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Friday, 25 May 2012

The Luck of the Draw...

I’ve written before about how fortunate I am to have the life I do.  I started this blog from a place of loss.  I’d been through the death of my beloved father, followed two weeks later by a pretty crappy break up, and I felt like a worthless old raisin as a result. 
I was unaware how profoundly things can change in an instant.  Funny, how sometimes you don’t realize how cold you’ve been until you come into the warmth.  CG has brought that warmth to my life.  His kids, my kids, our simple life of going to the dog park, raising teenagers, Sunday dinners at home, walks in the evening and trips to Costco… all of it brings me great joy, and makes it really hard for that little devil sitting on my shoulder to really get going.  It may sound boring as Hell to you, but when you’re with someone who can make you laugh like nobody else, and just “gets” you, it’s a great place to be.
One of the things we “get” about each other is our inherent personality differences.  He’s far more direct and extroverted than I am…  He likes to be the center of attention and he often is.  I prefer to hang back, preferring to be his support, although I do like to be noticed.
His confidence is something I wish I had.  He sees something he’d like to do and he doesn’t question his ability, he goes for it, and he’s good at whatever he tries.  He will drive to affect change wherever he thinks it’s needed.  I am far more likely to have my little inner voice telling me “I can’t do that, it might inconvenience someone…”  I am all about people.  He is more task oriented, although he takes developing people's strengths to be one of his key goals.  He is organized and disciplined, and I am a magpie, easily distra….

OOOOH look at that butterfly!......
I recently planned and pulled off a surprise party for him, with the help of Pinterest, his parents, sisters and most of all, our kids.  His friends came together from near and far to help this man celebrate his 50th birthday.  Before the party I even had people calling to ask why they hadn’t made the invite list.  Many of them I met in person for the first time that night, and it’s clear he’s had a positive impact on many lives around him. 
We both have amazing friends who support us, laugh with us and make our lives that much richer.  I’d like to tell you a bit about one particular couple, because they've been dealt some difficult cards, but deal with that hand with a great deal of positive energy, and hard work.  They inspire me to better appreciate how lucky I am.
CG’s friends, K and JD are just amazing people.  The moment they walk in a room you feel their presence.  They’re as beautiful as any Hollywood couple, as smart and kind as they are gorgeous.  
They met, fell in love and married, much like any other drop dead gorgeous power couple.  After a few years of marriage, they decided to have children together.  All the signs pointed to their creating super-model children who would grow up strong and smart, having the world by the tail.
A perfect little boy was born to them, and all seemed bright in their charmed world… but when their son was a few months old, they noticed their little boy wasn’t doing what other babies of that age were doing. 
He was unable to hold his head up, roll over or grasp things the way other babies did…  They were told their child had inherited a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy… this was caused by two recessive genes, one from each parent.  Devastating to be sure. 
Surely this was a random act of chance..... When their sweet daughter was born 3 years ago, however, the story repeated itself. 
Neither of these beautiful children can stand or walk unaided.  They will likely never be on the rugby team or take part in ballet class… they attend physio therapy daily to deal with the atrophy of their muscles, and they live in a world not built for people with physical challenges.
K and JD could’ve retreated into their private hell, watching their children struggle with their disability, but they have decided, instead, to fight this disease tooth and nail, head on, for the world to watch, driving positive change for their kids, and for others with the same challenges. 

They work to give their kids as normal a childhood as they possibly can, filled with activities they can do, and focussing on the positive, rather than dwelling on the negative.  Both kids have a real zest for life, and are every bit as bright as their parents.
I’m amazed at how much this couple loves each other, and how committed they are to making the world better for their kids.  Most marriages that result in children with disabilities much less severe than this don’t survive, let alone thrive.   K and JD celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary this weekend with some much deserved alone time.
Yes, these two could rival Jenifer Anniston and Brad Pitt, but it isn’t just their looks that catch your attention.  They have what CG calls a “Great Shine”.   Ok I know Jen and Brad aren't together any more, but Jennifer just seems sweeter and more like K...

There's that butterfly again...
Ok... So, shine refers to how you feel when you first encounter someone… The vibe they emit in just a nanosecond (akin to “Blink” , which is a book by Malcolm Gladwell…and if you haven’t read that, you should) ... the initial gut impression of these two is they’re good people. 
That just gets magnified as you get to know them.  They’re not just good people, they’re GREAT people.  JD is CG’s right hand man at work.  He manages operations for a large company, so has a lot of business acumen. 
Because he was unimpressed with the local Muscular Dystrophy board in the past, CG encouraged him to run for a position on the National Board.  That way, he can help to drive change across the country.  JD has recently won a national board position.  He’ll be the only board member who has a child afflicted by the disease, so he’ll bring his unique perspective forward! I have no doubt at all, his placement will mean a REAL difference in how monies are spent to make a difference in the lives of people struggling with MD.
Life is full of inspiration.  It’s all around us if we choose to quit wallowing in our own bullshit, and realize we have it pretty good.  Yes, there will always be those who have an easier road than we do.  We should also recognize there’s always someone who struggles with much harder situations than our own, and make it look easy.  We can either learn from their shining example, or we can continue to be myopic and whine.  I heard once that if God were to throw everyone's troubles into a pile, when you saw some of the difficulties faced by others, you'd be in a hurry to grab yours back.  Amen.
This weekend, CG and I  will be participating in a walk to raise funds to support those who suffer from Neuromuscular Disorders.  We've joined a team started by K and JD...  Our team is in first place in our city for fundraising.  Not a surprise, and also not surprising, is the fact that JD is the top individual fundraiser, closely followed by his wife, who is in second place, but closing fast!

Because I, too, have amazing friends, willing to open their pocket books to support my efforts, I’ve managed to raise over $1000 in sponsorship.  I know that isn’t much. Not world changing to be sure, but it’s something. 
Of course I could be completely missing the point.  My friends might feel  the teeniest bit OBLIGATED to support me because I’ve bought about a billion Girl Guide cookies, magazine subscriptions, chocolate covered almonds and whatever else their little darlings were selling over the years…

I'm KIDDING... My friends are wonderful, caring and kind, and were touched as much as I was when they heard about K and JD's wonderful children...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Ok – now here’s one for Ripley’s Believe it or Not….

Because I firmly believe in the adage “Treat others the way you would like to be treated” I tend to be rather trusting.  I don’t screw people around, I treat people as fairly as I know how to do, and I trust people will do the same for me.  I can have strong opinions, and will express them here, but don’t generally get impolite or rude in daily conversation.  Even with idiots.  I heard the saying “Karma is only a bitch if you are” the other day, and thought it was pretty true actually.
Anyone who knows me well, knows a couple of things about me.  I like my house to be clean, but am NOT enamored with picking up after other people… sometimes not even myself.  I like things to be put away, but I’m not organized… thankfully, I make a good enough living, I can hire someone ELSE to come in, put things away and clean the toilets every other week or so…. To me, that’s money well spent.  Especially being the mom of two boys, who sometimes don’t have the world’s greatest AIM.
A few months ago, the cleaning woman I hired got a really good full time opportunity, so quit her cleaning business.  I was really happy for her, but was disappointed I was going to have to look for someone else.  I placed an online ad, and immediately had several responses.  Because they were all pretty similar, I decided to interview the first person who responded.  She turned out to be a young mom, building up a business to help supplement her husband’s income, in order to raise their adorable little 10 month old girl.  She seemed to be pretty professional, but over time, the cleaning became really sloppy, and she was not really all that warm and fuzzy to deal with. 
I had checked a couple of the references she gave me at the start, had interviewed her and given her plenty of time and slack when her daughter was ill, so finally, upon seeing that she wasn’t going to EVER clean behind my bathroom door, or move anything on the counter before wiping it down, I decided to let her go. 
I figured I would rather send an email than text her letting her know I had to stop doing business with her, but realized I didn’t have her email address.  She’d told me she was setting up a website, so I Googled her name to see if her site was up and running, and if her email address might be attached…
 Instead of her cleaning business, I was SHOCKED to see her name and photo come up in a news article about how she and another woman had spent a year in jail for assaulting a 90 year old woman in a mall parking lot.  I was polite when I let her go, but was certainly relieved to change the combination on the door lock.  After the relief wore off, I realized I had to get back to finding someone to trust in my home.
While that’s weird enough, this story just gets better and better… I am not kidding, the following is absolutely, 100% true…
I completely believe God has a sense of humor, and sits up on a cloud laughing his ass off at us sometimes.  Not only did he give me a little shocker with the housekeeper I was letting go, he decided to continue the fun.  When I went into my email to start going through responses to my new ad, lo and behold, there was a response from an old friend of mine… If you don't remember "Smell Your Underwear Guy, read about him here...
Honest to Christ, you-know-who responded to my ad, telling me he would come and clean for free if I was a “Type ‘A’ Dominant”… good LORD!  To each his own I guess, but I can’t think of many things less enticing than a guy I could order around!  I don’t like an aggressive man, but I do need my man to be… well… MANLY. 
I forwarded the creepy email he sent to CG with the message “Clearly his efforts on the dating site aren’t going so well….”  His response was “Or it’s working REALLY, REALLY well and he’s branching out.”  … eeeeeeew!