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Visiting Joyce

“Two may talk together under the same roof for many years, yet never really meet; and two others at first speech are old friends.” – Mary Catherwood

Earlier this month, I went to visit my friend, Joyce at her new home in Kansas City, Missouri – or Missoura, as the locals might say. It was wonderful to spend time with my dear friend and her wonderful husband, Ed in their newly adopted city. Joyce graciously took me around the city to many of her favorite spots. One afternoon, we had lunch at a charming French Bistro. The watermelon sorbet, drizzled with blood orange liquor and garnished with a piece of dark chocolate and thin cookie wafer served beautifully in a martini glass was the highlight of meal.  Oh my, it was decadent! We then visited a small wine shop housed in the most adorable little cottage. The garden flag at the entrance had a clock face with a corkscrew as the hands of the clock. Under the picture it read “It’s wine o’clock. You’re right on time.” I don’t know about you, but that felt like an invitation to me. In we went. We enjoyed wandering through the various rooms filled with wine from Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Australia and California. The fact that is is a pain to transport wine via airplane is probably a good thing in this case. I could have gone a little crazy.

 We had the opportunity to relax, talk, enjoy the sights and sounds of Kansas City, laugh, eat delicious food (Did I mention the amazing wine?) and truly enjoy each other’s company for several days. It was effortless. I think that is the sign of a genuine friendship. There is no need to “warm up” to each other. You just immediately feel comfortable, at ease and at home. Such friendships feed your soul. They are rare and beautiful gifts to be treasured. If you have such a friend, I encourage you to make time in your life for them.

The following excerpt about our sons’ high school football season from my complete, but unpublished manuscript Comfort Food – Inspiring Stories of Loss, Friendship and Healing gives you an idea of why Joyce is such a special friend.

“Joyce and her wonderful husband, Ed, were so kind. They made sure I rode with them to all of the away games. I could have easily driven myself, as most of the games were close by. However, it was a special treat to meet at their house, enjoy a glass of wine and a snack (of course Joyce and Ed are red wine lovers!) and be on our way. The stadiums were electrified by the excitement of high school football, cheerleaders and marching bands. You could feel the energy pulsing in all directions.

To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed by the noise and activity at the first game. Everything seemed to be moving so much faster than me. It is strange that something you have easily done so many times can all of a sudden feel like the first time. I guess that is because you are in the process of becoming a new and different person. In that way, you are truly experiencing things for the first time. Walking into those stadiums flanked by Joyce and Ed was both comforting and empowering. I was so grateful to have them by my side. Once again, what seemed like a simple gesture had an enormous impact in my life…Touchdown!”


Dropping old patterns

“When patterns change, new worlds can emerge.”  – Author unknown

My friend, Jocelyn sent me an email last week. At the bottom of that email was the quotation shown above. Sitting quietly at the very bottom of the page, I almost missed it. As my mind absorbed the seven simple words, I was overcome by their power. Jocelyn said she came across the quote in the newspaper and now has it in a frame on her dresser as a daily reminder. She certainly has benefited from its wisdom. Jocelyn has transformed herself from a grieving widow into an amazing juggernaut – traveling to exotic places, going to a gym daily, driving a sporty convertible, starting a jewelry business and most importantly treating herself well. Her light is shining brightly for all to see. Jocelyn changed her old worn out patterns and new doors have swung open for her.

Thinking about Jocelyn brought an old Nutri-Grain bar commercial to my mind. Do you know the one where a woman chooses a Nutri-Grain bar over a donut with chocolate icing and jimmies for breakfast?  Inspired by this first choice, she then chooses a fruit cup over a brownie for a snack, climbs the stairs rather than taking the escalator, enjoys a salad rather than a gooey wrap for lunch and selects chicken with vegetables over a plate of cheesy pasta for dinner.  At the end of the day, she is glowing with satisfaction. The slogan was “One good decision can lead to another.” Indeed it can.

We all have the power to make good decisions. We just need the courage to make that first good decision.  That first good decision will lead to another and another. Before you know it, you have changed old patterns that no longer serve you.  When you look around, the world has changed because you have changed.

I encourage you to take a hard look at your patterns. Get rid of the ones you no longer want. If you want to eat a healthier diet, increase your physical exercise, find a new job, end a stale relationship, learn a new language or travel to a far away land, you must take the first step. It all begins there. Find the courage to make that first good decision. It may feel a little scary – change often is. Do it anyway. As you change your patterns, pay attention to what is going on around you.  An entirely new world may emerge.

A happy heart

I had lunch this afternoon with my dear friend, Dominick. Each time we are together, he leaves with me some words of wisdom. Today, through his broad smile, he said “Your heart is happiest when it beats for others.” It got me thinking about the times when I am happiest. Those are the times when I am being of service to others in some small way. The simple act of writing an encouraging note, dropping off hot soup to a friend recovering from an illness or delivering a simple bouquet of flowers to someone in need of a pick-me-up makes me feel good.

It’s funny how you may intend to do something kind for another, but you really end up doing something kind for yourself. The old adage “It is in giving that we receive” rings true. There are countless ways – large and small – by which we can help others. Pick one and do it. I’ll bet you discover a happier heart beating inside your chest.

I have written about Dominick and the ways in which he inspires me in my unpublished manuscript, Comfort Food – Inspiring Stories of Loss, Friendship and Healing. The following passage provides a glimpse into what makes Dominick so special.

“Dominick is the widower of my godmother and second cousin, Kathy. He is one of the most genuine, devoted, generous, wise, and loving people I know. Kathy died in January 2004 after succumbing to cancer. She was full of life and so much fun to be around. She had a thousand-watt smile. Kathy understood people well and gave of herself in service to others. Dominick would later tell me that Kathy was training him to take over her duties and he did not even know it. Yes, she was smooth.

When Jeff died, my friendship with Dominick deepened. He was then and continues to be a source of inspiration, comfort, generosity, and kindness. He is a mentor, motivator, and guide to me and my boys. This is another one of those priceless gifts hidden in the pile of rubble… There is no doubt Dominick is one of the angels sent to guide me through this world. I feel so blessed to have this amazing man in my life.

As long as I have known Dominick, he has been a man of deep faith and a devoted Catholic…Dominick not only believes his faith, he lives his faith. He “walks the walk,” so to speak. He volunteers at the state hospital, taking geriatric patients to Mass on Sunday. He also volunteers at the rummage sale fund-raiser in the spring and fall, repairing and refurbishing donated items. He volunteers at a Retreat House and is on the board of directors. He is chairing their fund-raising campaign.

He is one who is dedicated to serving others. I think this is why he has grown and expanded in so many ways. As he gives to others, he gives to himself. As he gives to himself, he grows and expands. His generous and loving spirit has inspired me to be a better person, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I bet Kathy is grinning from ear to ear.”