2,922 Bonus Days: That’s EIGHT Extra Years of life!

It’s that time of year again, ALREADY.  Thanksgiving has somehow come and gone, and Christmas is right around the corner.  My childhood BFF Mary just celebrated her birthday on December 1st (a chronological landmark I remember every year) and now the third is here…

It’s my EIGHT YEAR CANCER-VERSARY! 

Can you believe it?  It’s been eight happy, wonderful, blessed bonus years that I’ve been gifted since beating Stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in college.

The funny part about this commemorative occasion is that for the last several years, we’ve been celebrating it on December 5th.  In writing a post for this very blog, I uncovered some old photos, and actually found my radiation completion certificate – and lo and behold, it was dated the 3rd.  So the third of December it is.

The certificate of radiation completion!

The certificate of radiation completion!

This morning when I woke up to some texts and emails from family, I kinda found myself reflecting for a bit.  My moods ranged from full of awe and reverence to downright giddy. On Facebook, I posted an image of my cancer-beating certificate, and I’ve gotten an obscene amount of likes on it, like in the 160s and climbing.  And my dear pal and former-roomie and current co-worker Sasha “Salsa” Freeman Gray has been quite lovely in uploading some of the sillier pics from those crazy cancer days.

I was in college, had already gone through some really crazy health issues (a mis-diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease led me down the garden path of insane meds and eventually a full bowel obstruction which required a surgical resection), when my neck started to look like a sock full of golf balls – at least that’s the easiest way I’ve come to describe it.   I was tired, running slower than usual (literally, I ran a 5k and noted that my time was really slow, even for me), and I was having terrible night sweats.  Eventually I developed a non-producing cough, and around the holidays I just assumed I had some kind of supercold that my immuno-suppressed body couldn’t really fight so well.  It wouldn’t be until February of 2004 that I’d begin the process of diagnostic testing, and actually April when we found out for sure that it was Stage III-BS Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that had taken my collegiate body hostage.

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With Sasha, while getting my head shaved. I didn’t want to wait for it to fall out, so I took the matter into my own hands and got my pretty round head buzzed after my first chemo round.

In the process of shaving my head, I of course, had to take pause when I reached the excellent stage of MULLET.

In the process of shaving my head, I of course, had to take pause when I reached the excellent stage of MULLET.

I’ve gotten some interesting questions today – people wanting to know what it was like, how I’ve made the most of my time since, how I’m doing now… so without boring you all to death, I’ll try and give some tidbits:

What is it like to know you have cancer? 

Cancer was wacky crazy and very surreal for most of the experience, with one grindingly serious memory that jumps forward in which I finally absorbed the fact that I indeed had fecking CANCER and that it was hardcore.  Most of the time though, when you have cancer and you’re all chemo-bald, people know what your deal is and they’re very nice to you.  In my ongoing health issues with “Crohn’s Disease” and what we now know to be Acute Porphyria – it’s different. 

The serious realization came about very randomly.  I was driving home, and I was getting on Hodges from JTB (Jax ppl know what I mean), and it just hit me: I HAVE CANCER.  THIS IS SERIOUS.  And it kind of quietly overwhelmed me for a few moments, but by the time I got home I felt “normal” again.

How old were you? 

I was 20 when I was diagnosed, and celebrated my 21st birthday between chemo sessions.  I remember going to the Pepsi 400  (because that’s what it was called back then) on my actual birthday (July 3rd) and when a freak rainstorm came through I was freezing.  My then-boyfriend, Rick Neidringhaus, went and bought me some sweats and a windbreaker for my two favorite drivers: Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr, respectively.  I still have the pants and actually wear them often!

Sasha and bald-me, circa Fall 2004.

Sasha and bald-me, circa Fall 2004.

What got you through?

This one is easy: God, faith, family, friends, the entire UNF family, the Greek system, and my incredible team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and techs – all the good people of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville who efficiently and effectively saved my life.  I had top notch doctors – I was already a patient at Mayo because of my aggressive “Crohn’s Disease” (since I really didn’t have Crohn’s, my body would never respond to the treatment – rendering me a medical outlier with an extreme case and therefore in need of the best doctors in the land.  Luckily for me, I lived in Jax, FL at the time and had Mayo access just a few miles from home).

I kept a really awesome attitude the entire time.  I bore everyone to death with the stories I tell again and again – but the one that I must tell when I saw a mother and her wheelchair-bound small child park next to me at Publix the day I was officially diagnosed.  Seeing that kid who has likely never walked and likely never will, I refused to feel sorry for myself.  It changed my entire perspective on the situation.  The first 19 years of my life were spent in excellent health, as I lead a life of privilege, freedom and one full of lovely memories and special experiences.  Had I died the day I was diagnosed, I wouldn’t have had a regret or a single sad feeling for myself.  Having cancer is what it is – once that tough lump is swallowed, all that’s left is making the best of it.  So I fought hard, kept my chin up, and did what I always do: plow my way through with some jokes and a lot of laughs, and a firm anchor to God and faith in the ultimate plan He has for my life.

Have these eight years been well-lived?

I mean, according to me – YES.  Heck, yes!  I’ve done some pretty amazing things and I believe I’ve chocked eight years full of an awful lot of life.  I’ve traveled, I’ve helped others, I’ve tried new things, I’ve experienced love, loss, happiness, and pain, full spectrum human experience.  I’ve created art, made others smile, formed friendships in the strangest and most normal of places – and every now and then I hear the “I word,” that I’ve inspired someone else into doing something good or at least having a good attitude about whatever it is he or she has going on.

Knowing that I can actually inspire others is very humbling.

Knowing that I’ve literally been granted 2,992 extra days of this life (heck yes I counted Leap Years) is humbling.

Snorkeling in Hawaii.  I've had a very happy life, yes!

Snorkeling in Hawaii. I’ve had a very happy life, yes!

I ran my first marathon this year, 26.2 miles!

I ran my first marathon this year, 26.2 miles!

Helping Sandy Relief in NYC last month.

Helping Sandy Relief in NYC last month.

My husband + me, smooching from a deer stand.

My husband + me, smooching from a deer stand.

Me - hunting just this past week or so!

Me – hunting just this past week or so!

So what’s it like now?

It’s both far-removed and ever-present.  The scars have faded, but they’re still there; and I still have my very first tattoos – the radiation dots that they marked me with to make sure they hit the same spot every day.  (As far as scars go, I had a couple stitches in my neck from a biopsy, another incision on the left side of my neck from having a lymph node removed, and I have a scar on my chest when I had my port-a-cath taken in and out).  I don’t obsess or worry about relapsing like I once did, and I don’t have to do the often check-ups and scans as I did in those first crucial years of remission.  I passed the five-year milestone three years ago, and that was a BIG ONE.  That’s the “you’re cured” milestone.

I don’t ever want to lose touch with that experience though.  After all, having been through cancer is a huge definer of who I am as a person.  It shaped me into a MUCH nicer person in general, and a tougher person in many ways.  It gave me a glimpse of my own frailty and left me with a profound appreciation for life and every breath I take.  And with that comes a responsibility to carry out a life well-lived and to do good in this world – and I find myself still trying to grasp at the best ways to keep that promise.

From this experience, what still impacts you today? 

I forever live with inexplicable gratitude in my heart.  For every nurse who held my hand, every doctor who took the time to make sure I received exemplary care… to my loved ones who came with me to chemo, prayed for me around the clock, and supported me in so many ways that words can never express… to the friends, classmates, and total strangers who came together to raise funds to help cover the costs of my treatment, to my Dad for working hard and having a good job that provided excellent insurance for me and money still to cover the costs that even excellent insurance didn’t take care of.

I carry with me a legacy of the hopes, dreams, and the honor of so many people who aren’t as lucky, of those who came before me and the technology that saved my life, of those in circumstances that don’t allow for early detection or top-notch medical care, of those who just don’t win the fight.  And that’s something that’s very real with me, a part of who I am.  We stand on the shoulders of so many giants, and I can’t ever forget that.

Mostly though, I just feel like me: Rose.  A happy wacky tie-dye loving slightly-redneck weirdo who often smiles and laughs everyday, and who is truly loved.  And I’m happy to be me, and I feel blessed to be me – each and every day.

I suppose if there was ever a profound take-away from an experience like mine – it is knowing in every ounce of my being that I am loved.  By my God, my family, those around me then and now, my husband, my friends, my sister, and even strangers – yes.  I am loved.  And being able to come face to face with such colossal concepts as life, death, and love is an honor that I am humbled to have experienced and lived through to write about now.

This post is dedicated to all of the many, many people who saved my life.  And to the many more lives that are forever changed by cancer, in all manner of ways – both happy and sad. 

Thank you for reading and for your support.

XOXO, 

HHR

Prayers Up

Prayers going out to Colorado, to all those affected in the Aurora movie theater shooting, to the many grieving and hurting right now.  What a terrible, sad, and bizarre tragedy.

I refuse to politicize this incident and turn it into a time to talk about my own personal beliefs.   I had other content in mind for today as well, but that can wait.  Today, now, is time for prayer.

-Rose

LA Times on the entire story 

Cult Fit remembers Jessica Ghawi

Slate on Politicizing the Tragedy

Straight Christian Ally: Talking Points and Such

I just published a pretty intense post about the current gay rights debate going on right now – in the USA, amongst Christians, in the media – it’s everywhere right now.
Lately I’ve found myself tugged into countless online and verbal debates on the topic.  In case you missed my previous post, or don’t know me all that well, I’m a Straight Christian Ally.  Meaning, I love Jesus and try my best to follow His teachings, the Bible, etc., and I also support gay rights, including marriage equality.

thanks to tectonic movement for all of the images in this post!

I’m not alone in this either!
There’s a huge movement out there.  Sometimes known as “allies”  or “I’m sorry” – we’re growing every single day.  One of the bloggers I most respect, Tamara Out Loud, is an awesome mouthpiece for such shared ideals.  She recently attended a Pride Parade, and wrote about her experiences here.
LesBeHonest‘s Staight Ally Page: a variety of videos and quotes, great resource for allies here!
A random blog I found, that’s just one of thousands, that eloquently expresses the “I’m Sorry” aspect to this movement – this is Jeff Jackson’s Tumblr.
Towelroad, a blog with “gay tendancies,” posts some powerful images of apologizing Christians at a Pride parade!
The Atlantic on Gay Marriage and State’s Rights, it’s a bit of an arduous read, fyi.
The link party could go on and on – I just wanted to give y’all some starting points and spring boards.
In the post earlier, I quoted my Fb status from yesterday.  Well – here are some other gems that I’ve spewed onto the Book of Face in the past 24 hours about the issues at hand – quote me, copy me, emulate me, do what you want – I trust my words and intentions will be used in good faith, and if you have any doubts about it, just ask me.  I’m nice like that!

An  AWESOME and OPEN MINDED Fb exchange with a valued pal:
Leigh Palmer: No i know, but it’s not like there is a Chick-fil-A in Chelsea, they are mostly in suburban areas with lots of families, in the south. I could be wrong. ( I have no real research backing this statement up). Any thoughts Rose? I just mean, it seems to be that their customer base is more likely a young “Christian” family rather than someone who a more open mind.
Rose: You’d be surprised. For a few reasons:

Today, with the Internet as powerful as it is, geography isn’t a definer for political thought. The most rural SAHM can be on the up and up of social movements as fast as they’re happening.

Gay Rights and other progressive causes have infiltrated the suburbs. Claire Williams lives in one of the “gayest” zip codes in the country.

CFA is in urban and northern areas; The NYU campus being a major point of contention. Students at NYU voted to keep CFA on campus and it’s caused a huge stir given the locale and progressive tendency of college students.

The chasm of gay rights is causing huge division in the church. Everyday the “I’m Sorry” movement gains followers. More and more “conservative Christians” are waking up to the idea that hate is not a family value, and as such, change is happening. Hence why stalwarts are digging in their heels. They’re terrified.

Just look at Target. They were ousted for their support of homophobic politicians… and they’ve since recanted, donated money to progressive causes and issued apologies. The gay-supporting ban of Target wasn’t well-known or huge, but it was enough, because it evoked real change.

Rose (again): Don’t ever doubt your ability to be one voice that does matter – because to a big company like CFA – they’ve made their empire one sandwich at a time, and we can dissemble it the same way.
Leigh:  ♥ you Rose Duggan — thanks for reminding me of all of those things. 🙂
Rose: you got it girl!! love you too leigh, your honesty is awesome! i love that you aren’t afraid to ask questions!!
More random Fb gems from various threads: 
I love Jesus, and I’m not eating at Chic-fil-A. If you claim to love Jesus, get the hate out your mouth.

I’m just tired of “Christians” using a soap box to speak out from a place of bigotry.

Not all Christians hate. Some of us try to love everyone, just like Jesus asked us to. And I do NOT mean anyone personally in this thread – I mean the Pres and C-Suite of CFA. They’re comfortable projecting further the image that Christians judge and condone one another.

Love they neighbor. Judge not lest ye be judged.

I think the community works of CFA are amazing, really, I know so many people who’ve benefitted from fundraisers and money in their local communities. I also respect that they encourage family dynamics by being closed on Sundays – I truly love that about the company.

And I think their food is SO GOOD. I grew up on CFA. I crave that lemonade and those breakfast biscuits.

But.

At the end of the day this is 2012 and I am not okay with a corporation levying its public influence with such hatred.

 On the issue of boycotts being hateful and judgmental:
A boycott is a peaceful, legal, and proper way to engage in social criticism by voting with your consumer power. A boycott is NOT an act of violence or hatred.

This country is founded on a plethora of rights, including that of being able to express your ideals, freely, in a variety of ways. Being a capitalist society – the almighty dollar tends to be the vehicle that carries a belief the fastest.

I firmly respect anyone’s right to believe whatever they like – be that homophobic hatred or true Christianity. Or anything. That’s America, baby.

I just don’t have to use my money to fuel a machine that churns out vile, evil, hatred. A machine that donated millions of dollars to homophobic groups even in 2009. CFA is a massive consumer power – it’s ability to fundraise, lobby, and support the entities of its choice cannot be overlooked.

If you – this is the general “you,” meaning anyone – feels firmly that gay rights should not exist in this country and that homosexuality is evil, grab your picket sign and go to work. No one is stopping you from expressing an ideal or opinion. In fact, much like the SCOTUS upheld WBC’s right to hate away – I do the same for anyone. Just know that there are plenty of people, myself included, who don’t believe that same sex relationships are displeasing to God. And in fact – we go so far as to encourage them out of love, support, and kindness for our fellow man. Ya know… kinda like how Jesus asked to do so.

I truly understand and appreciate the local impact of CFA. I have so many friend who’ve personally testified to the greatness this one company can do for the location in which the restaurant is established.

But there’s something bigger at play here.

The President of a major company being so openly hateful – it’s just not okay. As good as their food is, as hard as the employees work, as much as they nurture and support the local communities they’re in – the damage of the power-wielding C-Suite is just too much.

If a boycott could effectively slice to their bottom line, I guarantee they’ll come back around hat in hand, singing a different tune.

Just look at Target. Same thing and they’ve come around, and now they’re trying to make up for their ways.

Andres posted a link to the NY Daily News along with this text:
“Over $2 million dollars donated to anti-gay organizations! They claim not to be a christian organization, and very supportive of the family, but only their definition of family. Well I can promise you that me and my non-biblically defined family will never be eating here again. Hate is not a family value.”
My reply:
THANK YOU! I’m up to my elbows in online debate right now… I’m SO FIRED UP.

This is NOTHING NEW. I’ve boycotted CFA since ’09 when I discovered that my money spent of delicious sandwiches was fueling the fire of hatred.

If you love Jesus, you have no business HATING others. That ain’t Christian at all.

….
On the issue of the south, particularly my home town, being tough to change:
I’m from Ormond Beach. And while I understand the stigma of the South being “set in its ways” – change can and does happen.

Florida was still a blue state in the ’08 election cycle.

With the Internet as it is today, physical geography is becoming less and less of a barrier to political thought and social movements.

Some of the “gayest” zipcodes in America are in southern states – like the northside of Jacksonville, Fl or Asheville, NC. Every single day the “I’m Sorry” movement gains followers.

And finally… it’s been done before. I know that Target is a farther-reaching company. But the boycott of Target did not get the viral attention this issue is getting, and yet that pressure was enough to elicit change. Target was caught supporting anti-gay political candidates in MN (the state of its corporate offices) and after public backlash the megastore issued apologies, pulled funding to such entities, and instead gave money to progressive causes.

More Resources?  You got it!
Chic-fil-A protest link party, here you can jump off to lots of info.
A crazy brightly colored page chock full of awesome talking points for the support of Gay Marriage.
Nation For Change – all you need to know about Marriage Equality!  (awesome awesome resource right here).
CanyonWalkerConnections – a ton of info and links for Straight Allies.
I could keep going, but really – I think this is tons and tons to get you started, right?
AS ALWAYS – Thanks for reading!  If at any time you have questions, concerns, issues, or more – reach on out and contact me.  This is a dialogue, a discussion, and it goes two ways! 
xoxo, hhr

Jesus Doesn’t Want You To “Eat Mor Chikin”

Toddlers and Tiaras.  Oil and Water.  Ammonia and Bleach.  JESUS and HATE.

Some things just don’t go together, y’all.  They just don’t.   Add one more combo to the list:  Chic-fil-A and my money.

from gawker

I normally like my blog to be a place of fun, happiness, passion in proper doses… but today it’s taking all the restraint I own not to go thermonuclear red hot Sicilian on everyone.  Let’s get fired up! 

(This blog will probably go down smoother if you crank the Gaga and let her pulse pumping melodies take you to that happy place of tolerance and dance moves)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Chic-fil-A is a homophobic company.  A company based on Christian ideals, but one that is ultimately homophobic and comfortable announcing such vile hatred to the country at large.  The mostly-Southern chain famous for slinging delicious fried chicken sammies and breakfast biscuits has been embroiled in a homophobic slurry for years.  This is not new news.  I’ve been on a permanent “boycott” of the establishment for a while now; in 2009 they gave nearly $2million to anti-gay groups and funded politicians of the same credo.  Based on a recent statement made to the public by CFA’s head honcho – new flames of fury are being stoked, fresh eyes are opening to the hatred, and more people are newly becoming aware of what is going down.

CFA isn’t all bad.  Duh, I know this.

Their food is beyond dope.  It’s some tasty chicken, y’all (let’s just be real).  And I am super aware of the local good they bring to the communities in which they’ve established restaurants.  CFA has a pretty open door policy about helping local groups of all kinds fundraise using their goods and facilities.  I know so many people who’ve personally said “our school band wouldn’t exist without CFA,”  or “the scholarships they offer employees put me through school.”  I know that they do good works.  And fundamentally, I’m cool with a company that has a religious background and works to keep those ideals intact.  CFA has never been open on Sundays, and I respect that choice.  Heck, I even admire it.

Here’s what President Cathy had to say about CFA’s religious affiliation, from the NY Daily News:

Despite a corporate statement declaring that the purpose of Chick-Fil-A is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us,” Cathy told the Baptist Press that it isn’t a Christian business.  Christianity “is about a personal relationship,” he said. “Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are. But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/chick-fil-a-cops-anti-gay-guilty-charged-company-president-article-1.1116841#ixzz214cv2oRi

But telling the whole world that gay ain’t okay is the line in the sand.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the Internets:

CNN Blog: CFA and Gay Marriage = Media Storm

Daily Mail UK:  Anti-Gay Stance Sparks Protest

Huff Post: Chicken with a Side of Bigotry 

Facebook has been a flurry of debate since the newest set of statements coming from CFA’s top dog went viral yesterday.  Also making news this week – the Boy Scouts of America went ahead and chimed in to the national debate of gay rights by letting us all know that they’ll be upholding their ban of gay kids.  It’s enough to make a gal sick.  But crumpling in defeat in the face of hate ain’t my style.  When the going gets tough, the tough get blogging.

Last night I made a pretty passionate Fb Status:

Attn America: The Boy Scouts and Chic-fil-A want you to make SURE that you know how evil homosexuality is, and thus, in the year 2012 they’re randomly issuing statements to go ahead and inform of us their bigoted positions.

Methinks this is another stunt from the Romney propaganda machine. I mean, he got the NAACP to boo him on purpose to help increase votes in racist areas.

The debate that sparked was pretty intense.  You can check out my profile to see it all for yourself!  I’ll also be posting a part two after this with some of my favorite talking points – in case you find yourself asking questions and/or ensnared in vitriolic discussion.

Last night and already today, I’ve been jumping into debates here and there – I’ve also gotten some PMs asking me to explain my beliefs.  How is it that I can be openly Christian, a Bible-believer – and still support gay rights?  The answer, dear reader, is easily and readily.

I am a Christian Who Supports Gay Rights. 

I believe in a Jesus that exclusively taught love.

I believe that the Biblical use of words that “support” anti-gay rhetoric are misinterpreted.  For more clarification and get my POV – check this link out.

Hypocrisy is not okay:  Leviticus is not a substantial reason to be anti-gay.  If you’re still wearing poly-cotton blend, eating shellfish, touching a woman when she’s on her monthly, if you don’t stone to death adulteres… you’re not upholding ALL of Leviticus.  The Bible ain’t a grocery store, you don’t get to pick and choose.  Furthermore, Leviticus is from the OT.  If you’re NT kinda Christian (which, technically, you must be – right?) using one odd phrase from the Old Testament to fuel your hate is (more than) a stretch.

Furthermore… the very same parts of the Gospel that speak against “homosexuality” also speak against a host of other human sins, some that I think are important and others that I don’t. If you want to go the Levitican route, it seems so silly to uphold just that one teensy clause when so many Christians are allowed to wear cloth made of mixed fibers (poly-cotton blend is against the Bible, you know). You can eat shellfish, touch a woman within eight days of her period and refrain from stoning to death known adulteres, all without condemnation from Christians… but but… if you “lay with a man” you’re evil?

It’s all or none. And I can’t stand the hypocrisy of picking and choosing.

In other sections of the Bible that speak to homosexuality, it speaks to sexual depravity – and again, I evoke the translation error.  Jesus speaks SO MANY times at lengths about things that are important to Him. Where in the Bible does Jesus actually address being gay?  NO WHERE.

Love each other. Be patient. Take care of one another. These are the things that Jesus took the time to teach us about….  He never ranted and raved about the evils of being gay the way today’s big time super conservative preachers do.  I think its a misuse of power and persuasion to throw the church and God behind an ideal that’s clearly political and of our own culture.

There’s always the idea of hating the sin, but loving the sinner. While I think that’s pretty lame and not embracing gay people and their rights in a full context – it’s better than being all around hateful. I suppose by that same mentality people can hate adultery, but still love adulterers.

But beyond all of this – I truly know and believe in my heart that people are born gay. Sure as I was born heterosexual, I believe that others are born gay. And thus, I must accept and know and trust that God created these people this way.  And it’s neither our place or God’s desire for us to be the ones who judge them. Not at all.  Love is love. People are people.   If two people love each other and want to love each other, and that’s what makes them happy – then I am so all about it, 100% flying (rainbow) colors in support of it.

Jesus taught us to love. 

This is something I’ve just known in my heart of hearts, and something I’ve had reinforced for me via prayer many times.

that’s me! (photo cred)

So there you have it folks.  In case you didn’t know – now you do.  I am a Christian and I fully support gay rights.  I’m a straight ally, and I have been for a very long time.  Even back in my UNF Student Gov’t days, I was an ally (before I even knew how that term applied to this issue!).  I used to always be the Senator to introduce/sponsor bills from the PRIDE club – they even gave me an award my junior year for being such a fervent supporter.

If you’re a reader with a difference of opinion – please know that I respect and appreciate all sides of an issue, as well as your right to your own beliefs and ideals.  I’m a true American in that spirit and proudly embrace the freedoms of choice that we all have.   Hopefully, this post serves as insight into my belief structure and not as a form of antagonism.  If you have ANY questions or want to hash this out more – just reach out to me.  I’ll try my best to get back to you in a timely manner.

I will publish that second post of links and quotes in a hot minute too.

Edit: Here’s the second post, it’s up now! 

AS ALWAYS – Thanks for reading y’all!  This is a biggie and an important one, and even if all you did was read this and then decide this blog isn’t for you – I at least appreciate your time. 

xoxo, hhr 

Losing My Religion

“That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight … losing my religion.”  Great R.E.M. jam, right?  It’s totally how I feel today.

Friends of faith, calm down!  I’m not being literal, or rather – I’m not talking about my spiritual religion, Christianity.  My love of Jesus is as intact as ever.  It’s actually thriving I’d say: going through this huge move with so much uncertainty and loose ends, Duggs and I have been very laid back.  I’ve really been able to just hand the reigns over to God and trust that we’ll be fine, it’ll all work out in His time, and that He has my back.  He always does, so why worry now?

love this!

Of course, we’re doing all we can to work hard and set ourselves up for success – but fretting over things out of our control?  Not happening.  We’ve had faith and it’s been very comforting.

What I’m referring to is my religion of eco-friendliness.

Practicing my beliefs through the way I run a home, the purchases I make, the products I choose to surround myself with, put into the environment and my body… I’ve lost that “religion” big time.

I’ve been SO BAD.

Drive-throughs, food dye, nitrates, preservatives… you name it, I’ve been eating it this past month+. I’ve had more take out and delivery than you’d even think humanly possible.  My first week in New York I ate at Dunkin Donuts literally every single day.  (There aren’t any DDs in Hawaii, and I was dying for jelly donuts and pumpernickel bagels like woah).

be still my beating heart

It gets worse…  Much worse.

Hi. My name is Rose, and I’ve shopped at Walmart recently.

(Hi Rose).

Yeah, I need a Walmart Anonymous meeting or something to help me cope.

i’ve been here, and i’ve spent money. oy.

I’m downright ASHAMED that I’ve supported the giant corporation that I’ve been a sworn enemy of for years.  I mean, I belong to an anti-Walmart watchdog group that keeps tabs on all of the pollution-causing antics, third world sweatshop supporting practices and employee rights-squashing shenanigans that the big blue box condones (and usually tries to hide with price roll back smoke and mirrors).

what do all these products have in common? check the brand. sigh.

It still gets WORSE.

I’ve used paper towels.  Lots of them.

the devil’s mess vessel

(I’m basically in tears at this point.  Who am I? Where has the real Rose gone?).

I’ve drank coffee made in a Keurig.  Oh how I swore I never would.  But I did. In multiple homes on multiple occasions… and I liked it.  It’s delicious.  I even bought more K-cups to refill the ones I willfully consumed.

the set-up here at nick’s. it’s sinfully wasteful… and yet sinfully delicious.

look out landfills, mama’s thirsty!

And if we’re getting really honest – which we are, I’m confessing to quite a lot of eco-sins here – I’ve also used some chemically crazy cleaning agents.  A little bleach here, a little neon colored scented spray there.  SIGH.

oh the shame. i should have to turn in my friendship bracelets and bandanna. am i even a hippie anymore?

I mean, I have excuses – sure.  I’ve been a guest in the homes of others.  I’m trying to be polite and keep things simple.  I’m living out of suitcases (essentially), and for a while we were technically homeless.  Going with the flow, not making waves, and so on… but you know what they say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I know I’m being hard on myself.  But there’s a certain level of conscientious living that I’ve strived for and I feel like I’ve just totally ignored all of my earthly beliefs lately.

Really though, there is some adjustment period to be expected.  I didn’t pack rags with us like I had intended to (I was so ill the day the movers came to our house in Hawaii, so many of my plans for what was to get packed/shipped and what was to come with us for immediate access went totally out the window – I’m lucky to have underwear and socks with me, it was that crazy, I was that ill).

So I’ve been bad and I know it. 

Duggs and I went more than a year with only buying a single roll of paper towels for our home (for doggie pee when we were dog sitting and other such “emergencies”).  We use cloth napkins, rags, and towels.

I had actually kicked my coffee habit to the curb and was drinking tea, usually only one caffeinated tea a day – the others decaf, herbal, etc.  And even if/when we made coffee, it was with a regular pot.  Many of my (dear beloved) pals have gone Keurig, and while the idea of making one cup at a time seems convenient and nice, the waste just seems inexcusable.  All that packaging! Ugh.  (And I know there’s the “my K-cup” thingy that’s reusable, but still… who uses those? It’s way more fun and easy to just buy the regular disposable K-cups).

And Walmart? Ha! I haven’t been in a walmart in years.  Actually, Duggs and I made ONE purchase there the entire time I lived in Hawaii.  And before that, I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d been in one.

I like to practice what I preach.   I sure try to anyways.  We all slip up, yes.  I know I’m not perfect, but I try and that’s been something I define myself by, a source of pride.

As an American I know I have power in my vote, sure.  But we all have a power that seems to carry even more impact: consumer power.  Where we spend our hard earned money speaks volumes.  By not buying products I consider wasteful or harmful, by not shopping at stores whose practices I’m not down with – I vote with my money.

I’m proud of the strides I’ve made in recent years. It seems like every year since ’07, my resolution has been “to be greener,” and every year I’ve made imporvements.

Buying and eating better food to not support farming practices I don’t agree with (factory farming is downright evil) and to be kinder to my body is one that I’ve worked on for years.  The amount of waste reduction in our home has been impressive.  Using less and less “disposable” items and more reusable stuffs – it’s better for the earth and it’s better for our pocketbooks.

Do you know how pricey paper towels and paper napkins are?  That junk adds up! Back in Hawaii, I cut up one old towel and made like 15 rags.  They work better than paper towels and you just wash ’em and voila, good to go.  Cloth napkins are nice too, they’re softer on your skin and again, save money, waste less, so on.  Making our own cleaning products is WAY better for the environment and much, much cheaper.  Those fancy products add up; but white distilled vinegar?  Blessedly affordable.

oh wdv, our love affair will never ever end!

My crunchy habits do save us money, which is great.

But more than that, I’ve been able to live a lifestyle I’m proud of, one that allows me to live out my beliefs.  

So without those habits I feel like I’m being untrue to my heart.  I’ve had that R.E.M. song stuck in my head for days, and I don’t think it’s coincidence.  My eco-religion is a little lost right now.

I’m not all evil these days, though.  I’m slowly getting back into my green hippie groove.   The jostle of moving and being on the road, going from place to place was unstable.  But now that we’re here at Nick’s and settled in, I’ve been getting back into a greener routine.  I know it won’t be long before I’m up to my old hippie tricks and living at a level that’s reasonable and good.

It’s just the lapse that happened during the in-between for which I feel guilty.

I had to confess, get it off my chest.  But that’s it, I’m wiping the slate clean and moving on.  While I’m not pleased with some of the wasteful ways I’ve taken up lately, and the whole Wamart thing (*shudders*) … I’m not going to beat myself up too much.  What’s the point?

I’ve recognized the problem, and that’s always the first step.  So now, it’s about moving on and regaining my crunchy cred.  I’ll post soon (tomorrow maybe?) about the greenie ways I’m getting back and the hippie practices I’ve never lost sight of.  There are so many little, easy ways to keep an eco-friendly home, save money and be nice to ourselves and our animals (chemicals kill, yo).

And at some point I should post about all the crunchy hippie habits of mine that save money.  You’d be amazed at how my gentle ways also go so easy on the wallet.  But that’ll be a long post, and I’ll need to think of all the things I do – I don’t want to leave anything out.

For today though, the confession feels nice.  It’s off my chest – so thanks for letting me do that.

As always, thanks for reading!  xoxo, hhr

Image Sources for the ones that aren’t mine:
Trust God image (it’s actually a teeshirt you can order, rad!)
Dunkin Donuts pic
Walmart storefront pic

Running Into Tragedy

(Warning: sad content about a fatal motor vehicle accident).

Yesterday afternoon I went for a run.  Well, more accurately, it was a jog and walk mix up, doing three minute intervals of each.  Considering how sick I’ve been over the last few months and how little exercise I’ve gotten in (I haven’t gone on a run in way too long), I’m really rather proud of myself!

red faced and sweaty close up. yikes!

happy pooch on a run

It was a sun-filled, warm afternoon.  I wanted to get an idea of where I have to run around here, what the scenery and paths are like, sideswalks vs. grass, quiet roads vs. busy streets and so on.  I used my RunKeeper app to notice the mileage and keep track of landmarks – I now have a great idea of whereabouts my half-mile and mile marks are, etc.

these will be tall vineyards one day

on south roberts road, a little ways down from our house

The pooch was happy to stretch his legs.  The worst part about me being sick and not going for runs is that the pooch doesn’t get to go jog either.  Now, he’s had a lot of chance to play lately.  At the hotel in Hawaii there was a doggie park for him, all during our trip he got to hang out with other pooches and play, and without fenced-in yards – to go potty he was taken on walks.  So it’s not like he’s all cooped up… but the pooch LOVES going for runs with me.  He was so excited he pulled on the leash the entire time, to the point that it was straining and annoying.

exploring doggie

my jayjers

a little farm access road i found to jog down and get away from traffic

While I was out I had the music pumping, I took some fun snapshots with my iPhone camera.  I was really stoked for myself, exercising again, getting some sun, checking out my new home, etc.

a fun place to run, so green and open

I was on my way back to the house, jogging my last “run” interval when I looked further down the road and I saw a ton of dirt and dust clouding up into the air.  Traffic started backing up and I could see cars swerving and zig-zagging.  Something was wrong, and I could just tell.  It seemed like an accident.  So I took off in a sprint and tore down the road.

I am so out of shape, and I’m sore today already… but when I can tell something serious has happened, that lifeguard in me just responds and I sprinted the whole way there.  I got to scene and started yelling, “I’m an RN, is anyone hurt?”

I could see one conversion van, blue with handicap decals and a wheelchair ramp, just smashed to pieces and sticking out into the road at a weird, dangerous angle.  I saw a semi truck in the opposite lane pulled over, and who appeared to be the driver, trying to direct traffic.

a photo of the accident from observer today (link below)

From what I initially gathered, one man was dead and the other was fine – no one else claimed to have been involved and no one else said they were hurt.  The deceased was pinned underneath the rear axle of the blue van, and the scene was just horrendous.

Some volunteer firefighters on the scene started calling up more guys.  They said they would need a lot of help, and I asked if I should run home to get Duggs (“my husband’s a Marine – do you need him?” – “oh yeah, go get him now!”).

So I sprinted home as fast as I could, got Duggs and we hurried back to the accident.  It all happened a country block away from Nick’s house (where we live now) and we could see the whole thing from the end of our driveway.  By the time we got back there so many professionals were on the scene and taking care of everything, they didn’t need us at all and we were told we could go home.

we were really close to the wreck

standing in the driveway, looking toward the accident scene

Now.  I did take some photos with my phone.  I was worried that people were going to try and move the car or move the man, so since I was the first one on the scene with a camera – I just started taking some photos in case things weren’t left as is (I was just trying to do anything I could to help).  No.  I will not post those photos or share them.  I’m going to delete them actually, the officer directing the scene already told me he didn’t need them (it turns out they didn’t end up moving the vehicles or the man).

I went back home and I just felt so weird.  I was so sad for the man who died and for his family.  I know accidents happen all the time, people die everyday – but it’s sad when you deal with it firsthand, so up close.  And I was all mixed up.  I had been so happy, so excited to be out on a run – and now patting myself on the back felt weird.  It felt disrespectful or inappropriate.

But life has to go on, right?

I didn’t know the man who was killed yesterday.  I’m not suffering or grieving his loss.  But I know that many are, and that’s what makes me sad.  After we got back to the house I went out back to the vineyards and jogged, walked, prayed, and just cooled down.  I aksed God to bless the man who lost his life, to comfort his family, loved ones, the other driver and everyone involved.  Other than praying, I wasn’t really sure what to do.

happy pooch, running and playing

love the views of grape country

off leash running in back of the house, sprinting up and down the grassy access road between vineyards

Today in the news I saw the story about the accident.

Turns out the man who died was a very well-known and respected former public official: John Dillenburg.

john dillenburg, rest in peace – this is a photo of him they posted on the daily observer, from 1999

He’s been serving in government since the 70s, he was in the national guard and he went to State Ranger school out here.  His whole life he’s given back to his community and the people around him.  His wife of 45 years survives him, along with his daughter and grand-daughter.

Forty-five years of marriage.  Wow.

My heart breaks for his wife, and now I ask God to bring her comfort and peace.  I just can’t imagine what she’s going through.  I wish there would have been something we could have done, some way we could have helped or saved him.  But that’s not how this played out.  The only respite is that he didn’t suffer, it all must have happened so quickly.

Here’s the link to the news story, you can read all about his service and the work he did in this part of the country.

While I am happy to have gone on a run and to have worked out, I’m just left in an interesting state of mind.  I’ll take this experience as a call to appreciate life, to recognize how fragile we are, how fleeting and delicate life can be.  Each day is a gift, and every day we encounter so many blessings.

I’m in awe of God’s beautiful creation – coming from amazing Hawaii to wester New York, which although different in scenery, is another gorgeous, green, natural place.  I love living here so far, and I’m so grateful for my life.  I’m so grateful that I felt well enough to go running yesterday, that my husband and loved ones were alive and well at the end of the day.

Even on our worst days, there is so much gratitude to fill our hearts to overflowing.  Ever since having cancer, I try to approach and value every day as so special.  But it’s easy to get caught up, it’s easy to get into a routine and come to know distraction.

smiling, again – there’s lots to smile about and even more to be so grateful for.

So while yesterday is a tragedy and it’s sad, and the whole thing horrifies me and hurts my heart, at least I can try and take away some lessons.  A wake up call, a reminder, a poignant and painful lesson about just how precious every moment is.

I know I hugged Duggs much tighter than usual last night.  And I hope everyone who’s blessed enough to have your loved ones alive and well will do the same.  Be glad for all that you do have.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. 

 

30 Days of Blogging Honesty – Day 7

Alright, alright – I’m hellbent on playing a quick catch up here.  I mean business!  Upper respiratory funk?  So what!  I’ve given up enough of my precious time and productivity to this sickness (was there a productive cough pun in there?  you betcha!). 

Today is another catch up day: here’s “day seven.”

I know I posted “day six” just a little while ago, but I’m trying to get back on track and post in line with the other participants.  So you’re getting another installment today, and it’s a doozy!  (Seriously, as per usual I went nuts and just typed and typed and typed).  Not everyone participating is exactly on the same day, and that’s okay – but I don’t want to be a week behind.  This is getting close enough for me though, and I’ll probably go back to one a day after this.

I’m super duper thankful for everyone’s patience, all the new readers who I’ve met during this event so far (I love that new people have been checking out my happy hippie place! hooray!), I love the encouragement… and even though I never imagined I’d write about poop and pre-marital sex, I’m excited to have something pushing me.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Read up here, my intro.  I’m participating in 30 Days of Blogging Honesty, a blogging event created by Tom Baker and Cherlyn Cochrane; you can check out the rules and see all of the prompts right here.

Want to see who else is playing?  Check out this list: Cherlyn CochraneJenn MikoLJMelanieLast Civilized WomanPrincesa MusangPrimadonna ZelCarolineKoiAurathenaTerriblethinkerSleep and SalamiMarliz3ePrysmatiqueDLonelyStarAnonymousBurnNicoleSylvia GarzaMarianaNenskeiMyNakedBokkieBluefiadiarriesVeehCirra,BannatreasuresSajeevHappyhippieroseTheFerkelTom Baker*Sofia*Everything Love & Lust*TemptingSweets99, Sites with an * contain NSFW material. If erotic or sexual material is offensive to you, please do not visit these three blogs.

Read the crap I’ve already spewed as part of this 30 Day craziness: Day One, Days Two, Three and Four, Day FiveDay Six.

That’s a lot of links, eh?  If you’ve any time at all left to actually read this post, let’s get to it now!

….

Day 07 — I went to see a psychic, and was given the opportunity to ask three questions – I would ask…

Nothing? 

I don’t really believe in psychics to tell you the truth.  At least not most of the ones, the kind that charge a bunch of money and claim to read your future.  Many of the ones I’ve ever encountered seem to be rip-off city.  And well, you can never truly know the intentions of someone trying to use and harness supernatural powers.  That kind of stuff can get real serious and real dangerous, and I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to go and open yourself up to that kind of thing.

heh, this cracks me up. do you agree? money-making scam? or legit future/spirit insights? image was found here.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe in psychics.  I’ve had plenty of my own unexplainable encounters, I know that the supernatural is real.  I’m open-minded to all kinds of unexplainable things… I truly believe I’ve experienced ghosts (or whatever you want to call that phenomenon), I think that there are all kinds of things that go on that we don’t understand or even know about, non-human supernatural things.  God and Jesus are supernatural entities, as well as the miracles and all kinds of wonders explained in the Bible (immaculate conception and burning bushes aren’t the typical stuff our earthly existence is made of).

So it’s not for lack of believing!

My viewpoint and thoughts on this matter are actually because of how serious I know this type of stuff can be.  Some things we just shouldn’t go meddling in.  Self-protection is one thing, being faced with something when you don’t ask for it or open yourself up to it is one thing – going out, seeking it, looking for trouble, that’s another thing altogether!

I’ve been to psychics in the past and from my experience there’s a lot of bullcrap that goes on, a lot of generic fluff that could be true for anyone.  Sometimes I think I have my own borderline insights.  I’ve had dreams come true, I’ve guessed things or known things that I had no way of knowing based on the info available to me.  My hunches and instincts are usually pretty right-on, and in an attempt to be modest and keep my nose out of trouble, I chalk it up to being a good observer, with good common sense, people skills and insight.

I used to be REALLY superstitious.  Probably OCD (I’ve been diagnosed as OCD by two diff doctors, I do NOT use that term as slang or hyperbole for when I’m quirky or hyper-organized, I mean legit OCD).

In an attempt to break off some of my more intrusive habits, the ones that infringe on my day-to-day like (like counting steps all the time, being unable to pick anything up that’s “face down” on the floor, and so on… they get way worse)… so in order to break off of the control these weird unfounded fake beliefs had over me AND to show my true faith and trust in God, I walked away from a lot of this crap.

gah! this so used to be me, all of these and more. i'd make my own up too. my mom used to always tell me those little superstition rhymes.. i think that's where it started for me. found this image over here.

I used to make up ultimatums all time – weird stuff.  I’d tell myself, “if I grab a red Skittle first without looking, I’m going to have really good luck today,”  or “if my friend calls me back within 3 minutes, it means I’m totally going to pass my test.”  It gets weirder too… it gets more intense.  I hated all the counting I would do, I used to do this weird “layered thought” thing where I’d narrate all of my thoughts and once I would start doing it, it was so hard to turn off.  Like when you think about breathing, it takes so long to go back to just breathing without obsession.

So yeah.  I decided to make a clean break.  No more rituals.  No more counting, over-thinking, no making weird fictional “deals” with myself.  No horoscopes.  No tarot cards, numerology, none of it.  So in that pile, I toss on psychics and other seers. I think that God is stoked on my decision.  I’m telling Him that I trust Him, and things will happen in His time, as He sees fit, according to His plan.  And my end of the deal is to chill, let life happen, have faith, and handle things as they happen – and reach out to God whenever I need reassurance, help, comfort, guidance.  Him and Him alone!

i love this pic - I turn to my God for all my needs. I found this pretty picture right over here.

But… of course there’s a but.  This IS the 30 days of blogging HONESTLY, and I have some hypocrisy to cop to.

I watch the TLC Reality Show, Long Island Medium.  It’s the wackiest show, I know.  I actually first started reading it as more of a lark than anything serious.  The star of the show, Theresa Caputo, is so very over the top.  She’s a super stereotypical Long Island mom who claims to be a medium – she has access to the spirit world of deceased people, and she can communicate with these souls.

here's theresa, the long island medium! have you ever seen this show?

(^The pic above is from TLC’s website.  I’m giving you the link here, because the last time I opened it up to check it out, it totally froze + crashed my whole browser (Chrome).  So annoying, right?  I hate that.  The page runs slow and takes forever to load… so I’m pretty miffed right now, lol.  I also am trying my durndest to NOT be superstitious.  I sit here and say how I’m not into psychics and people who try to meddle with the super natural, and then I go and blab about this one medium I’m okay watching and bam! The page for her show crashes.  Is that a sign?  Or just coincidence.  You tell me.)

My Duggs is from Strong Island, so when I first heard about this show I had to tune in just to get a good giggle.  He loves where he’s from, and he’s also super annoyed at all the crazy behavior that just screams I’m-from-Long-Island!!  I tuned in to get a laugh back in the first season, and what I found instead was the really sweet show about a pretty amazing lady.

she's soooooo long island! photo from this site.

She claims to love God, she’s a Christian.  And what she does (as portrayed on the show) is actually a nice thing.  Her “gift” brings an awful lot of closure and peace to people.  She delivers messages of hope, encouragement, love and peace to those she “reads.”   Theresa claims that “spirit” (that’s her word for this other plane that she communicates with) seeks her out, it’s something she can’t shut off or ignore.  She’ll be out running errands and feel compelled to tell total strangers the messages she feels nagging at her, she also takes private paid readings.  It’s her career.  She says her bookings are full for more than a year in advance, she’s world-renowned.

she makes hilarious and awesome facial expressions, she's such a character! found this photo here too.

I’ve seen the old John Edward show, Crossing Over.  I thought that guy was super fugazi. He did those big studio audience readings… he’s say, “I’m getting the letter A… does anyone have the letter A?”  Everyone knows the letter A, so a ton of hands would go up – “My mother was Annette,” or “My cousin passed and we used to call him Ace as a nickname,” “I’m from Austin, TX – it’s where my uncle died.”  And then he’d pick one and keep going with more vague imagery, and often the person being read would lead him there, proving the info he needed.  That + strong observation + educated guesses + who knows what back-stage pre-show research went on = he could deliver a reading that seemed impressive.

john edward, totally bologna - right? what are your thoughts? found this pic on this page.

Theresa does the letter thing, and she scribbles down little notes… like times, numbers, catch phrases, expressions.  On a recent episode she was reading a widow and Theresa wrote down “11:11.”  When she asked the client if that meant anything, she said, “Do you know what 11:11 means?  Do you find yourself always looking at the clock when it’s 11:11?’  The client said that her husband died at 11:11, and she always notices that time.

She’ll do the letter thing, sometimes she guesses a name… “They’re telling M, like Mike or Mark.”  “Oh yeah, Michael was my brother.”

The 11:11 thing could go either way.  LOTS of people notice the clock when it’s 11:11, right? It’s a superstitious time.  I think that people who would be down to chat with a medium are likely the kind to be into other beliefs like that.

But when she pulls these other things out of thin air, I’m impressed.  She’ll know the way someone died, she’ll bring up memories of specific events, or talk about significant things – she knows the hobbies and interests of those who passed, she’ll be able to describe the personality of someone.  She claims that all she knows about the client is their first name and a phone number (in case she needs to cancel and/or to confirm the appt time).  And like I said, she’s always going up to total strangers.  All kinds of super skeptics give testimonials after a reading saying that Theresa knew details and tidbits that there’s no way she could have known.

Here’s a video clip that shows a little bit about what she does and in her own words she explains her abilities:

Long Island Medium Star Discusses Her Gift

(if that doesn’t work – my attempt to embed it – here’s the link).

(Why do I always write so much?  Why am I so long winded?).

Anyways.  I’m not sure how I feel about her.  I think that if her ability to connect to the dead is real, well, that’s AMAZING.  For so many people, death brings with it a lot of unanswered questions, hurt feelings, loose ends.  If there’s a woman who can bring peace and closure – well, I think that’s a wonderful thing to offer others.  I get the impression that she truly has good and noble intentions.

I fully admit that I’m super duper gullible, easily duped.  I’m naïve as all get out.

But, I do like her.  I get the vibe that she’s a good woman and she’s helping others.  She’s a family lady – her kids and hubby are on the show too.  And she’s funny, thoughtful, she seems to really take her gift seriously and she employs a lot of tact.  Well, she is from Long Island… so how one defines “tact” is up in the air, lol.  She’s delicate when she has something sensitive in nature to say, though.

Another cool video, the show’s producer explains Theresa, the show, readings, how it works, and more:

Long Island Medium’s Executive Producer

(again, the link in case that doesn’t show up the right way).

So, maybe she is evil or on the wrong side of the spiritual spectrum, and she is using her powers for dark purposes… maybe she’s in communication with the devil and that’s where she gets her insight?  Perhaps she’s unwittingly doing so.  I know that those things are vital to consider, and I don’t rule anything out.  I don’t know, nor do I have a way of knowing.

But, I sure do believe in the gift of prophecy.  I know that sometimes God really does use us to help one another in a special way, providing us with divine insight.

Also, I’ve read “Heaven is For Real” and I totally believe the story the Burpo family tells.  (If you haven’t read it yet, do so!  It’s a quick read and it will just warm your heart.  A little boy technically “dies” during surgery and has an incredible vivid experience in Heaven with Jesus).

love this book! here, go check out the amazon site to read more about it. it's also whereabouts i snagged this lovely pic.


So, I’m very open-minded to all kinds of paranormal / supernatural occurrences.  I want Theresa to be legit, and I want her to be on the good team, a believer in God, and speaking the truth about the people who are up in Heaven with Him. I really want her to be for real!

If Theresa was legit and good and her gift is God-given AND I had the chance to get a reading from her… I can think of three things (at least!) that I’d want to know.  Oh man, there are so many things I’d like to know.  But this prompt asked me to name three.

1. Are all of my deceased loved ones doing okay?  Are they all in Heaven? (of course I’m asking multi-part questions! ha!).

2. Are the encounters that I’ve had with deceased loved ones real?  Was it really them – when I sense someone watching or with me, looking out for me, is that real?

3. Are there any messages for me or for other living loved ones that I can pass along to offer peace, closure, or say something that needs to be said?

I’d love to know more.  I can be patient though.  I know that once I get to Heaven (to which I’m in no rush to do, I love being alive and in this life on earth), I’ll get to be reunited with everyone, and I’ll get to have so many questions answered.  But there’s a lot of sadness amongst my family over people who’ve been taken too soon, I have passed friends who I think about often, and I miss them.

I’m named after my maternal Grandmother.  She died before I was born, but I have so much in common with her, and I so badly want to know her.  I’d love to have a conversation with her, to know that she’s proud of me and she watches out for me.  I want to know that she’s in peace now and she’s not suffering anymore.

Yeah, if I ever got the chance to really break that barrier and have a chat with our angels there would be tons of things to talk about.  A million questions to ask.

I guess from the tone of this blog and my abundant enthusiasm, it’s plain to see that I really do dig Theresa Caputo and I extend a lot of credit to her.  It’s a balancing act though, a fine line.  I don’t ever want to follow a false prophet or insult God – I don’t want to get mixed up in something dark or bad, evil or untrue.  I know when it boils down, the best and safest, most sure way to do just this is to trust only God!

But much like I trust in various Pastors to teach me about God’s Word, interpret, to pray for me or with me… I think there’s some amount of trusting one another that’s okay.  Usually I just defer to my gut and my hunches (it is, afterall, that part of God within me that steers and guides my own conscience).

So while I must play it safe and keep Daddio as #1 forevs – I do have curiosities, which I hope are harmless.

WHEW!

Was that a doozy of a post or what?  Man.  These crazy prompts, I tell ya!  I was going to try and write up Days Seven AND EIGHT in here but yeah, I went on way too long for all that.  Times a million.

Stay tuned for day eight’s post very soon, and keep encouraging me.  Are you digging these 30 Days?  I feel like I’m certainly finding inspiration in the topics and that while doing so I’m getting out of my normal comfort zone.  It’s been fun, albeit very very wacky.

As always, thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr


Retreat IceBreakers – Copy, Borrow, Steal!

This past weekend was the annual Women of Hope retreat.  140 women gathered on the beautiful North Shore at  Camp Mokule’ia.  I was invited to be on the ministry team for the event, and it was my pleasure to help out.

photo courtesy of robyn pratt - to give y'all an idea of the cafeteria we were in all weekend, this is where we played all of the ice breaker games.

One of my roles was to come up with and lead some icebreaker activities.  A lot of the women were new to retreat and new to the community.  Hope Chapel has multiple services and campuses, so even women who’ve been attending for years may not have had the pleasure to cross paths.

The theme of the ice breakers was to connect the women.  Our goal was to foster friendships, highlight commonalities, encourage teamwork.  Basically, it was all about bonding and creating a stronger sisterhood.

Annmarie, my dear Irish pal, was my co-leader and we had a blast all weekend!  We’re both pretty funny (if I do say so myself) and we were able to inject a lot of banter and jokes into our on-the-mic time.

here's a pic of annmarie - with her hubby vic. i snagged this off of her fb!

So, since I helped create all of these games, with lots of borrowed common ideas and a little bit of my own creativity – I’ll be the first to encourage any readers to go ahead and re-use them.  Borrow these ice breakers for your next retreat, workshop, classroom, whatever.  And if you do, let me know how it goes!

Stand Up / Sit Down

I’ve played variations of this game tons of time, in all kinds of group settings.  Since the idea was to connect women, we came up with this idea in a planning meeting for the event.  We drafted a list of categories to call out, some serious and some fun.

How to Play the game:  Basically, Annmarie and I read a list.  We told the gals, if what we read applies to you – stand up.  While standing, look around and see who else is standing with you.

For the first night it was a good way for the women to get a feel for who they’ll have things in common with – who’s going to be up nice and early, who will stay up late.  For the newest members, finding out commonalities is a great way to start a conversation.  It’s also a gentle way to start things out, no one had to do anything crazy or super outgoing.

The list had administrative items like “first time at a retreat,”  “if you’ve been to five or more retreats,”  we listed out all the church services HCKB offers, we asked about what campus they attend, if they’re visting from another church.  Morning people and then night owls were asked to stand – this was all so people could find a familiar face, so newbies wouldn’t feel alone.

We had a lot of silly items, “love sushi,” if you “like rock’n’roll” please stand up!  Dog lovers, cat lovers, parents, married, single, and so on.   Oh, and we called out for “motorcycle owners” knowing durn well it would apply to a specific person, and it was so funny!

Pros: it was easy, fun, our jokes made it funny, and people seemed to have fun when something they liked or included them was called.

Cons: it was simple, possibly kinda boring, and it doesn’t really work if it goes on and on forever.

I didn’t hear any negative feedback on it, in fact people said it was fun.  I know it sounds like it would be really boring, but when you actually do it – people get pumped.

Things in common game! 

I’ll preface this game by saying that when everyone checked in to camp, they were given a yarn tied around their wrists.  Groups who came in together were told to get different colors.  We had pre-cut a pile of them, seven different colors.  Then, during the event when we needed to break up into groups – using yarn color was the easiest way to go.  By breaking up people who traveled together, ladies were forced to make new friends and get out of their social comfort zones.

How to play the game:  Teams were given five minutes (or was it ten?) to brainstorm a list of things they had in common, every single one of them!  Team with the most commonalities, wins.  A prize will be given (we used a paper bag full of candy and treats).  The catch is that if other teams also listed the same thing, they’d cancel each other out.

After time was called, we went one team at a time and they read their lists, if others heard something called out that they had written down, they’d cross it off.

It went really well.  They ladies had to get creative, clever and learn about each other very quickly.  The ONLY way to succeed was to find things out about each other.   The pressure of the timer helps everyone to bond by coming together.

I created this game based off some similar ones I’d seen online.  I really loved it.  The winning team had 37 items!  Examples ranged from “we all love chocolate,” to listing anatomical consistencies, “we all have boobs,” “we all have hair” being some (it’s easier for a same-gendered team to play if you go that route!).  Some answers were really sweet.

Pros: Players get to know each other, it was fun, the sillier the answers – the more everyone laughed.  It got the teams working together, competing.  It was everything an ice breaker should be.

Cons: I think it could get a bit boring during the reading.  Since there’s only one list, a lot of people just had to listen and hang out during the reading phase.  It could be hard to figure out things you have in common, especially if they were more meaningful things/less superficial.

Mad Libs-styled Skits

skit performance - this one took place in narnia!

We ran this game in three parts – so it helped to fill a lot of time, and the opportunity for teamwork was immense.

How the game is played: 

every team did a great job!

Part One: Every team takes out a sheet of paper.  Annmarie and I give them six categories, they must come up with something for each one.

Our’s were:  a location (anywhere – real or fictional), a date (day, month, year – past, present or future), a food, a celebrity, a Bible verse, and an Olympic sport.

The teams filled in the lists and then we collected them.  And of course, we redistributed them so each team had a list they didn’t create.  The instructions were that each team must create a performance using ALL six elements on their list, each one must be incorporated somehow.  We told them they could write a song, put on a skit, anything really!

amanda on the guitar as her team sang an original, and hilarious, song!

 

i loved watching all of the performances

Part Two: We just gave them all 20 minutes to practice.  Practice during free time was encouraged, but just to make sure everyone did a great job, we opted for practice time instead of doing a different ice breaker.

Part Three: Performance time!

This was so fun.  Our lead pastor, Tami, was in tears watching the show.  She was so impressed at the great job every team did.

Groups were judged on creativity, humour, thoughtfulness, fact accuracy, props, energy and using everything on their lists.  Prizes were given to first place and two runner ups!  Picking the winners was about impossible, each team did an amazing job!

Pros: LOTS of bonding time.  We saw so much teamwork and creativity.  Groups spent a lot of time together.  Women who usually stay behind-the-scenes totally got up on stage and gave it their all. New friends were made, people had fun, it was fun for the audience to watch.  Since our retreat was faith-based, having a Bible verse in there was a good way for them to incorporate the Word into the project.

I just heard rave reviews about the skits, everyone seemed to have enjoyed it very much.  By creating the mad libs style lists, the skits were wacky and funny!  Since they had no idea they’d be doing skits ahead of time, they didn’t really have props, so it was fun to see everyone come up with stuff on the fly.  We had a lot of musicians at camp, with instruments, so the music abounded!

Cons: I used Curling as an example of an Olympic sport, and I’m pretty sure five out of seven teams used it, so that was kind of a bummer.  I’d caution anyone using this activity to limit the number of examples you give.   It was a time-consuming activity, a lot of the groups needed much more than the 20 minute allotment to put it all together.

The idea for this game just came to me Friday night during the teaching.  I quickly scribbled the rough idea down, then Annmarie and I hashed out the details.  I’m really quite sure the inspiration was Devine – it just popped into my head out of no where.  So praise God for the spurt of creativity!

So, if you were at retreat – what did you think about the ice breakers?  Annmarie and I really tried to give everyone activities that would encourage friendship, sisterhood, and bonding.  Mostly, we wanted everyone to just have fun.

If you’re going to use any of our game, please let me know how it goes and what modifications you make to suit the needs of your groups!

as always, thanks for reading!  xoxo, hhr

Whew. What An Amazing Weekend – Women Of Hope Retreat 2012

I spent this past weekend on the North Shore with 140 of God’s LOVEliest women at my church’s 2012 women’s retreat!

the women of hope

I’m fired up, filled to overflowing, loved, happy, encouraged, humbled, grateful, and … exhausted!  Hence, this post isn’t the actual rundown post.  No, this weekend was so full of post-able pieces of wisdom, insights, joy, fun, photos, and good ideas it’s going to take me a hot minute to compile it all together.  I think I’ll actually make a few posts.

I was so honored to be on the ministry team, working at the event.  I was in charge of the tie dye event and I came up with/led some ice breakers.  I want to post about the group bonding games we did in hopes that others could take the ideas and use them for their own events (Annmarie and I co-led the ice breakers and we are oh so clever, we invented our own games for the ladies to play!!).

The ministry was amazing.  We had devotionals, testimonies, teachings, praise and worship, prayer, prayer and more prayer.  Eight women were baptized in the ocean! EIGHT! Countless women had their faith renewed, re-ignited; sins were purged, the enemy was attacked, others were forgiven.

ocean baptism - amen!

The theme of retreat was LOVE.  We are Lovely, Overcoming, Victorious, and Eternal.

I learned so much, I just feel so pumped up.  I’ve been falling off in my obedience and commitment to God, and this weekend really gave me a chance to dig in and reconnect.  I was able to lay a lot of my own junk down and serve my God, happily.

So, there is MUCH to share, much to say and much to show.  Just give me a few days to collect my thoughts (and notes – I used like seven different notebooks, so everything is all scattered and out of order)… and a series of posts will ensue!

camp mokule'ia is amazing.

If you have any requests of stuff you’d like me to talk about, lemme know.

Oh, and the location!  The location was epic.  Camp Mokule’ia is peaceful and amazing.  The new direction of the facility is to live and run the operations of the camp in a way that is most kind to the land it’s on.  Sustainable living is totally promoted with a new gray water system, aquaponics, composting, gardening, and beefed up recycling.  A hippie like me couldn’t be more excited, especially because Camp management bases all of their green-inspired efforts in Scripture!  I’ll be interviewing the owner of the Camp and giving a full explanation of all their new eco-friendly installations, what the impact has been like, the theological inspiration for the efforts, and how camped have been responding.  So rad, right!?!?

I’m excited to get cracking.  Love to all of my sisters – thank you for a wonderful weekend.

Thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

I Am Second

This weekend was a blur.  My hubs (Duggs) had duty on Friday.  I got sick and was up all night, so I did sleep either.  So, Saturday we both slept.  Today, I’ve been in recovery mode – we’ve just been taking it easy, spending some nice relaxing time together.  With a teensy bit of crafting in there.  I worked for a hot minute.  I haven’t been feeling awesome, so staying home has been nice.

But part of staying home is that we didn’t make it to church this weekend. Sad face.

I love going to church.  Our home church out here in Hawaii, Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay, is wonderful.  The sermons are passionate, down to earth, funny, relate-able.  The people are amazing, loving.  It’s home to us.

Going every weekend is a way to center our lives.  It helps to ground us.  We spend some time praying, being with God, celebrating all the amazing blessings we experience.  Reflection, thanksgiving, and fellowship.

It’s part of the routine that we love, the foundation for the week. Sets the tone, ya know.  (I hope anyone of my high school friends reading this just shouted set the tone! in your head, LOL).

I know that a blog post isn’t nearly the same as church.  But, I did spend some time this evening focusing on an aspect of my faith that I wanted to share with y’all.   wanted to spend a minute posting about a super rad revolution that I am happily a part of.

I am Second.

Darrell Waltrip’s I Am Second Video

I am Second is this awesome movement I heard about on the radio a while ago.  We’re all in second place, because God’s first.  It’s about all of us contributing to take care of each other, lift each other up, pray for one another and be a community of God’s children.  From their website, here’s an explanation of what it’s all about:

I am Second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Drug addicts. Your next-door neighbor. People like you. The authentic stories on iamsecond.com provide insight into dealing with typical struggles of everyday living. These are stories that give hope to the lonely and the hurting, help from destructive lifestyles, and inspiration to the unfulfilled. You’ll discover people who’ve tried to go it alone and have failed. Find the hope, peace, and fulfillment they found. Be Second.

 

You are here for a reason. We all have needs and could use some help. Talk to us. Call, chat, or email. 24 hours a day.

 

Go a step further, talk with the people in your life. Spread the revolution of Second. Share the videos with friends. Start an I am Second Group in your neighborhood, workplace, or school or join an I am Second Group already meeting.

 

Volunteer at concerts. Serve through I am Second community service events. Organize your own I am Second events. Sign up for an I am Second Expedition to help people in other countries. Check out Get Involved for other opportunities. Connect with us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

I am Second is designed to help people discover their purpose in life. Have you discovered yours?

 

I’ve yet to go volunteer at an event, but I try to get involved when I can.  They post prayer chains on FB – stuff like that.  I’ve chatted with total strangers, just to lend an ear, being there at the right time to just help someone.  It’s awesome.

The stories of I am Second members are so awesome.  People who’s been saved, overcome really incredible adversity.  The site has videos and stories that can really brighten your mood.  From huge celebs to everyday people, so many members are part of the movement.

I would love a chance to volunteer with I Am Second.

So, today, I went ahead and registered.  Not just following the FB feed or Twitter, I actually made an account.  So now, it’s up to me to see what opportunities may come my way.  I’m posting here for accountability, and in case others are interested in signing up!

Jason Castro’s I Am Second video

So while I know spending time on a website is totally different than attending church… I just wanted to take a time out from my day to invest some energy into my faith.   And hopefully I’ve sent a couple more people over to the site.  If you check it out and like it, let me know!

As always, thanks for reading!!  xoxo, hhr