Thursday, June 28, 2012

Freeky Friday: Positivity Playlist

Late again, but this time it's less than a week, and after this I'll be caught up! Jump over to Concrete Jane to see what this is all about, and how you can join in on the fun each week and be entered to win cool and yummy prizes!

Freeky Friday

This Last week's question is was:

What's on your positivity playlist this summer? Share your favorite feel-good songs!

This topic is really fun. There were a couple of these posts last summer as well. I love discovering new music (speaking of, I am in dire need of some new tunes right now... help!), especially songs I can rock out to without a care of who is watching. I don't have a real theme to my list, just that they are fun and I love them!

Lady Antebellum - Perfect Day

I love Lady Antebellum. This song reminds me to be happy with the little things in life; that sometimes you just need to stop, relax, and live in the moment you are in, free of worries about current or future problems, and just enjoy.
Awesome lyrics: What I'd give if I could find a way to stay / Lost in this moment now

LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It

Okay, is this song not me, or what? Not because I'm crazy conceited and think I'm the hottest person on the planet or anything, but because it's fun, it's hilarious, I can dance to it, and I don't care who's watching when I do it.
Hilarious lyrics: We're headed to the bar baby don't be nervous / No shoes, no shirt and I still get service

Signmark - Smells Like Victory

I. Freeking. Love. Signmark. He's a Deaf rapper from Finland. I met him a few months ago in NYC, got his autograph and took a picture with him. I even have an exclusive interview recorded on my phone. ;-) Many of his songs are about overcoming adversity as a Deaf music artist, and this one proves just that. His entire album accompanies a DVD with a music video for each song. As you can see in this video, he signs all of his lyrics, while his hearing friend, Brendan, raps. Brendan does not know sign language, but is currently learning, and the two of them write music and lyrics together. Signmark (Marko Vuoriheimo) knows Finnish sign language, Finnish, American Sign Language, and English (possibly more, but these are the four that I know of). Signmark is proof that anyone can do anything they dream of doing. Get out there and do it.
Fantastical lyrics: So loosen up you seem a little uptight right / Maybe cause a deaf man came and stole your spotlight

How about you? What's on your positivity playlist?

Anyone can participate in Freeky Fridays. Bounce back over to Concrete Jane to make sure you are entered to win some delicious treats and have a donation made in your name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Freeky Friday: Long Island Fun

Freeky Friday

Okay, I'm a little a lot late on this one. I was so busy packing and preparing for Vegas (more on that later) that I spaced out on this the past two weeks! But, it's here now, and will be followed by another shortly.

To see all the info on Freeky Friday head over to Concrete Jane and join in on the fun!

This question is regional:

What's the best thing about summer in your neck of the woods? Any fun local activities or traditions?

There isn't much to do on Long Island that hasn't been done a thousand times over. Movies, Hamptons, clubs, bars, bowling. That's about as fun as it gets here. But, there are a couple of things that never get old for me.

What Long Island girl doesn't love the beach? Feeling the warmth of the sun, getting some reading done, playing frisbee and volleyball, swimming in the ocean, playing in the waves. Sure, you get sand all over you, but it comes with the territory.

Avalon Park in Stony Brook. Very cool, very serene park with boardwalks, water, trails, trees, animals, and an interesting Labyrinth in the middle, which you'll need to see for yourself.

The Holtsville Ecology Center. Many people think this is just a mini zoo, but it's much more than that. The animals are part of the nature preserve and ecology center, but there is also a triple pool complex, an exercise trail fitness course, greenhouses, and a picnic area.

Fireworks at Jones Beach July 4th. I haven't gone to see this spectacular display of lights in quite a few years, but it was always spectacular. There's nothing quite like this show. However, I'm just as happy staying at home and barbecuing with family and friends.

Personal photo
And one of my favorite things is summer concerts. This is a picture from a Disturbed concert I went to two summers ago. This wasn't actually taken on Long Island, and often the concerts aren't held here, but it's local enough.

How about you? What's the best thing about summer in your area?

Jump back over to Concrete Jane to see how you can participate each week, and be entered to win yummy prizes and have a donation made in your name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Anyone can join in!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lesson Learned in Friendship

Back again at Mama Kat's weekly writing prompts.

Today I chose number 5:
Share something mean someone had said to you once. Why has it stuck with you after all these years?

Angela and I were inseparable. Every waking moment was spent with each other. Though we were in the same sixth grade class in our last year of elementary school, we didn't really become friends until the first day of junior high.

I was a lost puppy that first day. Attempting to become accustomed to the school layout, having eight different classes with eight different teachers, and not one of them the entire morning included scheduling me with any of my friends.

Until I walked into science class in the middle of the day with Mr. Harvey. I stopped briefly in the doorway, surveying the room. The black chalkboard, the middle-aged man with graying hair standing at the front desk, the windows perfectly aligned behind the black counter across the room, and the dark brown student desks, light glaring off the shiny surfaces.

I gazed around, praying that at least one person I knew would be in this class with me.

Then I heard it.


I snapped my head left toward the sound of my name, and there was Angela, sitting in the first row, third seat. 

"Thank God!" I exclaimed and ran over to her desk, hugging her. I sat behind her, and from that day forward, nothing could tear us apart.

We had sleepovers every weekend. I would walk to her house a few blocks away or jump on the bus when school was over to her house instead of mine. We would spend the entire weekend together watching movies, jumping on her trampoline, walking around the neighborhood, playing on her computer, practicing singing our favorite songs, and staying up late just talking the night away about boys. Until she fell asleep and took up the entire bed and I would go into the living room and sleep on the couch. Seriously, how could such a tiny person take up so much room?

We were practically attached at the hip. We attended every school function and dance together. I was given a special candle at her Sweet 16 party. We talked about how we would be friends forever, sitting in rocking chairs when we were 80 or 90, still laughing about the silly things we did as teenagers. We gave each other friendship bracelets, advice on boys, and were there for each other through thick and thin, from our first puppy loves to her parents' divorce to my house fire.

Slowly, yet somehow still suddenly, things began to change. Junior year of high school, Angela broke up with her loving boyfriend of four years and started dating a guy who was the absolute opposite and completely wrong for her. She gained some new friends, he influenced her in all the wrong ways, and she succumbed to his manipulations, taking up smoking, drinking, stealing, lying to her friends and family, and even drugs. She wasn't the same girl I knew. 

We began to drift slightly, but I thought it was just a phase she was going through, trying to deal with her parents' divorce, and she would eventually come to her senses and snap out of it. I envisioned her dumping her loser boyfriend and everything he'd influenced her to do, and coming back to her real life. I was afraid she was just going to end up hurt.

But I apparently should have been more worried for myself, instead.

Through this new boyfriend of hers, Angela also acquired some new "friends," who influenced her just as badly. We hadn't talked too often anymore. I was on the computer one evening on July 3rd, when I received an instant message from her. We exchanged greetings, and she quickly indicated her objective. 

She explained she had some new friends. A new best friend, in fact, named Stephanie. She then felt compelled to tell me:

"I feel closer with her than I ever have with you."

Ouch. Seriously?! After all we'd been through, she felt closer with some new girl she'd known for five minutes over her best friend of four years? That really stung.

After beating around the bush for a few minutes, I finally got to the point.

"What are you trying to say?" I asked her.

She replied: "I guess I'm trying to say that we're not really best friends anymore."

I tried to change her mind, but I realized there was really no point. She had made her decision.

I don't particularly remember how that conversation ended, but those words really stuck with me for a long time. Someone who I thought was my best friend, who was never supposed to hurt me, stabbed me in the heart.

Luckily, a mutual friend, Jackie, was hanging out with my uncle and me the next day at Jones Beach for 4th of July fireworks. A few minutes before we were about to leave, the phone rings. Somehow I just knew it was Angela.

"Hello?" I answer.

"Kerry?" she asks, sheepishly.

"What do you want?" I demand, clearly not holding back my anger at this point.

"Can we please talk?"

"I think you've said everything you needed to say."

She pleaded to arrange a time to talk, claiming she was so sorry, she didn't mean what she said, and she regretted it. I didn't feel like talking. I was hurt and angry. And I wanted to get her out of my mind and just enjoy my day with my uncle and Jackie. But eventually, we set up a time for that weekend. We agreed that I would come to her house Friday night and talk, and if it went well, I would stay over.

I went to the beach with my uncle and Jackie, and distracted myself with food, frisbee, and fireworks. 

Then Friday came. Jackie was at my house, because she knew of my arrangement with Angela and wanted to see how I was feeling about it. Not ten minutes before I was supposed to leave to go see her, the phone rang again. And again, I just knew it was Angela calling to cancel.

She apologized, saying that she had to spend the weekend at her dad's house, and that she was really sorry and that we'd reschedule because she really wanted to work things out with us.

I hung up the phone, and looked at Jackie. We both knew.

"She's lying," we said in unison.

Angela didn't know that Jackie was over. So, a few minutes later, Jackie called Angela like she would have any other day. She asked her what she was up to that night, and if she wanted to hang out. Angela responded with:

"Oh, nothing much. I'm hanging out with my boyfriend and my friend Stephanie and we're going to watch a movie."

I knew it.

Right then and there, I was done. She screwed me over twice, then lied about it. 

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. She said that by telling me we weren't best friends anymore she had made a mistake, and she wanted to talk about it, to apologize and make it up to me. Okay, fine. Even though it was hurtful, I understand that people make mistakes, so I agreed to see her. But she showed her intentions pretty clearly by canceling on me for her boyfriend and new best friend.

She called repeatedly after that. She tried instant messaging me apologizing, but I was too angry to forgive her. Her words, then her actions, stuck with me. In my mind, it proved to me how she really felt about our friendship.

It was difficult to "get over." A broken friendship often hurts more than a relationship break-up. Boys come and go, but friends are supposed to last forever. They're supposed to support you, love you, and be there for you no matter what.

One day, though, a long time after our friendship ended, I told her that I forgave her. She got excited, but before she got her hopes up, I told her that that didn't make us friends again. Instead, what she did changed what we were forever.

But by forgiving her, I could let it go and move on. Because to me, forgiveness is not about excusing or condoning what the person did. It's about letting go of a grudge, letting go of the anger in your heart, so it can finally heal.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Never Have I Ever

This post came from Mama Kat and her writing prompts.

22 Things I've Never Done:

  1. Skydiving. And I never will. Except the fake whirlwind indoor skydiving.
  2. Had kids. Not even close to ready.
  3. Been out of the country. It makes me quite sad.
  4. Swam with dolphins. On my bucket list!
  5. Kissed in the rain.
  6. Kissed under mistletoe.
  7. Gone surfing. But I want to try.
  8. Lived on my own. Oh, how badly I want to.
  9. Gone on a cruise.
  10. Learned to cook. Oh, I can follow a recipe. But I envy those people who can whip up a meal with random ingredients that normally do not belong together.
  11. Seen a meteor shower. Every time one comes around, I forget to watch.
  12. Seen a shooting star.
  13. Learned to play an instrument. I played the viola in third grade, and the flute in fourth, but never mastered either. I also tried teaching myself to play guitar, but that didn't work out. Someone teach me. Please?
  14. Gone white water rafting.
  15. Gone through a ziplining obstacle course. Which will be accomplished this summer.
  16. Gotten back to my original weight. I mean, 7 pounds 6 ounces is a little ridiculous, don't you think?
  17. Had my tonsils out.
  18. Gotten the flu.
  19. Broken a bone.
  20. Bungee jumping. Not happening.
  21. Smoked a cigarette.
  22. Done any illegal drug.

What have you never done?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Freeky Friday: Grateful

Freeky Friday

It's back! Freeky Friday is back! Yay!

For those of you going, "Huh?!" head over to Concrete Jane and see the inspiring story of what it's all about and how you can win prizes and have a donation made in your name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The first question of the summer is:

What's the best thing that's happened to you over the last year? Get creative with your answer! It can be something you experienced, something you witnessed, something you participated in, something you realized... the possibilities are endless!

It took me a very long time to come up with an answer to this question. The reason being was because my brain could not focus on anything other than the grim event that occurred just four days ago; my beautiful, 16 year old puppy being put to sleep. Yeah, I said puppy. He was my baby. Deal with it.

I have been absolutely beside myself. Just when I think my body couldn't possibly possess any more water and I must be dehydrated to raisin-like status, something triggers more tears and they continue to fall.

So, needless to say, it's been consuming my thoughts. It was difficult to zero in on any one good thing while I miss my best friend so much and I wish for him to come back, for this to be a horrible nightmare so someone can pinch me and I'll wake up and everything will be just fine again.

But now I'm ranting.

I'll be honest. I hadn't even decided on an answer to this question when I started writing this post. But, it came to me. I realized that it's quite simple, really.

The best thing that has happened to me over the last year was getting one more year with my baby boy.

Last June, almost to the day when he got sick this year, Floppy had surgery at age 15. It was vital that he have a spleenectomy, or he would bleed out internally and we would lose him. He was strong, and his vitals were healthy, so we went for it. And he survived with flying colors. In less than a week, he was back to his old self, like nothing had ever happened. 

Most people may not have taken that risk on a 15 year-old dog. They may have put him down instead to end his suffering. But I am so very grateful that we chose to take the chance and believe in him. Without it, I would have lost out on another happy year with him. I would have missed more joyous memories, more chances to take pictures, and one more year of unconditional love.

Words cannot describe how much I miss him. But I know he had a long, happy, loving life with us. And he will always, always have a special place in my heart reserved just for him.

Jump back over to Concrete Jane to see the multiple ways you can participate - anyone can join in - and win some tasty treats, and have a donation made in your name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Heart is Broken

I loathe yesterday.

I despise today, too.

I'll probably continue hating the days until this throbbing pain in my heart dissipates.

You may recall my post about my miraculous, angel boy, Floppy. He was 15 years old at the time, and survived surgery to have his spleen removed due to a tumor growth that would cause him to bleed out if it wasn't. I nursed him back to health, watching him improve every day, until only a few days had passed and he was back to his normal self, like nothing had happened. Despite his arthritis he trotted around, he ate on his own again, he barked at random noises again, and he nudged our arms with his face to be pet again. Though he had trouble with the stairs sometimes, he was happy and healthy again.

Those of you who have had or currently have pets know the special bond that is shared between owners and pets. It is more than just love. It is a unique connection that really cannot be described to justice in words. They become part of your family, like any human addition would.

Speaking about dogs, they are more than loyal. They are always happy to see you, no matter how long you've been gone. They get excited about the little things, like going outside just to pee, going for a walk, or getting a new toy or treat. They get sad if you are upset with them. They feel guilty when they did something wrong. They get scared of loud noises, like firecrackers or thunderstorms (or in the case of our other dog, Nikki, everything). They empathize when you are upset, and want you to feel better. They help you when you are sick or hurt. Their emotions show in their faces and body language.

They become our babies, our brothers and sisters, and our best friends. And just like any human loved one, it pains us to see them sick or hurting.

I felt helpless these past few days.

Though Floppy was 16 and a half, it still seemed sudden that he became ill. He had been eating less, becoming extremely picky about his food, and lost a lot of weight. His arthritis got to him, and he could no longer climb the stairs. He stopped putting up a fight and let us carry him up and down. But he could still walk, still drink water, and he still loved affection. He was still himself.

Two days ago, on Sunday, June 3, he suddenly declined. He began throwing up everything he took in, and even more when his stomach was empty. He could no longer even stand up on his own, and simply lied on the floor on his side, body outstretched and staring at the wall. He was aware of our presence, but didn't have the strength or energy to acknowledge it any more than shifting his eyes slightly to look at us.

His breathing became both shallow and labored. He refused to take in anything, even his favorite treats and water. He couldn't put in any effort. I knew he lost weight and was thinner, but now he seemed sunken in, all skin and bones, like a skeleton. Every once in a while, he would summon the energy to sit up, either to throw up again or change his position. Other than that, he was completely still.

Watching him suffer and being so miserable tore at my heart. It just wasn't fair. He was always so sweet, so loving, so loyal, so good. It wasn't fair that he had to go through this pain, to suffer like this. He's supposed to live forever.

I prayed for him to stay. Please, Floppy, hold on. Please, feel better. Please, please, don't let go. Please, please, don't let this be his time. But, I knew.

As strong as he was, as much of a fighter as he was, I knew he couldn't hold on much longer. He could last a few more days like this, suffering, in pain, and die slowly of dehydration or worse things in his body that we couldn't diagnose.

We stayed by his side all night, consistently stroking his face, his ears, his body, his feet. We told him how much we loved him, what a good, beautiful, angel boy he was. We talked about how we hoped his mother, Lulu:

and his brother, Biscuit:

were going to greet him in doggie Heaven, and that maybe Biscuit wouldn't try to fight with him this time.

I tried to stay strong for him. We knew he didn't have much time left, and we wanted it to be filled with love. He had one last night with us, and we continued to be with him the next day into the early evening.

For his final hours with us yesterday, we brought him outside and laid him on a blanket. We continued to pet him, lovingly stroking his face and head and body. The clock ticked away all too quickly, and suddenly, it was time for him to go. I wasn't ready. My mom told me to say goodbye.

And I lost it.

The uncontrollable sobbing began. Tears streaming down my face, I replied, "I don't want to," and leaned over him, hugging him with my head against his. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I couldn't take in enough air between my broken-hearted sobs. "I know," my mom's voice cracked, hugged me from the side, crying with me, while I hugged her back with one arm and kept petting Floppy with the other. I didn't want to let him go. I had him since the day he was born... this couldn't be the end.

"It's time," my mom said much too soon, losing her grip on me. I stood, and watched her and my stepdad carry Floppy and the blanket into the back of the car. I ran to the other side, leaning in and hugging him one last time, my unyielding, unrelenting tears dampening his fur. I kissed his face and told him I loved him. I couldn't let him go. I couldn't accept this was the last time I was going to see him.

My mom hugged me again, both of us crying. She let go, reluctantly got in the passenger seat, and closed the door.

Standing in the garage, I watched as they slowly began to back out of the driveway. My heart shattered. They were out of sight before they hit the street, and I turned and walked back into the house, my unmanageable sobbing turning into violent, blubbering bawling. Nikki slinked out from behind the couch, and sadly walked over to me. I crashed to the floor, hugging her on my knees. I couldn't believe he was gone. I still can't.

This is the last picture I took of my Floppy, a little over a month ago, at the end of April:

My beautiful, sweet, angel boy. I hope you know how much I love you. How much we all love you. I can't describe how much I miss you already. I know you wanted to stay with us as much as we wanted you to stay. I really do hope that Mama Lu and Biscuit, and maybe even your sister, Woolite, if you remember her, were there to greet you, and you are running around doggie Heaven with no pain.

I don't know much about religion or if there is an afterlife, or even how I feel on the subject, but if there is a Heaven and I'm allowed in, my dogs better be there or I'm boycotting.

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