My Last Service from July 18, 2010

For those of you who didn’t attend, or even those who did, here is a copy of my last UU service at The Onion in North Hills.

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Thank you all for being here today.

I appreciate that I have this last time with you this morning and I hope I can impart something of value to your thinking and your being.

I have a mentor that I think the world of.  And there have been times in my life where things haven’t gone exactly as I’ve planned and I would get resentful and angry.  I had a job once where I hated going into work and one of the co-workers there REALLY got on my nerves.  I would call my mentor to “discuss” this co-worker’s behavior and she would tell me to go into work with the thought of giving love and service.  Love I said?  Can’t I go in and just give service?  No she said, you need to go in with an attitude of love and service.  I didn’t want to do that.  I didn’t like this person so I certainly didn’t want to love her.  But my mentor had never steered me wrong and so I decided to take that action.  What I discovered was that when I gave service with a loving attitude, it changed me somehow.  I found out that to truly give service to someone, I could not judge them, I could not be cruel to them, I could not be resentful.  It took the power away from me to be anything else but kind.  For when I gave service unconditionally, I felt love.  I became a neutral being giving something to someone else without any pre-conditions or expectations.  I just did it.  And when I did this, I really did begin to feel better.  I decided to try it on other parts of my life.  I decided I needed to be accepting of others, no matter what I thought of them.  I decided to be kind to Republicans.  I knew this was going to be hard, for they did not reflect my views at all.  But when I took this principle, which is also a principal of Unitarian Universalists – our 4th one actually – Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth and I applied this to the outside world, not just to our congregation, that would have to include Republicans.  I discovered that I became more tolerant of others, no matter what their beliefs, and began to look at them as human beings, just like me.   That is not easy to do, and I know I don’t do it on a daily basis, but isn’t that what our 4th principle stands for?  I am reminded of a quote attributed to Zig Zigler ,which says “When I speak, people often say, ‘Zig, I like what you had to say, but for me motivation doesn’t always last.’ And I tell them, ‘Bathing doesn’t either. That’s why I recommend it daily.'” I think this can also apply to love and service.  I may not do it daily yet, but I can create a habit of giving service and eventually work towards doing it daily.

So the love part became a little easier.  I also discovered some issues with my service part.  One day driving to this very sanctuary, I passed a woman at the exit who was begging for money at the stoplight.  I looked in my purse and saw 3 dollars and thought to myself, I haven’t gotten my unemployment check yet, so I don’t have any money to give her.  I drove on when the light changed, but I couldn’t get her out of my mind as I drove here.  Because the truth was, I did have money.  I had a retirement account, I had a small savings account, I even had a mutual fund with funds for my tuition in it.  I chose to believe I didn’t have money to give her, because I didn’t want to give her what I had left, my 3 dollars.  I easily could have done this.  And since it was a Sunday, I didn’t need any other money that day and if I did fall into dire straights within the next 24 hours, I could get my hands on money.  I allowed my deprivation thinking to affect my behavior in the present moment when I was really living in the future.  Truly giving service is to not fear giving to others no matter what.  I had been in fear to give her the 3 dollars in my purse and I blamed it on being on unemployment and thinking I was poor in that moment.  I wasn’t poor.  I had shelter, a car, food at home, a loving spiritual community to support me and friends and family.  I allowed fear to enter into my behavior and I didn’t help another person in need.  Now I’ve heard some people tell me they never give to people begging on the street, because they are probably scamming everyone and are just not working.  They want it easy.  Well I’ve seen some folks standing in 100o weather begging for hours for a few dollars and I’ve never thought of that as easy work.  It’s humiliating work.  It’s degrading work.  And I can’t imagine any human being choosing that to earn a living instead of working in any air conditioned building, whether it’s a bank, or K-Mart or a 7-11, or somewhere else with more dignity.  I firmly believe that these folks don’t choose this lightly.  They are desperate and cannot see another alternative.  I think it’s difficult for us to look at it this way, because it hurts to think another human being is in that dire of need.  So we look away and go on.  At Christmas time I gave a woman a 20 dollar bill at the stoplight.  And she was shocked and I said Happy Holidays and she grinned with a half toothless smile.  This woman felt she had no where else to go but to beg at a freeway intersection.  I doubt that she would choose that as a vision of what she would see her life become.  When I was 27 I lost my job and I found a temporary job one weekend selling green carnations at a street corner for St Patrick’s Day.  I made 50.00 that day in 1982 and it felt like a thousand.  It was a hard 12 hours, sometimes fun, sometimes gratifying, when it started to rain, sometimes miserable, and I can have just a slight inkling of what the woman at the exit went through.  But I did it for work and she did it to just survive.  When she stands there, others judge her and call her lazy.  I may not give every person who begs money when they ask for it from now on, but I will not choose to do it based on what is in my wallet.  I will do it because I really believe that person needs it more than I.  And that I believe is included in our first principle – the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  To see each human being as a person just like us.

In April I did a service on the power of one and I’ve been thinking about the book The Power of Half ever since.  In this new adventure I’m embarking on, I will be living in half the space I am now.  I’m selling some things, giving away others, throwing away a lot of paper products and downsizing to about 500 square feet of space.  What I’ve discovered is, I am choosing to look at this as not downsizing.  I did at first, and I felt like I was losing something.  I’m not selling my condo however, I’m renting it out, and will be renting a small apartment in my new city by the Bay.  So I’m choosing to look at the fact that I’m gaining 500 square feet.  The 1200 I won’t be living in I’ve chosen to let someone else live in.  Unitarian Universalism has helped me to change my thinking in this respect.  It’s not how much I lack, it’s truly how much I have.  Now I’m not talking about the other kind of thinking our country seems to experience frequently.  The thinking that “I’ve got mine, so they can get theirs”.  There is a part of our culture that feels that somehow people should make it on their own.  That for anyone to help them would detract from the American tradition of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.  That if the government or an agency helps a person in need, it’s charity and that’s degrading.  And that’s certainly not capitalism and the American way.  I don’t agree with this.  That flies in the face of the definition of service.     Dictionary.com defines service as an act of helpful activity and Webster’s uses the definition, a contribution to the welfare of others.  These definitions are worded in the best interest of the other person.  In no way is service denigrating to a human being.  It is the exact opposite.  It shows us our own humanity.  When we give service to others, we are elevating that person to a dignified state equal to our own.  Isn’t that the first principle of Unitarian Universalism?  Aren’t we here to value each other on a daily basis as being worthwhile and dignified?  How did our society become so unbalanced?  Robert Reich writes in The Nation that in 1928, a year before the Great Depression, 1 percent of the richest Americans held 23.9 percent of the wealth.  By the 1970’s due to the expansion of the Great Society, the top 1 percent held only 8 to 9 percent of the annual American income.  But by 2007, due to various political influences, the richest 1 percent once again were living like in the past and holding 23.5 percent of the total wealth.  FDR’s Great Society was once again demolished to pre-depression era living.  Where is the equality in that?  How is that the American way?

So when I hear some folks talk about how we have free enterprise in this country and how everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed and they should just do what others do regardless of circumstance, I think to myself, but where is the service in that?  I don’t believe that Wall Street would have collapsed if they were truly giving service.  I don’t think the housing market would have collapsed if they were truly giving service.  Their mindset has become one of, how much money can I make with the least amount of work and effort.  How much more money can I make by taking advantage of others.  That is not service.  So I look at our great country, and yes, I am so lucky to be living here and grateful every single day, but I think to myself, what would this world be like if we all gave service to someone else?  No one would be in need.  Every single person would have another person taking care of them in some way.  Even those with no food could give service to someone maybe needing a yard raked, or a car washed.  And I actually think that even the wealthy would not be the poorer from it as I think they fear they would be.  There is a robbery that occurs when someone cannot experience the act of service.  Both from the point of giving service and from receiving service.  For when I’ve given service to someone else, I’m not sure who received more joy.  I got as much joy from giving to someone as I think they got from receiving it.  In fact I think I got more.  I felt a part of this planet.  I felt a part of the human race and a part of this whole cosmic world.  Now I’m not turning into Jerry Brown, but I feel I have to speak in superlatives to describe what that feels like.  And for those folks out there who never give service, they are missing out of all this glorious joy.

So let’s start a movement.  Let’s begin by doing things for other people and NEVER expecting anything in return.  Maybe we could start for one day a week.  Say on Mondays  (or if that’s a bad day for you, Tuesdays) we could do something kind for someone, whether you know them or not,  who needs a kindness and then eventually build it up to 2 days a week, then 3 days a week… etc.  Pretty soon we would be doing a little something nice for someone else every day.  Can you imagine how that would change the world?  If I fed my neighbor one meal a week when they didn’t have any food, then maybe another neighbor could take another day of the week.  Even if it was just one meal.  Eventually we could almost eradicate hunger in our own local area here in North Hills.  Then maybe North Hollywood could do it, then maybe West Hills could do it, then maybe even Wasilla Alaska could do it.  If we could change the way we treat each other on a PERSONAL basis, would this not affect others outside our sphere?  And maybe that’s the key.  We need to SEE each other.  It’s easy to not help someone when we view them as a “collective” someone.  But when it’s Simon down the street, it’s harder to ignore.  We have become a nation who twitters and texts our way through communication, never sometimes actually using a human behavior like our voice or touch or sight to communicate with another human being that has a voice and sees.  I want to get back to our humanity.  And I really believe that giving service will help to achieve that goal.

Now comes the hard part.  I need to take a moment at this service to say goodbye.  At the beginning of this year, I never would have thought I would be moving out of LA.  I was very settled, living in my condo for the last 12 years, earning a living, singing at karaoke, belonging to this beloved community, enjoying moments with dear friends.  I never thought that my life would have changed like this.  And all of sudden it did.  Within one week I had lost my job and had major surgery.  And I was the happiest person on earth.  For all my excuses as to why I couldn’t do what lay in my heart had suddenly disappeared.  This journey I’m beginning has already been fraught with miracles.  It was a miracle that I got laid off during the Obama stimulus package and have the government paying 65% of my COBRA payments.  I wouldn’t have healthcare right now otherwise.  It was a miracle that Starr King School of the Ministry gave me an extra week to apply for their Master of Divinity program and that I got all my paperwork in exactly when they needed it.  I have to relay this one miracle to you.  I had forgotten to request my transcripts until the day before they were due to Starr King.  I woke up in a panic that morning, went to the website, couldn’t request them on line, called Admissions, they said, “We don’t fax transcripts,” but they transferred me to the transcript department anyway.  I gave the woman my social and she looked at my name and said, “I know you.”  Now I haven’t been on this Illinois campus for 25 years.  I said you do?  She said I’m Ellen!  I said, I’m sorry I don’t remember you.  She said you were a friend of Cindy Kaman’s.   Cindy had been my best friend in college.  I said yes I was.  She responded, oh I can go ahead and fax these for you.  They might be hard to read, but they’ll know you went here.

What are the odds of that happening?  My phone interview for Starr King was the day before the committee met.  Every step along the way opened up and I have progressed slowly but surely to the point I am at this morning.  The Universe has gently carried me along.  I had Barrie and Garry and Al and Mary Pat and my dear friends Spencer and Marianne all help me pack and load and carry my belongings and I’m over half way ready to depart.  I have others committing to packing up the moving van on Tuesday.  I have been the recipient of great amounts of service and am so very, very grateful to you all.  I have found love and friendship and joy in this congregation that, I almost feel, I will never find again.  I know that’s not true, for there are Unitarian Universalists all over this country and I CERTAINLY plan on coming back to visit.  You have given me a shoulder to cry on, a team to work with, causes to work on, bright eyes to laugh with and a feeling that we are together that will be very, very hard to replace.  You, this congregation at the Onion, which by the way, I will always say and continue to explain to others why this is called the Onion, have enriched my life immensely.  During my interview for admission to Starr King, the Reverend asked me where I thought I needed improvement.  I said well, I’ve never been a spiritual leader.  I don’t know if I can do this or not.  Who am I to think I can be a spiritual guide to others?  What can I give them and where will I get the knowledge and resources to do this?  Reverend Wood said, that’s called humility.  As long as you stay humble, you can reach out to anyone.  It will be so easy to remain humble, for all I have to do is think of all of you.

I hope you all go out and give service to someone in need today.

Blessed be.



And then there were 2

August 1, 2010

So today is the day to depart.  The bags are packed, the kitties have been inspected by the vet and I’m all set to go.  I have Sequel and Callie in their carriers, having given them their ¼ pill to put them out on the drive and Penny is nowhere to be found.  Mike and I searched for 45 minutes; I played the fake out game that seemed to work to get her to the vet, but today, alas to no avail.  We pounded tables, shook furniture, Mike even turned the vacuum on, but no sign of Penny anywhere.  So I had to leave without her.  I am now Penny-less.

I’m missing her already.  This poor cat has already had a traumatic life and she’s only 4 cat years old.  And I had her for 2 years and 5 days.  Maybe it was her time to go another route.  Maybe it was God’s way of making my property manager an honest woman, as she refused to put down on the landlord’s addendum that I had 3 cats.  She recorded 2.  And 2 it now is.  Penny was just too afraid to come out and now she’s been left behind…. Kind of an analogy of life sometimes.  I hope Mike finds her and I’ve given him permission to give her to the no-kill shelter, but he says he can keep her for a while.  We’ll see what happens.  So say a little prayer for her that she is happy somewhere.  She’s had 3 owners in 4 years  that I know of so I know she’s a traumatized little kitty.   I just hope she is safe and happy.

So I began my journey and lo and behold as I came within a mile of Grapevine, Free Bird again began to play, this time on KLOS.  Not making this up.  Sometimes the Universe has symmetry, sometimes it has odd messages and sometimes, it might  just be coincidence, but I think it was at least a happy accident and a good omen.  The cats in their carriers were wedged between other boxes stacked high in my little Mustang and barely made a sound.  Once they began to go under I could tell, because their meows turned into eeeaarrnngggggg noises….. which was kind of cute.  And once in awhile they would semi-awaken with an errggg noise, but mostly it was me and my music on the road.  American Idiot and Neil Young, is actually a nice combination on the open freeway.  I had a slight incident with my Garmin towards the end.  It actually did not tell me to turn from the 580 to the 80 so I missed my turn, but only lost 14 miles and I was here.  Gloriously moved!  And it was still light out.  I was unloading my car when a neighbor pulled out and said this is your parking space, I was just using it.  So I jubilantly pulled into my COVERED PARKING SPACE with the STORAGE COMPARTMENT in front of it!!! God is so looking out for me.  I have a space for my Christmas decorations!  Hot dog!  Annnnnddddd  I don’t have to worry about the salt air ruining my paint job.  I had been thinking of getting a car cover and now I don’t have to.  Talk about good omens.

So the cats wandered for a bit, which doesn’t take long in 500 square feet and quizzically looked at me like, mom where did you bring us?  I’ve asked myself that question these first two days and wondered myself what I’ve gotten myself into.  But I’ve done it, I’m here, so I’ll have to see what’s in store for me next.

Day 24 The Finale Approaches

Tomorrow is the day.  I pack up the cats and me and as much “stuff” as I can stuff in my car and off I will go.

The condo is done, done, done!!!  I went back today to touch up a few things, paint the door that was forgotten and the walls I needed to correct, and now all is well.  The condo awaits it’s new tenants.  I gave it a blessing and wished for the new residents to love living there as much as I have these last 12 years.  I walked through each room, remembering the potlucks and parties laid out on my dining room table, the view I had sitting at my computer seeing the tops of palm trees, remembering Sequel running up and down the steps.  It was indeed bittersweet.  But the time has come to move on and I know that more exciting adventures await me up north.  I almost took photos and decided no.  My memories are sufficient and I want to remember this place full of life, not empty with space.  It’s more beautiful in my mind right now.  Although it does look good!  Why did I wait sooo long to fix the kitchen faucet???? I could’ve enjoyed it working so well when I was HERE.  So a lesson learned.  Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.  It’s much more enjoyable.

I’ve had a more relaxing day than I’ve had in a month.  I have 5 bruises on my right leg and 4 on my left that I hope will fade quickly.  And my skin is acting like I’m in high school again, so I really need some skin care!  Avon Gold Jar to the rescue!  I sincerely hope I’ve lost some weight.  I wouldn’t know as I’ve packed my digital scale 🙂 along with so many things I miss having. And I’m reallllyyyy going to miss my washer and dryer.  I haven’t had to pay to do my laundry in I don’t know how long… so we have a little laundry room in the new place and I’ll have to start saving quarters again… can anyone say starving student???   It’s been 25 years since I got my Masters and now I’m getting another one.  Who would’ve thunk.

So another miracle happened today.  I had a neighbor that I wasn’t on the best of terms in the past.  In the last year or two we’ve actually been very cordial and today I asked her for help in finding a tenant as she is a real estate agent.  We weren’t friends, we weren’t enemies.  But I read somewhere once that to ask a favor of an enemy confers some forgiveness, so in some way, I think I’ve made a small amends.  She’s delighted to help and get my commission… tee hee… no really, we are on very good terms now and I see a tenant on the horizon very soon.  She is right next door so can show my unit at any time and that is a comfort. 

So I leave Los Angeles the better for my time here.  I’ve had a glorious 17 years, sometimes tearful, many times joyful, and even if I never move back here, a little part of it is in me and I hope, a little part of me is in it.    I believe I will be an Angeleno forever.

Good night Los Angeles.  Sweet dreams.

Jo

Day 23

I am totally and completely fried.  The last few days have wiped me out.  It’s Friday night and I need to post.  So you may be wondering, where is Jo in the saga of the condo?  (I made a small rhyme.)  Well, Brian the handyman appeared yesterday and lo and behold he completed my fix it list!  And I called Karen the cleaning lady and she spent last night and most of today, painstakingly scraping itty bitty pieces of paint off of my hallway wood floor and making it look amazingly new!  God love the friends who came to paint, but inadvertantly stomped and pressed paint splotches and drops on my wonderful wood floor!  Today the Chimney Sweeps appeared and my fireplace is Duraflame coating free!  Whilst they were in the midst of this, I had the distinct opportunity to encage my 3 kitties in their 3 respective cages and take them to the vet so I can get approved to drug them on the drive this weekend!  Thank you God!  Callie bellowed the whole way to the vet office, so there is NO way I could handle her distress and whineyness for 5 hours.  So I now hold prescription pills for my cats in my hot little hands.  Now mind you, it took 2 visits to do this as Penny refused to be found and was secretly hiding somewhere in Mike’s house.  So I traisped the 2 cats to the vet 20 minutes away, dropped them off and came back, faked out Penny by sitting on the couch watching TV and when she came to see me, splat, she was in the carrier!  It worked!  So they are ready for the journey and I could return to my condo headache.  And it did become a headache…. Karen took the office screen off and couldn’t get it back on, I discovered the bathroom door was not painted and the 2 walls I redid in the master bedroom need more work.  I did a haphazard job thinking I could, but… I couldn’t.  So even though Gerardo the fantastic carpet cleaner came and did my carpets today, I still have a bit to do tomorrow… please pray that tomorrow is the end!  I am so anxious to get up to Berkeley and start my new life.  And I don’t want one hindrance at all to prevent a renter from falling in love with this place as I have loved it.  It has indeed been pure joy living here.  I have loved every minute and hope I find a tenant who will love it as much as I have. 

So up to tonight I’ve also gotten keys made, taken 2 more loads to the Salvation Army, got my storage organized, went to the bank, to the Post Office, given Marianne a trunkful of things that won’t fit in my car to pick up from her in Monterey next weekend (yippee I have a reason to visit Monterey, even for a day!)  and took Marianne out to dinner tonight for her birthday tomorrow.  It has been a full week.  There were moments I just wanted to sit down and cry, but then, a worker would show up to fix the source of my frustration, or a cat would jump in my lap and purr.  Mike has taken me to breakfast at Zig’s three times this week and treated me, friends have called to say goodbye and wish me well and made me feel so much better.  And I’d have a memory, like the cab ride to the bus station in Oakland, where the cabbie turned around to me and said, You are really a beautiful woman, and I felt transported to Hot in Cleveland.  The Bay area could really be a great place to live!  Until the next post……sweet dreams.

Jo

Day 20 officially

Hello World –

I know it seems like a big jump, Day 20 already, but this saga actually began on July 8th with the packing of the first box, and this blog just began 2 days ago.  So goes the inconsistency.  For those of you who haven’t been in touch, it’s been an insane last 3 weeks, but the end seems to be drawing near.  It’s nearly midnight so I won’t finish this on July 27th, but know that it was begun then.  If that matters to anyone.  Dates for me hold significance, and I always seem to be looking for the coincidence or symmetry in a number’s meaning.  Such is life as it probably means absolutely nothing.  I am the only one that attaches meaning to it’s existence.

So I’ve driven up the moving van to it’s destination, unpacked 24 of the who knows how many boxes I trucked up there, returned via cabs and Greyhound to an almost empty condo.  We had a tremendous painting party Saturday and Sunday and I’m nearly done with that part of the readiness for the new renter.  Although I don’t have the slightest idea who that new renter is.  That has periodically become a point of worry for me, although I am devoutly believing that the best candidate will appear in the nick of time.  Problem is, that nick of time is getting closer and I need new pics on Craigslist!  So today amidst the replacing of outlet covers and touching up missed sections of painted walls, I had to take my car in to address the low tire pressure light that decided to suddenly appear on my way to Home Depot.  This is when the true test of “everything will work out in the end” belief needs to stay strong.  For I couldn’t for the life of me understand why of all the days I needed to take my car to my favorite tire guys, even though they are always happy to see me and me them, today was really not the day for this to happen.  So….. I didn’t get as far along as I wished, in making my condo look spectacular for this new elusive renter.  And then my handyman scheduled for tomorrow has pushed his visit back a day.  Will this condo EVER get done?????

Hopefully tomorrow will be more productive.  I’ll let you know how it goes…. 🙂 

Jo

Hello world!

Hello World is right. This is my first blog and I’m excited to chronicle this great adventure! It’s been a heady few months. To recap: I was laid off from my job and had surgery within the same week in April.  I was able to receive disability during my recovery, then unemployment and take a good long look at why I had been putting off what I really wanted to be when I grow up. 🙂 All excuses vanished and so began my journey. If there’s one thing I can pass on to all of you, it is: There is truly much joy in taking the bull by the horns! Do it! Fear is not strong enough when the passion is there. The Universe finds a way to complete each step when your intention is strong. That is exactly what happened to me. And if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. When I made the decision to become a Unitarian Universalist Minister, I too was a bit trepidatious and unsure of my skill. I kept thinking to myself, who do I think I am that I can become a spiritual leader? What gives me the right to pursue this avenue and how in the world can I go about it? Well, when I was laid off, one obstacle in my path was decided for me. I could easily find a job somewhere else; I wasn’t tied to living in LA any longer. So I hurriedly applied to my favorite choice, Starr King School of the Ministry and so began my sojourn. And it’s been amazing ever since. Since I left pursuing acting 5 years ago, I’ve been searching for that elusive “what will I be when I grow up” direction. About 2 years ago, I fleetingly considered becoming a minister and thought to myself, I am too old for that! How long would my career be if I began now and I’m so old to start? A friend said to me, how old will you be if you don’t? So here I am. 55 years old and embarking on a new adventure. And I must tell you, there is no fear like anticipated fear. I have not been afraid. The fear resided in my thoughts in anticipation of what MIGHT happen. It’s never occurred and I’ve been going full speed ahead ever since. I got all my paperwork into the school in time; my acceptance came along with help on how to apply for financial aid. I was laid off in time to qualify for Obama’s stimulus package and can actually afford COBRA at the moment. I went up to Berkeley and found an apartment with the kindest property manager who sent me a staff to help me unload my 16 foot moving van. I had kind friends here in LA who helped me pack, helped me load the van on moving day, and last Wednesday I drove it up! I was climbing through the Grapevine when Free Bird came on the Sound of LA and I actually felt free! There was not any fear, all trepidation was gone, and only excitement filled my soul. I was actually on the road to a life I believe will be filled with meaning. Could I ask for anything more? The kindness of my friend Mike has been immeasurable. He has given me a place to sleep and a home for my three cats (yes 3) and has loaned me ladders to reach those godawful cathedral ceilings in my condo I need to paint. 🙂 Marianne appeared at my door 5 times to help me pack and Spencer showed up 4 times. Garry and Katie and Mary Pat and Al and Claudia from my church helped me pack and move and load the van and are carefully taking ownership of the 32 plants I’m not able to take with me. (and no, I did not name them, Spencer) A journey is never accomplished alone, and I can attest to that. To each and everyone of you that has helped along my journey, thank you. Thank you feels inadequate. How about, anything you ever want me to do for you, just ask me. Forever. I had friends rearrange their work schedule to help me, drive from long distances to wrap newspaper around plates and glasses, in the face of illness, show up anyway. I witnessed the mark of true friendship and am so very grateful to you all. This journey could not have begun without the team of friends that gave their service to me. So hopefully this blog can chronicle my adventure through life and it will be interesting enough for you to read it. So Hello World! Welcome to mine. Jo