Tuesday, November 25, 2014

$27,500 Richer?? Wowza!!!

Have you ever seen a Twitter feed blow-up??

One of my responsibilities as the volunteer Social Media Manager for the American Red Cross here in Kansas City is monitoring our social media accounts - namely, Twitter and Facebook. Not only do I post content each day, but I monitor to see what others are posting to us - or about us, as the case may be. It's kinda' a REALLY AWESOME JOB because I not only get to hang out on Social Media all day - but I get to do it from home. In my pajamas. Which makes me very, very happy.

On a typical day, our Twitter feed may get 2-3 notifications and mentions - nothing too outrageous or alarming, which is always good when you're in the disaster business. But yesterday…that all changed.

I signed on to our Twitter feed for a quick check, and I was stunned to see we had dozens and dozens of "mentions" - in other words, dozens and dozens of other Twitterers were "mentioning" the Kansas City Red Cross in their tweets.


Upon closer investigation, I discovered that yesterday afternoon, a local meteorologist here in town, JD Rudd, had been a contestant on the national syndicated game show, "Let's Ask America". Apparently, he competed against three other meteorologists from across the country, all competing for charity - and JD ended up winning an eye-popping $27,500 - which he donated to the Kansas City Red Cross, his charity of choice.


Not sure whether this was for real - or was it a cruel joke - I soon found JD's local TV station, and their Twitter said it all:

41 Action News ‏@41ActionNews
YAY! Congrats to @jdrudd for winning $27,500 for @kcredcross on @letsaskamerica!

Well. I was rather busy for awhile on both Twitter and Facebook, thanking JD (on behalf of the Red Cross) for his incredible generosity, and spreading the good news. JD later sent a response to our thank you, saying, "I sincerely appreciate your comments. THANK YOU. I have seen first-hand how valuable & helpful the Red Cross is when mother nature is at her worst. There's no other charity I'd rather be playing for. I'm very happy I was able to bring in a donation of that size; I was nervous! Keep up the great work!"

To say this made me happy is an understatement.

During all this crazy, hectic activity on social media, my cell phone rang - and it was, strangely enough, the Red Cross. It seems that there was a natural gas leak at a large apartment complex yesterday afternoon in Kansas City, and the residents would have no heat that night during the frigid temperatures. The Red Cross would most likely be opening a shelter, offering a warm & safe place for the residents to sleep, and would I be available to be the Shelter Manager?

EEP again.

I haven't managed a shelter in quite awhile - maybe since the floods in Fargo back in 2008 - so I'm a bit rusty.

But I said yes, and before I knew it, I'd packed a quick bag with supplies and headed down to the community center where the shelter was being set up. I hadn't been there more than 5 minutes before I was back in the groove, as apparently being a Shelter Manager is a lot like riding a bicycle - you never forget.

My small crew quickly had a dormitory set up by 9:00 pm to accommodate twenty clients:

Outside the gym, we set up the Registration area, where my all-star crew of two, Peg & Kathy, were reviewing the paperwork and ready to receive clients:

In addition to these areas, we set up a small canteen with water and snacks, and a small desk for me, so I could do my paperwork (because with the Red Cross, I've learned - it's all about the reports!!!):

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

By midnight, it was very evident that no one was showing up…the affected residents had all apparently found other accommodations, with friends or family, for the evening - and this made me very happy. It's always better for folks to spend the night with friends or family rather than in a giant, cavernous gymnasium on a cot…trust me, as I've done it on previous deployments when hotel rooms were not available. Cots suck, to put it bluntly.

So, my crew of two - and myself - broke down the cots, and packed everything up and shut down the shelter.


I was home in my own bed by 1:30 in the morning, and although I was a happy girl, I was also a tired girl. That was a lot of physical hard work, and I'm not getting any younger.

As I was driving home, though, I couldn't help but reflect on the generous gift from JD Rudd - and how it will be utilized to help the residents of our metropolitan area after a disaster - whether that disaster is a home fire, a tornado, an ice storm - or a natural gas leak. You never know when it's going to hit, but it's always nice to know that there will be volunteers ready to help out.



Monday, November 24, 2014

The Happiness Project

Happiness…what does it mean?

It's interesting…I looked up the definition online, and I chuckled when I read that it meant, "the state of being happy." Yup - that certainly explains it, huh??!!

Which does beg the question, though…what makes you happy?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this lately…most likely due to my feelings of sadness that have shadowed me since losing my father last month. I've felt burdened by tears and grief, and believing that my life was void of happiness. Sometimes, when faced with overwhelming grief or joylessness, it can be hard to find the small moments in life that make us happy…it's as if we can't be happy unless something huge or major comes along that surrounds us with glee and delight…and that's not a good thing.

We sometimes need to be reminded to find the happiness in the small things.

I needed a good kick in the butt reminder of this, and so I'm grateful to a friend, Kathi, who challenged me to find three things a day that bring happiness…no matter how big, no matter how small. And, of course, being the competitive person that I am, I will ALWAYS rise up to a challenge (or a dare, but we won't go there!), and so yesterday, I deliberately and determinedly looked for those small things that made me smile.

And boy - was I surprised by the results.

I didn't find just THREEE things yesterday…oh, no.

The day ended up being full of moments that brought a smile to my face…a warmth to my heart…pleasure to my soul.

The day began with a bowl of warm potato soup for breakfast:

Yes. I said potato soup for breakfast.

DO NOT JUDGE ME on my breakfast choice!!!

I had made a HUGE batch of homemade potato soup on Saturday, deliberately making extra so we'd have leftovers. And on Sunday morning, a nice, warm bowl of potato soup - with some cheese and bacon on top - sounded perfect for breakfast.

And it was. Nom. Nom. Nom.

Happy, happy, happy.

After breakfast, I said a quick goodbye to Hubby and Daughter, and then headed to a Ladies Holiday Brunch and Ornament Exchange. For three hours, I giggled, laughed, drank delicious mimosas, and played a cutthroat game of Swipe the Ornament with some delightful and super-fun women:

Okay, so we don't look like we're having much fun in this picture, but BLAME THE PHOTOGRAPHER (me!), because this is so not representative of the laughter - to the point of tears - that ensued later! I think we were actually listening to our hostess go over the rules of the game here…which is why we're all looking a bit serious. Stealing ornaments from someone else is definitely serious business, for sure.

I was also tickled because I was sitting next to THIS girl, Suzie, one of my BFF's - going all the way back to high school:

Suzie can always make me laugh and bring me out of a funk, which is a good thing…girlfriends are definitely good for the soul.

When it was my turn to play, I made a beeline for THIS set of ornaments and stole them from another lady:

I really, really, really liked these - as I decorate one of the rooms in my house with a woodsy theme, highlighted with bronze ornaments…these would go PERFECT in my house!! I did feel a tad guilty about swiping these beauties from the other lady, but I was assured it was all part of the game. My happiness in having scored the perfect ornaments overshadowed the guilt, though, so after a heartfelt apology to the original owner, I left the party very, very happy.

Hubby and I then headed down to the Kauffman Center to catch the matinee performance of Mannheim Steamroller:

The Kauffman Center is truly a gem here in Kansas City, and I'm always impressed at the beauty of the venue:

Pictures do NOT do it justice, as it will blow your mind pretty much every time you visit.

Before the show, I took a selfie of Hubby and I:

I'm a lucky girl, so this guy always makes me happy. I think the lady behind me doesn't look too happy, though - maybe she's sleeping…or most likely, checking her phone. Let's hope.

So, the concert was pretty amazing…I love the music of Mannheim Steamroller…so soothing, so relaxing, and so cool to watch them perform it live with the entire orchestra on stage. One song, though, had me in tears - Auld Lange Syne. Gah. I couldn't help but think of my Dad, and so I shed a few.

After the concert, it was going on 6:00 pm - and dinner was now in store. Hubby took me to one of my favorite restaurants, the Grand Street Cafe. And there, I was thrilled to discover they had a gluten-free pasta now on the menu:

This was a buckwheat farfalle "Mac & Cheese" dish - made with sun gold tomato, olive oil, fried kale, fontina cheese, pecorino & romano cheese, and smokehouse bacon.


It was delicious. And gluten-free, to boot!!!


And truly one of the best parts of the day were the pants that I was wearing:

I splurged on these Antonio Melani wool pants two years ago - after falling in love with the beautiful pattern & bronze/gold ribbon running through them - but I was a little too thick-in-the-middle to wear them.


This running has definitely paid off, as I managed to fit into these pants all day yesterday with ROOM TO SPARE!!!!

Woot. Woot.

Happy, happy, happy - that was me!!!!

Strangely enough, I had a very, very vivid dream last night - about my Dad…and in my dream, my Dad was admonishing me for being gloomy and sad…telling me I needed to get on with life and enjoy the moments…coincidence???



Monday, November 10, 2014

The Journey I Never Wanted to Take


I'm waving my hand over here…letting everyone know that yes, I am indeed, still alive.

Still living…still breathing…but mainly still grieving, actually, over the loss of my Dad over a month ago.

That's probably what I'm dealing with the most, and so it's hard - really hard - to find uplifting, inspiring, humorous things to post about - when I'm still mired in the grieving process. I can't find my snark, or my mojo, or even my energy, for that matter.


I thought it would be easier.

I thought I would bounce back - as I normally do after something knocks me on my butt - with my usual speed, strength and resiliency.

But, nope.

Not this time.

This picture says it all:

I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't shed tears for Dad…it doesn't take much to trigger a flood of emotions and tears that can catch me off-guard and feeling like someone punched me in the gut, leaving me wiped out and gutted afterwards. I see Dad's picture…or I hear a song…or a thought or memory will pop into my head for no reason - and I'm a puddled mess of salty tears and wrenching sobs.

Sleeping has been difficult…I can count on one hand the number of nights I've been able to sleep through the entire night…as my new normal seems to be me, waking up - wide awake - at 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. And of course, trying to get back to sleep is next to impossible.

This sucks.

My mom, brother and I went to a class last week on dealing with grief during the holidays…and it was surprisingly very helpful. It was cathartic to talk to others who are going through very similar journeys right now, and my only wish was that it was an ongoing group. Unfortunately, it was a one-time only class, and so I'm in the process of trying to find something in my neighborhood that would offer some sort of support.

Speaking of support…my family, my girlfriends, and my co-workers have been amazing. No one is pushing me to "get over it" or to hurry the process, and that's very much appreciated. If anything, I'm the guilty party of putting pressure on myself to "get over it" and move on. And I know better, but I can't help it.

The grief process is a journey…and sometimes we move forward…sometimes we move backwards…sometimes we get lost and stuck…and I seem to be doing a bit of everything. I'm here. I'm there. I'm progressing. I'm regressing.


I'm doing okay, though. I get up. I dress. I work. I run. I cook. I mother. I love.

But mainly?

I hurt.