Saturday, December 3, 2016

Out of the Darkness Walk

We met friends today in Tampa, at Al Lopez Park, to take part in the 7th Annual Out of the Darkness Walk by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There were 10 great reasons to walk here, but other great reasons to walk were remembering loved ones who have left this world too soon... our Debbie, Sarah, Jacob, military and first responders who were friends of friends. Children watching and learning and embracing exercise and feeling love around them were other reasons, as well as supporting our extended family of friends and loved ones.
We walked for Sarah today, with so many who loved her. Her mother and I worked together oh so many years ago here in Tampa. We watched her grow from belly to beautiful young lady on Christmas cards through these many years. 

Happily, there were more smiling moments than tearful ones, though those came too. It was a park full of love and support, many still freshly raw from the loss of loved one. Speeches brought memories to my mind and heart that years have helped to dull. To all those who've lost, for any reason, please do know that time does help to ease your grief or change it in some way... even though it may not feel possible right now.
Bubbles blew on the wind, everyone was adorned with beads... each color representing a different connection (a child, a sibling, a military/first responder, a friend, a parent, a loved one, a personal struggle). Choosing which beads, and realizing we would wear several, was the most nose tingling, eye burning moment.

When you see so many who are hurting and their care, it reconfirms that suicide is not a selfless act, it is not because of how someone was raised, not because of how alone someone was, but because of a disease and how someone had a moment that no one but they could control. We cannot change it, no matter how many ways we wish we could. We survive, we remember, we appreciate and we continue to live... because our lost ones want us to and because many still here need us to carry on.
Please talk, share, care... you will be surprised how many people share in your feelings, similar experiences, fears, loss and grief.

BE KIND. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. BE KIND. Always.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fox Squirrel Farm, Florida

We had a Sunday with no plans and cool weather, so hopped in the van for an hour road trip east to Fox Squirrel Farm in Plant City. Open windows for the first time last night and this morning had us thinking of pumpkins, corn mazes and fall outings!
The corn maze wasn't a CORN maze, but instead sorgham, but still fun (and a cheap way to entertain people for hours). Please do not try to tell a farm girl from IL that this is corn, LOL. The girls also took a try at roping cattle, pumped duckies down a chute (they loved and worked well together) and spent what felt like an hour making sand bottles (sorry Papa, know yours from Jordan are in the mail!).  We also had a wagon ride through the old mossy oak pasture and gorged on Hawaiian ice and kettle corn before grabbing some fresh Florida honey for breakfast tomorrow.
The zinnias reminded me of both Grandpa Wilbur and our little Maltese farmer neighbor's fields. There's no way to ever beat IL pumpkin fields... especially when these were on pallets, but they are still so pretty to see. The varieties of beautiful gourds always win the prize in my book!!
To top off our outing, we stopped in Seffner to see some great friends, whose home we'd not been to in 15+ years. Their lake, dogs, activities, bird classification and food kept us all busy and happy for hours. So good to be back in Florida, and especially nice to catch up with old friends. We'll be back out this way in the spring to pick fresh strawberries and blueberries!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


"Anything good?" Chris msgd me on the phone. 

After dropping the girls at school, I headed to John Chestnut Park for my time in nature. Today, I carried my good camera in hand. 

"Not yet. Just peaceful."
Peaceful. Recharging time. How many times a day can we say those beautiful words? And how comforting are they to say? The older I get, the more moments of peace make me happy, make me appreciative, make me whole. Whether it is peace within myself, our family or the world. 

This place brings me peace. It did 20 years ago, and it does today. While I wouldn't change the path our lives have taken for a minute, we love where we go and what we do, it is a fact that it is difficult to come to truly KNOW a place. Usually with Chris's work, just when we think we know a place- the backroads, the customs, the neighbors, where to buy bread, how to get gas, all those little things that take time- that's when we leave again. We generally enjoy the entire tour, but really enjoy that last year or 9 months, feeling fully comfortable. This area of Florida feels known to me... and I love that feeling. I'll never know a place like Illinois...having spent +/- 30 years there. But all these other "homes" share our hearts and flood our minds with memories. 
The diversity of life here is so different from where we grew up. I won't say it's better, but it's so different and fun to learn and digest. I'd have to wake my 10 year old tomboy self from the dream that our life has become and the feasts of views before our eyes daily. She would be wowed to see manatees, dolphins, alligators, ibis and more outside our door. Forever thankful and yearning for more.