A Phoenix Burning


When Life is Bitter

Eight days ago I was awoken by one of those ever dreaded pre-dawn phone calls, the ones that always portent tragedy.  My 22 year old youngest cousin, Ian,  and his 26 year old friend Jeremy had been killed in a car accident.  Ian had been driving too fast for conditions, with balding tires, and hit a patch of ice rounding a curve on a local country road.  The truck jumped a guard rail, striking trees, and both young men died on impact.

Initially, I could not comprehend what I was hearing.  It wasn’t possible.  This beautiful boy, full of life, a bright spirit with his whole future ahead of him, was gone.  Simply unimaginable.  And to make the incomprehensible even more unbearable was the knowledge that another family was receiving the same news as we were.  Utter shock, profound loss, and overwhelming sadness surrounded my family.  It was inescapable and heavy, the reality becoming harder to bear with each passing day until Tuesday’s wake and Wednesday’s funeral.  The fact that Ian was the answer to 19 families prayers through organ donation was a comfort, but not nearly enough to erase the pain of our loss.

Ian was a hard working, happy, generous, warm, respectful, loving young man.  He lived hard and fast, always a worry to his parents and our grandmother, but his smile and charm would light up a room.  I knew how much we loved him, but I did not know the incredible impact he had on the lives around him until Tuesday.

The wake was scheduled from 4-8pm.  His family received the last of the visitors at 11:30pm.  The line of mourners for this beautiful man extended around the building and up the street.  People waited outside in below zero temperatures for two hours, only to have another two hour wait once they entered the building.  The sight was breathtaking.  Hundreds of young men in their Carhartts and workboots, sobbing on their knees…heartbreaking, yet so comforting to know that he meant so much to so many people, and that he had such a profound impact in his 22 short years, as to leave a lasting impression on so many lives.

On Wednesday, we said goodbye to Ian in a standing room only Church, the sea of black silent, except for the softly echoing sobs.  We mourn for ourselves, and for those closest to him that have to continue to walk the path of life without him by their side.

However, I am reminded of a Truth as we navigate through his loss.

It is not what we do that matters…it is who we are.

So often I have been guilty of wanting to DO something that makes an impact.  I want to do more, be more, make my life count.  What Ian has taught me, not only through his life, but also his death, is that the way to make an impact in this world is to simply be present in the lives of those around me.

Love, generosity, kindness, joy, sharing…that is the legacy Ian leaves behind, and that is the legacy I hope to achieve in his honor.


“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

― Shauna Niequist


Something Happened…

Somewhere along the way, I lost my writing mojo.  I lost my desire to take photographs.  I lost my creative edge.

But I feel it beginning to awaken again.  My classes are finished and I have a little space freeing itself up in my brain.  And that is how it begins.

“Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.”

-Dee Hock


I really really really really really intended to be here more often.

And then life just got too full.

I am working very hard to keep afloat.  So far, I have been successful, but it means I can’t be here very often.

Quick update:

Since you last saw me I have been taking two classes working toward my SBL (School Building Leader) Certificate.  That has been keeping me quite busy in and of itself.

I am also keeping up with my School Board duties, and working on a newly born Parent Advocacy Group within my district.  This has been more time consuming than I expected it would be, but it has also been quite rewarding.

Zan is still working from home consulting, which adds an air of uncertainty to our lives, but we count our blessings that he is still bringing in a paycheck despite being technically unemployed.

Add to that keeping up with my three kids and their crazy schedules, and Mama doesn’t have much time for blogging.

Life is good, we are healthy and busy, and life is full.

I will be back to tell you all about our second trip on the Disney Dream later.  😉

Back to Reality

Christmas Vacation is over. The kids go back to school this morning leaving me with memories of fun, laughter, relaxation, and letting the house go to pot.

This is what I’m left to deal with….just me, myself, and a very big two-weeks-in-the-making MESS!




Update: After an initial delay, school is now closed due to icy roads. So I guess I’m not alone with my mess after all.

Good Morning Sue!

Turns out, someone is still checking this blog daily, just waiting for a new post! And to think, I figured my presence here wouldn’t be missed! *waves to Sue*

Obviously, I took a little break. As I told my friend, so much has been going on, just in the simple everyday unfolding of life, that for awhile, I found myself sitting down to write, and not knowing where to start. Then so much was happening, but I wasn’t prepared to share it all. When you have to think too hard about *what* to write, then you begin to think *if* you should write, you sort of stop writing altogether. So that’s where I’ve been!

So let’s see…January and February in review, the highlights:

On a worrisome note, Zan’s job is a constant question mark, as his company has experienced lost revenue steadily. People have been leaving in droves, making us feel like he is on the Titanic, wondering if there will be a lifeboat left for him if it sinks into the deep. We take it day by day, and trust that we will be fine no matter what happens, but the unsteadiness under our feet leaves us a bit unsettled.

On a high note, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in January! We kept it simple with our annual overnight stay in Saratoga Springs, back where it all began. This milestone has given us the opportunity to look back with pride on the life we have built together, and we are thankful for the many blessings that have been given us along the way, most importantly our three healthy, happy, fun, and exhasperating children! My dear husband also gifted me with a beautiful diamond ring to celebrate! It is shaped like a snowflake and I cherish it. (I believe I see his lifelong wish for a Mustang coming true in his future.) 😉

In other news, my sister is expecting her third child in September!! This gives the family much to look forward to, and my dear Mother much to worry about! Neither of her daughters have a great track record in the area of “easy pregnancies,” so of course my Mom won’t rest easy until this sixth grandchild is in her arms with her smiling exhausted daughter by her side. 🙂

Surprisingly, (or not so surprisingly!) we jumped back into the home improvement realm with a little weekend project recently. We tore out a section of cabinets, patched and painted the exposed wall, and relocated another “moveable” cabinet, in order to make room in my kitchen for a new refrigerator. This beautiful thing has 32 cubic feet of space and makes up to 12 pounds of ice a day. I am in love!

IMG_4830We still haven’t put all the finishing touches on the addition (painting the bedroom window frames and adding curtains, another coat of paint on my new doors) but expect spring (if it ever gets here!) will be the time for that. We got a *little* burnt out on projects after the build, so it has been nice to take a pause and just enjoy living in the new space.

On another negative note, my dear husband fell and hurt himself about four weeks ago. He came home from working in the City one night, and as he walked into the bedroom said, “I’m alright, but I had a little accident at work.” A very large (about 2in. x 1 1/2 in.) chunk of skin was taken out of the middle of his forehead, and he looked at me with dried blood still on his face (lovely)…we joked after that it looked like he had grown a third eye. *teehee* After a visit to the ER, and minor surgery in the Plastic Surgeon’s office the next day, my husband is all put back together and healing very well from the ordeal. However, I have a few more gray hairs to show for it. 😉

Back to the happy stuff! We are leaving for Disney on Thursday!!!!! WHOOPWHOOP!!! After a very busy few months (Big Girl preparing for the Spring Musical, and Little Girl [who is not so little anymore] playing basketball all season and preparing for various Viola concerts) we are all looking forward to getting away! Me? I am most excited to feel the warmth of the Sun on my face and shoulders! I swear I haven’t been warmed all the way through since November. To prepare for our trip, I bit the bullet and bought a new point-and-shoot camera, a Sony Cybershot. It will take some getting used to, but I wanted something light to carry around in the parks. This is my first trip to Disney since the Fibro diagnosis and the back issues, so I figured lugging my D90 everywhere would be counterproductive. I really like this little camera…a sample shot:

2013 02 08_7723Lastly (for now,) I am embarking on a new adventure. After thinking about it for five or so years, I have finally decided to run for a position on our local Board of Education. I miss teaching (I left five years ago!) but am not prepared to return to work full time. I think this is one valuable way I can be involved in the educational process at this point in my life. The prospect is a bit intimidating, yet very exciting. 🙂 We shall see where it all leads me, and if I get elected or not. If it is meant to be, it will be.

Still managing my health well. Long naps once every few weeks, weekly chiropractor visits, daily tea, no wheat, caffeine free, acupuncture as needed…it is a full time job to stay on my feet and be at my best, but worth it! 🙂

I Updated “One Fine Summer!”

If you are interested in the house renovation, go check it out!

Yep…Still Alive

And so so busy.
I really wish I was back at the beach!