Waxing Kundalini. 10 Lessons Learned.

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Lessons learned from my first attempt this year to officially get off my butt and exercise (after a much too lengthy hiatus):

1. Too many muffins = muffin top even in cool yoga pants.

2. When you don’t recognize the type of yoga listed, look it up before showing up. (Especially if you can’t pronounce it.)

3. First sign you may be in over your head: When you arrive to check in and say, ” I called and they said this class is okay for beginners”  and the teacher takes a long pause and says “… Uhhh…. well… SURE it is. Welcome….”

4. When all else fails, fake it and act like you know what you’re doing. (No one will notice when you keep one eye open to double check during the eyes closed parts.)

5. Second and third signs that you might be in over your head: When the teacher says she’s picked out a much harder class sequence for after the holiday and she apologizes in advance.  Then, when you’re about to pass out already and the teacher says “okay…we’re almost done warming up.”

6. Do not sit by the only male in the class who is clearly an overachiever with extremely loud and forceful breathing.  (Otherwise it’s far too distracting and windy during the “fire breathing” portions of the exercises.)

7. Figure out where everyone else gets the mantra chanting song sheets ahead of time (watermelon, watermelon doesn’t seem to work when you’re chanting in a  small group).

8. Have a tissue at the ready for the “fire-breathing” parts of the exercises when the teacher tells you to switch from forceful mouth exhales to forceful exhales through the nose. (Especially if you have allergies, it can get messy.)

9. Bring a second tissue for the cleansing song at the end of the 75 minutes of hard core Kundalini yoga.  (You’ll think it’s corny when it starts.  Until you’re wiping away your tears.)

10. You will be sore as hell the next day and probably have a hard time walking down the stairs very quickly.  But you’ll be so proud of yourself that you might even treat yourself to a new pair of cool yoga pants with built-in compression in the butt and gut areas (worth every penny, and a great motivator to go to the next class).

About Kundalini Yoga from about.com: Is Kundalini for You? (the part I probably should have looked up before going) ….

Kundalini is one of the more spiritual types of yoga. It goes beyond the physical performance of poses with its emphasis on breathing, meditation, mudras and chanting. However, the Kundalini sequences can be very physically intense. This type of yoga appeals to those who are up for both mental and physical challenges.

In the end, I’m so glad I tried this class.  I will be going again.  Happy 2013!

How To Write a Thank-You Note – too funny.

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This is a favorite blogger of mine, I miss you when I blink, who cracks me up.

Had to share this class how-to on thank you notes… Guaranteed to make you laugh.

Enjoy:

How To Write a Thank-You Note.]

Have you written your thank you notes yet?  

Flipping the bird. A Different Take on New Year’s Resolutions.

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Are you tired of hearing about New Year’s resolutions yet?

As cliché as it sounds, I love New Year’s resolutions.  It’s quite liberating to step back and assess which of my thought patterns and habits need to be tweaked or ‘given the finger.’  Kind of like cleaning out the fridge after the holidays.

Especially right after I take down all of my Christmas decorations and re-box them in the basement.  This cleansing ritual helps me settle my thoughts and reach inward to my control panel to adjust whatever habits need some fine-tuning and determine which thinking patterns need to be given ‘the bird.’ (My son has never heard of these ‘bird’ references related to the middle finger gesture.  I know this because he was the co-director in my middle finger photo shoot. My e-book on parenting will be out soon.)

So, let’s get on with it. To which thought patterns and habits shall I flip the bird to this coming year?

In 2013, I am going to give the one finger salute to the following:

1.My inner gremlins.  (Translation:  I will throw negative self talk out the window at every possible turn.) This is particularly important as the new year begins, because this whole resolution thing can often turn into a time when we beat ourselves up about what we didn’t accomplish last year.  I’ve been a lot better about this, which I’m proud of, but I am a work in progress.  My inner gremlins still mess with me.

The trick to taming these gremlins (who like to sabotage us with negative self talk and excuses) is to become aware of them. And notice when they typically start yammering. As a great book for all ages, (Taming Your Gremlin), explains, gremlins hate to be noticed. It throws them off guard and weakens them.  This year I will recognize my gremlins and push them in the corner. (This is when I picture giving the gremlins the one finger salute as I walk away while tuning my self- talk to a more positive station.)

2. The barrage of marketing attempts raging around me at all times.  I will no  longer waste time thinking about buying things that marketers are quite good at making me think that I need. Or waste time thinking about how to redesign my perfectly functional kitchen or closets.  I will focus on what matters.  I will NOT get sucked in by direct mail catalogs, marketing emails, and ridiculous coupons (DAMN THOSE MACY’S SAVING PASS CARDS) that distract me from the more important things in life.  

For goodness sake, I have a marketing background, and I still get sucked in.  This year I will be more cognizant of how I spend my time. Maybe I will set-up an email rule to sort all of my advertising emails (many of them that I signed up for in order to receive discounts that just sucker me in) into a folder that I can open only if a need actually arises?  What a concept.

3. Small stuff that doesn’t matter.  I’m going to think less about what bothers me and instead strive to love more.   I’m going to make time to encourage others, to lift them up, to help others, and to make sure they know how much I care about them.  I will forget about the small, stupid stuff that irritates me. I won’t hold others to my standards, or expect them to behave as I would.  I will turn that little mirror inward  immediately when I start to complain or get irritated.

4. Worry. This year I will worry less and live in the moment more. I will worry less about what people think, about what kind of shape I’m in, about what I wished I had done before today, about my Mom, about whether I’m doing enough, about being far away from so much family, about my kids growing up too fast, about what could, might or will happen. I will live in the moment and do the best that I can as often as I can, and know that it’s enough.

5. The excuses that stunt my personal growth.  I will set aside routine time and plan deadlines for myself this year for writing, meditation, fine-tuning my body and taking better care of myself, learning new skills and taking time to do some things that fire-up my internal engines like painting or volunteering or riding horses.  As a result, I will grow more as a person this year.

6. Going through the motions.  Instead, I will be more awake this year.  I will ‘show-up’ for life.  I will not focus on what’s expected, but rather what feels right.  I will notice and listen and observe.  I won’t play it as safe.

I realize there will be hurdles along the way and that flipping-off all of these negative patterns 100% of the time will not be easy.  (I also realize that I shouldn’t start flipping anyone or anything off in public.) But I’m going to do my damnedest to make some changes and fully engage in this mental tune-up.

It’s going to be a fun year.  Thanks, as always, for being on this journey with me.

Any old thought patterns you’d like to ‘shoot the bird’ to this year?

Wrapping up 2012 with Eleven Random Facts.

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I would like to thank my Canadian blogger friends Dennis at Weird Stuff Happens to Me and Fern at The Fur Files for nominating me for the Liebster award and the Lovely Blog award over these last few weeks. I am always truly honored to be called out by one of my fellow bloggers who entertain and educate me with their words each day.

So now, because I have received these awards, I am supposed to list seven or eleven random things about myself and nominate other bloggers for awards.

For past awards I have listed what I think are the main random things about myself (that I’m a germaphobic, martini-drinking, stubborn-as-hell Taurus who curses like a sailor and likes old cars and fart jokes as much as a third grade boy).  And if you read my blog you already know a heck of a lot about me, but here are a few more random facts you probably don’t know:liebsterlovely

1.  I like plain Folgers coffee better than Starbucks coffee — I can hear the gasps of astonishment and bewilderment now.  (Thank God there is something I don’t spend too much on).

2.  When I find something I like (as in clothes or gadgets), for some reason I think I need two or three of them, sometimes in different colors.  (Is that hoarding?)

3.  I am the all-time MASTER of procrastination. (So much so that I still haven’t read the How to Stop Procrastinating book I bought 20 years ago)

4. I have one friend who receives gifts from me each year that are either related to Jason of Friday the 13th movies or to Barbie arms (Long story on both.  Always on a quest for a better Barbie arm gadget – see pic of ring holder and earrings.)

5.  I have more half-read books than probably anyone on the planet. (Most likely another symptom of my undiagnosed ADD.)

6.  I really want to spring for an Elfa closet install/makeover through the Container Store. (I go through this every January during their big sale and I never pull the trigger.)

7.  I’m eating nacho cheese Doritos right now instead of  one of the many healthy items I have in my kitchen so that I will eat healthier. (Like apples, oranges, carrots and healthy nuts – got tons of  all of these.  Wouldn’t pretty much anything be healthier than Doritos?  Even a bite of a tire…)

8. If doomsday had come on December 21st, there is enough food in my pantry to feed the neighborhood for a few months.  (Maybe I lived during the depression in a former life?)

9. I buy FAR TOO MANY throw pillows.  (It’s ridiculous. The ones on my sectional now still have tags on them until I can decide if they are keepers.) And why are they called “throw” pillows?  Are we supposed to throw them at each other?

10. I’m obsessed with 1980s era Porsche 911s.  (Particularly one named Lola.)

11. No matter what hotel, home or condo we ever visit, I always sleep on the side of the bed that’s not by the window. (I have no idea why on this one, but I am subconsciously consistent about it.)

Here are some bloggers I would like to give some shout-outs to (If you are one of them, please pick which award you would like and list 7 or 11 random facts about yourself and nominate seven fellow bloggers.  I think I’m supposed to pick blogs with fewer than 200 followers – I apologize if I goof since it’s hard to tell sometimes. Also hard to remember who already has what award. If you’re not listed, I may have already nominated you for something or will soon!

These bloggers make me laugh so hard that my family says “WHAT MOM?” or they make me think or cry or smile on a daily basis.  So many great ones that it’s hard to narrow some down.

Here goes: Free Penny Press, Emotional Fitness Training. Keeping the Glass Half Full, Life with the top down, Lorna’s voice, Ambling & Rambling, Writing Life Stories.

So there you have it.  Have a great New Year’s Eve celebration, whatever you do and wherever you do it!  Just BE SAFE.lifeonwrybumpersticker

What’s something random about you?

Ten Things – What Christmas Means to Me.

chinese-turkey

1. Family. This year, like many years of late, we get the extra bonus of having my sweet niece (aka daughter, best friend, sister) here with us. Then on top of that,  we get to see some of my cousins and their families in the mountains for a few days after Christmas which is an extra special family treat. We also miss our family who we don’t get to see on Christmas but who we keep near to us, in our hearts.

2. Food.  In particular, a much more expensive slab of meat that I usually buy which traumatizes me because This Bitch Can’t Cook and I don’t want to ruin it.  Plus, lots of other wonderful food like buttery mashed potatoes and pie.

3. Tradition. My family tradition Christmas cookies and the old tin cookie cutters that were my Grandmother’s which I use to make them.  I always think of my mom having the dough ready for me after school to help her press out the cookies when I got home.   I would help her make green and pinkish red buttery frosting and we would carefully frost each one and add multicolor sprinkles.  Every bite brings back those memories tenfold.  I can’t remember a year when she didn’t make them for us or when we didn’t’ make them for her.

4. Meaningful Moments.  A Christmas tree so pretty each year that I can’t stop staring at it  — with multicolored lights and each branch covered in sentimental ornaments.  Nothing about it matches which makes every glance meaningful.

5. Festivities. Fun and new cocktails that my niece makes for us – usually cranberries involved — with a jazzy Christmas song playing in the background.

6.Memories. Sleeping in my sister’s bed on Christmas Eve when I was little (this was a treat as she only let me do this on certain holidays).  I swear I can feel her green checked bedspread at my fingers now and picture and smell the antique furniture that surrounded her bed.  And hear myself asking her if it was time yet to go downstairs.

7. More Memories. My Grandma sitting in our green and white wing back chair with her slippers on in our fancy room watching my sister and I open gifts with an occasional giggle, especially when we opened whatever Madame Alexander doll she had given us that year.  She had a smile and giggle that were perfection.

8. Music.  Especially our Charlie Brown Christmas album that my husband has played every Christmas morning since we’ve been married for the last 21 years.  This, with a hot cup of coffee and crumpling wrapping paper noise — more perfection.

9.  Joy. Exemplified by our dog Tony completely freaking out when he hears us opening gift bags and rattling tissue paper on Christmas morning because he thinks every bag has a new toy or bone for him (this dog has a good memory).  Monkey dog follows suit.

10. A tradition of Counter-Tradition.  Staying in our pajamas well past noon on Christmas. Going to the local Chinese restaurant down the street on Christmas night (we do our big home meal on Christmas eve).  Being the only Christmas- celebrating folk there makes us feel ‘edgy,’ as my niece would call it.  Always reminds me of the Christmas Story movie (You’ll poke your eye out) and the restaurant scene with the singing and the duck (Chinese Turkey) – CLASSIC – you have to click and watch this scene.

What does Christmas mean to you?  

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays….

Top Thing I Really Should Have Learned in 2012. (Top Ten Continued)

Top Thing I Really Should Have Learned More About in 2012: MATH

As a kind and gracious reader of my last post pointed out, I left out #5 on my top ten lessons learned. I’ve always said as a Journalism major, I simply don’t do math. But really, that’s pretty funny.

So what would number 5 really be?

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Well, as I drove home from school drop off this morning, I couldn’t help staring wide-eyed at the snow all around me.  And noticing how soft it felt under my boots and as it landed on my sweater. I wanted to take a picture of every tree with snow perfectly placed on its branches as I drove past them this morning .  I know it sounds corny, but I really don’t care.

Even at 20 degrees this morning, I couldn’t help smiling.  I even went back outside after my return to take my neighbor’s paper to her doorstep.  It was so beautiful and perfect and soft that I seriously didn’t notice the 20 degrees.

I have learned the importance of stopping and noticing so much more in 2012.  Maybe it’s the writing that has made me more observant.  Or the introspection that more disciplined writing has spurred.  Or maybe this gratitude thing has really started to change my view in a way more significant than I had realized?

But it feels right despite its borderline cornitude.  I’m slowing to notice the snow, the deep orange and pink skies letting the sun out from under its covers early in the morning and the brilliance of the moon in our bathroom skylight before I close my eyes. The way petting my little red furry muse (monkey dog) warms me inside and makes my blood move more thoughtfully through my veins. The way so many people and things are not what I had first thought before I started this process.

The twinkle in my sons’ eyes when I spend extra minutes to encourage them and talk to them before they go to bed. The way each year we think our Christmas tree is the prettiest we’ve ever had. The way my Mom’s giggle was back (even if temporarily) when I visited her yesterday as she picked up one of the bills I was paying over the phone and gestured to it like it had the best joke written on it that she had ever read. Even though she lost her ability to read and comprehend a good year or so ago.

Maybe a part of my brain that was asleep has peeled the covers back to take another look?  I hope it never goes back to sleep.

Indeed, that is the number 5 lesson learned for little Miss Math Challenged … how powerful the effect of stopping and noticing can be.

What have you stopped and noticed today? 

Top Ten Things I Learned in 2012

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10. There is no need to beat myself up about anything if I’m doing the best that I can.

9. I should never, ever stop learning.  There is still far too much to learn.

8. I am the #1 advocate for my children and should never be intimidated to advocate for them; it’s my job.

7. If we keep our eyes and hearts open, an unexpected smile, a delightful conversation or a great lesson can be found at every turn.

6. Childhood only happens once for our kids, and they’ll be gone before we know it.  Even if we’ve had a long day, we should teach them every single day how to be the kind of adults we hope they will be. And a lot of that is done by example.

4. If  I don’t like something, figuring out how to change it instead of bitching about it makes a whole lot more sense.

3. It doesn’t do any good to worry about what I can’t control.  Instead follow Dora’s advice in Finding Nemo: “Just Keep Swimming, just keep swimming….”  It will work out, whatever it is.  That was one smart fish.

2. Gratitude can make a hell of a difference in my life.

1.  Life is short so I should not sweat the small stuff and instead focus on making a difference in this world, which feels crazy good.

I learned a lot more than this in 2012, but these were definitely some highlights.  Thanks – as always – for being on this journey with me.

What are a few top things you learned this year?

My Own Little Red Riding Hood. Gratitude: Day 91

I saw her as she started to get out of the car today at the end of my sidewalk. In her little red hooded coat. Mom was more hesitant than usual today, but I got her to come with me —  out of the car, up the walk and into the house.  She even giggled a few times as I did my best Three Stooges silliness to make her laugh.

Today was my Wednesday with Mom day, when my stepdad drops her off to spend time with me while he goes to his doctor appointment.

As I took her little red jacket off once we were in the house, I felt the circle of life rounding up to a near completion.  As if I was my mother taking a coat off of me when I was little.  But instead, it was me taking her coat off as she looked at me quizzically, wondering what I was doing as I gently removed her coat.  I ushered her to a seat at my kitchen table with magazines for her to shuffle like she seems to enjoy.  I even made her a sandwich and thought about how she used to make me a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich each day after school with a glass of milk in a jelly jar glass.

Her Alzheimer’s continues to progress and she hardly speaks.  But she is happy and I can still make her smile.  For that I am grateful.  I dread the day when I can no longer make her smile, but I try not to focus on that.

The little red coat she wears was given to me on Christmas when I was almost 16, by my Dad and stepmom.  I always loved that Woolrich coat and it matched my first car — it was a clue that Christmas that I had a red present that might be in the driveway.  (It’s actually the same coat that I was wearing in the photo from my post ” letter to my 14-year-old self .”  And I’m pretty sure that picture was  taken that same night as my sister and I celebrated Christmas with my Dad and stepmom.)

Mom always liked this coat too, and as I grew out of it, her petite frame was still able to wear it, so she adopted it. And because she has always taken perfect care of everything,  today it still looks just as new as it did years ago.  It has a plaid lining and hood, and sometimes my Mom wears the little hood when we go out.  Like my own little red riding hood.

Today I am grateful that I am able to spend time with my Mom in her little red coat on Wednesdays.  The days are a bit long, sometimes zapping my energy from the emotions of it all, but I am glad I can spend time with her.

What are you grateful for today?

New mantra for the moment. Forgiveness is half the battle. Gratitude Experiment: Day 89

I thought about not posting today.  About beating myself up for not exercising and posting twice as much tomorrow.

But I’m all about honesty.  And in my mind, what good is my blog if I’m not honest.

So, today I did not exercise. Certainly not in the sense of the planned out, well-executed 30 minutes of physical activity.

But I’m not sure if I sat down all day.

Lots of driving to and from today… and worrying in between.

To far-off emissions testing facilities– for my son’s car so that we can tag it– only to realize that they too are government offices and closed on Veteran’s Day. Lovely.

Answering work emails from my phone and crossing my fingers for a lack of typos. And making appointments for my Mom.

Lots of working on help for my oldest son who continues his battles with teenage life and angst. And driving him to and fro various appointments.

And his brother, the ever so patient one, to and fro his own activities and appointments, hoping his patience holds out.

Only to return late in the day, wiped. But grateful to be able embrace forgiveness of myself for not exercising, for not perfecting this whole life thing, and for just being.  And breathing.  And realizing that breathing is good.  Damn good.

What do you forgive yourself for?

Mantra. Gratitude Experiment: Day 88

 One of the blogs that I follow had a post a few weeks ago that asked readers about their personal mantra.

I’m the type of person that has quite a few mantras and favorite quotes, but I would say that I have one main mantra.  I started feeling very strongly about this one after I lost a few people dear to me within a few years and realized just how fleeting life could be:

Life is far too short to spend too much time doing things that don’t make you happy or being with people who don’t make you feel good.

That’s my deep thought for the day.

What’s your mantra?

P.S.: I walked around downtown this afternoon with a friend for 30 minutes for my exercise.  It was after brunch and mimosas, but let’s not let that spoil it.  My body was moving, after all.

Today, I’m grateful that my personal mantra has helped me realign my priorities a few times so far during my life, and that I have working feet and am able to walk without pain.  Something I certainly take for granted on a regular basis.

Letter to my 14-Year-Old Self. Gratitude Experiment: Day 85

This week a writing prompt caught my attention, so here goes:

Dear 14-year-old-me,

There are so many things I want to tell you.  I’m not sure where to start.

First off, I think you should start writing in a journal. Quit fighting it. It is part of who you are. Get a journal and just write in it. You’ll be glad later.

Also, as much as your sister bugs you sometimes, please realize how wonderful and brilliant she is and how lucky you are to have her.  She is more a part of you than anyone else ever will be. Soak up every single minute of her.  Do not, I repeat, do not, fight over stupid things. Life is ever so fleeting, so keep this in the back of your mind.

As for your parents, you will not have them around forever either. You need to cut them a little slack. I know you are a teenager, and a ‘feeler’ and all, but you are awfully dramatic.  You’ll realize later that parenting is no cake walk, trust me.

Your Mom is a bit fragile and needs you to be easy on her; she is doing the best that she can. She will teach you many things about life and you will be glad that she did. Try not to get annoyed with her and realize that everyone is in charge of their own happiness.

And your Dad, even though you don’t realize it now, is really a big softie under that tough-as-nails exterior.  He’s just afraid to show it.  He too is brilliant, like your sister was.  He will take you to wonderful places and you will learn great things from him, so stop fighting it and take it all in.  He loves you a lot and you are way more like him than you realize.

Even your stepdad, cut him some slack too.  I know it’s not fun right now, but trust me, he’s going to blow you away with his strength, grace and love for your mother later in life.  He’s still a work in progress, as are we all.  I know you also don’t realize what a blessing it is that you have your stepmom in your life.  She will be there to take care of us all in our darkest hours, and she has a very sweet place for you tucked away in her heart. She too will teach you many things in life.

I know this is getting heavy, so bear with me.  Know that you are already blessed with a few friends who you will have for life.  You don’t understand how rare or fortunate this is.  Take good care of them and don’t blow them off too much to be with your boyfriend.  They will have your back more times than you can ever imagine and they will be your sisters.  Plus, in not too many years down the road, you are going to meet your soul mate, so don’t sweat the boy stuff.

And before I forget, please don’t worry or obsess about how you look or what size jeans you wear – ever.  Trust me, you will have ups and downs all along the way and it really doesn’t matter.  Plus, I promise you’ll look back one day and wonder why in the world you ever criticized the way you looked (except for your blue eye shadow – you seriously need to go easy on that this next few years).

Be sure to step back every once in a while and realize how good you have it. Try not to complain and realize that it’s all relative (you will probably say that a lot in your life).  Find a way to start giving of yourself to help others not as fortunate, so that you can make it a habit for life and keep perspective.  You have some service in your heart and you will find that it energizes you.

Lastly, realize that how you look at things affects everything in your life. And that hurdles and challenges in life are the bricks that build us.  You can do anything and handle anything thrown your way.  You have no earthly idea how strong and passionate you are.  Just remember to leave your ego at the curb every once in a while.

I think that’s it for now, my friend.  I’m grateful that I was able to reflect on these things for you. Godspeed.

Yours truly,

Older Self

The Brothers Bloom. Gratitude Experiment: Day 75

For some reason my post yesterday didn’t actually get published until just now. And I just realized – thanks to Ambling & Rambling, that the countdown widget I added to my site told me I had 19 days left, when it was really 26. Duh. Yes, I am sometimes severely WordPress-challenged.  Still need ideas for my next challenge, but I have a little more time than I thought. So keep them coming!

Now, for today’s actual post…

I am grateful that today I got to see my sons hang out and laugh together like old times.

They are growing up far too quickly. And becoming a little too cool for our regular family goofiness. And as teenagers, they get on each other’s nerves a lot these days.

So when I see them laugh and hang out together like old times, it warms my heart. Today was one of those days and hearing their laughter made me smile. For this I am thankful.

PS: If you haven’t seen the movie The Brothers Bloom, rent it.  One of my favorites.

19 More Days. Gratitude Experiment: Day 74


Today I’m grateful that I have made it through almost 100 days without running out of things to be thankful for.

This exercise in positive thinking has made my glass more easily half full on a regular basis. This is a very good thing. And it has attracted good things.

Plus, the 100-day challenge to post something every day has been a genius way for me to force myself to write and post every single day. And I am truly enjoying it.

But with only 19 days until I hit the big 100, the pressure is mounting for another challenge that I shall proclaim to keep myself blogging.

I would like to keep the next challenge related to gratitude somehow because this has been a great experience and it seems to be easy to connect with.

Ideas?

PS:  How cool is the sunlight hitting the top of the tree in this photo? It was the other morning just as the sun was rising after our first somewhat substantial early snow.

Give me your thoughts on my next challenge…

Inspired by Grace. Gratitude Experiment: Day 73

Today I visited my friend’s son – who is also my friend – in the hospital. He is 14 with cerebral palsy and just had a very big surgery where a pump for medication was placed deep in his abdomen to help make him more comfortable and manage his pain.

Not only is this young man one of the sweetest and smartest kids I know, but he is also one of the bravest, a bona fide trooper.

And as for my friend — not only do I consider her a great confidant and ally, but  I am also continually moved by her incredible strength, beauty and grace.

It’s hard to explain, but watching them today, I was inspired. For this, and for my young friend’s healthy start on his road to recovery from his surgery, I am truly grateful.