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Monday, November 23, 2009

My friend Donte

Sometimes life just throws you a blessing. Not for any real reason, but it just so happened that every star lined up correctly and being in the way was a great thing. That is what happened to me today. There are a whole lot of details to this adventure, and not any real way to cut back on the story....
My daughter's cheer coach, Karen Spencer, and her husband Curt, are now the guardians of a most special young man. Donte. Donte is every one's best friend. He is on the field during football, on the court with basketball, in the dugout for baseball and has even helped the cheerleaders!! This adorable young man had a stroke when he was a baby and was in a wheelchair until he was 5, and then on a feeding tube until he was 14....his unlikely progression was all due to his grandmother. She took care of him his whole life, no small thing considering his difficulties. But she never let him down, never turned away and did all she could to help him have a happy life. So when Donte's grandmother passed away they needed a place to hold a memorial. A place where Donte could simply say goodbye. She was being buried in Ohio and he was not able to make the trip. He needed closure, and Donte's grandmother deserved the honor of a moment to be remembered by her grandson. So when I was asked to host the memorial I was glad to be a part of it, not knowing how special it would be. I sat so quietly while people I really didn't know, talk about a woman I had never met....and I loved it. I sat and let all of their love fill the room. It was inspiring on a level I wasn't prepared for. I had feelings I thought were only reserved for people I knew, and knew well. This shows the power and the influence people have who simply care. My question is, do we know that? Do we know the power and influence we have on each other?

Everyone around Donte revels in his life. They love what he adds to their lives. He is the heart of every team, the spark behind every win and the smile they depend on when they lose. In short, Donte is the only one who can look at a game for what it is. A game....the important parts are the people. When the Bulldogs win no one is happier than Donte.....and when they lose he is sad, but then he finds something else to be happy about. He never dwells on a defeat or on a win for that matter. He seems to love life with a zeal I miss. Donte doesn't seem to expect too much from people. He is happy with a hug, a smile, a warm conversation. We need people in our lives to remind us of what really matters, and that is what Donte does, he reminds us that being a friend, a true friend, is what is most important. Thank you Donte for letting me be a part of your special day. I am better for it.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let's Be Excellent!!

Benjamin Disraeli said "adversity is the best teacher". If that is the case I feel like I am cramming for a final, and the teacher hates me!! I have not reacted to the bad news in our country very well. I feel anxious, hopeless and afraid. My blood pressure goes up every time I see the news . During a trip this summer I often spoke to complete strangers who mirrored my feelings....Anxiety and fear is rampant.....So what do we do? For our own self-preservation here is a plan, I have to have a plan because I refuse to continue to feel this way...So lets combat the negativity in our country, which is all through TV, magazines and newspapers...let's be excellent! Too simplistic? Too vague? Let me explain....times are hard, but they aren't impossible. We do not have to embrace our weaknesses, or let them rule our day! We can instead market our strengths...and what are our strengths? Americans are starters and finishers...we are excellent!

I heard a statement on TV that we are "preemptively capitulating". I refuse to believe that. I won't give up....I believe it is OK to fight for my home, my family and a way of life that reflects self reliance, but also a positive way of thinking. It is OK to get up in the morning and ask "What can I do to feel better today than I did yesterday?" Have you always wanted to start a business? Write a book? Put in a garden? What is speaking to you? Answer that voice is a great time to be a starter, a great time to climb from under your bed and find ways to feed your soul rather than starving it with bad news. We need to take dance lessons, get the dog groomed and have your trousers tailored. Try a new bakery, get a flower arrangement or buy some jewelry. If you have extra money go out and support a small business. Americans are starters... and they are excellent. Shake the cobwebs off and stop wringing your hands!! You want life to be better, make it better.

I do believe in the power of one....and I chose to be optimistic. I chose to think life is going to get better....go and be a part of the winning team...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Recently 2 friends of mine stopped by to look at flowers, they had not ever met before, but after being introduced we all engaged in the kind of small talk that people we were visiting I realized that something quite extraordinary was occurring....These two women, these two great mothers, had been a part of my life in the most intense time of raising children. I have four children and Jane and Denise both have two four children spanned their children's lives. Jane was my dear and good friend when my older children and her children were small. Then,Denise and her children were there when my younger children were small. I didn't stop being friends with Jane, but we moved and life changes. Change can be a sad part of life....
I looked at these 2 women and realized how important they had been in my life. For starters they were both my "emergency" number on all those forms you fill out for school. Because your life is simply intertwined with your children's friend's parents we had lunches together, baseball games, football games, gymnastic meets, and endless birthday parties. We searched for missing dogs, argued with umpires and ate a lot of pizza. It was a wonderful time as I look back on it, and both of these women, although they did not know each other, passed a kind of baton in my life. Jane took care of me with my older children, she listened to me, helped me, laughed with me and she and her husband Steve introduced us to the famous Christmas tree hunts which will be a part of our history forever.....I remember her passion was children's literature and she suggested every wonderful book I read to my children.
And then I remember that one day, one really terrible day when her husband Steve passed away far too young, leaving children and a wife who missed him so terribly....I was confused and angry with this heavenly decision. The day he left us I stood outside their home and suddenly remembered Halloween. I don't know why I thought of Halloween right then, but Steve had been the guy who took our children trick or treating, he stole their candy and made fun of their costumes. As I stood on their sidewalk that day I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I conjured up a strong enough memory reality wouldn't get through. But despite all my efforts to wish it away I realized it was true. I then watched Jane show us how to deal with indescribable pain and grief with umbelievable graciousness.
Denise came into my life right after that through the beloved game of football. Right after we moved I didn't know anyone until I met this really nice woman. Her son, Bryce, played football with my son Mikey. And in all honesty, Denise may be the kindest woman I have ever met. Despite my evil influence she never said a cross word about where Jane left off, Denise picked up....a new pizza buddy, a new friend to watch games with...someone to remind me it was my time to bring treats. I never remembered the treats, but Denise always did.

These two incredible mothers will be a lasting influence in my life, a part of that fabric that makes up my family. Memories intertwined with pictures taken with my heart.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oh, my.......

I live with the adage that when we pass over to the other side the only thing about our earthly lives that will really matter is how we treated people. So with that said, you would think I would try really hard to be nice to people. Since I think how we treat people is so important our entire eternity depends on it, then wouldn't I be up at night thinking of ways to be kind? Be generous? I should be thinking constantly about everything from other's burdens to any mayhem they may be experiencing. I should have a Teflon suit at the ready so that I could lift those burdens and squash that mayhem.
But no.....I have added to someones burden. I have hurt someones feelings. And I feel really bad.
The deal is how do we fix it when we hurt someone? Is it even possible? Can you take words back that were thoughtless? Nope......I am afraid when words are out there they are out there. So what is the answer? We say, "I'm sorry. I was won't happen again." And mean it, there is no other answer.
How many times in my life a simple, "I'm sorry" would have been the perfect thing to say. But because I was embarrassed or afraid I missed the chance. I passed up an opportunity to just say "I'm sorry, I'm was wrong and it won't happen again." A chance to right a wrong and ease a pain.
We are humans living in a fallen world, we are susceptible to aches and pains, bad hearing, assumptions, fast thoughtless actions, and really cranky moods. We are going to mess up, yell at our loved ones, and feel terrible. That is just the way life is...but if saying "I'm sorry" is so important, and it is, then forgiving someone is just as great a gift. That is what I am hoping for. But either way I will do better.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gerda Adeboi

Today I had the honor of attending the funeral of an amazing woman. In eighty-five years she was only ill for six weeks. That alone seems amazing, but her health was only the fine print in a life that was filled with adventure, endurance and love. She was born in Indonesia.....then lived through the Japanese occupation of her country while her husband was in a prisoner of war camp. Then her life went on the move......from Indonesia Gerda and her family moved to Holland, and then on to Cleveland Ohio, where they lived for almost 40 years until her husband's death in 2001....She moved to Las Vegas to be near her son, Larry and daughter-in-law Melissa. That is when I got to know her. She had a very strong Dutch accent, and a very strong opinion about almost everything. She didn't care too much for nonsense, which was my favorite thing about her. I also loved that she was able to make a lot of hard decisions....and stuck with them. She believed in God, trusted Him and found her faith rewarded.

Isn't that amazing?

Why do we look to what the media offers up as heroes when we are literally surrounded by folks who make those media offerings all look like Bernie Madoff? When are we going to understand that the person right next door will probably have a better story than all the stars on all the covers of all the magazines in all of the stores? That person sitting next to you at the game, or doing your nails, how about the guy who reads the meter? Regular people who do extraordinary things....

That is where I am going to find my heroes. Because right next door is where Gerda was. She lived the life she was given....she never gave up....just one foot in front of the other. There is a myth about heroes. We think they have to do huge, spectacular things.......but you know what I think? Heroes are the people who live the life they are given. And do it well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Flowers!!

I am working like crazy to get better at blogging.....but for those of you who know me well, getting this far must have shocked you!!
I recently encountered a woman who was castigating me for not knowing more about computers....this 87 year old woman shook her finger at me and scolded me with....."Donna!! We are not going backwards!! Computers are here to must learn how to use them!" She turned around and disappeared. And all I could think of as I sat there shaking was...."She is so right.." So I have girded up my loins and set out to learn just a little bit. Then I add to that and so on and so on. That rather brittle woman changed my thinking, and changed my attitude that I could change. Her resolve was to not let the world pass her by...she was determined not to miss out on anything. I am sure it was as difficult for her to learn about computers as it has been for me. The difference? She didn't stop.....I may not be the best at this...but I will get better. My 87 year old friend didn't stop....I won't about you?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A New Day

Emma & Ashleigh

Spring Flowers For you!!!!


When we started our floral design business people assumed I was the one making the arrangements. So when everyone found out Raymond was the designer their first question was, "How did he get into that?" Since it is our most frequently asked question I would love to satisfy everyone's here is why.......

When Raymond was in college and needed a part time job he answered an add as a driver for a flower shop . He thought, "Hmmm......I can drive, I'm qualified.." So he applied and got the job. Epilito' Italian florist in Trenton that seemed to specialize in funerals for drug dealers, mob bosses and various other thugs.... One hysterical story he told us was of placing the flower order for the loved ones of the dearly departed. First the thug friends would come in and buy flowers, lots of flowers...then the mom would come in and she would buy more flowers , then the wife would come in and she would have to buy something bigger than the mom, then the girlfriend would come in and she would have to out do the wife...and then even sometimes the boyfriend would come in to out do everyone!! It seems that wherever Raymond goes characters follow.


Raymond began helping in the shop between deliveries. And then he noticed that not only did he like designing flowers, but he was good at it. So during the holidays they hired another driver and Raymond started designing. That led to more designing, which eventually led to another florist, away from the thugs and drug dealers, which led to owning a florist....which eventually led to him moving to Las Vegas....and believe me there is a story there!!

When he moved to Las Vegas it was his intention to go into the gaming business so while he was breaking in he worked as a florist. He said it was always interesting when he would apply for a one actually believed he could arrange flowers, and he loved the look on their faces when he finished an arrangement. He was good and he was cute and he always got the job!!

While he worked at the casino he would do flowers now and again for friends. A few arrangements for a wedding, a corsage for Trey, Valentine flowers for me, and every year he would create an amazing Christmas mantle. We always wondered why he didn't do it for everyone else. After twenty-five years he really wanted to change


.....we applied for a business license and "Emma and Ashleigh" was created. We do everything with silk and dried flowers. From centerpieces, to pot shelves to whole foyers. Raymond has the ability to understand what people want from sometimes sketchy descriptions.

I put a few of my favorite pictures of his flowers on my blog so you could see what amazing things he does.


You can find us at home any time...just come you want to do ...but remember we all need something beautiful near us.

Love to you all!!
Emma & Ashleigh
6280 North Hualapai
Las Vegas, Nevada 89149