Giving = Receiving

“For it is in giving that we receive.” ― St. Francis of Assisi

I love helping others. I especially love helping others without them asking for it. It fills me with joy to take the initiative and choose to make a difference. Whether I surprise someone with a smile, or simply give because it feels like the human thing to do, many times my soul feels called to be a part of a change that another person wishes to create. Sometimes I make an $18 donation to a bike ride or race, sometimes it’s reaching out to offer support because I feel when an individual need extra TLC. For others, it means spreading their word of a mission or passion while even better, connecting them together with a friend working towards the same end result. It’s all about intention and my intention is always: LOVE.
It's Not How Much You Give

This brings me to an email I received this morning from my friend, Russ Bates. Russ & I met in 2009 at the MS 50 Mile Challenge Walk in San Diego, CA. This 3 day event raises money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. MS is near and dear to me due to my own diagnosis in 1998 and for all the incredible friends I’ve made over the years (my strangers to friends, my silver lining) that either themselves live with it or fight to help on behalf of a loved one. Russ was a member of the Crew Team. He assisted setting up the course, delivering luggage, water, all the behind the scene work that made the weekend possible. You see, Russ’s wife, Nancy, was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS in 1994 and passed away in April, 2006. He participated in 8 Challenge Walks to support her. Nancy went from a lively young woman to being bed ridden, but never lost her strong will and positive attitude. She never let MS get the best of her. Every year she rocked her smile and cheered on the walkers along the route. It was knowing their story, his love & commitment to the cause, even after her death, that called my spirit to support him.

For the past 3 years we have been in touch via Facebook. He constantly cheers on my crazy endeavors and I check in to see how he is doing. You see, Russ has had major health issues for the past few years. I can’t make him strong and healthy but I can try to make him smile. A few weeks ago, after reading a link he posted on his page, I realized I could possibly help Russ a little more than I had in the past. Here is his own version, his story, that he sent to me as a THANK YOU Today. I’m honored to share with you…

My friend, Russ Bates

My friend, Russ Bates


Strangers into friends…

“When you first meet someone you never know how they are going to affect your life. Such was my initial introduction to Carlyn Shaw. We knew of each other from a previous event in which we had both participated, but were officially introduced at an organizational meeting for San Diego’s Annual 50 Mile Challenge Walk for MS in 2009. I was smitten with her effervescent positive attitude toward life, even in the face of having a potentially debilitating disease from which (as for now) has no definite cure. That years walk turned out to be very special for me as it turned out to be my last, after 8 years of participation. Carlyn’s enthusiasm for life was on display all that weekend as her team of walkers provided humor, fun and friendship for everyone. Later that year I moved away from CA and lost touch with Carlyn.
We reconnected on Facebook in 2011 as she was traveling across the country, on what I jokingly called her “Stranger into Friends, USA tour”. We have not seen each other since our walk days, but we do maintain communication on FB to this day. Her various posts are always uplifting and positive, even as she deals with her own daily trials.
Over the last 3 years my health has had several major downturns (a stroke & 2 heart attacks) yet Carlyn has continued to post messages on FB that lift me up and always make me feel better about myself and my situation. After my most recent heart attack this past month (June), I realized how lucky I was to still be alive. Immediately I felt the need to go see my family (my Mom and Sisters in CA and my Daughter in Seattle). I had a fear that I may never get another chance to see them.
Being extremely broke and with no extra cash in sight in order to make the trip, I turned to a site on the Internet (GoFundMe) designed to help people raise money for any need they might have. I shared my story on FB and almost immediately Carlyn popped up and said she would forward my story and request to her friends. She literally did so and within 12 hours I had already raised more than half of my goal ($800) through responses from her good friends, most of which are the result of her Strangers into Friends efforts. I don’t know how to repay her other than to say THANK YOU and continue to spread the good word about her efforts to spread friendship and love throughout the world. She is a great friend and someone that I am truly blessed to have met.”

An enlightened perspective from Jeff Maziarek in “Spirituality Simplified”

“Remember that every cause you initiate leads to an effect. So, when you give from the heart, you set energy into motion that must in turn find its way back to you in some form. I say in some form, because there is no telling how or when the effect may show up.”

Choosing to share his page with others made complete sense at the time of sending.
1) I suggested $10, a small amount but when added up makes a big difference. Plus, who doesn’t love the awesome feeling we instantly receive knowing we helped someone in need (I know I sure do!)
2) Money is tight for me right now. I knew that alone I could not fund his trip. The idea literally popped into my head that I had a chance to REALLY make a difference if I shared his story rather than simply donate $20. And, usually I simply donate. But good thing I listened to my intuition… because it was right! My awesome friends/family together donated $510– FAR MORE THAN I EVER IMAGINED! – for their own reasons, Portia, Rabiah and My Mom, Susie, chose to carry the torch and keep the ripple in motion. I love them so much for their selflessness. I can’t begin to describe the pride I felt in their contribution, knowing they were touched by his story and my effort to support him. AND…I’m thrilled to say not only did he accomplish his goal but his flights are booked and he will leave from Kansas to see his family very soon.

The point of this post is to highlight that GIVING = RECEIVING. Not only will Russ visit his family… but now his family receiving in the hugs they will share. Not only did my sharing of his letter come from a place of hope & love… but the end results surpassed my expectations! Not only did it make me happy inside just knowing I extended a little extra help to him… but receiving this email, validating my simple effort even that much more, well friends, THAT is the greatest gift of all. LOVE & FRIENDSHIP. And… WOW, what a PERFECT display of Strangers Turned Friends helping each other. Like I always say, we are ALL connected… somehow, someway. 🙂

Today I challenge you to think how your giving is being received. How will YOU create a ripple effect? I’ve shown that it doesn’t take money to make a difference. Sometimes it’s a matter of stepping up when you feel called to do so. Not being afraid to stand out for someone else. If your intention is to spread love & light, I promise you, that love & light will be received. Sometimes from strangers meant to be friends.

Namaste Friends, the light in me bows to the light in you. 🙂

A Promise Made Possible

 

Me & James hanging out in San Diego

 

I always say, “People = Possibilities”. This is a beautiful example of how the journey of two strangers that met in 9th grade gym class… became the journey to two friends with a mission to share my story of MS with others.

 

It was 1992. Freshman Year Gym Class at Eastside High School. I was wearing blue shorts & a white shirt. He was wearing blue shorts &  a white shirt (picture your uniform… yikes!) BUT- this is where James Glover and I first met & became friends.  Over the next 4 years,  He & I passed “secret admirers” notes in class as our inside joke (which I guess is not so “secret” anymore) 🙂 .

 

We graduated. Then went to College. We literally went from Passing Notes to Exchanging Emails (funny to think this is when we all got our first email addresses!)

 In 1997, while attending Indiana University, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Even though James was the University of Tennessee- he was ALWAYS there for me when I needed to talk about MS or any other life issue.

We continued to grow up. Our friendship grew stronger.

He and I share a passion for pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone- so by 2003, we were both living in Southern California (totally unplanned- but totally perfect) He in LA, me in San Diego. For the next 7 years, any chance we could cross paths; we did. As James’ career as a TV Producer in LA evolved from The Tyra Banks show to Dr. Phil, he’d say to me, one day I am getting you on TV to discuss how you’ve chosen to handle your MS Diagnosis”. It seemed the more involved I became speaking out about my MS, the more James supported my mission. He promoted of all my fundraising initiatives and success stories – and IS the reason our High School friends know my story.

Do you have a friend that provides unconditional support– no matter how much time has passed or distance has come between you?

 This is James.

 As it would turn out, James and I both moved back to the East Coast this year.  He to NY. Me to NC. I decided to pursue my passion Turning Strangers into Friends. He got a job as a producer for the Anderson Cooper Day Time Talk show. And again, James promised.

And then..it happened.

 On Tuesday, November 29th at 9 PM I got the call… and Wednesday, November 30 at 11 AM I was Big Apple bound. Why? James, believes in me, my message and shared it with his staff. I was invited to appear on the Anderson Cooper show! The segment featured Meredith Vierra and her husband Richard Cohen, sharing their story of working and living with Richard’s MS diagnosis. Not only was I able to hear his story in person, but he of mine. It was truly incredible. This reinforced my knowing: our stories connect us all. (plus, as a TV Broadcasting Journalism Major: I heart Meredith Vieira! )

Plus, the opportunity to fly to NYC, my own hotel room, getting my hair and makeup done as if I was someone famous…really made the experience – epic.  But, the best part: knowing James love for me and my story made it happen. If I met someone on set who knew James, I made sure they knew we’d been friends since high school! Our days as “secret admirers” in the hall transformed into present day “secret admirers” of in roles we continued to play in each other’s lives. 

 

Celebrating with James Glover and Meredith Richards, both Producers for the show.

 However, this story would not be complete without mentioning Meredith Richards, the Producer to whom Jame’s pitched my story and who inevitably, had the final say as to whether I would be selected as a guest. Not only was I grateful to thank her on set… but even more grateful to meet her as a friend the night after the taping to celebrate all of our success.

This blog serves as a small gesture of my gratitude for James. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story with others living with MS. My hope is someone newly diagnosed or feeling helpless hears my story & it gives them hope for their own future. But, most importantly, thank you for being the same friend to me today that you have always been, since the day we met in gym class. 

CLICK BELOW and watch.. my version of “recording” my appearance! 

From Strangers…to Friends. Written by: Vanessa Drake

I truly believe that the greatest gift a friend can give… is their friendship. The story of how Vanessa and I crossed the line from Strangers to Friends is one that has changed both of our lives for the better. Over the past few months, I’ve asked friends to share one of their own “Stranger to Friend” stories with me so that I could post it on my site as a “Feature Friend Story”. To my surprise, on my 33rd Birthday, Vanessa sent me a story; the story of US. Below is her version… an incredible story of overcoming self doubt to accomplishing a great feat. Thank You, Vanessa! Our friendship is one that I’ll always and forever cherish; this story means the world to me 🙂

The start of the MS Challenge Walk

…..I am a little ashamed of how long it has taken me to get this story locked into the Strangers To Friends site but from the other stories I have read on the site, I find that I am not the only one that believes things happen when they need to, timing is everything….
This is the story of how Carlyn Shaw went from being a stranger, just a voice on the other end of the line, to my inspiring friend. In the fall of 2008, I was looking to leave my current job as an RN in a doctors office to explore something more lucerative, as well as challenging. So I started investigating the world of travel nursing. By some amazing stroke of luck, or divine intervention, I was connected to Carlyn as my recruiter.
At this time, I was working on all areas of my life……in the process of becoming a stronger, more confident person, and learning more about who I was. I was in need of something drastic to stir things up a bit but, simply said, I was terrified of the prospect of traveling to a far away place, by myself, not knowing a single soul. However, because of how amazing, supportive, and overwhelmingly convincing Carlyn can be, she wouldn’t take no for an answer and soon I found myself driving from North Carolina to the big ol’ state of Texas.
As it turned out, Carlyn and I would only be in the recruiter/recruitee relationship for a very short time.  Her path was leading her other places as well. Reluctantly, I found another recruiter and ended up coming back to North Carolina, working for a few months, unhappily, only to find myself in the job I am in today. And this is where I was meant to be. I wouldn’t know it until months later, but going to Texas was one of the best things that could have happened to me. That person that I was trying to find, trying to become, started taking shape while I was there. And if it wasn’t for Carlyn convincing me to go, that above everything else, it would all be okay, I might not be where I am today. Again, timing is everything.
For the next 2 years, Carlyn and I stayed in touch through email, facebook, and a periodic phone call, becoming friends….I had a sideline view of all the things she was experiencing and doing in her life and it made me want to experience new things as well. Did I mention she was inspiring? One of those was the MS Challenge Walk…..50 miles over three days in San Diego.
SO…..NEVER having been to San Diego, or California for that matter, NEVER having raised money for a cause, NEVER having walked 50 miles, and NEVER having met the one and only Carlyn in person……I signed up for the walk, raised money (with Carlyns help of course), and ventured off to the west coast (I was traveling the country alone, again,…..but this time with a heck of a lot more confidence)!!!!

onloy 10 miles left!

I was nervous (but excited) to meet Carlyn face-to-face for the first time. But, as soon as she pulled up to the curb at the airport, it was like we had done it a million times before. This “my friends” is the power of the human connection that she talks about. You take two people who live on opposite sides of the USA and wha-lah, STRANGERS TO FRIENDS!!! (As you can imagine, I had an amazing time in San Diego. A trip that will stay with me forever.)
Now as fate would have it, Carlyn has moved to my neck of the woods, to Wilmington, NC.  Who would have thought?? So now, I hope to be able repay her in some way for all that she has helped me accomplish. I am proud to be part of a friendship that is a by-product of her passion, her mission to connect us. She continues to inspire me and I hope to learn and meet more through her example.

Public Transportion = People Possibilities!

I’ve always been fascinated with the various forms of Public Transportation. Having never lived in a city that relied on someone or something else to take me from point A to B, I jump at the chance to blend in with the daily commuters and submerge myself in unlimited Stranger to Friend moments. I was fortunate to create a Friend Trip to the Big Apple for an entire week…. and New York City is a Public Transportation Paradise! Since I arrived on a Monday and all of my friends work, I literally had the city all to myself… to take on one step… and one stranger… and yes, one clothing sale… at a time! I was on a solo mission… and the possibilities were endless.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped into my first NYC subway car on this trip was the fact that literally, almost EVERYONE had ear plugs in their ears. Were they listening to music? An audio book? Or simply pretending to be consumed in anything but what going on around them. Honestly, I was fascinated! Here I was in a car (which I confirmed can fit around 240 people sitting and standing) holding on to the metal rail above, close enough to tell the time on the watch of the girl next to me… yet…. the train was silent. Not a soul was talking. Every passenger was in their own world. I thought about how many people there are in NYC and how many people you have the opportunity to meet on any given day, but it was clear, the Subway was not the spot for socializing. The fact that people go to great lengths to shut themselves off from the world and the many worlds around them (aka, the other passengers) seems to take more energy than being open to the possibilities the people to their left and right could bring to their day. I started to question my own reasons for reaching out. Before I knew it, I was having a full on conversation in my head about the fact that is appeared to be inappropriate to connect with my fellow commuters! Would they look at me funny if I extended a compliment or asked a question about the city? Would a smile speak as loud as words? Maybe a silent connection could at least spark a conversation; or it might get me an awkward glance. I made it my mission, or rather, took it on like a science experiment: Could I get someone to take out their ear plugs to talk to me- without saying a word? I was ready for the challenge!

I met Andrew on the L Train heading back to Brooklyn after a day soaking up the sunshine and shopping in the city.  He hopped on with only a second to spare, slipping into the small space next to me. I admit, what really grabbed my attention was his awesome plaid shirt, making him super cute.  I couldn’t help but want to chat it up with someone that looked so friendly… but… he had ear plugs in his ears. As he settled into his commute, I watched him take off his sunglasses and clean them with his shirt. It was in this moment, I remembered I had a lens cleaning cloth in my sunglasses case! Without thinking twice, I pulled it from my purse, gently tapped him on the shoulder and extended my offer.  A smile crept across his face as his took his ear plug out of his ear and graciously accepted with an Australian accent, “wow, that is very kind of you, thank you!” Ok, the fact that his was an Aussie only made him super hot.. and me more curious… and now I really wanted to chat it up! Within three stops I learned he was born in Tasmania and grew up in Perth, had lived in NYC for 9 years but planned to retire in Australia, was a member of a band, got the tattoo on his wrist in NYC was on his way to his job, bartending at The Sunburnt Cow.  I also shared with him why I was heading to Brooklyn, that I got a tattoo in Adelaide and that I would also happily retire in Australia.  As he hopped off he said I should grab my girls and come to his bar for a drink– and I told him a that I’d hope to see him later. However, in this exchange of info, we neglected to exchange names, nor did I give him my STF card! This meeting was far from complete.

I got home, told Jen the story and insisted she join me for a drink or two. What’s the harm, right? I mean, it was an Australian Bar… the fun factor was on our side! She however, was not as keen as I on the idea… but as a good friend, said she would come along. A little background on Jen, she is loves to Compost. Yes, she saves every bit of organic waste to make soil to feed her herbs and plants. She is also a member of a the NYC Compost Project! I call her my Compost Queen 🙂

Another subway ride later, we were in the West Village to grab a drink with my new Aussie mate.  To our surprise, we when we turned the corner to head to his bar on Avenue C  we immediately stumbled upon the Lower East Side Compost Project and her face lit up! What were the odds that one of her favorite spots in NYC was right next to The Sunburnt Crow! Ah– now this journey made sense.  I was clearly meant to meet Andrew so that Jen would come with me and be able to share with me one her hidden treasures.  It made the whole trip to reconnect with the guy from the L Train, worth it! So the night carried on. We met Andrew, who was pleased to see I found my way to his bar, ordered a couple rounds of cocktails and had a great time.  I then gave him my Strangers To Friends card and thanked him for taking his ear plugs out of his ears for me. He couldn’t believe it I actually had a card and chucked at the realization. He thanked me again for letting him borrow my eye cleaning clothe.. Jen and I happily found her park, discovered a new bar and met a new mate. I felt really good about my decision to tap him on the shoulder. That is usually the hardest part of meeting new people– the approach. I stepped through the little fear I had and it tuned into a  great Stranger to Friend experience- for all of us 🙂

The next obvious way to meet people: The Taxi.  Call it divine intervention, but every guy (for whatever reason I did not have a single female driver) contributed something to our conversation that brought a smile to my face and a feeling I was meant to be his passenger. On my birthday, March 15, I hailed a man in Brooklyn to take me to my birthday dinner in Midtown. Not only was he immediately honored to escort me to my celebration dinner… but he was completely shocked when I told him my new age: 33. He was certain I was 26 (or maybe that was his way of ensuring a hefty tip!) but regardless, we got onto the subject of “taking care of our bodies”. I told him I was in town to run the NYC Half Marathon, which led to him asking when I started to run… which somehow brought us to the fact that he smokes a pack of  cigarettes a day! (in his defense, he had cut back from two packs) My first question was how in the heck could he afford that… a pack of cigarettes in NYC is $13 – do the math and for that price he could fly across the country every month! We talked about life, goals and dreams. I told him I also smoked at one point in my life and the only way I let go of the habit was… deciding to stop. We actually chatted a bit longer after the meter had stopped. I don’t know if he will continue to smoke a pack a day but I do know that when I got our of his taxi to toast my new year of life, he was a happier man promising me he would cut back because he wanted to live longer and he thanked me for talking to him about it. You see, he and his fellow taxi driver friends don’t sit around and discuss quitting because it is comfortable to them. It is a part of their day. Sometimes an outside perspective is just the thing to get the mind going about other possibilities.

One other driver touched my heart, the man that took me to meet my friend Rabiah at her office so that she and I could head to Westchester, NY to help host a Lunch and Learn at the Acorda Office. Acorda is a company that produces a drug that help people with Multiple Sclerosis and their mobility. Since Rabiah and I both have MS and were featured in a documentary sponsored by Acorrda, we were honored to speak to their employees and grateful for the opportunity to thank them all, personally, for their involvement with the MS Movement and supporting our mission to beat the disease. So, when the man asked me if I was visiting, I had the option to simply say yes, or to tell him what I was doing that day. Of course, I gave his the scoop. And… of course, his 73 year old Aunt has MS. After a conversation that covered medications, symptoms and mental well being, he turned around in is seat, looked at me and said, “You deal with MS the same way as my Aunt, you think positive, you live your life and you don’t let it beat you” I then asked the condition of his Aunt, who was diagnosed at 30, and he said “she feels great”.   Hearing him say that gave me even more confidence in the decisions I have made on how I live my life with MS. A feeling like that is priceless and doesn’t come across our paths every day. It’s a good thing I hopped in his taxi at that very moment and I asked him to please tell his Aunt hello and thank you for the inspiration.

Though I didn’t take a bus or ferry, I am sure I would have had the opportunity to create a connection with someone that opened my eyes to something new for the day. I believe in respecting people’s privacy and not prying into their lives, but I also believe that a lot of people are excited to share a bit of themselves if given the chance. The next time you are sharing a trip with someone on the airplane or train or taxi… introduce yourself, you never know where it may lead.

A “Sign” from a Stranger

Casey receives a monthly Newsletter from Sandra Magsmen. This image was attached to the letter she got yesterday, which she then emailed to me.

It’s crazy that I can say that I’ve been “living” in Wilmington, NC now for 5 days. Five days doesn’t make it feel like home, but every day gets better and better. But what really brings a smile to my face is looking back on the 6 week drive I created to get here! During the time I drove cross country (4850 miles to be exact), I stopped to visit 11 states, stayed with 28 different friends and listened to 3 books on CD (big fan of the book, Connected and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – both recommended to me by great guy friends 🙂 )

Along my “Stranger to Friend Journey” (that is, the friends I visited paved the course I chose to drive across the good ol’ US of A), I did my best to be IN the moment. But with this I had a lot of inner conflict as I knew I should be writing and recording all the memories. On my car rides, of even better… late at night when all I wanted to do was sleep, I found myself reflecting on the on the days gone bye. All the little pieces that had to come together to form the whole. I left my familiars and friends of San Diego to embark on my next chapter in life,  recommit to writing this blog and developing the mission for Turning Strangers into Friends. When I left it seemed so very simple…   and two months later when I arrived, it felt scary. Liberating, but lonely. It wasn’t long until that ugly voice in my head, that I can honestly say, had stayed relatively quiet during my decision making process, started interjecting her opinions on my idea to let go of my life in the Corporate World and pursue my passion. To leave the sunny beaches of California and move to a city in NC that I had never visited before, to bid farewell to friends I consider my family and arrive in a small town… alone.  And now that I was here, there was no one to create the accountability to follow my passion… but myself.

Which brings me to yesterday 🙂

Yesterday was the first day here that I woke up feeling confident and very excited, well… slightly hungover from the oysters, clams (all local) vodka and vino consumed the night before with my new STFs, Leslie and Mike York, but nonetheless, ready to explore my new turf with Leslie!  She took me to Mixto, her favorite Fish Taco spot for lunch that also had delicious jalapeno queso. She introduced me to Tidal Creek Co-op where I will now buy my fresh fruits and veggies. She brought me to three beaches, Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure. It’s hard for me convey the sigh of relief that washed over me when my eyes caught their first glimpse of Mother Nature in all her glory… The Atlantic Ocean.  The Pacific’s other half, smaller, warmer… and filled with wonder! It was in that moment that the world became small again. I felt grounded. I felt reassured on my decision to travel to the other side of the country (literally, San Diego and Wilmington sit on the same parallel!) Wrapping up our day with a beer at The Fat Pelican I could feel the smile creep across my face as I had vision of summer time beach trips flash through my mind. Leslie had given me the gift of a glorious day! But, at the same time, that little voice in my head began to nag me. It began asking me what I was going to do next. I knew I had to start writing. The stories were were beginning to unravel themselves right in front of my eyes.

Casey at the Zoo in Australia in 2009

I arrived home around 4:30 PM. Before settling in to the couch for a nap, I turned on my lap top… and found an email from Casey O’Connell. This is what it said:

Hi Carlyn,
I’m currently sitting in the School of Ed library at IU and after listening to a “This American Life” podcast on my bus ride here I ended up in a whirlwind google search for something that I heard mentioned during the show.  While I didn’t end up on the website that Ira Glass was talking about, I did find yours!  My name is Casey and I’m a grad student at IU getting my intial teacher license and Master’s in special education.  What a small world that I stumbled onto your page through the millions of websites out there and you’ve also lived in good ol’ Bloomington, IN!  Anyway, I love being inspired by the world around me and I definitely find you and your story to be just that!  I’m not really sure what my purpose was for emailing you .. I guess to turn a stranger into a friend .. or maybe it’s just because I have no desire to do my homework that I need to before my 3 hour class tonight .. but either way, I’m happy I found your site!
Reading this email sent chills throughout my body!!! Her decision to reach out to me could not have happened on a better day! It was as if on command, I received a SIGN. Someone… out there… found my site… accidentally… and reading it… made them feel good. That was all the proof I needed that I was on the right track!  The best part, Casey was unaware of where I was in my journey. I immediately wrote her back a fairly detailed email and thus… OUR journey began.  As she said so well in a following email, “My friend came over last night and we were watching TV and I told him about emailing you yesterday and all that came of it.  It was then that I realized your true mission .. that all it takes is one person to connect with another person and friendship can begin. I’ve had some bad friends in the past.  I don’t even think I’d consider them friends with my current definition, but at the time they were who surrounded me.  Every day I feel like I’m coming closer to understanding more and more what I consider to be a friend and working to let go of the bad relationships and friendships I’ve had in the past.  I’ve found that the hardest part is really letting go. But at the same time, I totally agree with your whole timing is everything idea.”

In our case, she was correct; the timing was perfect.  I woke up knowing it was going to be a great day and because of her email, I would fall asleep knowing it was an EXCELLENT day. She and I have continued to email back and forth. Casey is not just an email address.  Casey is a girl from Chicago who went to attended a small liberal arts school in Green Bay, WI. She moved to Bloomington, IN to attend Indiana University… not knowing a soul. She has shared with me about her journey to Australia in 2009 and asked my thoughts on a troubled friendship with a girl friend. I then told her about my trip to Australia and offered, hopefully,  words of wisdom to comfort any of her sad feelings about her friend. But, most powerful, is the the positive energy she unknowingly sent to me through her email. Her decision to reach out to me, to simply let me know she liked my website, the act of one person sharing with another, was all it took to ignite the fire in my fingertips to start writing!
So, a big THANK YOU to Casey O’Connell, a Stranger turned Friend who is living in my old stomping ground of Bloomington, IN. She only did what felt natural– she sent me a note letting me know she liked my work. Little did she know how far her small ripple would go… it was the mighty wave that needed to receive.
The Next Step: plan a trip to B-town. I am DYING to get back to Hoosierland and now I have a friend to visit. 🙂
Casey recommends the book, “The Short Bus” by Jonathan Mooney.  Per Casey, “In it he travels around the country visiting different people that have “ridden the short bus” and he talks about life, love, and special education in society in general.  It’s an easy read and very funny yet moving.  Might help you get jump started on your book ;)”
Also, here is the link to Sandra Magsamen’s Work. Enjoy!

One year later… I’m employed!!! Timing is everything.

When I checked my voice mail to discover a message today from Gene, the President of Travel Nurse across America, asking me to call him when it was convenient for me… I actually panicked for a bit! I knew I needed and wanted to talk to him but really wasn’t sure when I would have the time!!!  You see, I heard the message while enjoying lunch with a STF, Sharon King, who happen to be in California visiting her Mother that lives outside LA. Seeing that San Diego is 2 hours away (on a good day), Sharon drove all the way down just to be able to spend an hour and a half with me and treat me to lunch! Talk about a true friend 🙂 We met at Cafe 976 in Pacific Beach, both ordered something brand new from the menu and marveled at the fact that we were  face to face and breathing the same sigh of relief at the sight of one and other.  You see, Sharon is the childhood best friend of one of my closest friends and very 1st roommate in San Diego, Meghan Dunn. Sharon and I met when she came to visit Meg in 2004. Having gone to UMASS, where my Mom went for her first year, we also discovered an additional mutual friend in SD.  Through the years we have formed our own Pen Pal like friendship, mostly turning to each other for support.

Sharon traveled from Boston to soak up some fun in the sun!

Sadly, our friend, Meg, is very troubled and our concern for her well being is very real. as real as the need to talk and confide with someone that understands the emotional pain. As a result, we have successfully reduced our San Diego to Boston distance to merely a phone call (or facebook message) away. And now, we sat across from each other sharing laughs and a yummy, sunny day!

So… nope, it wasn’t a convenient time to call.

Though I didn’t want to cut my Sharon Time short, I had no choice. I needed my monthly dose of my “mice”… which translates to needing my monthly MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Medication and appointment at Scripps Outpatient Clinic.  To receive my medication means getting Tysabri administered through an IV followed, by and hour just hanging as protocol in case of any adverse reaction (which I’ve had none). I call it my “Mice” because it is made from DNA from a strand of Japanese Mice. Ah yes, this is why my kitty loves me so much and I am so found of cheese 😉
However, truth be told, I always look forward to my monthly, 3 hour visits. First of all, I sit in a lazy boy and am able to focus on only myself.  It’s my quiet time. Sometimes I relax with a new book. Sometimes I watch Oprah. Sometimes I make a new friend sitting in the infusion chair 2 seats down from me (Yup, I have a few of those stories!) But, what really makes me happy when I think about my visit: the nurses.  Every time I go, I have the same AMAZING nurse, Debbie, shooting up my veins with a smile!  For over 2 years she never misses…and I’ve never bruised! Deb is like a second Mom and I don’t know who is more excited each month: me to give her my updates or her to hear what is going on in my world! Every month since losing my job she asks me what is on the horizon. And, every month I am optimistic but… still collecting unemployment.  Being the Mom that she is, she was reluctant to accept the 90 min massage I got her for Christmas this year, but I insisted she take time to care for herself the way she cares for others. I told her it was merely money and one day karma would pay me back.  Now it was happening! Today I walked in with a new message of hope:  a potential job!!!

Seeing that you can now check your email from a plane at 25,ooo feet,  it’s only fitting to also able to log into a wireless network and play on the internet while an IV is administering antibodies to my bloodstream. Fortunately I decided to bring my lap top today and logged in for the fun of it.  And… then I found an email from Gene referencing his voicemail and once again asking me to call hm when it was convenient for me!  WAIT? So far Id been at lunch, then rushing to an appointment… and now this! Was THIS the convenient time to call Gene??? While I have an IV in one arm and the daily sounds of the clinic in the background?  I had planned to call after my appointment but it appeared that was not an option. Yup.  It was time!!!   This was it. I was nervous. I was anxious. I was giddy. I was ready 🙂

So. I called Gene. Then, I chuckled as I explained to him exactly what I was doing while on the phone with him.  He and I are in the early process of getting to know each other… but our relationship has been moving fast. I met on Monday and he was offering me a job on Wednesday! Naturally, he was even more appreciative of my willingness to share with the reality of where I was at the moment.  And,  I felt comfortable sharing it with him. He is the President that flew me to Arkansas 2 days prior in hopes that I would come work for him. I didn’t feel I could go wrong being completely honest with who I was since I was certain he was already impressed with what he knew.  And I was right! Gene then gave me a formal, verbal offer.  There I was, a year after losing my job, hooked up to an Infusion Machine with an ear to ear smile plastered across my face… all while a new chapter in my life was unfolding around me.  I knew my blood pressure was 111/68 before the IV but I was certain it was off the charts now! I was beyond excited!! I SAID YES. Everything about this job was what I had put out into the world over the year.  No Cubicle = check!  Paid what I was worth = check! Pride for the industry = check! And most of all, a company that literally oozed integrity = check, check!!!

My tag line has always been: My job is to help people, that help people, find jobs to help people. I change lives so they can save lives!  And… watch out world. I’M BACK!

The best part: Screaming down the hallway of the Infusion area at Scripps Clinic, ” I GOT A JOB!!!” and having my second family, my nurses, there to congratulate me 🙂

I accepted a job with Travel Nurse across America

A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to Michelle Cacace for believing in me and my talents and referring me to an absolutely incredible company. From the bottom of my heart I mean it when I say, I wouldn’t be accepting this job without you and your blessing!

The fact that this company pursued me when they did… well, it happened at the perfect time. I am not someone that planned to settle for a job. I had to feel the hunger and be ready to work. I had to be able to be specific about what I wanted. I had to feel I had accomplished for myself all that I needed to knock off my To Do list during my time “off”. And. I had. I was READY. This job presented it self at literally the PERFECT TIME.

I will be working from home… enabling me more time to hang with Ned, my kitty, write my blog AND get paid to be in shorts and a t-shirt in San Diego. Doesn’t get much better than that!!!

Cheers to my next chapter and the time to reflect on all the Strangers to Friends that helped me along the way. My ‘Thank You’ list will  be it’s own story 🙂