under a fake name.

I must tell you, if I could track down those people and bring them to criminal charges...then, trust me when I say that most anyone now can find out who you are. I think of that woman (she is a mother) who is getting charged (rightfully so) with going under a fake name posing as a young boy and writing emails to her daughters ex-best friend. Why was she doing this? She wanted to scare or hurt that particular girl because the mother thought that girl was doing something mean to her daughter at school. So, she thought that she would go under a false name, posing as a boy on MySpace and "he" befriended her, and was sweet talking her at first and then things turned ugly. "He" told her she had no right to be on this earth, and many other things. That beautiful young teenager killed herself. Within hours..they tracked down the IP address to that specific computer and were at that mothers house within a blink of an eye.

Most people know about an IP address and some don't. An IP address is your stamp on your computer. It is like a fingerprint. Then, from that, you can track down the location, the time and date things were written and with some software...you know who that person is. I learned easily how to hide my IP address if I wanted to. But, you can do that too...and it will show up as Unknown. But, it really isn't. With proper software, you can circumvent that and still find the person.

My husband is very technical and knows a lot about these things, but, I too know how to run reports, find out where things are coming from. Not too be nosy...but, because I have been threatened before in my role as Manager by one of my employee's husbands. Trust me, it was not a threat that was to cuss me out. It was a direct threat on the safety of myself and that of my family. I was pregnant at the time, and had to have a police officer walk me to my car. I never stop looking over my shoulder. He wrote more threatening emails to my personal email (which he found) and I was no longer at that company. He wrote it under a fake name. He was not smart enough to know that he could be tracked down. I took it all to the police. Don't think you can hide either in a library or coffee shop. I had a Father in Law who was an FBI special agent. Trust me on this, as little as I could find out from him, I found out enough that you are never, ever Anonymous.

Now...why am I bringing this up? Well, I made the choice to write this particular blog as my way to express the trials and the ups and downs of my hardships over the last few years. I chose to open up my life and become vulnerable. I did it in hopes that writing would heal my heart and help me back on the road to recovery for my physical health. Also, I hoped that maybe, just maybe I could help someone else. I have never written anything slanderous about anyone, nor would I. I realize that people could come back to me and say "hey..you put yourself out there, so, you have to take the consequences". Ok....but, not when you take aim at myself or my husband under the guise that you know me, or understood ANYTHING about this situation. But, today I received an "Anonymous" comment really trashing me and my husband. It is unfortunate that this person wrote this. It was clearly written by someone I knew or a friend of that person. The tragedy in all of this was they didn't know me and my intentions, nor my husband. I chose to open up my heart and talk about the what was hurting me. I never ever brought that persons name up. The person that I had written about will always be special. They played a role in my life and contributed to making me a better person. I refuse to call that a mistake. I have many, many types of friends. Men, Women, Gay, All ethnic backgrounds, and I could list more. That is not for you to judge me or give me a pat on my back. But, that is to say that I look at a persons heart, and not their sex, race, views. I may disagree with others beliefs, but, I will not condemn. In my life, I do have many Men friends. My husband has always known that about me. I can step out of myself and see where one could judge me as a married woman talking about a friend who happened to be male. But, that is ok...just because I am that way and my husband respects it...I am woman enough to say that I can appreciate others who may carry a different point of view. You will not change the essence of who I am.

Unfortunately, the ANONYMOUS writer had no way of knowing that I knew how to find out where the IP address was being transmitted from and the software I have laid it out knew their exact location and who that person was. What a blow, serious blow to my life in a time where I am in a Hurricane beyond proportions that this individual nor really anyone knows anything about. I called my husband immediately and the sage, calm, wise man that he is brought me down from my hysterics and knee jerk reaction to tell the person off. Instead, he asked me to take the high road and move on. Trust me, I have been through a million times worse things than this and I have come out stronger.

In closing, to my ANONYMOUS writer.... I am truly sorry that you felt the need to write what you did. I know who you are and it is a shame...a shame it has happened. Because you really don't know me at all. The personal assault on myself and my husband were all wrong. If you knew me like you think you do, you would know that in my heart still resides a childlike quality of believing the best in others. Call it a character flaw if you want. Those that are close to me for many years can tell you that I never ever mean to hurt anyone, or do anything intentional to bring one second of hurt into a persons life. But, you really don't know what is in my heart or what is going on. I have made a promise to myself that I will not reveal who you are and if we are to cross each others paths any where in this life...I will show you graciousness and I will act like I don't know you did this. But, the sad part is...my heart knows you did. I will be praying for the best for you. I am sorry that you misunderstood everything and you wanted to really take me down. You didn't.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bruce Ellavsky...Husband, Father, Grandpa, Friend, Family Man and one helluva FBI Agent.

Bruce Ellavsky was my father in law. I say that with a lot of pride. I was writing this piece on Jan. 3rd, a few days ago. But, frankly could not finish writing that day. My sister in law had sent us an email about what that day had meant to her and I ached all over again for her and my husband.

January 3rd marked 5 years since my Father in Law's passing of stomach cancer. It all happened so fast. He was so young and so vibrant. Hard to believe that he is gone.

I cannot imagine how my husband or sister in law felt and still feel after losing a parent. I mean, we talk about it...but, I know how close I am to my parents...I just can't imagine.

Bruce had the same sense of humor that I really understood and got. He was a prankster. I remember his jokes so clearly. We didn't find it funny at the time. But, it is now. Bruce would call at the crack of dawn at our house and sounded the horn in the phone (not the real horn, but, his voice sounded like it!) and say "Time to get up you sleepy heads!!!" Sometimes, pots and pans would go with it. It scared the mess out of me every time that I picked up the phone. Because when I am asleep and the phone rings, I grab it so fast...so, I was usually the first one to get his lovely melody and then I would hand Blake the phone and we would both grumble like teenagers. You would think after every Saturday there was, I would learn not to pick up the phone. But, every Saturday, somehow...I would have amnesia and pick up the phone. Now, I wished that call still came every Saturday.

He did all sorts of pranks and stuff. The best one he did on me was when I was dating Blake and it was the first time meeting his Dad. I was so nervous, I almost threw up. We made it to their house above Boston and he had a big smile and greeted me into his home and I felt so comfortable. His soon to be wife was there and she was so friendly. I thought "hey...this is going to be easy". We stood around the kitchen and talked for a while and then we moved into the living area where the couches were. As I was walking to take my seat..I look down and see 2 FBI files on his coffee table. Both had my name on it. No one saw me noticing it yet. But, I instantly went red and I got nauseous and then he asked me to sit down. Everyone was so serious. He looked at me with a stone cold face and looked at the files on the table....he pointed at them, in fact poking them and said " I want you to tell me about these before we go any further". Did I forget to mention that Bruce was an FBI Special Agent... yea, I thought I left that part out.

I started to stutter and said "Sir, I don't know what you mean". He picked up one of the files and read off everywhere that I had gone to school and places I worked. In my head, I was looking around for the nearest exit and going home! :) I also was going through the index in my brain of all that I had done in my life. I mean, I know I was a wild child at times, but, I couldn't figure out what I did that could be on one of these files. I did not want to find out either :)

He pushed the folder back to me and told me to read the other file for myself. By this time, there is no color in my face and I wanted to punch Blake for not warning me. Everyone is still staring at me with hardcore faces. I opened up the next file and the top of the paper said "Wanted..Caroline Johnson for violation of (some code)." I looked at him again and said that I had no idea what was happening. He told me to turn the page. It was a picture of me from 4th or 5th grade with my bowl hair-do, my coke bottle glasses. And at the bottom of the page, it read "Caroline Johnson is in Violation of Code such and such" which meant "in possession of the largest eye glasses known to man. Capture her at will". I let out a large sigh and they all got up and hugged me and laughed...Bruce said "Gotcha!!" I needed a drink.

He was the life of the party. He never knew a stranger. Bruce could walk into a room and the place would light up and everyone would flock to him. I know that everyone knew him differently....as a father, friend or husband. But, I knew him as a kid, so much fun, loved life, and accepted me as just me. I grew to love that man and felt like he was a second father to me. He was an amazing grandfather to Sophia, and Maya even though that was brief. He was there when we went through everything with Maya. Meredith(Sister in Law) was pregnant with the first boy grand baby. She was able to tell him that before he passed.

November 2002, Blake got a call and it was his father. I never have seen Blake cry before. So, as he hung up the phone...I ran to him asking him what was wrong. I will never forget him telling me "He has Cancer"

December 2003, my sister in law called to ask us to come up early for Christmas because she didn't think their dad was going to make it much longer. We all went up and sat by his bedside at home. It was snowing and his whole family was there. Each day, one of us would sit with him.

At this point, he could still recognize people. When it was my turn, he sat up in bed and gave me a big bear hug. Then, he immediately put his head down and went to sleep. I sat next to him holding his hand and looking out the window and I saw the snow falling over this amazing lake. I told him how much he had meant to me and that he touched my life as well as our children. I told him thank you for having a son like Blake because he was the best thing that ever happened to me. I told him thank you too for the best Sister in Law anyone could have. I let him know that I was blessed to be in his life and that when he was ready...he could let go.

On January 3rd, 2004 Blake and I came into his room to tell him that we had to catch our flight at a certain time, but, promised to be back soon. We laid baby Maya next to him and she was in his arms asleep and Sophia was dancing around the downstairs. Everyone came in the room and told him that it was ok...he could let go and we loved him.

About an hour before we were to leave for the airport, Blake and I were both holding his hand, and Maya was still asleep in his arms. Sophia was downstairs. His breath started to become labored and we called for everyone to come in. He had his mother, his children, his wife and Matt and I (his son in law and me, his daughter in law). There was Sarah Mclachlan playing in the background ever so softly, the candle was shining bright in the window facing the lake. Snow fell so perfectly. We all huddled around him and hugged him as his breathing got more and more shallow. We all said we loved him and it was time for him to go home now. He sat straight up in bed and took a very deep breath. He laid his head back on the pillow. He was gone.

I can truly say that was the most peaceful experience that I had ever had. He left this earth with loved ones all around, music playing gently with the view of the snow and this gorgeous body of water that they lived across from. My husband and I looked at each other with our arms across him and Blake told me "He is with his dad now". The tears never stopped flowing.

The funeral service was packed from wall to wall and upstairs. So many of the FBI came, and all of his friends and family. I was in awe of how many people he touched.

He was a beautiful man. I was so sad that he never got to meet the rest of his grandchildren. But, I know he is watching over my niece and nephews and our little ones. He was way too young to leave..He was only 57.

Bruce did a lot in his career and frankly was so humble, you never would have known the things he accomplished. He was an artist, a writer (not many people knew that). He was an agent through and through. That was so much of his life and he was so loyal. I made a promise that I will tell his story of what he did in the 70's. He never would have told you this, because to him it was his job. But, Bruce and his partner were one of the first few to go undercover as an FBI agent against the Mafia. He had to live two identities during that period. That of a loving husband and father (the kids never knew what his job really was) and the false persona of a porn distributor. Because during that time, that is how the Mob made their money by funneling it through the porn industry and they owned the market. It made them money to get to where the real dirt was and that was money laundering, murder, massive ammunition...the list goes on. He busted a child pornography ring. He had no fear. No one knew what he had to go through...the subject was always about his partner who went "rogue".

I have been working on this screenplay for a while with all of his files and tapes from the investigation that went on for years. I will finish it and pray that it gets optioned. It will be dedicated to Bruce Ellavsky. And in my lifetime, I will have a foundation in his honor for FBI families and all they have to go through.

Bruce, thank you....for everything.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Baby Beau: When there are no words when a child passes away

I just learned through an old friend that another mutual friend of ours (also my former boss) has had tragedy strike his family. Baby Beau was around 16 months old and was born with a heart condition. I hear that he was such a trooper during his surgeries for his heart. He was in and out of PICU for most of the first year of his life. Then, he came home and seemed to do so well. A week ago today, Beau had a brain hemorrhage and basically was brain dead since then, and on Sunday they took him off of life support.

These are the times when I don't have the answers and I don't understand why God chooses a child to come home to Heaven. Someone explained it to me and I did understand a bit better.

I firmly feel that there are no accidents. Beau was put on this earth to make an impact on others. He probably touched more people in his 16 months of life than anyone would ever be able to imagine. So, Beau was sent down as an angel to bless and grace the lives of others. Not only that, but, to leave his mark on this earth. So, his time limit was shorter than most. But, his mission on this earth was accomplished according to God.

He has beautiful parents and siblings. His parents adore their children. I know his dad and he lit up when his first born walked into the room. I was not around when he had the other two children. His heart is made of gold as is Beau's Mom.

Sometimes, the only words there are is "I am sorry" or "What can I do for you?" Because Beau is sitting in Gods lap healed, without tubes. He is majestic looking and smiling and he is watching over his Mommy and Daddy and brother and sister. It is the ones that are left behind that suffer immensely. Those are the ones that need the prayers for God to hold them tight and help them with their healing. I know that God will bring the right people in their path to help them through this horrific time in their life

I know your question....'Your blog says laughter through the storm". There is nothing to laugh about in this storm right now. But, there will come a time when those that loved him will be able to see the blessings he made in this life, and the funny faces he probably made. We have no real way of knowing how this is going to impact his family and friends. But, I do believe that in time there will be something positive that will come out of this. Whether it be others getting involved in a children's charity and impact a child's life by giving them a chance. Or it may be that others will look at the world with a different set of eyes. Eyes full of hope and a change of priorities. Who knows what wonderful things God has in store for this family. But, right now, during this Hurricane....this family needs all of the prayers from every corner of this earth to help them get through this tragedy.

Baby Beau....I wished I would have known you. But, you have your parents blood running through you and I am quite positive you were a baby boy full of love and grace just like them.

Good night sweet angel boy.

"We can say goodbye with hope, we can cry with hope for there is a place where we will see your face again, because we know that goodbye is not the end"

Friday, January 2, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

Every year on December 31st... friends, family and strangers gather in a local "watering hole" or in the comfort of their own home.

Glasses clank together to toast another. Then, singing erupts to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne". I have sung that song for as many years as I can remember. Truth be told, I had no idea that the actual name of the song was "Auld Lang Syne" nor what it meant. I am not sure if anyone knew. I thought it was about telling your old acquaintances goodbye.

We would sing the song at the top our lungs singing basic jibberish. However, I distinctly remember a time when a group of guys at a pub were toasting to each other. As they commenced to singing, I heard them singing "Old Man's Eye". Hmmm....I thought that was an interesting song to bring in the new year. But, hey...I joined right in.

This year, I wanted to know what I was singing and to find out if it was some made up song by an old man sitting in a bar many moons ago.

My quest for answers led me to Scotland. That is where the song derived and has always been a tradition. Soon, it would spread around the world.

Auld (sounds like "old") Lang Syne (sounds like "sigh") means "Time goes by"

"We'll drink a cup of kindness yet for times gone by"

So, it wasn't really about an Old Man's eye?

I understand now...The tradition of lifting our glasses to each other is really about giving thanks to the past year.

The clock strikes midnight, perfect strangers start to kiss, cheers break out at a decibel level only a dog could hear. Another toast is now being made in honor of the New year and the anticipation and excitement of what the year will bring.

So, here's a toast to you my friends....................... may the New Year bring every blessing to you and your family!

The Master Artist

As I write this post, I am in my favorite place on earth. Sitting on white sand looking out at the ocean while the sunbeams skip across the water. It is as if a million diamonds were playfully dancing and simply just teasing me.

I sit there and stare at the majesty of the water. I feel honored to be in its presence. I have had a love affair with the ocean before I could even walk. It calms my soul and I feel at peace with myself and the world. I listen to the waves crash. It is a melody of music that no man could ever re-create.

When I've ever felt lost or alone in my life....I seek out a beautiful body of water. Here I am today with the breeze touching my face ever so gently as if it were God Himself speaking to me. In fact, I know He is here. I feel Him all around me.

I am enveloped by the awesomeness of it it all. It feels like a warm blanket of paradise and love. I write when I am at the beach. I feel like I am at home. This is the only place where my spirit is truly free. The glassy water mirrors my soul, content and shimmering.

I believe that God hears me here. I am so at peace. The gratitude pours out of me just as the waves crash and come and go so seamlessly. This is where I am able to regenerate and cleanse my heart and mind. Whenever I have been in pain and sorrow, I would sit by the water and write on a sheet of paper all the pain and the names of the people that hurt me. I would literally put it in a bottle and throw it as hard as I could. The sea knew to take it and wash it away.

I feel whole again and I watch the sun disappear ever so slowly behind the horizon. As I turn to walk back with my heart full, I feel a gentle tap. I slowly turn around to see the gift that I had just been given.

The Master Artist had painted the sky with His palette of colors against a backdrop of blue. I stand in awe and look around for miles and there is no one there but me. I look out at the ocean as it soaks in all of the colors. I smile because I know this gift was meant for me.

I sit back on the sand and feel my body and mind completely at peace. I feel the questions that I had in my head were answered. I am healing.

I shed a tear and at that moment, a wave slowly crashes ever so gently in front of me and takes the tear back out to sea.

I smile because I know I was just in the presence of the Master Artist.

***This was the actual view at the beach where I was*****