Saturday, November 25, 2006

Did I Forget to Give Thanks?

Oh my gosh maybe I did!

Or then again, maybe not.

No, I didn't sit around the family table this year stuffing myself full of something that may have been strutting around minding it's own business the day before... even though I have to admit those things are yummy and there's really nothing that compares to them on the third Thursday in November. Cornish game hens don't cut it... in the same way that frozen burritos don't, on Thanksgiving that is... any other time they're perfectly fine! I have a friend who chose to cook prime rib this year. I friggin LOVE prime rib! But for Thanksgiving?...just no.

But where was I? I think I was thinking about how holidays can sometimes end up feeling just like any other day when you don't have family around to share them with. Not that there's anything wrong with "other days" or being alone, in fact I kind of enjoy them/it. My question is this: Isn't it entirely possible for a holiday spent alone to be just as meaningful as one filled with a lot of mess and chaos? Not that there's anything wrong with a lot of mess and chaos occassionally, but there's nothing wrong with a kitchen sink free and clear of greasy turkey and stuffing residue occassionally either...

At any rate, in revisiting my initial question I believe I have to take back my original response. For example... if a tree falls in the woods and there's no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound? Or... what is the sound of one hand clapping? And who invented clapping anyway? I find that last question to be particularly thought provoking.

So in retrospect I feel that my day was spent giving thanks a plenty. Some of my thoughts that day included the following:

  • I am thankful that everyone in my family, WAY out West, was able to spend the day with loved ones.
  • I am thankful to be lucky enough to still have a mother who calls me and says "Are you sure you're ok? We miss you!"
  • I am thankful for two beautiful and wonderful daughters who have never, ever given me any cause for worry or concern except for the fact that they have to go out into the world everyday.
  • I am thankful for my job (for the most part.)
  • I am thankful to have a refrigerator and freezer full of food, even if there ISN'T a turkey in sight.
  • I am thankful that Comcast is having no issues on this, my one and only day off.
  • I am thankful for the beautiful weather which has finally allowed me to get outside and turn my acre of lawn into something remotely resembling a baby's behind.
  • I am thankful for friends. Lots and lots of friends.
  • I am thankful for Clay Aiken. I am thankful for his hand.

Where the Hand Has Been
In response to Kelly Ripa’s comments that she doesn’t know where Clay’s Hand has been, I may be able to address that issue and hopefully eliminate any of her fears. You see, I am a student of that Hand. I’ve made it my point to learn where it has been in the past, where it may be at any given time of the day, month or year and to speculate where it may be going from this point forward. No, I am not a stalker; just a fan.

I have learned that from the time Clay was a baby, that Hand (like the Hands of most children) has been held firmly by his mother. I am sure there were times as a youngster when he may have felt he was giving her as much in comfort as she was in guiding him since a single mother often only has the touch of her child to remind her of love. From early on, the Hand was reminded to join with the other Hand as he knelt in prayer. Faith is an important part of the Hand’s life, you see.

The young adult Hand didn’t go many of the places the Hands of many of the places adolescents seem to go these days. It wasn’t seen rolling a doobie, drinking with friends, hanging with a gang or falling prey to unfortunate peer pressure. Rather, it was living a good life in a relatively small town where it learned the importance of family, education and service, most often at the YMCA where he worked and volunteered. At that time, the Hand was introduced to the Hands of a young man whose disabilities would lead Clay to an important goal in his life, working to insure educational and societal opportunities for children who otherwise would be misunderstood or lost along the way. Decency and Service are also dominant factors in the life of the Hand.

From that point on, the life of the Hand seemed to take on a life of its own. Once the beauty and the voice of the man were exposed to an audience much larger than the one in his hometown, it didn’t take long for the Hand of the son, student and community leader to realize that he had been given a special gift from God. The Hand has been wrapped around a microphone in recording studios and concerts to entertain and bring joy into the lives of his fans. The Hand has been seen making a sweeping gesture at those times to bring to the forefront back-up singers, band members and even members of his audience. Sharing; yes, that is another element of the Hand’s existence.

But this is not an ordinary Hand. Having accomplished fame for his talents was not enough. Now, the Hand was put to Clay’s purposes in life, the first of which being the establishment of TBAF to raise awareness for children with educational disadvantages and to promote inclusion of them in areas of life most of us take or granted. The Hand was seen at countless telethons and fundraisers for charities other than his own. It went to Capitol Hill a couple of times to speak before our nation’s leaders about the importance of medical research for a cure for autism and the enactment of laws to protect the rights of children who are disabled to the same quality educations as those without disabilities. Whenever there was a time of disaster, you could count on the Hand to be there to assist as a UNICEF ambassador to analyze report on the devastation of a village in Banda Aceh as the result of a tsunami or the needs of a child in Uganda left homeless, hungry and in peril due to the ravages of war. Service takes a major role in the life of the Hand.

So you really don’t need to worry about where the Hand has been. It has been and no doubt will continue to go wherever a good Hand is needed. Even at its early age, it has gone places and accomplished deeds that boggle the mind of this older woman. I have little doubt the Hand will travel to many more places during its lifetime, to entertain, to teach, to observe and to promote. The Hand is placed firmly in the Hand of a greater being. It seldom makes a decision without first going there for advice and guidance. That comforts me, as it should Ms. Ripa. It gives me no reason to worry about where the Hand has been but much to anticipate as to where it is going.

~Essay by Cincy15.

Anyway, maybe it's just me. But when I think of those expressive hands and all of the many places they've been, well, I don't really think that I would mind at all having one of them clasped firmly against my mouth. But then again, I'm kind of a rebel that way.

Ha, I think I may have just killed two birds with one hand... Or something like that...

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Inspired by... Oh, So Many Things.

In August of 2005 I had to do one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do... that being, putting my daughter on a plane as she headed back to school to complete her last year of college.

What made it so difficult was not only that the times I was able to spend with her had become so few and far between, or the fact that she was now at the age of majority and I was coming to the realization that she was no longer my baby… but because something was wrong. Really wrong. And we had no idea what it was.

For a week or two prior to heading back she had been waking up every morning with an increasingly bad case of double vision, to the point where trying to compensate for it had begun to cause serious muscle spasms in one side of her face. Visits to emergency rooms, optometrists, chiropractors, you name it… rendered no answers. Finally she made the decision to wait until she got back to school where she could pay a visit to her physician who had, two years previously, falsely diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis following a bout with numbness in her legs (which miraculously disappeared just about as quickly as it had come). Needless to say this misdiagnosis had come as sheer relief to this ballerina (and family of) who’d been dancing since age three and well, who basically lived to dance.

But anyway, fast forward to the summer of '05.

Not only did she face the challenge of going back to school, but had arranged the purchase of a car which she had planned to pick up at the airport of her destination city in order to drive back up to school. She was in no condition to do this. So a friend of hers, who we'll call "Aaron"... (Okay, so that's his real name) offered to meet her at the airport and do the driving for her. This was the first time I'd ever heard about this "knight in shining armor"... and in retrospect, didn't realize at the time just how genuine that title would become.

In subsequent days he also took on the hour drive to see her back and forth from the doctor, who was finally able to confirm with rested assurety that our girl did, unmistakably, have MS.

I suppose the first vision one has when one receive this type of news is of a future filled with wheelchairs and walkers and the inability to lead the ultimately productive life... and in cases where this disease remains undiagnosed or untreated this could become true... but there are many options available to help stave off the reoccurance or progression with much research being done to make those treatments less cumbersome. If you're interested in finding out more or learning about ways to help in finding a cure, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a wonderful website.

Whitney now gives herself weekly injections of the drug Avonex, and though not the ideal Friday night date activity (Friday nights work best for her due to the side-effects), Aaron has always been there with her... every single time. (Though, from what I understand, their first Friday night date squicked him out a lil' bit.) But now they are both handling it like a couple of champs.

Whitney and Aaron were married on May 6th 2006...

This montage, which I promised to make for them quite a while ago, is long overdue.

Whitney and Aaron will be walking for a cure on May 19th 2007.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

If The Shoe Fits...


And I was all excited about entering the FCA Montage Contest! I worked on it all weekend in fact!

And THEN… a few minutes ago I just happened to read the fine print… and realized that I was supposed to have used a track from HIS album. Oops.

And anyway…

I’ve been known to squander away my weekends in MUCH less productive ways…