Thursday, July 16, 2015

Golden nuggets learned in this lifetime

Like any class you attend, if you are lucky you walk away with a few golden nuggets of knowledge. It's the one or two things that you learn that keeps you coming back for more. Well life is like that too. Like a class that lasts a lifetime and when you uncover those golden nuggets they tend to be amazing insights that can help you in every situation that comes afterward. This is one of those.

What one person feels in a relationship, the other person feels the same way.

So what does this mean and how do I know? It means this, if I am in a situation where I feel great, supported, motivated and inspired, chances are good that the other person in that situation feels the same thing. This also works in situations where I feel uneasy, anxious or fearful, chances are excellent that the other person in that situation feels the same.

So why doesn't it always appear that way? Because people react differently in the same situation, it doesn't always appear that both people feel the same because their actions are so dramatically different. How do I know this? I can say that each of us are unique and different just like everyone else and the way I demonstrate anger can look dramatically different from the way someone else displays the same feeling. For some, the best defense is a good offense, and others prefer to play the role of the victim. Both are feeling fear but it just looks different in how it manifests.

In my experience if two people have an honest and candid conversation they will find that they share the same feelings no matter how different they act. So in any situation even without an open and honest conversation, just know this universal truth and knowing this will help you empathize with your teaching partner on this part of  your journey.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another Year Wiser

Dear Friends & Family,

As another wonderful year draws to a close, we want to take the time to write to let you know how much you mean to us, and to let you know the highlights of 2011.

In January we celebrated Sheryl's birthday in Northern Ca with dear friends in San Jose and San Francisco. We got to spend time with Jari, Tim, Melanie, Tony, Ryan, Carole, Paula, Teri, Tamara, Margie. We thank you for the special memories we brought back in our hearts. Thanks also to Tony & Ryan for turning us on to some excellent new board games (we LOVE games), and thanks so much to Carole and Paula for your warm and generous hospitality! Now you all owe us a visit to sunny Florida.

Tony & Ryan whetted our appetite to play games more often, and after our visit to CA, we implemented "Game night" at the Cattell household on Sundays! I can't remembering laughing so much and for so long as we do at game nights. Have you ever watched your mom crawl on the floor flipping her tongue out trying to silently convey that she is a gecko? OK - we haven't either - but Toni's son Tom has seen this sight, and he didn't come back to our house for a very long time!?!? Hmmmm… we wonder why?

In April, Sheryl started a new job with a great company - Cross-Country Home Services ( When she left Bluegreen in 2008 she worried that she might never find another company or another team as great as that one - but she loves working at Cross Country and is part of a great group of people. It feels like she has finally found the company she has been looking for! She took time off after leaving Bank of America and before starting at CCHS, and spent well deserved time reconnecting with friends and loved ones in Dallas! She stayed with both Chelly and Kim, who now owe us a visit in 2012 so we can return the hospitality.

In May, Michelle Gosselin celebrated the 11th anniversary of her 29th birthday and the entire family turned out.


Also in May Jackie and Veronique came to S. Florida all the way from Brussels and they enjoyed it so much they plan an encore visit in 2012.

In June, we celebrated Pat’s (Toni's mom) 86th birthday with Toni's son Jerry and his wife Tiffany by sailing on Biscayne Bay on a 41’ Catamaran. It was a beautiful day; we swam in the bay, sighted dolphins playing and spent the day with loved ones. Mom loves boats, the bay and the ocean and we wanted to give her that experience again. We can't wait to do it again.

Later in June, we went to N. Carolina to visit and celebrate our dear friend Julia's birthday. We didn't want her to think she could escape our penchant for birthday celebrations just by living in another state during her birthday month!
In July, we attended SUUSI (Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute) in Radford, VA for the first time. We had a great time - the only downside was there is so much to choose from there is no way to do it all in a single lifetime. The Mountain Lake area is beautiful - with plenty of opportunities to hike, star gaze and experience nature. In addition to a smorgasbord of spiritual talks, activities and workshops, we experienced some awesome music from the most amazing singer-songwriters. The music alone is reason enough to attend, and we got to experience it up close and personal with suite-mates Amy and Brooke. Brooke taught us Thrifting 101 and we furnished our dorm room for less than $36. We are now hooked on SUUSI and Thrifting with Brooke! To top everything off we got to watch Tret Fure and Amy Carol Webb practice in our suite, it was like a private concert just for the 2 of us. On the way home we stopped in Charlotte to see Sheryl’s Dad and family, making it a perfect end to an amazing vacation. 

Sunday game nights were temporarily suspended at the beginning of NFL football season, which also coincided with a major change in Toni & Sheryl's lifestyle.  We started a pretty extreme macrobiotic diet, which consisted of no meat, no seafood, no dairy, no soda, no wine, no sugar, no processed foods, no coffee, (no "anything") and allowed for only limited types of whole grains (mainly brown rice) and limited selection of northern fruits and certain vegetables.  Also no microwave cooking, no Teflon, no aluminum pans, no electric stoves - Thanks to Toni's Mom for the new set of stainless steel pots and pans! We spent an entire Saturday learning how to cook macrobiotic food with Amy, Brooke and Zeli. We adhered pretty closely for more than three months (no we didn’t buy a new stove) and it made a significant difference in cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.  We've struggled to stick with it during the holidays - but we are committed to getting back to it in a big way next month.

In November, Sheryl and Toni spent a long weekend in NYC and went to several Broadway plays - the favorites being "The Mountaintop" (about Martin Luther King's last night in the hotel where he was assassinated) and "The Book of Mormon"- both were excellent and we highly recommend! The 9/11 memorial was very moving and perfectly designed for a sense that all life is connected and all energy lives on. For the first time, Toni came away actually enjoying New York City, and an appreciation for the "I love New York" mindset!

In December, Toni's niece, Misty, married Dexter Bean in Orlando in a beautiful ceremony! We were so happy to be there and so happy that Misty and Dexter found each other. It was also great to see our family members and meet the Bean family! Even "Big Jerry” - Tom and Jerry's dad- made it down from Lima, Ohio home of the TV program “Glee.” Speaking of family, Toni's son, Tom, once again has used his vision and his talent to remodel the guest bathroom this year to make it more accessible and more stunning. Thanks Tom for all the care and effort and thought that you put into your work- it always turns out beautiful.
We saw Lady Gaga who is an amazing performer and the message to her "little monsters" was all positive and life affirming, except for maybe the f word- but she meant that in the nicest way! :-) K D Lang gave a memorable concert and we think her new CD "Sing it Loud" is her best since Ingénue!

We've just finished the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson - and we both feel that it is one the most fascinating and informative books that either of us have read in a decade. It’s an intimate portrait of an extremely visionary, sometimes enlightened, flawed human being who has "made a dent" in the world with his genius. We handle our iPads a bit more reverently and are contemplating a Mac conversion.
Finally, we feel fortunate that we are able to see our families in FL and NC. Not as frequently as we want, but at least we do get to see Sheryl's mom & Bruce, Tom & Amanda, and Toni's mom and her family who are just a few hours away. And in 2011 we were able to make it to Charlotte a couple of times to see Sheryl's NC family. We flew to Chicago in May, and had a wonderful time with Jerry and Tiffany. Who knew that Chicago was so beautiful when it wasn't below zero? We Are So Blessed.

Just in case you don't know, if you are getting this letter, we count YOU as a blessing in our lives. Come to see us when you can, and we and the puppies and kitties will roll out the red carpet to welcome you to our home. We hope next year we can add your name to our list of visitors.

Love, Toni & Sheryl, Maya & Gabriel, Cassidy & Sundance

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Its that Time of the Year Again

Dear Friends & Family,

When we left off last year, we felt guilty for singlehandedly causing the world economic crisis, because we didn’t spend much in 2009. However we made up for it this year! More about that later……………..

Our first event of the New Year was Toni’s fun, loving (and fun-loving) and terrific nephew, “Mikey’s” 40th birthday celebration (organized by his wife Ilham) with lots of family and friends. It was a wonderful way to start the year to celebrate such a unique-in-all-the-world guy on this milestone birthday!

Later in January, we headed up to Tampa to see South Pacific with Sheryl’s mom, Pat, and stepfather Bruce. We got the tickets as a gift for them but it was just as much of a gift to us in our enjoyment of the musical and Pat and Bruce’s company.

In February, Sheryl left her job with “Time4 Learning” to go to Bank of America as Vice President of Digital Marketing. The company is huge, benefits are great and Sheryl gets to work from home! Kind of disconcerting for Toni, as she’s rushing to start her 45-mile commute each morning and Sheryl just stumbles out to her computer in her PJs.

This past spring the “Perogie Sisters” (sometimes referred to with other endearing terms) directed by JoAnn’s expertise, met at our house for the Third Annual Perogie Party! We made another world famous batch of Polish potato and cheese pasta pockets -more than pasta came together that day.

In June, most of the family gathered in Orlando for the weekend to celebrate Toni’s mom, Patty’s 85th birthday! We even had a special guest join the party -our friend Nupur- from India. We are so grateful for the opportunity for our families to get together to celebrate our mom!

So a little bit more about our efforts to jump start the economy. Once we realized last year’s dismal economic performance and unemployment could be our fault, we bought a new flat-screen TV so we could better view our Dolphin away games. Of course, it was too wide to fit in our old entertainment center, so we had to buy a new one. We were thrilled when we found out our new piece of furniture was manufactured locally in Medley, FL – job creation!

Next on our list – in July Toni was at the dealer to trade in her 2005 Prius (with 178,000 miles) on a new red one, when Sheryl drove up and announced she was trading HER Solara convertible on the red 2010 Prius! Toni still has her old Prius and lo and behold we are now a 2 Prius (or is it Prii?) family. Think of the fuel we save. We’ll have to drive more, just to increase our savings.

To keep the world economy going, Toni took Sheryl on a cruise for her 2010 birthday and Sheryl took Toni to Italy for her big SIX -0 birthday! We took a wonderful Olivia Cruise with two dear friends- and cruised from Istanbul (lovingly referred to as Islamabad by fellow cruisers) through the Greek Isles to Athens – then flew to Rome for a week in Italy. We both agreed the Greek island of Santorini was our favorite part of the Greek isles cruise (beautiful, romantic island formed on an active volcanic caldera) and the historic ruins in Ephesus and the island of Delos (where Artemis and Apollo were born).

After the cruise, we had an unforgettable week in Tuscany with son Jerry and his wife Tiffany. We will always remember the picnic along the road from Assisi and the delicious “panforte” that made us all grimace! It was a trip of a lifetime and an amazing treasured journey. It was especially good to spend time with the two of them, as Tiffany is now traveling to various countries in Africa for work, and Jerry left Orbitz (in Chicago) for a promising professional opportunity in Vancouver, Canada. So we didn’t get our usual doses of Jerry and Tiffany in 2010 until we met up in Tuscany!

We returned home from Europe to an amazing new bathroom – thanks to son Tom and his wife Mandy. Thank you Tom for the creativity in pulling it all together and perfectly incorporating all of our “wish list” items, and thanks for your meticulous attention to every detail – and for all of the extra cupboard and closet space too! Amanda was a huge help with interior design and her expert procurement skills! Who could have imagined we would love a room so much……..we just want to hang out in the bathroom all the time. Speaking of bathrooms, next time we see you, we’ll tell you about our “jaws of life” experience in the bathroom in Istanbul!
Sheryl’s dad Ron and step-mom Carol retired from the glass business in Delray Beach and moved to South Carolina and are now living near their two other daughters and their families, including some of their grandchildren and great grandchildren! That has to be fun for Ron and Carol and also special for the South Carolina Sandlin’s.

Sheryl’s brother Ron and his wife Selma, and daughter Isabella are moving from FL to Texas! It’s a new start for them, with a great job and an opportunity to go back to school. –This is great for them, but it does seem strange that Sheryl left Texas to come to Florida to be near her family and now all of her family has vacated South Florida!

We are both happy for our family members- that they are happy and enjoy being where they are – but we sure miss seeing them more often. Fortunately, we still have family in Winterhaven and New Port Richey – and can get there in a matter of hours.

One sad event was that Bea Cattell passed away at the end of November at the age of 78. She and her gracious and loving spirit will be missed.

The puppies (Maya and Gabriel) and kitties (Cassidy and Sundance) are good except for one traumatic event in November when the puppies underwent anesthesia and had their teeth cleaned. They were fine and it was not traumatic for the puppies – but Toni was traumatized with worry!

Well, between the car, the trip, the bathroom, the TV and entertainment center, we think we did our part for the world economy. Don’t expect us to shoulder this responsibility by ourselves next year – you need to go out and buy something- even if it is just an airplane ticket to come visit us in Florida!

Peace, love & happiness -now and in 2011 from Toni, Sheryl, Maya, Gabriel, Sundance and Cassidy

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Being Legally Right May be Dead Wrong

“For as long as I can remember, and I’ve been on the Police force for 24 years, early morning walkers and joggers have parked in front of the shops and returned before 8 am to remove their cars and there has never been a problem”

On Saturday, May 29th the owner of Beachcomber Shops and the building located at 2080 NW 2nd Street Deerfield Beach, FL hired Recon, Inc. located at 6574 N State Road 7 # 321 Coconut Creek, FL 33073 to monitor their parking lot to help them tow away illegal parkers. Starting at 6:30 am the parking lot monitor hid in the bushes next to the Howard Johnsons and took pictures of the regular joggers leaving their cars to walk the beach and then he called an army of tow trucks to come and remove the cars quickly before they returned.

Evidently the owner of Beachcomber Shops and Recon think that it is good customer relations to hide in the bushes and lay in wait for the opportunity to inconvenience their potential customers at an hour that they have no need of their parking spaces.  Rather than to use the opportunity to inform the regulars of the change in policy giving them fair warning, they think they can win friends and influence customers by jumping at the opportunity to tow their cars and earn the tow company Westgate Towing $100 per car.

When the 8 victims returned for their cars, they only had a phone number to call to retrieve their cars. In my case my cell phone and driver’s license was in the car along with what little money I brought to walk the beach at sunrise. When I asked to use the phone at Bob’s Pizza I learned that one of the 8 cars towed away from the building belonged one of their employee and had an employee sticker on the window. But that did not matter given the zeal of the new parking lot monitor.  For him every car was fair game and the more the merrier.

Once I was able to rouse someone at 7am on a Saturday morning to take me to retrieve my car, yet another horrible adventure began. I called Westway Towing and received the address of my car as 2527 W. Hillsboro Blvd. Deerfield Beach, FL 33442. When I arrived at the office I was met by an unhappy and unhelpful tow truck driver who informed me that he was at the end of a 16 hour shift and that this was his second job. He escorted 2 of his victims into a room that was more disgusting and horrible than any public toilet I have ever seen at the worst gas station in a bad neighborhood. This was the best that the $800 haul for the morning tows could afford?

He proceeded to demand from me my drivers license, registration and proof of insurance, all required by law. I also had to give him my credit card, compliments of my friend who picked me up which he then called in to process for the $100 payment. When I asked who authorized him to confiscate my car, he told me that he was not allowed to share that information. He had every piece of information about me, enough to steal my identity but I could not know the name of the person or company that was responsible for my inconvenience.

Upon completion of payment a third hapless victim arrived and he told her to wait inside while he opened the gate to let the 2 processed victims out of the lot. When we got to our cars we found the windshield covered with white lettering on the driver’s side of the car. It did not seem safe to try to drive the car with obstructed vision but when we asked if he had a rag or toilet paper to wipe it off with he said, “Lady, this isn’t my problem and if you don’t want to leave then I don’t care.” At that point he relocked the gate and moved the tow truck in front of it so we were unable to leave.

He then went back inside and processed the 3rd victim while we scrounged around the yard for an old towel to clean the windshield so we could be ready to drive safely away if we were ever given the chance to leave again. After about 15-20 minutes of waiting he re-emerged and opened the gate for the 3rd victim and we were able to escape our nightmare at that time.

If you use Westway Towing or are considering using them I would highly recommend against it as they treat their employees and their customers very badly and expect you to operate in conditions that are on par with third world countries in terms of cleanliness and customer service. As an alternative I would like to recommend: Bonnie Towing or Emerald Towing.

And yes, I know the sign posted 11 feet from the curb that says 24 hour towing strictly enforced makes what they did completely within the letter of the law. But I also have my rights of free speech and am able to say that sometimes you can be legally right but if you are in a business that interfaces with the public your being right can cost you plenty of lost business due to poor treatment of your neighbors and customers. It is more about doing what is right by others (also called the golden rule) which is always good to apply in situations like this, not your legal rights.  Pay your parking lot monitoring company to inform regulars about your new policy instead of hiding in the bushes and playing gotcha with a big towing bill. Thanks Beachcomber for a memorable memorial day.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

When I grow up I want to be....

When I was a teenager in high school I decided I wanted to be a songwriter when I grew up. It didn't hurt that nearly all of my "boyfriends" during that phase of my life were musicians, singers, guitar players or drummers. So I kept a notebook with all of my budding song ideas. And one notebook turned into two and then three and then six or seven by the time high school was said and done. The problem was that all of my "songs", I use the term loosely as they were more like badly rhyming poems without music, were so depressing that anyone trying to put them to music would probably end up committing suicide.

Why in the world anyone would want to put that depressing dribble to music is beyond me now, but at the time I thought I was on to something. It is true of many songs and songwriters that they write their best songs when the going gets tough, the songwriters start writing. But I couldn't write a "don't worry, be happy" song to save my life. The problem was, when life was good who wanted to stop living long enough to commit it to a song - it was more fun to be in the moment. But when life sucked, writing a song about it was like therapy, it somehow helped you be in that moment and extract something worthwhile from it, with the word "worthwhile" being in the ears of the beholder.

I remember that I loved the songwriters more than the singers or the musicians. I loved Carol King more than James Taylor for You've Got a Friend, Leonard Cohen more than KD Lang for Hallelujah - heck I loved everything Leonard Cohen wrote and he couldn't sing for his life. Same with Bob Dylan, it was the words not the sound quality that always touched me. And I fell in love with these songwriters, those willing to bear their souls to the world and have it put to music for everyone to hear and know.

So you might have guessed, I didn't grow up to be a songwriter but I thought it might be fun to dig out one of those old songs and dust it off, do what I always wanted to do, share it with the world. So here goes:

Nothing More Than You

Silently and softly
I steal across your mind.
I do not wish
To devour time
But only to touch it.

At this moment
I think
There is nothing
More to life
Than you.

There are other things
That keep screaming
In my mind.
But I don't need to listen
Our whispered thoughts
Are enough.

At this moment
I think
There is nothing
More to life
Than you.

Don't die in front of
My reality.
I'm tired of reaching out
To touch
And seeing things disappear.

At this moment
I think
There is nothing
More to life
Than you.

Keep me
In your thoughts
At least.
Each year, less
But keep me somewhere.

At this moment
I think
There is nothing
More to life
Than you.

Now if there's anyone out there that feels compelled to put these words to music, just contact my agent and I'm sure we can arrange something. That is as soon as I get an agent :-)


This post is dedicated to Cheryl P, the one that spells her name wrong.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 In Review

As we sat down to write our annual holiday update, we realized this year we have no weddings, no new family members, no trips to Asia, Europe or Yellowstone, and no major home remodeling projects or purchases. It occurred to us, that we might have single handedly brought down the world economy. We apologize for that and will do our best to bring things back in 2010!

You might remember in November last year, Sheryl was laid off from the job she loved at Bluegreen Resorts, due to the unavailability of mortgages to finance timeshare sales and resulting staff cut of nearly 60%. She proceeded to become the busiest unemployed person ever, working as a marketing consultant for three or four companies at a time -almost 7 days a week. Thank goodness, in May she found a job with a company she likes, and a product she believes in – an online homeschooling curriculum – Now she’s only working one job and managing a fun project as she is also developing and teaching email marketing courses for University of San Francisco through Bisk Education. She is much happier with a full-time job!

Toni feels very fortunate to still be with McClatchy Shared Services- this year was 20 years since she started at Miami Herald (now part of McClatchy). Despite tough times in the newspaper industry, Toni feels as strongly as ever about the importance of newspapers, and is glad to still be a part of this newspaper company! She just earned an Executive Certificate in Project Management at Florida Atlantic University and will sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam within the next quarter! (CPAs are supposed to talk that way- marking time in fiscal quarters!

We did have a couple of small trips this year – we went to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival with treasured friends Becky and Melissa and CAMPED out – in a tent- in pouring down rain, thunder and lightning! Toni was a MWMF virgin, though Sheryl has been many times. So Toni believed Sheryl during this 12-hour torrential downpour that if she even thought about touching the inside of the tent that Niagara Falls would come gushing through the tiny breach. It was the last camping trip for Toni who was extremely uncomfortable curled up in a fetal position all night, trying not to touch the inside of the tent. She has since questioned the logic of Sheryl’s thunderstorm orders, and would also have positioned the tent much closer to the port-a-potties.

This year we celebrated Toni’s mom, Patty’s, 84th birthday with a family trip to Orlando with Patty, and Toni’s son Jerry & his wife Tiffany from Chicago. We got to all stay at a vacation rental condo Patty owns in Orlando – so it really felt like a luxury vacation for all of us! We celebrated at a highly acclaimed steakhouse in Old Towne Orlando with nephew Mike & his wife Illham who live in Orlando! We are so grateful that we can all get together to celebrate her each year!!

We had a Labor day trip to Ft Myers for a fun-filled birthday celebration with dear friends Laura, Ginger, Cindy and Blanche, an adventurous road trip to Key West with close friend Julia, and short trips to see Sheryl’s mother and stepdad Bruce in New Port Richey and to spend more time with Toni’s Mom and family members in Central Florida. The good thing about the FL trips is we usually get to bring the puppies! We are still head over heels in love with our 4 legged kids – puppies Maya, Gabriel, and kitties Cassidy and Sundance.

We’ve enjoyed our visitors this year – Toni’s son Tom & his wife Amanda & top dog Joe came to stay a couple of times, and we had visits from Jerry & Tiffany, and Sheryl’s Mom, Bruce and her nieces Lexi & Jessie. Tony & Ryan stopped off as they took a cruise out of Miami. Wing & Cassidy made a quick visit- and we had a great time! We LOVE visitors! Please put us on your calendar to come visit!

Well since we started this newsletter a few days ago, we decided not to live in “fear” in 2010! Yesterday Toni booked an Olivia cruise to the Greek Isles for Sheryl’s Christmas and birthday present- and we will do our best to jump start the world economy! Our best wishes and love to all of you. Know that we love you and that you always have a place to stay if you make it down to South Florida!!

Happy holidays and a wonderful New Year from Sheryl, Toni, Maya, Gabriel, Cassidy & Sundance

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It Only Appears Bad Due to Lack of Perspective

The illusion that something is good or bad is usually only a matter of perspective. There is a great parable that illustrates this point. It is about a man whose son captures a beautiful, wild horse. His family and friends say to him, how wonderful, what a great skill your son has, how lucky he is and the father only responds, we will see.

When the son is thrown from the horse and breaks his leg, his family and friends all say how terrible it is and what a curse the horse is and the father responds, we will see. So when the military comes into town to gather up all of the able-bodied boys to march off to war, his friends and family say how wonderful it is that your son's leg was broken and that he was spared military service and his father guessed it, we will see.

So the moral of the story is that no matter how good or bad something may appear at the time, it is only perspective that allows us to see a broader meaning or reason for that thing to occur in our life. The thing itself is neither bad or good, only our perception changes bad to good or good to bad. Said another way, we would all be much happier and healthier if we could remember this at times when things appear to be going badly, or even in times when they appear to be going well so we don't get stuck in our mistaken perception.

Although I don't want to give up my joyful times, I certainly could do with some perspective in my less than joyful or sorrowful times. I experienced this lesson when I was quite young faced with a daunting decision at the age of 15. I found myself pregnant, in a relationship with a heroin addict and living in government subsidized housing. My mother insisted that I go to a convent to have my baby and then give it up for adoption. I knew this would be the end of my education and that I would soon follow in her footsteps and never make it to college even though it was always my dream.

I ran away and was picked up by the police after a few days of living on the streets. I spent several hours speaking with the Catholic Priest who was on call at police headquarters until my mother arrived to pick me up. The Father convinced my mother that she should honor my request to terminate the pregnancy and after she recovered from being told by a man of the cloth to allow an abortion, she agreed. So off I went to New York (this was just before Roe versus Wade legalized it nationwide) alone, afraid and feeling like my life was over in so many ways.

I managed to recover and found new meaning in my life once I was relocated to my grandparents' care. Only a short year later, I was instrumental in starting a community crisis hot line and high school peer counseling center where I personally helped hundreds of girls just like myself through the tough choices of teenage pregnancy. I was able to share the terrible truth of a decision to have an abortion and I know that I had a tremendous impact on those that sought my advice. I also know that I was a role model for girls who thought that suicide was their only choice as their life looked to be too terrible to bear. I assured them that it was only a matter of perspective and that eventually they too would see how this event could positively impact their life or the lives of those they touched. What a wonderful gift this experience was in that it shaped me to be able to return the gift to those in need.

So now I try to remember in the midst of something that appears to be terrible, that it only seems so because I don't yet have the perspective that will help me see it differently. I try to imagine that I am standing in front of a tree so close that I can't even see that it is a tree yet. And then I imagine slowly backing away from the tree, allowing distance and light to enter my field of vision, allowing me to finally see the situation clearly. This helps me have the patience to gain the perspective for whatever seems terrible to take on its true meaning in my life. Even if it might take months or years to get there, I trust that it will come. And this trust makes it easier to bear in the present moment and helps me embrace those terrible moments.