Hapiness Day 11: My sister makes me happy.

She is such a hard-working, dedicated, loving mother of 3 crazy, but super adorable children. When I was a commuter I had such huge amounts of guilt from being too tired to see family on days off. Huge amounts to the point that I would cry for hours on my days off because I felt horrible. That is truly no life to live. Working in Kent has been a blessing. I was able to surprise the kids at Ashlee’s volleyball game after work and spend the day with them today. I feel at peace when I am with my family.

How do you counteract those feelings of guilt? What are your go to coping mechanisms? Comment below. I would like to hear them!

Happiness Day 8- Just Being Real

I hate holidays. I miss having big family get togethers and having my parents around for holidays. Chicago is just too far away and so expensive to fly to. Today has been a rough day. I found myself crying ALL day… from watching feel good things. I feel mom and dad sick today. I miss them…. So, today it is hard to feel happy.

But, I still feel so blessed. Today I am happy that I cuddled with Maple. Maple is our dwarf bunny at work. He stays inside and brings so much joy to our seniors and their families. He is just so stinking cute that you can’t help but feel happy seeing him.

On days when you find it hard to be happy, what do you do? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Happiness- Day 2

Being around senior citizens is something that really makes me happy. Being able to love and serve them is my passion. As a life enrichment director I try my hardest to find ways to enrich their lives. They have given so much to our society and changed our history that I feel it is the VERY least I can do. Recently someone from my past moved into the memory care unit where I work. Through reconnecting those relationships (more about that later), I have been able to bring my residents to my elementary school and read with the second graders. These 8-10 residents afflicted with dementia get so much joy being around the youth and return home with the biggest smiles. Most of the time they do not remember an hour later that we went, BUT the joy stays with them for days. I received an email from one of the families regarding these outings (names removed for privacy!):

 

Good morning Laura,

I’m ******, ****’s daughter. First, I want to let you know how much I have appreciated your efforts to organize and implement the school reading program. The stories about the visits and the photos are so uplifting. 

I also wanted to share one of those “circle of life” kind of things about this for me and Mom. When I was young, maybe from the ages of 8-12, Mom used to take me to the retirement home near where we lived to visit the residents and read the Bible to them. It was challenging for me at first. I had the benefit of many years with both grandparents, but some of the elders we visited were not well, or suffering from advanced dementia or were seemingly unaware of our presence. 

But Mom was there with me and assured me that I was bringing love and companionship to people that might be very lonely. I learned to be more confident by reading out loud to people I didn’t know well. But most of all, I learned that giving my time and talent was valued and important.

I still remember some of the laughs and stories some of the elders shared with me. Some were reminded by me of their own experiences when they were young. For me, it was a lifelong gift to have learned at an early age to appreciate and value the lives of people in the last years of their lives. It also gave me the ability to feel comfortable with people of all ages as a young person. 

Thanks so much for giving Mom the opportunity to be with the children in their classrooms, Laura. Mom loved school and just being in a classroom with the children is such a gift!

My mom, too, encouraged us to serve. Along with church groups and visits with my mom, I was exposed to seniors from a young age. I am so honored to serve this population AND to share them with the elementary school. I find a lot of children these days are afraid of old people. We are all growing old so if I can impact the future caregivers, I am glad to do so.

 

I am so thankful for my parents who instilled a service oriented attitude amongst our family. I feel I am a much more rounded individual because of the values they taught me. Today I am happy I am able to serve.

Out of the Mouth of a Child.

Out of the Mouth of a Child… Sometimes children know just want to say.

I have said it multiple times that being an Aunt is the best thing in the world. I can only imagine the love a parent has for their children because I love my nieces and nephews a lot.

This is my Lizzie-Bear! She is spunky, and silly, and loves my makeup, and always knows the right things to say. She makes me laugh and makes me cry happy tears. Part of blogging is so I remember things I want to remember. And this is one of them.

Lizzie

My brothers birthday was recently and I went to his home to celebrate. I was having kind of a bummer week and  as I walked in Lizzie said (in her super cute little voice), “Auntie Lala, you’re my best gal!”

I melted! I needed to hear something so innocent and loving and sweet. It was simple… but it made my day!

I saw an elf!!!

brain

Do you ever need a list to remember things? I sure do. I think my brain is so crowded… so I am constantly forgetting and rethinking about things I need to do… or things I need to blog about. This is my blog/journal notebook (you see, I may or may not have a little notebook for every aspect of my life!).

I opened it today to add some things I wanted to remember to blog about and noticed the top of my list was: seeing an elf as a child.

Before I get to that, I think it is only natural that after someone close to you passes away you start to think about things like ghosts and guardian angels. I do not know if I really believe in hauntings by ghosts but I for sure believe in guardian angels. And after hearing a story from my mom it just makes me believe in them even more. So how exactly does this relate to seeing an elf? I have never seen a ghost or a guardian angel…. but I swear as a child I saw an elf. I remember it in my mind so vividly.

I am about to confess that I broke the rules as a child. Sorry mom and dad!! I don’t know if it was officially Christmas or if it was still Christmas Eve. I do not even remember how old I was but I do remember it was the house on 14th Avenue where I lived until I was 8. It was one of those houses that when you walk in the front door you either walk up the stairs to one floor or down the stairs to the other. When you walked up the stairs the kitchen was straight ahead, the living room was to the left and to the right was a hall with the bedrooms. That night I was sitting at the end of the hall while everybody else was sleeping. I remember seeing the Christmas tree in all its sparkling splendor singing to me (it played music!). I wanted to see Santa for myself. My dad always got recorded proof of Santa… but I wanted to see him, the recorded proof just wasn’t enough. I do not know how long I waited but I remember at one point I looked up and saw a blur run from up the stairs into the kitchen. A few minutes later it ran the other way. I can still see the image clear as daylight in my mind (even though the figure was blurry because it moved so fast). He had a green pointy hat on, a green shirt, and green and white stripped pants with bells on his shoes. I was CONVINCED it was an elf, and I think of it often (maybe way more than I should). I think of it when people talk about seeing ghosts. Which is surprisingly alot… Although I don’t know how I feel about seeing ghosts because I never have, I will NEVER deny seeing an elf. I saw an elf when I was a child!

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Photo: I think I would have been a month shy of 5 here.

Like You Need Another Hole in Your Head 

Those that really know me will not be surprised that I bought boots and socks this Black Friday. And as if I didn’t have enough permanent markers(151 in this box and I know I have more elsewhere)….

I bought more because they were $40 off and an OCD gals dream being sorted and organized by color.

And I know…. as my mom says, “You need:

boots,

shoes,

purses,

socks,

Sharpie’s,

And who knows what else…

Like you need another hole in your head.”

Uncle Les

Les

I feel like this year I have experiences so much loss. I lost two people that meant the world to me and who I relied on more than I knew. Two people that loved me unconditionally and I loved the same.

This month Uncle Les passed away. He is not my blood uncle but was kind of like a father figure. I meant him through my sissy Jessica. Jessica and I went to high school together and worked at Arbor Village for 11 years together. I love Jessica! I love my whole crazy “family” so much! It was through her that I was adopted into her family. We would tell our residents that Uncle Les was my dad and that her mother was my stepmother. Everybody believed it because he is American so it just worked and made sense. I truly believe God places people in our lives for a reason and this family was one of them.

Uncle Les’ passing was quick. It was way too soon (in my opinion). The last week of his life I spent everyday at the hospital and would drive straight there on my days off. I got to help him in a time of severe need and be there to love him and support him and our family. The day he passed away I spent the night at the hospital with Momma Schwartz. It was rough. It was very little sleep… very little sleep. I cried seeing the pain and discomfort he was in. It hurt to see him hurt. It hurt to see everybody hurt. It was a tiring and painful experience.

I think about a week before I drove him and Momma Schwartz to a doctor’s appointment. On the way home Uncle Les grabbed my shoulder and with tears in his eyes said thank you. I started crying also and explained that it was I who needed to thank him. I confessed that I have always struggled to feel like I belonged. At no fault to anyone around me, this is 100% my own insecurities. Being around him and my Schwartz/Lucena/Gogue family in his home was somewhere I truly felt like I belonged. He told me it was because I did and it was where I was meant to be if I was not with my blood family. He told me that I am a part of his family and was his daughter and would always have a place in his home and heart. He said he was lucky Jessica brought me into his life but it is truly me that was lucky to be adopted into this family!

This was something Uncle Les was good at. He was good at loving all people and opening up himself to anyone he was around. He talked with everybody he met and flirted with even more.

He reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou. She said:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Uncle Les made us all feel loved and welcomed and appreciated and wanted and needed.

As I spoke to the crowd at the memorial service I encouraged them to do something. We never know when it is our time to go. So as I encouraged them, I now encourage you to say you love your family and friends more, take more pictures with your loved ones, worry less, enjoy more, thank people always, and to make more memories.

Loss of loved ones is hard. I am thankful in my testimony  of our Heavenly Father’s plan and to know that death is not the end.

And if we need to find a positive throughout the sadness, because of Uncle Les my “family” keeps growing bigger as I got to meet so many loving members of Marisa’s family that just allowed me to enter their arms.