A Visit From An Old Friend

A few days ago Steve noticed a cat on our porch.
The cat would leave as soon as it saw someone but would return once the porch was empty.
Then Kika came home one night at and gave it water and food and so it was no longer afraid of us.
He came right up to us and sat on our laps when we sat out in the porch. (it was unseasonably warm this week)
The cat wanted to come inside our house.
But we didn't let it in because of our dog, rabbit, gerbil and also because we wanted the cat to be able to go back to its home.
The cat didn't have a collar,  but he certainly did not act like a stray.
When the girls asked if we could keep the him if we could not find the owners, Steve was adamant.
He said, "I'm not a cat person" and Kika is allergic. (which she is.)
However, for some strange reason, despite Kika's cuddling with this cat, it was not making her eyes swell up.
Anyhow, we set out to find the owners.
I posted pictures on Facebook and on the local neighborhood website.
Then Kika and I took the cat to the vet to have him scanned for an identification microchip.
The cat did have a chip but when the vet called the chip company, the phone number attached to the chip was disconnected.
But the company said that the chip was bought and implanted by the Animal Rescue League in 2002.
We were so surprised to find out that he was over 16 years old.
And, the date it was implanted was December 3rd, which happens to be my birthday.
I called the ARL and gave them the microchip number but they too came up with a dead end for the owner.
I sent them photos of the cat and all of my information.
Meanwhile, the ARL told me to bring the cat in and they would find it a new home.
The prospect of taking a 16+ year old cat to the animal shelter did not appeal to us.
Steve suddenly had a mysterious change of heart.
Somehow this cat nuzzled his way into our life.
We decided that the only way he was leaving us was if we found his owners.
We bought supplies "cat people" buy.
We got a collar and a tag with his new name "Wendell" and my cell phone number listed on the other side.
We loved him for an entire day.
Until the Animal Rescue League called me back telling me that they found Wendell's owner.
Wendell's real name is Ben.
Ben was reunited with his owners today, February 23rd.
I found out that Ben walked two miles and crossed an extremely busy main road to meet me and my family.
February 23rd is the birthday of my best friend Elaine.
Elaine died in a car accident and was an avid cat lover.
She had a cat named Tabby that looked exactly like Ben.
February 23rd is also significant because after Elaine died, it is the date I found out that I was pregnant with Kika even if I thought I could not have children.
This cat was microchipped on my birthday so that in case he was ever lost he would be found.
This cat was found by his owners on Elaine's birthday so that just in case I ever doubted, I would be strengthened.



The Heart Ball 2018

Unbeknownst to me, I had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction.
The sticky bra that I was wearing, fell a few inches below what they were supposed to be supporting. So in some of these photos, I ended up having a weird growth protruding in my front.
I only realized it after I went to the bathroom.
When I returned to Steve I told him that my extra boobs fell down my rib cage.
He said, "oh I noticed that earlier!"
I said to him, "And you didn't you think to tell me!?!?"
"Here I was sashaying around feeling like a million bucks and I was walking around with four breasts!"
He said: "I didn't know what was going on." (Shrugs)
You can see this clearly in some of the photos.
Thank goodness the design on my dress camouflaged this a little bit.
Side story: the young man I took a photo with is Brian Burley.
He was one of my students.
I knew him from when he was in second grade to when he was in fifth grade!
He is now an author and a leader in Pittsburgh. So proud.
And an even prouder moment was when the honoree of the American Heart Association's was Filipino doctor, Dr. Flordeliza Villanueva.
When I was listening to her credentials and all her accomplishments, I was bursting with pride like I gave birth to her.
But her parents were there. 90 and 91-year-old cuties.
They set aside the walker and took to the dance floor to celebrate their legit pride.


Happy Valentine's Day and First Day of Lent

In a surprise turn of events, Kika actually invited Steve and me to attend mass for Ash Wednesday. 
So Steve, Kika and I went. (Gabi is in Jamaica on a Mission trip with her school.)
After mass--Steve and I met up with our friends at Cappy's, a bar near our house.
Before we left though, Steve wiped his ashes off. 
He is shy like that. 
I on the other hand, actually fixed my ashes so it would be a nicely symmetrical cross on my forehead. 
Someone actually commented on how perfect it was.
Sheepishly, I admitted that I retouched it.


A Prayer for 2018

May God make your year a happy one! 
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain, 
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes; 
Not by making your path easy, 
But by making you sturdy to travel any path; 
Not by taking hardships from you, 
But by taking fear from your heart; 
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine, 
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows. 
~ Anonymous 


Shadyside 5K 2017

Steve is bow hunting this weekend but surprised me by driving 90 miles just to watch me run. I was in the middle of taking a lotus meditation  photo before leaving for the race when he arrived. This is how the moment of his surprise was captured.


10 Rules For Being Human

Cherie Carter-Scott's rules of life ('Rules for Being Human') 

(Carter Scott references this quotation:) "Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood." (Helen Keller)

Rule One - You will receive a body. Whether you love it or hate it, it's yours for life, so accept it. What counts is what's inside.

Rule Two - You will be presented with lessons. Life is a constant learning experience, which every day provides opportunities for you to learn more. These lessons specific to you, and learning them 'is the key to discovering and fulfilling the meaning and relevance of your own life'.

Rule Three - There are no mistakes, only lessons.Your development towards wisdom is a process of experimentation, trial and error, so it's inevitable things will not always go to plan or turn out how you'd want. Compassion is the remedy for harsh judgement - of ourselves and others. Forgiveness is not only divine - it's also 'the act of erasing an emotional debt'. Behaving ethically, with integrity, and with humour - especially the ability to laugh at yourself and your own mishaps - are central to the perspective that 'mistakes' are simply lessons we must learn.

Rule Four - The lesson is repeated until learned. Lessons repeat until learned. What manifest as problems and challenges, irritations and frustrations are more lessons - they will repeat until you see them as such and learn from them. Your own awareness and your ability to change are requisites of executing this rule. Also fundamental is the acceptance that you are not a victim of fate or circumstance - 'causality' must be acknowledged; that is to say: things happen to you because of how you are and what you do. To blame anyone or anything else for your misfortunes is an escape and a denial; you yourself are responsible for you, and what happens to you. Patience is required - change doesn't happen overnight, so give change time to happen.

Rule Five - Learning does not end. While you are alive there are always lessons to be learned. Surrender to the 'rhythm of life', don't struggle against it. Commit to the process of constant learning and change - be humble enough to always acknowledge your own weaknesses, and be flexible enough to adapt from what you may be accustomed to, because rigidity will deny you the freedom of new possibilities.

Rule Six - "There" is no better than "here". The other side of the hill may be greener than your own, but being there is not the key to endless happiness.. Be grateful for and enjoy what you have, and where you are on your journey.. Appreciate the abundance of what's good in your life, rather than measure and amass things that do not actually lead to happiness. Living in the present helps you attain peace.

Rule Seven - Others are only mirrors of you. You love or hate something about another person according to what love or hate about yourself. Be tolerant; accept others as they are, and strive for clarity of self-awareness; strive to truly understand and have an objective perception of your own self, your thoughts and feelings. Negative experiences are opportunities to heal the wounds that you carry. Support others, and by doing so you support yourself. Where you are unable to support others it is a sign that you are not adequately attending to your own needs.

Rule Eight - What you make of your life is up to you.You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. Take responsibility for yourself. Learn to let go when you cannot change things. Don't get angry about things - bitter memories clutter your mind. Courage resides in all of us - use it when you need to do what's right for you. We all possess a strong natural power and adventurous spirit, which you should draw on to embrace what lies ahead.

Rule Nine -Your answers lie inside of you. Trust your instincts and your innermost feelings, whether you hear them as a little voice or a flash of inspiration. Listen to feelings as well as sounds. Look, listen, and trust. Draw on your natural inspiration.

Rule Ten -You will forget all this at birth. We are all born with all of these capabilities - our early experiences lead us into a physical world, away from our spiritual selves, so that we become doubtful, cynical and lacking belief and confidence. The ten Rules are not commandments, they are universal truths that apply to us all. When you lose your way, call upon them. Have faith in the strength of your spirit. Aspire to be wise - wisdom the ultimate path of your life, and it knows no limits other than those you impose on yourself.