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Hello, my friends, I am not sure what to title this post should be but hopefully, by the time I finish writing, it comes to me. Yesterday we had the day off for Labor Day and I had intentions to cross off some big items on my to-do list around the house and spend some fun time with the boys.  However, mid-morning I received a call from my cousin that rocked me to my core. She called to tell me that my cousin Frank lost his battle with prostate cancer and had passed on. I couldn’t and still can’t believe it. He was such a healthy person and lived a very healthy and wholesome lifestyle. So I  kept saying why him? But one thing I have learned about this type of cancer is that if not detected early it can be fatal.  So before I continue, I tell you all to make sure you get regular colonoscopies. I know they aren’t pleasant but it can mean life or death. Often doctors dismiss testing if you aren’t in a certain age bracket or no family history. But I say, if you can, then do get tested. Enough of my rant.

When we lose people we love suddenly, it seems to force us to shift gears. To take stock of all the blessings in our lives. To slow down for a bit. To reach out and connect to ones we haven’t talked to in a long time.  My initial reaction, as you would expect was to cry. I sat in my room with the door closed because I didn’t want to frighten my boys. Then I began to make calls to my family members who weren’t informed to tell them the sad news. Each time, resurfacing my own grief. I thought about how he wouldn’t see his youngest finish her college years. He won’t see his grandkids, he won’t be there to support his son in the next chapter of his life post-college. How he and his wife won’t get to grow old together. I just couldn’t believe it. I also beat myself up for not keep in contact with him.

However, this year, I’ve been really working on myself. For those around me, they may or may not have noticed the difference but I have been shifting my perspectives and actions and grabbing hold of moments throughout each day to cherish. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal daily.  Another thing I have been working on is I have been catching myself when my boys want to talk to me, looking at my book or iPhone and now I put it down then look into their eyes while they talk. Taking in their beautiful faces, listening to the sounds of their voices, loving that they still come to me with things. I can’t say I have mastered this or that I am always great at it but I try throughout the day to do it as often as I remember. I want them to know, I see them, I hear them and I am here for them. Because at the end of the day, the things don’t matter, the people do. So I will continue to process this loss by celebrating Frank’s greatness and striving to be better about my connections with all the people I care about. No more taking for granted that tomorrow will be there and simply celebrate the beauty of today.

I apologize for such a somber post but I always want to keep it real here. I have houseguests coming so I will not be posting as regular for the next week.

Have a blessed day my friends and thank you for taking the time to visit and comment. You matter to me.

Belinda

Happy Monday – A Moment of Gratitude!

Hello and happy Monday! I am getting this out late because I spent the morning nursing my garden. I say nursing because in addition to the funky weather this summer, our vacation getaways and my less than enthusiastic maintenance this last month and a half; my poor garden has suffered. So this morning after dropping off Nick, I decided to go salvage and care for my plants. My girlfriend, Ashley is one of my big inspirations and usually this time of year, I am sitting around a bountiful veggie garden and explosion of blooms and texting her about my daily happenings in the garden. But this year has to go down as one of much neglect when it came to the garden. So in the midst of my pity party, I put on my garden shoes and headed out to water and make adjustments, but I realized that despite the lack of care, there were so many things to be grateful for in my garden. Above is a Phlox that my former neighbor gave me before she moved. I just had to stop and smile at this delicate beauty.This lovely yellow rose bush was ripped out of the grown when we had some major plumbing work done in June and I was so afraid that it wouldn’t last after being transplanted to another area in my garden. But today, to my surprise I peeked behind my echinacea and there this single beautiful bloom greeted me.
I don’t know if you can see what’s happening in this photo but I had my sprinkler on my side lawn and went inside my house to talk with my son while I waited to move the sprinklers. I had set a timer on my phone to remind me to go out and turn off the water. When I came to the door to come outside, I saw between 6 – 8 birds (mostly Robins) running in and out to the sprinkler and washing off. It was the cutest thing to see. So the total bird-lover in me decided to let the water run a few more minutes to let them cool off and play.
I wanted to share these photos because I wanted to show how small miracles are happening around us all every day and all we have to do is slow down and be open to receive them. I could have stood out there and grumped about the veggies that didn’t come or the excess leaves that are already falling from the trees but I chose to look at the beauty that exists when I open my eyes. I am grateful for the nature that I can come into contact with right in my yard every day and I do not take it for granted.I know Monday can be stressful with all of our ambitious to-do lists but just make sure you pause for a few minutes in nature today and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised.

Belinda

Happy Monday: Our Boston Comic Con Recap!

Well hello!  Today is my oldest’s first day of school. It’s so early. My youngest doesn’t start until the 29th so it seems strange that I can’t fully lean into the ‘back to school’ thing. Which also means I can’t return to work fully until they are both off to school. But I am doing some administrative stuff which isn’t always my favorite but it needs to be done.My oldest loves comics and this year he saved his money so that he could have his photo taken with none other than Stan Lee at this year’s Boston Comic Con! We took his money he saved and bought the ticket for him. So we headed out early yesterday. Nick dressed as Sam Wilson the latest Captain America and I dressed up as Lionheart, Riri Williams (the new female Ironman).  Instead of proper planning, I literally cut out some shimmery paper on my Silhouette and used double sided tape to attach it to my shirt right before we left. I didn’t have an ironman mask to carry which would make it obvious who I was but that was fine because we wanted to arrive early.When we arrived we had to go stand in line with the others that purchased tickets for the Stan Lee event and let’s just say it was quite a long wait. We stood for over an hour but I tell you the look on Nick’s face when we entered the room with Stan Lee was priceless. It lasted all of a few minutes and then we were ushered off to pick up his photo. I wanted to share it with you but Nick, as you know, has reached that age that he does not like me to use photos of him on the blog. 
We had fun walking around seeing all of the amazing cosplay. I had to jump in and take a photo with Darth Vadar! Many people even made their costumes themselves.In the photo above there is a 16-year-old girl in that robot and she built this entire costume including the stilts she walks on.  Can you believe it? Another great reason to attend these conferences is that you get to discover new artists and authors. I met Marcus Williams, the illustrator, and co-creator of a new comic called, “Tuskegee Heirs” comic book series and got his autograph. It’s a new sci-fi action-adventure comic book series set 80 years into the future that follows a squadron of young, gifted aviators, who are forced to become Earth’s last line of defense against a menacing race of artificially intelligent villains bent on destroying civilization. I can’t wait to sit down with this beauty.  I even bought a print from him. We all had a good time and can’t wait to attend next year.

Hope you all are having a blessed day!

Belinda

I’m Back!!! Let’s Start with a Mini Visual Recap of Disney

Three years ago we took our boys on a surprise trip to Disney World. They loved it and from the time we came home, they have asked when we would return. Before going, I never understood how people would take their kids there multiple times. But after going as a child and then going with my own children, I finally understand. So we decided this year would be the year we would return to Disney.We headed off a day after school let out to see if Disney could still feel magical on our second visit. One of my favorite pictures is the one above of Apollo and Mickey waving. It captures all the excitement and magic in one photo. We stood there with all of those people and when Mickey appeared the energy shot up like nobody’s business. Priceless.

At night we slept like pirates in our ships and in the day we sought out adventures in the different theme parks. I was still amazed how wonderful the service is and the boys were still captivated by all to see and of course their magic bands.  Oh and before I go further, I do have pictures of Nick on this vacation but he has reached the age where he does not like for me to put him up on the blog. So I am respecting his wishes.With Disney, it can be overwhelming but we learned so much from our first trip and we knew the higher heat would challenge us. We didn’t rush. I am a planner and I had everything planned and scheduled before we left our home for Disney. But I found myself in the position where I had to let go of the control.  Initially, I resisted and then I let go and set back and enjoyed each moment with my family. I remember someone telling me before my wedding to make sure that I pause throughout the wedding to take it all in or else it would be a blur and I would miss the beauty. I took that advice for both my wedding and on our vacations with the boys this summer. Each night I reflected on all the blessings we witnessed each day. It truly makes a difference. I didn’t want it to be like me checking off items on a list, I wanted it to be an experience where we truly immersed ourselves. I wanted the experience to create life-long memories for the boys that they could reminisce on into adulthood and I believe we achieved that.

Of course, we had to do a safari at the Animal Kingdom and I took way too many photos but there is something about it that makes me go photo crazy. I spared you all the photos and just included two.
The time of day dictates how many and which animals we were to see but this one below was a bit intimidating because yes, he was that close.If you have seen the movie Avatar, then you must go see this entire world they have created at the park called Pandora – The World of Avatar. It’s unbelievable and it occupies a large area of the Animal Kingdom. You can walk around and see really incredible creations. I would love to see the making of this attaction.They had two new rides that opened only a few weeks prior to our arrival that was inspired by the movie and somehow I scored a fast pass for us to ride one – Avatar Flight of Passage. We got to fly on the back of a mountain banshee during a 3D experience that is out of this world!  Hands down, this was my favorite ride. It felt so real I had to close my eyes a few times. On our first visit, I assumed the boys would not be so interested in Epcot but boy was I wrong so we had to make sure we returned on this trip. I love seeing all of the different architecture for the different countries. Morocco once again stole my heart and the meal we ate there was my favorite from the entire trip.We had so much fun roaming around our resort and we ended up eating most of our breakfasts there as well as swimming in one of their beautiful pools on a few days. The boys liked to beat us back to our room after breakfast by taking different routes around the resort and using their magic bands to enter the room first. Truly they did not get their good sense of direction from me.Once again we took my friend Joan’s advice and made sure the photographers took pictures of us with the kids but also just of us. Now if we could only get the people out of the background like the guy looking over Leao’s shoulder!!On the last day, the boys surprised me again and asked when we will return and I told them we will see. We have so many other places we would like to take them so, for now, we will have to wait. But I have no regrets returning to such an amazing place.

I am slowly getting my office in order as we prepare for Nick to return to school on the 14th and Apollo the 29th so I will resume a new posting schedule very soon. So come back so we can catch up!

Belinda

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