Hidden Blessings

Sometimes I wonder why we are burdened with misfortune. Sometimes it seems like it happens more than it should. Other times I think about all of the blessings we have received, and wonder how we got so lucky.

As I have written in previous posts, between 2000 and 2002 I was severely ill, and almost died as a result of Crohn’s Disease. I have often said that due to that period of time in my life, I became a much stronger, happier, and confident person. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and is preparing us for our future. There are always hidden blessings.

After life-saving surgery for Crohn’s, we decided to adopt our beautiful daughter, Carleigh. I would never have been so brave to put my trust in a foreign government and travel to China, if it wasn’t for my Crohn’s, and the realization I had to live life to the fullest and not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone. Once we brought Carleigh home, and the opportunity arose, we moved to Shanghai, China for 4 years. We would not have experienced life abroad and traveled to countries all over Asia, giving our children such unusual life experiences, if not for the disease I had, or the adoption we were honored with. There are always hidden blessings.

If not for our adoption, we would not have had the unfortunate experience of having a bullied child attempt suicide. There is nothing good about this. To even think that is unimaginable. However, if not for that incident, we would not have found the most amazing therapist, who sees three out of four of us, while we go through the medical issues that we are now experiencing with Bill. I also would not have the strong, confident, compassionate, thoughtful daughter who has learned so much through her difficulties. There are always hidden blessings.

If not for all of the travel in Asia, Bill and I may not have caught the wanderlust “bug” that we treasure, and would not have had some of our recent adventures both before, and since, news of his health issues. We have already traveled to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Anaheim, Puerto Rico, Spain, Italy, New Orleans, and went on an East Coast and Midwest minor league baseball tour. Next month we are headed to Kansas City to see the Chiefs, his favorite football team, and if all goes well…Morocco in February with a 24 hour stop over in Paris. As long as money and health hold out, we are hoping to make it to Greece and somewhere in South America in the next few years. He is unable to work right now, and we are moving up the plans we had for retirement. If not for this unexpected health complication, we would not be able to spend every day together, and travel the world making memories. Sometimes these unfortunate events in life remind us to appreciate every minute that we have. There are always hidden blessings.

It is undeniable….life hands us obstacles. I deal with them like I am putting them through a colander. All the big bad stuff stays inside the wire mesh, and I do with it what I must, while the blessings trickle out into a bowl for me to discover and appreciate. Even when I couldn’t initially see them, they were there. If there is one lesson I have learned in this life, it is that there are always hidden blessings.

I hope you discover some beauty in the depths of a terrible situation and embrace it. Every individual is responsible for creating their own happiness. Love life through the good and bad. Finding a ray of light in a time of darkness can make all the difference. There are always hidden blessings.

Fifteen Years Ago Today

We all remember where we were and what we were doing when something unusual or shocking happened. So many events or memories go in and out of our brain, but others really stick. Where we were when President Reagan was shot, what we were doing when the Challenger exploded, the events of the morning of 9/11. Some events are more personal, your wedding day, the death of a relative, the birth of a child. One of those memories for me was 15 years ago today, August 14, 2003. It was the Great Blackout and it took out power in Detroit, New York City, Cleveland , Toronto, Ottawa, and many other smaller cities.

The morning started out with me taking our 2 year old cat to be put down. He was an awesome cat. He was also very ill. He had reoccurring bladder stones that were very painful for him. He had already been through one surgery, and was headed for another. Unfortunately, in his short life he had chewed through 45 phone and electrical cords. He’d even been shocked by one, but that wasn’t the last. Do I find this a coincidence? Great Blackout….Rudy going to Heaven? Absolutely not. That was Rudy’s final farewell. His last dance. His parting shot. Sorry people. He was a stinker. Anyone that knows me, knows that that is something I would do. I loved that little guy.

I think we ended up being out of power for about five days. Food went into coolers, solar powered lights went outside in the morning, and came back in at night. Thanks to their flat tops, they were the best and safest way to light the house with young children. Coffee was traded for the use of a coffee maker in a house with a generator. Food was used as quickly as possible. Anything that could be grilled. Chicken, hamburgers, steaks, fish sticks…..yeah, the last didn’t work so well.

Gas was taken from cars and put into generators, as gas stations were without power, and the very few that weren’t had mile-long lines. Mobile phones were dead, E-readers didn’t exist. There was nowhere to go to escape as power was out EVERYWHERE. Many hours were spent outside. Playing board games, reading a paperback, chatting with neighbors.

Fifteen years ago today, the Great Blackout happened. It was actually kind of awesome. Sometimes when you take away some of those things you have become dependent on, you see what you are missing. It’s a great reminder of what is most important in life. Family, friends, community.

Now that I think about it…..maybe that’s what Rudy was trying to show me all along…..