Dec 31, 2007

A Good Fling is Just the Thing We Need

Happy New Year!
Happy New Beginnings!
Happy New Memories!
Happy New Friends to be Made!
Happy New Places to Visit!
Happy New Clean Slate from which to Hope!

Yes, January 1st is always a day filled with anticipation for the next 364 days yet to come. It is a day to reflect on the last 365 days. So much can happen in just 365 days - it is amazing isn't it? In one year, we all may encounter anything and everything from new births, to burying a loved one, to buying a home, to losing a job, to getting a promotion, to finally taking that piano, French, or cooking class, or fighting an illness, to winning the lottery (okay, that is a stretch), to making a new friend, or losing a friend either to a death or to a death of the friendship in of itself.

We may encounter wonderful parties, picnics, a new love, a new hobby, or forgive someone that needs forgiving. We may encounter unfairness, heartache, emotional struggles, loneliness, or illness. We may have encountered moving to a new location, leaving friends behind, fearing a lab result, or taking care of a very sick parent or child. This is just the menu of life really. For some of us, I am sure, wish for a different menu at times, but basically, we humans all order from the same one. And sometimes our orders don't come as expected.

Yet, despite all the hardships the last 365 days may have brought to us, we humans are forever hopeful and even the most pessimists among us even feel somewhat optimistic on that first magical day of January. What a wonderful thing to experience, even if only for a day - hope.

I love this piece of stamp art (above photo) that is located in my friend's art gallery here in St. Louis. Henry's (my friend) gallery and day spa, Eve's Garden, has a collection of wonderful pieces from various artists. This stamp piece of a woman is my favorite. To me, she is leaning into the wind, without fear, her hair blowing freely and full of hope. Yet, she is made of paper - a fragile substance that can soften if rained upon with tears; can burn if caught in the crossfires, and fall apart at the seams if pulled in too many directions at the same time. I love that she is "well traveled" via her postage stamps. She is well traveled in emotions, experiences, heartache, joy, and she is stamped in the glory of it all. I especially like how she is leaning out, flinging herself out actually, into the wind of all what life has to offer - both good and not so good. But mostly in hope.

And that is what the first day of January is to me - a day to "fling myself" out into the new year with hope. To embrace fully all that awaits and to continue to "stamp" myself with new challenges, new awakenings, and new experiences. It is my wish, that if I get to be 90 years old, that I am so "stamped" up with life's experiences that any stamp collector would find me priceless - or at least worth a second look. And with that second look, one would find a multitude of "flinging" that I did in my day. And how my days continued to be filled with hope.

Happy New Year! And may your fling just be the thing that makes 2008 a year of beautiful new stamps on your hopeful soul.

From my house to your house

Note to all my cyber friends: I
am doing better since my car wreck that took place on Dec 11th. My head still hurts but my heart is filled with joy to be here with you all. I realized after I wrote this post that I promised you a sneak peek of my photo shoot in my next post - well, I guess I got hit pretty hard on the head, as I forgot that promise until now. I will next post a sneak preview of that shoot and then a post about my beloved Randy. God Bless!

Dec 15, 2007

Hugged by an Angel

While I promised to show you a sneak peek of a photo shoot I did for the April issue of Romantic Homes, I decided to post an event that I experienced that truly touched me on many levels. I promise design photos in my next post!

Last Tuesday, December 11th, was my 44th birthday - and it very well could have been my very last one at that. Having celebrated my birthday the prior evening, I was free to do some painting work for a client. I painted a couple of bathroom cabinets at my clients' home and took the drawers and doors of cabinets in my car to be painted in my workshop. It was getting late, but I wanted to get in a short run.

I was in West County (St. Louis proper) and unfamiliar with the location of the YMCA so I called my fiance, Randy, to get directions. Yes, you read correctly - I have a fiance and I was hoping to introduce him at another time and tell you how we met and so on, and I will, but just not in this posting. I was wearing my bluetooth and listening to Randy's directions and as he directed me, he told me to look for the bridge that goes over highway 40.
I then said, "Oh! I see the sign for 40 and the bridge...." and that was the last thing I said to him.

Out of no where, and I mean no where, a car slammed into me full force on the driver's side. No braking, no slowing down. I was so shocked because I had no warning. It was as if I was calmly walking down a sidewalk, looking straight ahead, and large football player came bolting out of an alley and slammed me to the ground. I never saw it coming.

I saw headlights, bright lights coming through my driver's side window. I spun, then flipped (twice I believe) and landed upside down, smashed against the guard rail and lamp post at the side of the overpass bridge. That is the short version of what happened in a nutshell.

Now let me tell what really happened:

Upon the first impact and seeing headlights coming right at my door, I immediately, without thinking, threw both of my hands up over my face and tucked in my elbows across my rib cage and curled up my knees to my stomach - sort of like a fetal position. I held that exact position for the entire ordeal. I was shocked first, then I realized I was rolling, and then I realized I was rolling towards the edge of the bridge and I let out a blood-curdling scream because in my heart, I knew I about be tossed over the bridge and fall to my death on the highway below.

And in that split second, time seemed to stop.

As I continued to roll, I screamed in my head, "I am going to die! I am going to die!" I believed that with all my heart, that I was truly going to die in that moment. The entire time, my eyes were shut and my hands firmly planted over my face, but I still saw a very bright, solid white light. And for just a millisecond I told myself, in a very calm voice this time, "I am going to roll over the bridge, and land on the ground and will be killed instantly, and it will be over. And that is okay." For just a fraction of second, I felt a very calming peace.
I was actually okay with it being my time.

And at the very moment I was "okay" with what was happening to me, the noise stopped, the rolling stopped, and I found myself hanging upside down by my seat belt. I immediately began to shake, cry, and started screaming, "Help me! Help me! Help me!" over and over again as I listened to glass clinking to the ground. I was convinced that I was on the edge of the bridge, ready to go over any moment. The real fact is that I was at the edge of the bridge, but "safely" smashed against a very strong guard rail.

Several people stopped to help and a man unbuckled my seat belt and pulled me out of the crushed window. I was shaking uncontrollably and tried to walk, I just wanted to get away from the car. The people helping me had me lie down and they started to cover me with their coats. Then I heard my phone ringing from my smashed car. I thought, Randy!

You can see in above photo how on the other side of the sidewalk, it drops down to the highway.

Randy, unfortunately, heard the entire crash over his cell phone while he was driving home from a business seminar. He said that one moment I was talking with him and the next moment he heard the whoosh noises and banging noises. It took him about five seconds to realize what was happening to me. He said heard me screaming, then crying and then very faintly calling for help over and over and over again.

He didn't want to hang up, but he did to call 911. This dispatcher told him that the accident had already been reported and asked him, "you mean the overturned car?" He couldn't believe what she said. He called his mother and raced to wreck site and all the while, he believed I was dying or already dead. He was about 5 miles away and even at 9PM, the traffic jammed the streets. He then finally approached the bridge only to see firetrucks, ambulances, police cars flashing all their lights. As he slowly approached the scene he saw a very smashed car, upside down and thought it was someone Else's. Then with a closer look, he realized it was my car. Police wouldn't let him see me as they worked on me and he just about lost it. Some bystanders were trying to convince him I was okay, but he didn't believe them. He finally got a chance to see me on the stretcher and saw that I was awake and not bleeding. His mother pulled up, sees all the commotion and her son leaning on a bystander, crying, and of course she thinks the worse as well.

As I am loaded into the ambulance people are wondering what happened because there were no other cars involved - or so they thought. I told a policeman that I was hit. I am 100% sure of that. I never lost control of the car, as in slipping on ice (there wasn't any ice anyway) and I was hit. It appeared to be a hit and run. However, a little later, Randy saw a woman at the end of the bridge being given a sobriety test, seemingly failed, and was handcuffed and taken away. Her car was way down the entrance ramp to the highway. At this time, we do have not any official report other than she did in fact hit me. We do not have any official report stating it was a DUI or that she left the scene.

I was taken to the emergency room and the EMTs and doctors could not believe that I had NO broken bones, NO cuts, NO internal bleeding, NO broken teeth, and not even a broken fingernail. I did however, have a huge, huge lump on the back of my head, mostly likely from a gallon paint can flying about and knocking me from the back. It was (and still is) so painful that they couldn't even put a neck brace on me because it barely touched that part of my head. They did a CAT scan and it was clear. I couldn't stop shaking and I never shook like that before. The doctor gave me a couple of pain pills to calm me and to help stop the shaking.

Now I ask you: by looking at these photos, how, how, how in the world did I literally walk away from it all? I will tell you how....I was hugged tightly by an angel. And I firmly believe that. Remember when I said that upon impact that without even thinking, I covered my face with both hands, tucked in my elbows and curled up my knees? And through the entire ordeal, my arms and hands remained in that very tight position, never budging once. Had my arms and legs thrashed about, they surely would have been broken or cut up. I believe my guardian angel is the one who held my hands, arms, and legs securely around my body. No one, and I mean no person could possibly have the strength to remain in that position during such a crushing slam, hard roll and slammed against the guard rail. But I did - with help from my angel.

After I was discharged from the hospital, about midnight, Randy took me to his home. We were pretty quiet on the way home and being in a car again made me very nervous. I had several cans of paint and stain in my car when it crashed, and a lot of it landed in my hair. Randy got black paint all over himself as he tried to retrieve my briefcase, lap top, files, papers, purse and so on out of my paint-filled car. Once home, he drew me a bath and as I sat in the hot water, hugging my knees and letting my tears fall freely, Randy very gently washed my hair, careful to avoid my bump, and slowly and carefully picked all the dried paint out of my hair. It was finally quiet...there was no screaming, no sirens, no flashing lights, no people, no doctors, no IV's, no CAT scans, no questions...just me, sitting in the tub, hugging my knees, silently crying, while my wonderful fiance gently washed my hair. I will tell you about this wonderful man in another, happier, post.

Once out of the tub, Randy got in it to soak as well. He didn't have the pleasure of silence that I had. He still heard the noise, my screaming and my cry for help playing over and over in his head. He choked up and just simply said, "I thought I lost you." My tears flowed as I got a wash cloth and gently washed the black paint off his head and neck and we just stayed quiet.

It was a miracle. Only hours before I was being tossed around in my car and lying in the street with broken glass all around me, and now, here I am, clean, in a fluffy robe, eating a bite or two of my birthday cake to settle my stomach for all the medicine I took. My head was (and is) very tender, my shoulders, neck, and back are tight, but I will be fine.

Yup, Happy Birthday. I would like to think that God isn't done with me yet and I have much more to do in this world and that is why I am still here. But there is a small part of me that thinks that in that very moment, when I thought I was going over the bridge, and I felt a second of calmness, that God might have changed His mind and realized that I am just too ornery for Him to handle at this time. He probably would have a handful of people who would agree with Him as well. :-)

Life is good, but living it is better.

Please be safe and live as if there is no tomorrow - because you know, there just might not be...and I personally know that it is all okay.

from my house to your house,

Dec 7, 2007

Really Missing You...

Note: New posting on my Shop Talk series....please check it out...


Oh, how I miss you all and thank you so much for the kind and concerned emails you sent me. First, please allow me to apologize for worrying you and for just falling off the radar for a bit. I have a list of reasons (or excuses as some may call them), but the main reason? I just pooped out. I had a lot of adjustments, challenges, and personal issues that came full force these last 5 months or so. And sometimes, even the most energetic, optimistic, always-seeing-the-silver-lining-kind-of-person can hit a dry spell. I was simply spent. In fact, for a while, not only "spent" but sometimes I felt a deficit as well.

In this Dec issue of Redbook magazine, Shania Twain gives an interview in which I can relate to a certain extent. I don't have the article right in front of me, but she states that while she doesn't want everyone to "know her dirt" she still wants to "remain real." I totally understand her feelings. While I always want to be "real" with you all, I don't necessarily want to share (or rather bore) you with all my "dirt."

But I will share at least some "dust" with you. Several months ago I found myself suddenly flying home to Texas after getting a call from my sister that my mother broke her back and was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease - which seemed to affect her fairly quickly. She had to move out of my brother's home and into a nursing home and will be confined to a wheelchair the rest of her life. It is also sad to "lose" your mother and yet she is still alive. While sitting with her at the hospital, there were times she didn't know who I was or why I was there. I know I am not the only daughter who ever dealt with this, but it is never easy to witness what is to only become worse with time.

My own health has been a challenge as well. I have been in chronic pain for about a year now and the last several months the pain has been sporadic at best, and extremely unbearable at worst. I am a disabled vet and part of my disability is sciatica or performis muscle syndrome (caused during training from running 16 weeks on cement in combat boots). This pain can make just sitting unbearable at times, sleeping can be impossible, and forget running - which I love to do. I have been in physical therapy several times a week for weeks now and I seem to spend more time at the doctors' than in my own home. I am not used to living in chronic pain, and those of you out there that do...God bless you...I am use to being "healthy and strong" and not having my body work in perfect order is not many of you probably know first hand.

These things, along with some additional personal challenges and other life disappointments eventually drain a person and soon sleep deprivation takes it toll. Then focus, concentration, and creativity are the first to be tested. And once focus and concentration are drained, then even the most joyous of activities (like writing this blog) seem overwhelming. So having said that, rest, recluse, and reassessing the situation are in order. And so that is what I have been doing these last months...resting, staying under the radar, and reassuring myself that I am only in a tired slump, and that like most things, it is only temporary.

I then begin to wonder if I should share this with you, or just blog a design and photo blog and pretend that I never "disappeared" for several months, and continue as before...or...should I remain real (as I always tried to be) and share with you some of my challenges I have been experiencing these last months. I decided on the latter simply because I like to share but mostly because I know there are many of you out there that enjoy reading my blog for inspiration (thank you so much) but maybe it will comfort you to know that even a creative and very energetic person such as myself has moments in which the creative flow doesn't flow so well, or the energy level can drop off, or that sometimes, life hands you situations that simply take priority.

So my dear friends, I hope I didn't lose too many of you and I want to share so many things with you in the near future! And I will share more with you in future blogs, but for now, please know that I have an article out in the Jan 08 issue of Romantic Homes magazine as well as the Feb 08 issue and the April 08 issue. Below are some photos from the Jan issue - only a few - you will have to buy the issue to see the rest! :-) I will show you a sneak preview for the April issue in the next blog. I also have plans to do another shop talk posting as well. I have other big news to share - but that will come later as well.

Thank you so much for your concern - your emails truly touched my heart. And my heart is feeling a little more rested, a little more hopeful, and a lot more happier now. I hope to come back "full force" in the new year with inspirational blogs, ideas, photos, and more.

The photos below are from my photo shoot for the Jan 08 Romantic Homes issue (on the stands now). The feature is how to have an intimate private party for two on New Year's Eve in a little corner of your home. The article called "A Moment in Time."
Please enjoy the photos!

from my house to your house,
P.S. Thank you my dear Sharon for strongly encouraging me to share my challenges...and to "dip back into the inkwell" again...

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