Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On the Wings of a Dove

This post, presumably from it's title has become the most popular ever on this blog. If you've come here in search of a dove photo or perhaps looking for inspiration, take the time to look around. I think you might like it here, on The Bright Side of the Grave.....

Standing in the 85 degree, sun drenched cemetery wearing a black suit was not the issue. Somehow my highly polished black shoes seemed to absorb all the heat away from my body and manage to cook my feet to a crisp. It's been dry and hot here for over a week and everything is starting to get crispy. The cemetery grass is a lonely shade of brown with the exception of the occasional weed that seems to thrive in this sort of weather and is jutting high above the nicely kept lawn, waving in the breeze as though to stick it's nose up at the fragile state that the lawn has come to.
The minister went on and on. You could tell that everyone was getting weary. The Scottsman  tending to his bagpipes was standing under a tree in the distance wiping the sweat from his brow. The soldiers stood at attention in the hot summer sun awaiting their orders.
As I stood silently next to the hearse, I noticed the two turkey vultures circling above the cemetery. Just an hour before, we were joking that it would be terrible if a dove that we released was to get snatched up for some hawk's or vulture's lunch. The young man tending to the basket containing a single dove, also watched nervously.
As the minister finished his committal prayer, the Army Chaplin stepped up and began his speech. "Another soldier has been called by the great commander-in-chief" he called out. Just then one of the vultures made a swoop down toward the crowd gathered around the open grave. I overheard one woman say, "Isn't that cool that the Eagles are circling above". The tension is mounting with all of us that were working the service.
Just then the firing squad fires three rounds. The vultures disappear. Now's our chance.
While the bugle played Taps, we expedited the release of the lone dove, representing the release of this man, husband and father's spirit to heaven. The dove circled three times and then disappeared in the distance. As the American flag was presented to the widow, we witnessed the return of the vultures. The dove made it home safely! And there wasn't a dry eye in the whole cemetery as the casket was lowered and the bagpipes began to play again.
Do we know what we're doing or what.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Circus What?!

If you dare!
Allow me to introduce to you on this Brighter Day, Circus Afro.
Can you survive all 10 minutes?
This is a ten second clip from the new movie Madagascar 3 that has been looped to play over and over for 10 minutes. The challenge is to record yourself watching it and post your reaction. After watching a couple of others try it, I got together a small group and tried it together. Some left the room (so we turned up the volume) and myself and my neighbor Jan managed to make it through the whole thing.
While we did not record ourselves, I can tell you, you will never be the same.

Give it a try. I won't make you record yourself. But leave in the comments how far you got and how it made you feel.

After I have a few responses, I'll chime in with our reactions.

Have fun!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Name Change Not Allowed

Before you read this article, How kewl is it that they got married in a cemetery?

When Stephen Hill and Joshua Snyder went to the courthouse to officially hyphenate their last names together, they ended up pulled aside in a room with the magistrate.

The Columbus, Ohio, couple were celebrating their one-year anniversary after having been married in Washington, D.C.

Snyder says "it was kind of humiliating" to expect a name change would be no big deal and have it turn out so differently. "They basically told us to lie. They didn't use the word 'lie,' but they basically said if you use the word 'marriage,' it will get denied."

But Hill refused to lie any longer, having served in the military for two decades under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And so the couple filed their request to change their last names with marriage clearly labeled as their reason.

A news report about the couple's request for a name change added to the anticipation for today's hearing. A judge heard their request today but opted not to issue a decision, instead promising to mail it to them. Changing a last name in Ohio would require a 10-page application, printing their names in the newspaper, $138 each, and then an appearance before the judge who normally renders a verdict on whether to let the name change go forward.

Some might remember Hill as the soldier booed by an audience during a Republican presidential debate for asking whether the candidates would try to reinstate "don't ask, don't tell." And he and his husband are also part of a lawsuit from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that is seeking to get the Defense of Marriage Act ruled unconstitutional.
Watch the news report on the couple and their request.

We've never given much thought to changing our names. We'll both answer to either. Our marriage was to tell each other that we are committed to each other for a life time. We don't need anyone else to justify that.
But I would hope that if we decided to make that sort of public commitment, that we would be allowed by the law.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seven Year Itch

After seven years, we find ourselves just as in love as we were then. 

We'd dated for six years prior to getting married, so I think we both knew what we were getting before taking the plunge.

I looked up what to get each other for a seventh anniversary and I found it to be..... wool.
That being the case, I think I've found why we have all heard of the seven year itch.

To celebrate, we rejoiced in the fact that our business is doing quite well.
That being said, we didn't have much time to ourselves. 
But, if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I believe in celebrating even the most mundane things. So, we couldn't ignore this special day.
Friday morning after work, we decided that we would go to our yoga class to get a good start on our special weekend. After driving there and waiting, we found out that it had been canceled for that day. If we were not so busy on Wednesday and actually went then, we'd have known this. 
Not the kind of people to miss an opportunity though, we headed down to the restaurant that we've been wanting to go to for a while now.
 Called Howe's Bayou, you can guess that it is a Cajun theme. 
I got myself a Po'Boy with BBQ Pulled Pork, done right with the slaw right in there.
Edward got himself the Shrimp Etouffee' with butter beans on the side.
A little side history for you.... My parents owned a couple of chiropractic practices in Louisiana back in the day. Cajun dishes were not rare in our household.
These folk pass the test!
I have experienced many of bad imitations when it comes to Cajun. But these folk have done it right. 
We arrived as they were opening and had the place all to ourselves. The waitress is one of the owners. She made great conversation and we talked about our trip last year as well as some of her favorite New Orleans haunts. If you ever find yourself in Ferndale Michigan and wonder what you did to deserve it, 
you must have done something right, because you are just steps away from a wonderful experience.
After stuffing ourselves, we drove home feeling less than stretched out and limber.

Since that was only Friday and our anniversary isn't until Sunday, we had to go out Saturday night too.
This time we went someplace a lot closer to home. A place called the Twisted Rooster. It is a Michigan based place that serves nothing but Michigan grown and raised products. We've had so many amazing meals here that I couldn't possibly tell you about any of them without feeling like I'm not telling you something just as important. I'll tell you that it is a must, to enjoy a meal there if you find yourself in our great state.

To cap our weekend, we spent the evening watching the sun go down sitting on our patio surrounded by all the flowers, trees, birds, rabbits, Pugsley and Eachother.
 I couldn't think of a better way to spend our special day.

Now, if only we didn't have to work tonight and are forced to sleep the day away. But then again, maybe that's not such a bad way to spend it either.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Light Show

I know that it can be really scary to get what you want sometimes.
So scary, in fact, that we won't do it.
How do we get over that obstacle?
Make the stakes incredibly high.
Like the kind of high stakes that make news headlines.
So early this morning before the sun came up, 
as I walked Pugsley in the cool 81 degree night time air,
I spied a shooting star. 
It shot right through the big dipper, streaking through the sky from east to west. It glowed for what seemed like a long while, but I'm sure it was just a few seconds.
You bet, I made a wish.
I'm sure you'll see the headlines soon.
Keep an eye out for your own shooting star.
I'll be waiting to see your headlines.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The "C" word

The disease that dare not speak it's name.


The gentleman we honored today didn't speak it's name. Diagnosed seven years ago, he quietly endured (and ignored) cancer. Refusing to let it invade his life as he continued enjoying everything he wanted and loved to do. Ski trips with family, half marathons and triathlons, a 28 mile mountain bike epic in the Upper Peninsula with his sons, biking, kayaking, boating, golfing, piano, U of Michigan football, Red Wings hockey, his grandchildren's hockey and of course whistling.

I overheard one guest say that they saw him mowing his lawn last week.

Born in an affluent Detroit suburb he graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Masters of Arts degree. He landed his first job at a radio station in Northern Lower Michigan and then spent the last 37 years of his career at a local station here. Today there was mention of how students would wait in the morning before heading out to the bus in the snow for him to make the announcement that school was closed due to the snow and ice. If school was closed, everyone loved him. If not, well there's always tomorrow. In 1984 he started teaching at the community college, instructing and interacting with many children over the years. He often commented on how fortunate he was not only to have a single job he loved, but two jobs that he loved. He's been an active member of many boards and foundations in the community over the years.

During the service, many familiar radio voices spoke about their experiences working with such a positive influence for so long.
This is truly a man that will be missed by the entire county.

But perhaps the most inspiring part of the whole story is the fact that he told no one about his impending doom. He felt it would cause people to treat him differently. He did not want to undergo all the chemo therapy and medications. He did not want to spend months if not years fighting a losing battle in the hospital. He felt that he'd lived a full life, and at 69, that life came to an end. None of his friends or family even knew that he was sick. The shock spread across the airwaves Tuesday and hardly a soul could believe that they'd never hear his voice again. The voice of radio in our corner of the world has changed forever. But his spirit will live on in all that he worked with, taught and that listened to him every weekday morning. His courage in his last years was perhaps the most epic thing he, or anyone could ever do.

I can only hope that I have his strength and the other "C" word (Courage) when the time comes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tattered Pages of Time

Here's a touching story brought to us from a very good friend, Jack....

One day a teacher  asked her  students to list the names of the other  students in  the room on two sheets of paper,  leaving a space  between each name.

Then she  told them to  think of the nicest thing they could  say about each  of their classmates and write it  down.

It  took the remainder of the class  period to finish  their assignment, and as the  students left the room,  each one handed in the  papers.

That Saturday,  the teacher wrote  down the name of each student on a  separate sheet  of paper, and listed what everyone  else had said  about that individual.

On  Monday she gave  each student his or her list. Before  long, the  entire class was smiling. 'Really?' she  heard  whispered. 'I never knew that I meant anything  to  anyone!' and, 'I didn't know others liked me  so  much,' were most of the comments.

No  one  ever mentioned those papers in class again.  She  never knew if they discussed them after class  or  with their parents, but it didn't matter.  The  exercise had accomplished its purpose. The   students were happy with themselves and one  another.  That group of students moved  on.

Several  years later, one of the  students was killed  in
Iraq and his teacher  attended the funeral of  that special student. She  had never seen a  serviceman in a military coffin  before. He looked so  handsome, so  mature.

The church was packed  with his  friends. One by one those who loved him  took a  last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the  last  one to bless the coffin.

As she  stood  there, one of the soldiers who acted as  pallbearer  came up to her. 'Were you Mark's math  teacher?' he  asked. She nodded: 'yes.' Then he said:  'Mark  talked about you a lot.'

After   the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went   together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father   were there, obviously waiting to speak with his   teacher.

'We want to show you  something,' his  father said, taking a wallet out  of his pocket 'They  found this on Mark when he was  killed. We thought  you might recognize  it.'

Opening  the  billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces  of  notebook paper that had obviously been taped,  folded  and refolded many times. The teacher knew  without  looking that the papers were the ones on  which she  had listed all the good things each of  Mark's  classmates had said about  him.

'Thank you so  much for  doing that,' Mark's mother said. 'As you  can see,  Mark treasured it.'

All of Mark's  former  classmates started to gather around.  Charlie  smiled rather sheepishly and said, 'I still  have  my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk  at  home.'

Chuck's wife said, 'Chuck asked  me  to put his in our wedding album.'

'I  have  mine too,' Marilyn said. 'It's in my   diary'

Then Vicki, another classmate,  reached  into her pocketbook, took out her wallet  and showed  her worn and frazzled list to the  group. 'I carry  this with me at all times,' Vicki  said and without  batting an eyelash, she  continued: 'I think we all  saved our  lists'

That's when the teacher  finally sat  down and cried. She cried for Mark and  for all his  friends who would never see him  again.

The  density of people in society is so  thick that we  forget that life will end one day. And  we don't  know when that one day will be.

So  please,  tell the people you love and care for, that  they  are special and important. Tell them, before it  is  too late.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wake-Up Call

It's been a warm couple of days here on the Eastern shore of Lower Michigan. The kind of warmth I look forward to all year. Days that make me want to open up the house and let the gentle summer breezes flow through, stirring up memories of my childhood, spending summers in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Memories of lazy days pool side with fighter jets zipping overhead from the nearby Air force base, whose runway lined up perfectly with our otherwise quiet farm.

My husband would be happy if the temperature never got above 68 Fahrenheit. So after one day of above 90, he'd had enough. With the windows tightly closed and the air conditioner running, we compromised and set the thermostat to 79.

Since we typically will have funerals on Mondays and I have to stay up most of the day (after working Sunday night), I don't work at the store over Monday night. Since my husband works every night Sunday through Thursday, this leaves me home alone on Monday night. After a long hot day in my black suit, standing in the parking lot and cemetery, it was nice to sleep in a bit. I awoke at about 1:30am. Everything was quiet outside and Pugsley was enjoying sitting on the porch in the cool night air. Feeling a bit naughty, I clicked the air conditioner to the off position and opened up the windows. It was 70 degrees and there was a  wonderful breeze. You could smell summer drifting through the rooms.

Minutes later, the wind chime that hangs in the sun room window started to clang a bit louder than I was comfortable with. I went to move it so it wasn't in the air current as much. In doing so, I managed to drop a decorative element that my husband had hanging in the window, breaking it into three pieces. As I was searching in the darkness for the third piece, I began to notice I was being soaked by the rain that was suddenly pouring down and steaming into the open windows. A scratch came at the front door and I remembered that Pugsley was still outside. Since he takes great pride in it, he doesn't like to get his tail wet. I rushed to the door to let him in. As he ran past me, I remembered that I had opened all the windows in the house. I ran to each window closing them, starting with the west and north side of the house and eventually the east.

As I was rushing to the last window, way down the hall, there came a flash of light, so bright it blinded me momentarily. It was lightning that was so close that the thunder accompanied it at the same time, there was no delay where you could count the seconds to determine how many miles away it was. It was the kind of thing that throws you back a few feet and causes you to evaluate if you are still alive. Upon determining that yes, I was certainly still alive and that the rain was still pouring into the last window, I noticed that Pugsley was glued to my side. We looked at each other and said without saying a word, "Wow! That was close!"

Within minutes the firetruck was here.

Knowing that myself and Pugsley were fine and my house seemed to be intact, I stayed out of the way of the trained emergency response men. But the light of day revealed something that no one could have foreseen. My friend and neighbor's house was struck by that flash of lightning. Just a couple of hundred feet from my own home. They were jarred from their sleep at 2:05am to a horrible sound of their house exploding with the violence of uncontrolled electricity. And then the sounds of the instant flames that followed. Dan, his wife and their son all got out of the house and are as fine as can be expected. But I don't think they will be moving back into this house any time soon. The bathroom in the master bedroom was destroyed instantly and the fire rushed through the rafters. As you can see, the whole back of the house was torn off in a second.

This morning, we are left amazed at what mother nature can do at any given time. And we are reminded that as long as we are OK, everything else can be replaced. To reference my previous post Two Cups of Coffee we need to take care of what matters most. The rest is just sand.

Take care my friends.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Two Cups of Coffee

This story comes to us from another Blogging friend. This one from Downunder; Shannon Boh...

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.
The sand is everything else–the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
(My Frank Lloyd Wright designed coffee mugs)
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.
It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Friday, June 8, 2012

No Matter What

Today, June 8th, is my dear husbands birthday.
I know he's the greatest man ever to have lived,
because somehow, he puts up with me.
No one else could ever do that for as long as he has.
 He's a kind man with a big heart, 
willing to sacrifice so that others can have a little more.
No matter what. 
I could never ask for more.

We discovered this song soon after meeting some thirteen years ago and loved it then.
It is a song from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Whistle Down the Wind. Recorded and made popular by the British boy band, Boyzone, it is still one of my favorites because it evokes so much emotion of two men meeting and falling in love in a world that is not so accepting of them.
The line in the song "my life began with you" still holds true today for me.

No Matter What...

Happy Birthday Edward.

I still love love you. And always will, no matter what.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


We are led to believe that having a clear, step-by-step plan is the way to high achievement.
 Having a step-by-step plan is the way to really limit yourself and get you completely off the path of getting what you really want.

 Freeeeee yourself !!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Are you holding on too tight?

This comes to me via Steve Mattus, another blogger that I follow....

You’re trying so hard to reach your goals.  Maybe you’re trying to grow your business, trying diligently to acquire new clients.  Perhaps you’re trying to save your marriage.  Maybe you’re looking to fall in love.  Maybe you’re trying to get the kids to school on time or trying to keep the laundry up.  Or, like many, maybe you’re trying to get in shape, lose weight, or get that elusive six-pack.
How’s it going?
You may feel like, despite all the best efforts, regardless of all the trying, even with all the heart and soul you’ve put into it…  the business is generating half the revenue you need, there are far too few new clients, the marriage is failing, you haven’t found love, the kids are late, the laundry is behind, you’re overweight.
Okay… it’s probably not that bad.  But at least one of those is probably true for you.
All you want is for it to be fixed.  You see other people getting what you want.  You think to yourself, “They are awesome, sure, but so am I.  They’re deserving, sure!  But so am I.”  And yet, you feel like you’re not getting what you want.  You’ve tried the best practices.  You’ve researched what others have done, and you’ve tried the tricks, read the highest rated books, utilized all the time-management tools you can think of, and joined the gym, done the diet, even did a colon cleanse in an effort to get some kind of a result.  (That last one worked, by the way… you were in the bathroom for what seemed like days.  Not exactly the “result” you were hoping for.  I get it.)
It's not working. You try and try. And still... It's not working.

This might be a curveball…. but… What if you’re holding on too tight?  What if you’ve got your eyes set on a goal that isn’t actually what you want?
Do you need to let go?
What would happen if you were able to let go of the idea of achieving that goal?
What if that goal wasn’t what you really wanted?  What if you really wanted something else?  What could that be?  How do you tell?
Ask yourself, “If I _____________ (fill in the blank with your goal), what would be different?”
The answer to that question is more likely what you really want.

As long as you're holding tightly to your current goal... you narrow the opportunities to get it.
Letting go is so incredibly difficult.  Doing so frees us in amazing ways.
Let go of narrow goals to achieve things that won’t get you what you really want.
Let go of beliefs that aren’t true.
Let go of holding only one perspective.
Let go of being right.
Let go of having to know.
Let go of being secure all the time.
Letting go means getting curious.  And true curiosity is a tool that will take you to places you haven’t even imagined yet.
Hold on just like a baby…  gently.  And let go like a baby… easily.  Look at the world in wonderment.

What do you need to let go of?

For more from Steve, check out