Building to Serve a Purpose!

You can usually tell what’s going on in my life by the number of LEGO bricks I have out!! This picture will give you an idea of where my focus has been this week!

I decided I’d put my LEGO bricks to good use by holding a LEGO Lab to design additional fidget toys to help those with dementia. It would be my contribution as we all wait out the devastation of COVID-19. My goal was to use very unusual pieces in my collection and to think outside the box as I created pieces I’d never done before. I spent hours after work this week and many hours this weekend.

Mom loves things that are brightly colored and spin so that the colors mesh together like a rainbow. Since I can’t see Mom right now, one smart way to spend our separation time is to have lots of fun things to show her when I see her again.

My favorite creation reminds me of an amusement park ride. It spins completely around and I used pastel colors which she loves. I’m pretty sure this one will get a WOW from her!

I also created a little garden which reminds me of a small plot Mom had at her senior retirement home before dementia cane into our lives. There’s also a square to which I attached two different types of fences which I believe will keep her hands occupied. One of the most unusual pieces LEGO makes is a big orange circular piece that I decided to try to use like a spinning top! It came out even better than I had hoped. People with middle to late stage dementia tend to like things that spin. The last piece pictured with the two blue spheres reminds me of a rattle in a sense because I placed two small LEGO pieces inside each sphere. It can be shaken but also spins around.

When fidget spinners became popular years ago I had always wanted to make a LEGO version for Mom. So I gave it a try in my LEGO Lab and am quite happy with the result! While holding it in one hand it spins really fast and I believe it will be very popular.

I built a few art pieces as well, one of which I’ll likely hang in Mom’s room. The frustrating thing about COVID-19 is that we still don’t know everything about it yet. There’s no clear black or white about it… so I made a few black and white pieces. This one is my favorite!

I doubt when this is over that we will ever return to a “normal” that will include the live presentations I had been giving for the last five years to help families deal with this disease. So before virtual church this morning I spent a couple of hours using Zoom and practicing my newest presentation that I haven’t given live yet. It’s a show and tell type presentation with me showing and demonstrating different types of activities from my large gadget bag and I was very happy with my first trial run! I’m praying I can still provide help and hope to families in a virtual format.

One of the best things that happened this weekend was the number of calls for advice I received from stressed family members. Since most senior centers and Departments of Aging are closed due to the pandemic I’m happy to answer as many questions as I can. I know some people think I’m crazy for giving out my cell phone number at every presentation but now that we are facing such a crisis and lots of people need help, giving out my number has been the smartest thing I could have done. I can’t be on the front lines to help fight this pandemic but I feel I’m doing what I can do.

My favorite call this morning was from Billy in Delaware who heard me speak in Nov. He and several other relatives are caring for his Mom with dementia and she’s a handful. He’s called me several times since Nov and he’s always so grateful that I take his call. I gave him a few suggestions and we ended our call with him saying “Bless you my friend”! That’s what I’ve been saying in my prayers for everyone fighting COVID-19 on a daily basis and risking their own safety. I pray that this will end soon and that until it does that we all will continue to do whatever we can to help each other! Stay safe my friends and Bless you all!

Being Home Alone!

I’ve started a Coronavirus Journal so that years from now I can look back on how I spent my time during the pandemic.

Here’s one of the things I wrote…

I now seem to cry at the drop of a hat. It never used to be like that.

I always was as strong as ox, I kept all my feelings packed in a box.

I love traveling around to do my Alzheimer’s work. Fighting the disease taking my Mom helps relieve the hurt. 
I’m always hanging out and doing something fun, but when the Coronavirus showed up there was no where to run.
I’m forced to stay home alone with all my memories of thirty-four years. Memories that make me laugh out loud and cry buckets of tears.
Thank God I find peace while clicking together LEGO bricks. They help me process my life and the things I need to fix.
I miss my sister, my husband and my Mom who doesn’t know me. Very thankful that in my redesigned basement home I’m starting to feel free. 
I had never sat still long enough to enjoy my new living space, because there are so many things in my life I still wasn’t ready to face. 
Part of me still feels cheated cause I never met my dad. All things we never got to share in our lives even to this day makes me sad. 
This year Tim and I would have been married for thirty-five years. But on September 21st without him there will be no cheer!
The virus is preventing me from visiting Mom except via a screen or through a glass door. Dealing with the virus and dementia together almost caused me to collapse on the floor.
Maybe my recent tears are helping me heal. Grieving the things missing from my life I’m starting to deeply feel.
It was past time to stop running and to finally start to process all my life’s stuff. Who knew a pandemic would force me to uncover realities that have been really tough. 
As long as the stay at home order remains in place, I’ll continue to relish my time being still in my space. 
I pray that the virus that’s impacted the entire world will soon go away. And yet I hope that the growth and peace finally building within me is here to stay. 

It’s About What’s In Your Heart!

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Today I attended the funeral service for Bruce Ellington Foote, my friend and my niece Nia’s father. Bruce was a guy who truly loved God and loved his family! It was an incredible service of love, but of course was also filled with tears of sadness. I am thrilled that I was able to attend, as I was supposed to be flying back from Connecticut this morning and was worried that I wouldn’t get back in time. But due to the Coronavirus my event was cancelled and I was able to be there for my niece and Bruce’s wife Debbie who over the years has become my friend.

I have great memories of Bruce and his siblings, but my favorite memory is one he actually wrote about in his obituary (yes he wrote his own). I had my first ever concert experience when I was a pre-teen when Bruce and my sister took me and two of his sisters Elaine and Melanie to see the Jackson Five in Baltimore. At the time, Bruce and my sister were both students at Morgan State University. Poor Bruce was surrounded by all these screaming girls and women but he was a trooper and seemed to relish watching us have the time of our lives. Today, Melanie, Elaine and I talked about that memory and it still holds a special place in all of our hearts.

My other favorite memory with Bruce and his siblings occurred in 1998 when my Grandmother Alberta was dying. When Bruce heard about my Grandmother, he and his siblings who had a singing group called Wings of Faith came to sing as my Grandmother was bedridden in the home in DC I was born in. Our entire family was around her bedside, her eyes were closed and she was said to be in a coma. But as the group sang Grandma opened her eyes and began to sing along. Do I need to tell you that everyone in the room was crying? That room was filled with love, and it didn’t matter to anyone that Bruce and my sister were no longer married. It was simply pure love in that room doing an amazing thing for my Grandma, who died the next day. I will forever be grateful to the Wings of Faith and what they did for our family.

Today at Bruce’s funeral, his siblings, cousins and nephews who now make up Wings of Faith sang their hearts out. Thirty years after Bruce created the group, their song paid a very special and loving tribute to him. The entire church was in tears and many stood and sang along with the group.

The highlight of the service for me was the eulogy given by his uncle The Reverend Irvin Beverly! His entire focus was on how much love Bruce had for God and his family and how much love was in his heart. It was one of the funniest eulogies ever as he shared lots of Bruce stories! But on the serious side, he asked us the question “what was in our hearts” and asked us to think about that question in the coming days! So much is going on in the world today, most dominant being the Coronavirus, the pandemic which is in the process of changing life as we currently know it. I left the funeral feeling inspired and filled with the love shared by all who were in attendance! I also was focused on what is in my heart.

Those of you who know me well know that I am all about love, joy and hope! I believe that dominates my heart and how I try to live every day with God’s help! What’s in your heart? If there are grudges and hate and contempt I hope you can lay that down for now and forgive some of the things you may have been carrying around for years. I pray that even in our current state of uncertainty and fear, I can share love and hope with others using what I believe is my really big heart!! Until this crisis passes, I’m going to try to make others smile and laugh just as Bruce always did. While we are off from work and school for the next couple of weeks I’m going to call the sick and shut-ins and let them know that even though they may be home alone, there are many who love and care for them. Bruce would say “Seek God first” and we can’t go wrong. That was in his heart. Let’s be like Bruce, and may he rest in peace!

For the Love of Sisterhood!!

Today, March 4, 2020, would have been my sister’s 70th birthday. Renee Woodward Foote was my only biological sister before she died from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) on July 17, 2011 at age 61 (my current age). My niece Nia and I gathered around Renee’s bed in Burbank, CA for her birthday in 2011 four months before her death.

It was a Joy to celebrate all together and embracing every moment. We told old family stories, laughed as if there was no tomorrow and ate the carrot cake cupcake we had sneaked into the nursing home for her!! We sang happy birthday which I recorded and still listen to on occasion. My sister could speak very little at that point, yet she said “YAY” at the end of our song. I think we all knew that it would be my sister’s last birthday and I tried to leave nothing unsaid during that visit. I flew cross country to Burbank again that July and told her how much I loved her. She told me how proud she was of the great job I was doing caring for our Mom. I was at her bedside with Nia when she died. 

 

Renee and I had a very complicated relationship, beginning with my birth and my father’s departure from our family both of which happened fairly close together. Renee was two months shy of her 9th birthday when I was born and as a kid who believed that our parents had a perfect relationship, she blamed my birth as the reason our father left us. 

 

 

By the time we learned the real reason for our father’s departure more than 30 years later, our relationship had been fairly non-existent. Renee and I saw each other for short visits and gift-opening each Christmas, but rarely celebrated birthdays together unless it was for our Mom. We never called each other unless someone was sick or dying and we definitely didn’t hang out together. That all changed when I made one last effort to forge a relationship with Renee by taking her on a cruise for her 50th birthday. It was her first and only cruise and we had the time of our lives! After the cruise we began monthly sister dates and we were loving our times together until the first signs of her illness began to appear in mid-2005, beginning the long saga towards the MS diagnosis around 2007. It was a devastating diagnosis especially since our Mom had been diagnosed with dementia in 2006. I wanted to do everything to help my sister so I began participating in MS 2-Day 50K marathons for her to raise money for a cure, participating in seven of them! I walked most of them alone, but in 2012 Nia and her Aunt Melanie and my awesome friend Jan did the marathon with me!

 

I was crushed when Renee died, and felt as though we’d been robbed of a great relationship that was just starting to become a real Sisterhood. I miss our sister dates in spite of the fact that we were only able to do them for about 18 months before MS invaded our lives. I hate the fact that Renee never got to meet her amazing grandchildren or to see what an incredible mother Nia is. I especially hate that she won’t be there for Nia’s wedding later this summer. 

I have to admit that even before Renee’s death my need for Sisterhood was very strong, actually almost overwhelming. That overwhelming need stemmed from the fact that I spent the first half of my life feeling as if my sister didn’t love me – and given that I’d never met my father I needed someone besides my Mom to love me and to be there for me. I most definitely have serious abandonment issues from my childhood. I began to choose my own Sisters – the women with whom I’ve built deep bonds that have been in existence for more than 25 years They are from my high school (Kathi), my early work life (Kris and Linda), and my personal life (Wendi and my Cha Cha sisters – Mary, Blanca, Emily, Millie, Rose and Sonia).

 

 

I’ve also built some amazing relationships with women from my church life and my Alzheimer’s sisters who are caring for someone with the disease, some of whom I’ve never even met in person but love just the same. Those lists are too long to name everyone, but they know who they are! I have two cousins in the D.C area as well and I’m thrilled that we’ve started to have frequent lunches or dinners which would make our relatives who are no longer here very happy. 

 

Though many of my relationships are great, particularly at church, I still longed for deeper connection with other women, connections that involve more than asking “how ya doing?” while still moving toward another destination before listening to their entire response. I’d like to sit down in a comfy chair with other women and talk about our careers, our vacations or bucket lists, our greatest fears (as I get older my list of fears about the future grow longer), and our deepest sorrows and greatest joys! I signed up for a Sisterhood class at church for no other reason than the title! We’ve completed two weeks of the five week class so far and it has already been incredibly beneficial. Great relationships are being formed between class members and there’s even homework that involves meeting outside of class with a different partner each week. Taking this class is one of the most important and meaningful things I could have done for myself!! 

 

Do you have a Sisterhood (or Brotherhood) that you can count on? Who are the “go to” people in your village? My village involves people who will listen when I talk about how much I miss Tim and my sister and how hard it can be to be a caregiver to someone with dementia. It can be incredibly difficult to allow ourselves to be open, authentic and vulnerable with new people we’re trying to form a relationship with. But don’t let fear or unnecessary worry stop you from forming that Sisterhood that could change your life! You are worth the effort and deserve that Sister you can choose for yourself. My biological sister would be proud of the women who now help to carry me through life after she no longer could! To all of the Sisters in my life, I love you from the bottom of my heart!

Feeling at Home and Going Home!!

What a week it has been …. a true emotional roller coaster!

On Tuesday, Mom turned 91 and what an amazing celebration we had!! I found a beautiful cake for Mom, and added only two orange candles to represent Tim and how much he loved celebrating birthdays!! We not only had lots of cake and ice cream but there was plenty of dancing too!!! I danced with Mom and the caregivers danced with the other residents…I asked Mom if she was having a good time and her response was “I’m feeling right at home”! I don’t think Mom has ever said that before and she may never say it again…. BUT it sure made my heart happy!! She’s content and at peace and with this disease, and if there is anything better I don’t know what it is….

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On Wednesday I headed over the Bay Bridge to Easton, Maryland to give a presentation at Candle Light Cove, an assisted living and memory care facility. I walked for an hour before my presentation through the quaint town and was inspired and relaxed at the end of my walk. As soon as I walked into the facility, it was like being at home. People rushed to great me, made me coffee (they also had wine!!), filled me up with many chef delicacies and the group that listened to my presentation was simply awesome! I was really sad when it was time to return home!

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On Friday night, I had the pleasure of seeing the One-Woman Show by one of my newest friends Elizabeth McCain! The show is called “A Lesbian Belle Tells” and it was simply fabulous!! It was funny (as she gave us wonderful impressions of all of her relatives) and painful (being estranged from family members after coming out), and brutally honest (sharing her deepest feelings of love and pain). The evening was stunning, and as a speaker myself, I learned so much from Elizabeth… Throughout the show she virtually “took us home” to where she grew up in the deep south! One of the things I took away from that powerful night was that after a long journey of soul searching, spirituality and finding true love with her spouse Marie, Elizabeth is as “at home” in her own skin as anyone I’ve ever met. I’m in awe of her! I felt empowered and emotional at the end of the night, thrilled by everything I took away from her show.

It was Saturday that was the most emotional of the week. I was supposed to work a LEGO shift at the National Cathedral but got a substitute instead so I could be with my dear friend Wendi who has over the period of more than 20 years absolutely become part of my family. Her Mom Harriet passed on Valentine’s Day and I was heartbroken for her. I made the three hour trip at the crack of dawn to Courtland, VA, a place that I’d not been before, but felt I knew from all the stories Wendi had shared of it. The drive was beautiful and peaceful and because it has snowed the day before, the snow had stuck to the trees making them glisten! When I got to Harriet’s home, it was warm and inviting and of course filled with family members prior to the start of the funeral. The long line of cars that went from the house to the church was somber, but what struck me the most was the respect that all the other drivers showed to the procession. Even if they were on the other side of the road, they pulled to the side and waited for the procession to pass by. Some people got out of their cars and put their hands over their hearts, which brought me to tears. Bryant Baptist Church where the funeral was held was small but beautiful and filled to capacity with some folks even standing in the back. The eulogy was given by Harriet’s nephew and was entitled “You CAN go home again” and had us laughing and crying! Harriet had spent almost 40 years in DC throughout high school and a long Federal career, BUT had returned home to her beloved Courtland in 2007. I loved that she was so loved in DC and in her beloved Courtland! And I loved that she was able to go back home and that she actually died in her home as opposed to a hospital. To be able to go back home to the place you were born and raised and be so happy with that choice, and then to be called home to be with God filled me with sorrow for her family who will miss her dearly, but also with love and hope and the belief that you really CAN go home again. On the three hour drive back to DC, I thought about my Mom and the two homes in DC she lived in for the first 77 years of her life. My Mom won’t ever be able to go “home” again as Harriet did, BUT the fact that she’s found a home in her group home brings me much joy!

Today my goal was to spend the day filling my spirit. I went to the early service at church where there was both baptisms and confirmation and a visit from our Bishop. After church I attended a class I was so excited to take. It’s a five-week Sisterhood class, that most of the participants are looking forward to as a starting point for building deep relationships with other women who worship in the same place. For me, the older I get the more I feel the need for more meaningful relationships. After the very empowering and enlightening class, I had two hours to spend before the start of a Liturgical Dance Festival I was to attend. So I went to the Frederick Douglass home, one of my favorite places to go and reflect (even when it’s not African American History Month), not to mention the fact that it is the perfect vantage point from which to see almost all of DC. I walked around the gorgeous property for an hour in the beautiful sun, and looked out over the city reflecting on this past week.

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Attending the Liturgical Dance Festival was absolutely the BEST way to end this very emotional week. I had bought the ticket as part of my observance of African-American History Month and though it was the first time I’d ever attended the event, it surpassed my expectations!! I was stunned by the beauty and spirit of the event!! What an incredibly powerful and inspiring two hours and several of the dances brought me to tears!! The dancers were of all sizes and ages, which I LOVED – AND they all moved like they were on cloud nine!!!

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I can’t think of a recent week where I cried so much, both from Joy and Sadness – YET I’ve come away feeling like I’ve grown a mile, and that makes me feel right at home!! I hope you all have a Blessed Week and are in a space where you feel “at home” wherever you are!

Making Loving and Historical Memories!

I always learn a lot in February because it’s Black History Month, but this year I’ve been especially focused on it and have been rewarded in a myriad of ways.

Last weekend we started a new family tradition with Kendal going to her first performance of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I’m thrilled to restart this tradition after more than 25 years of attending with my Mom and other family members. We all enjoyed the performances, especially the dance Revelations, but it was the free performance and demonstration after the show that was the most emotional for me. We all danced and learned as the retired Ailey dancers took the hundreds in attendance through the various dance moves in Revelations. Watching Kim and Kendal alongside each other and even up on the stage, and then me dancing side by side with Kim brought tears to my eyes.  I took quite a few video clips that I shared with Mom this week. She smiled and said “good” though I’m sure she can’t process what she was watching, but the fact is we are making historical memories that I hope will last a lifetime.

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The only part of February that I dread is Valentine’s Day. I’m used to being by myself now, but I still get that ache in my heart as the day approaches. So this year I made plans to spend the afternoon with Mom, and then to pick up Kendal after school to put together a LEGO set. I was stunned when I arrived at the group home and all of the residents and caregivers were dressed in red, looking gorgeous! I had made some Valentine’s Day coloring sheets for me and Mom to do, but she wasn’t talking at all or very aware so I just sat with her. Like I always say, I have no expectations with this disease so I wasn’t upset at all that we didn’t color. After a couple of hours with Mom I took a few pics and then headed to pick up Kendal. The surprise of the day was when Kendal got in the car. I told her that I’d spent time with Mom and she quickly said she wanted to see her too. So back to Mom’s I went. Mom was totally different when I returned. She barely acknowledged me, but when she saw Kendal, she smiled from ear to ear and said “HI!!”. She hasn’t smiled like that in a long time! The card I brought for Mom had gold colored lettering and it was hard for her to see. So all she could read was her name and mine that I’d printed. As she struggled reading the card, Kendal said “I’ll read it to you Grandma”. Oh Lordy!!! Mom and I listened intently as Kendal read and tears came to my eyes.  What an amazing kid she is. We had a great time building the LEGO set at my house too, it was simply the perfect day! I forgot all about being alone, and I know Tim was with us and smiling!

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Yesterday I had already set aside time to attend a Black History lecture on Josiah Henson (on whom the book Uncle Tom’s cabin was loosely based). The lecture was held at Surratt House (where Johns Wilkes Booth ran to after assassinating President Lincoln) which is literally down the street from my house. Most important of the many things that I learned from the lecture was how Josiah and his wife and four children walked through dangerous territory for 6 weeks from Kentucky to Canada so they could be free!!

Today was “historical movie” day for me! I watched the Netflix series on “Who Killed Malcolm X”,  and “Barry” (a young Barack Obama) and documentaries on Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones, and Allen Iverson. It was a day full of pride and tremendous learning for me and I wish Mom could have enjoyed some of it with me! I hope we can continue to share our history with Kendal and I will continue to review history with Mom just as she used to do with me. Role reversal is such a humbling experience but I try to continue to rise to the occasion and pray I’m doing all the right things. Next up is Mom’s birthday on Tuesday and the folks at the group home are really looking forward to our celebration! Love you Mom can’t wait to have cake with you!

The Lessons I Continue to Learn…

The last two weeks of January can only be described as incredible Teachable Moments! Situations that could have turned out badly were both memorable and joyful!

On the 19th I headed down to Harrisonburg, VA excited to give an all-day workshop on Emotional Intelligence at Generations Crossing, one of my fav places on earth. In proactive fashion I had gotten my 65,000 mile service on my car the day before so I’d be ready for my trip. About 40 miles from my hotel in Harrisonburg another driver pulled up alongside me pointing to the drivers side of my car, alerting me that something was hanging from underneath my car. I pulled off to discover that the shield that protects the engine was hanging down. I quickly grabbed some duct tape from the gas station I’d pulled into, got under the car and taped it up. But I was clearly worried about going the 130 miles back home with the entire front of my car held together by duct tape. I looked up the closest Ford dealer and saw there was one just a few miles from the location where I’d be speaking. On the morning of Martin Luther King’s Holiday I pulled into the Ford dealer to see if they could fix my car before I got back on the road later in the afternoon, but the service manager took one look at me as I walked in and said “before you ask we are booked solid all day”….. I paused and then said “Good Morning, I’m Loretta and I’m in town to give a presentation before driving back home to DC this afternoon and I’m truly worried about going that far with this duct tape holding my car together. Is there any way you can help me?” He looked up at my sad face and then down at his computer. “Can you be here at 4?”…. I guaranteed that I’d be there and I was. Turns out the Ford dealership in MD had neglected to put 5 screws back in the shield that covers the engine and it had started dragging the ground causing sparks…. I was so grateful to the Harrisonburg Ford folks for helping me. The manager who waited on me in the afternoon said the manager who waited on me in the morning told him that I was the “happiest person he’d every met” and he had to help me though they were booked. Lessons Learned – Duct tape can be your friend, it pays to be nice to people even when they aren’t particularly nice to you AND I can do anything I need to do in a pinch!

On Jan 23rd, I finally got the injection in my infected eye that I’d been putting off. I’d been told that it wouldn’t hurt, and maybe that was true, but it was the most uncomfortable 21 seconds I’d spent in a long time. I’d tried to be proactive and had arranged a ride and backup ride to my appointment but both had fallen through at the last minute so I drove myself. That was a mistake! I was literally shaking after the injection and had to sit in the office waiting room until I was strong enough to head home. I made it home safely but it wasn’t a smart decision. Lesson Learned – don’t hesitate to call on others for help even at the last minute.

On January 28th I was supposed to fly to Westchester County, NY to give a presentation in Pearl River. The flight was delayed so I decided to drive. I had time to chill by the fire in the hotel lobby before my presentation and I was relaxed and ready to go! The Artis Senior Living staff was welcoming and loving as they always are and we had a blast together!

But I noticed right away that some of the folks attending were clearly not aware that the speaker was going to be African-American. A woman who was seated in the front of the room as the full dinner buffet was being set up in the back of the room came up to me and said “what’s on the menu for tonight so I can tell you what I want on my plate?”….. “ummmm”, I paused. “I don’t know what’s on the menu” was the best I could come up with. “Why not?” she shot back. “Because I don’t work here.” She simply said “oh” and brushed by me clearly aggravated and headed to make her own plate. As the presentation was about to start she realized I was the speaker. She turned her chair around away from the screen and with her back to me. “Oh Lordy” I thought. But I started my presentation with my usual humor and joy and within two minutes my friend in the front turned her chair around to face me. For the rest of the presentation she took notes, laughed and cheered and a couple of times wiped tears from her eyes. Artis had purchased books for every attendee which I had signed in advance but I offered to add their names to my signature if they wanted that. My “friend” in the front of the room grabbed her book and jumped up to be first in line. She came up to me, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked right into my eyes and said “you are a beautiful soul” and hugged me tighter than I’d been held in a while. I hugged her back for what seemed like forever! It wasn’t an apology for her earlier treatment of me, it was even better than an apology. Before I started my presentation I had decided I wasn’t going to let this woman or anyone else ruin that great evening that I’d driven 4 hours to get to. Lesson Learned – Be open and forgiving and give folks a second chance to make a first impression.

On the 29th after work I gave a presentation at Olney Assisted Living. A Facebook friend accepted my last minute invitation and joined me. There were just a few people in attendance but I’m a true believer that size doesn’t matter at all and we had the best time ever!! My friend Nancy Piness and I possibly had met many years ago and we have so many connections from work, church and the Veney family that we could actually feel as if we are related. What a gem she is and it was such a pleasure to have her there!! We will be friends forever! Lesson Learned – invite people to hear you speak even at the last minute!!

Last night I ended the month of January in the best possible way! I went Contra Dancing with my friend Katherine…it’s kinda like line dancing and square dancing mashed together (see YouTube) and you dance with almost everyone as the night goes on.

I swear the people who were there were the nicest people ever!! New people like me wear blue buttons so everyone knows it’s your first time. Anyone can ask anyone else to dance regardless of gender or orientation. It was amazing learning the steps and the turns but it didn’t matter if you messed up!! People just laughed and kept going! There were different ethnicities, young folks and old folks and men in skirts and kilts so it would twirl when they turned, and everyone was so comfortable in their own skin and welcomed each other unconditionally! I honestly have to say I’ve never attended another event quite like it!! Katherine and I danced for more than 3 hours and I didn’t get home until after midnight but felt exhilarated! I laid in bed remembering the names of the people I’d danced with, the steps, the smiles and most of all the fun! Lessons Learned – be open to trying new things and meeting new people, it may end up being an experience you’ll never forget!!

Hello February!!! If you’re anything like January you’re going to be a great month and I’m ready!!