Thanks for the Dance

The world can be a selfish place. What about Me? I deserve… I need… I want…

As children, our Mom taught us 6 girls to give the best of what we had to our guests, to hold doors open for strangers, to give without expecting anything in return, to be empathetic and sympathetic to others, and the golden rule. Thank you Mom, you’ve laid out the foundation of how to raise my own children.

I want to share an experience I recently had at my Nephew’s wedding. The room was decorated beautifully and we all came together dressed in our best to celebrate the deliriously happy couple.  As the wedding dance was underway, I found my way to my Mom and my sister Janice’s table. We sat together and watched the couples on the dance floor moving to the rhythm of the music, and it dawned on me that maybe Janice, who’s lived with MS for years, misses dancing. I asked her “Hey, Janice do you want to dance?” She looked at me like I was crazy, and for a second I was embarrassed…how was I going to get her on the dance floor with her limited mobility. What a stupid question!

And then, moments later, as my Aunt Sandy and I were aiding Janice to walk to a different table, Aunt Sandy says “Let’s go dance Janice!”  Janice again looked at Aunt Sandy like she was crazy, but we made our way to the dance floor.  The three of us interlace our arms around one another and just swayed together to the music. Janice giggled throughout most of it, truly enjoying herself. And then the moment hit me: I’m dancing with Janice! Several times I had to choke back my tears, as the gravity of that moment was overwhelming.  It was as if there was no one around us, just the three of us and the sound of Janice’s laughter.

It wasn’t until the song was over and we turned around that I noticed our family behind us clapping, and cheering for Janice. I will never forget that. I know there were family members who took photos, if anyone has a picture of that I would love a copy to frame so I can look at it often.

At the end of the night, as I tried in vain to get to sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about Janice. I thought about all the times when I was so wrapped up in my own life and my own kids, that I failed to look at the world from her eyes. I didn’t think about what she must be wanting and needing and unable to achieve because of the horrible disease she lives with daily. Sometimes the one trait you struggle to handle in another person is the very same trait you struggle with as well…in this case Selfishness.  The trouble with selfishness is it’s a hard one to recognize, because one is wrapped up in their own needs, wearing blinders to others.

All you can do when you are slapped in the face with something you need to change is to learn, move forward, and make the necessary changes. Time to take the blinders off!  Once again you continue to teach me so much about life and humanity Janice.

Janice and my Daughter at the wedding

And Janice, thanks for the dance…

From my heart to yours,


The Special Occasion that is Life

The other night, a few of us shutter bugs got together for drinks.  One of our friends walked in wearing a beautiful dress and a brilliant smile. She looked stunning. Now, let me tell you she’s an amazingly strong woman with an infectious laugh that permeates from her soul. She’s been fighting the cancer dragon with the sort of strength and positive spirit that leaves me in awe. She is really LIVING her life, taking time in her busy schedule to enjoy the sweet joys of life: Photography, travel, hiking, good food and great company.

Because she was wearing such a beautiful dress, we asked her if she had just come from a special event, and she replied that she had this beautiful dress hanging in her closet which she didn’t have many occasions to wear, so today she wore it…just because it was a beautiful day.  You are an incredible woman my friend!

The simply lesson to enjoy life todayright now…is such a gift.  Thank you Kyla.

For a wedding gift, my Mom and Dad gave us a beautiful cutlery set, housed in a wooden box. For 10 years the cutlery sat untouched in its protective box, as there never seemed to be an occasion special enough to warrant using the “fancy cutlery”. One day as I was searching in vain for a tea-spoon to stir the sugar into my morning coffee (those spoons seem to walk off to school), the image of the “special cutlery” popped into my head. I walked over to the box, scooped up each special utensil, and put it all into the everyday cutlery drawer.  I’m sure my mother would gasp if she knew this…ummmmm so maybe don’t tell her. 😉  Now everyday is a special day for using special spoons.  I feel fancy every time I eat cereal.

What special event are we waiting for my friends? If we instead view everyday as a gift, then every day is special. My hope is that I would view every day with wonder and gratitude. I’m working on that, I forget sometimes and focus on the wrong things, which in the end matter very little.

So let me put this out there…

If you are waiting for a memorable event to enjoy something “special”, why not enjoy it today…just because.

~Dress the table in your fanciest linens, put out the good china and cutlery, prepare a delectable supper, enjoy a glass of that wine you’ve been saving…just because today is a gift.

~Pick up the phone, and call a loved one that you’ve lost touch with.

~Tell your friends and family something you appreciate about them…just because you appreciate them.

~Book that vacation you’ve always been meaning to take, even if it’s just a day trip.

~Take a break from the work, and enjoy the sun even if it’s for 5 minutes.

~Go for a walk, run, or bike ride and really take in all your surroundings. Simply because you can.

~Puddle jump, or go for a walk in the rain. A little water won’t hurt.

~Think of all those goals you’ve put on the back burner…waiting for the “right” time. Maybe, just maybe, NOW is the right time.

~Take up a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to try. Life long learning is a gift. I don’t know where I would be without photography. It’s a creative outlet that I’m so thankful for.

~Watch the sun set, or the sun rise.

~You know those fancy towels that hang in bathrooms…they are for display not for use. Use them.

~Get dressed up, and go to the grocery store, or to the movies, or anywhere the daily tasks of life takes you.

And when someone asks you: “What’s the special occasion?” You can then reply with a smile “Life.”

From my heart to yours,


I’m Home

I’m often reminded to shift my perspective. Very often. Life aligns to humble and teach what is of true importance.  I’m grateful.

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.
Maya Angelou

For so many years I didn’t feel like I was home. It’s difficult to describe in words, but it was a restless, incomplete feeling. I lacked direction and purpose.  Sometimes in life when one lacks direction, they will take the path of least resistance, which isn’t always the right path. Rather it’s the easiest. I used to say to my Mom when I was young “But that’s too hard” to which she replied “Who said life was easy?”

My purpose was unclear for many years, and at times it’s still unclear.  One needs purpose and direction in order to move forward though. It’s essential. I didn’t understand why my Dad didn’t sell his cattle before he started his radiation treatments.  Looking back on it now, I realize that perhaps he needed to take care of his cattle during one of the hardest times in his life.  It gave him purpose and direction while he was struggling.

So today I’m reminded of the importance of direction even if I’m unclear of which way to go!  Just put one foot in front of the other. Don’t stop searching. Keep going. Life’s direction can unfold itself when one least expects it. Don’t fear challenge, but rather embrace it. When your mind says No, that’s when  you say Yes…we are all stronger than we even realize.

Purpose is found within life’s passion. Those things in life that bring clarity, true happiness, and peace. What is it that you value most?  Often I realize the right decision for me is the one I fear the most. I fear change and the unknown and I hold back on pursuing my dreams because of that.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
Maya Angelou

During my summer holidays, I was once again humbled to my core. I was talking to my Dad and my sister Janice about how I loved that my sisters Brenda and Roxanne shared a joy for running.  My sister Brenda and her husband Mark had just left for their morning run and my Dad said to me “You know Janice was a track star in high school.”  Janice has lived with MS for many years, and because we are several years apart, I don’t remember Janice in high school.  Janice looked at me with longing in her eyes and said “Yes Chris, I used to love to run. I ran in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night! I loved to run. I miss it.”

As those words escaped her lips, I thought of the times that I had to convince myself to go for a run when I would rather be on the couch. I immediately felt small. Ungrateful. Spoiled. Selfish.

A vision of Janice flooded my mind’s eyes, her auburn hair floating in the breeze, her breathing steady, her strong legs urging her forward as her runners hit the pavement at a steady pace.  She ran simply for the joy of being able to.  At that moment, I would have given anything to give her my legs so she could run, even for one last time. I’m so sorry Janice. You teach me so much about life, and I’m so grateful to you. I love you.

“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”  Rick Warren

As soon as I hit publish on this post I’m going to the gym. I’m going to post an uplifting post-it note to the mirror in the change room, and then hit the running track simply because I’m able to run. And I will feel gratitude in my heart the whole time, even when it hurts and I want to stop.

I feel like I’m home now. I’ve found myself through the lessons that others have so selflessly shared with me.  I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Thank you.

From my heart to yours,