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.