Thursday, February 28, 2013

Social Media

When I was reading some of the replies to my blog on Compassion yesterday I found it interesting that Anne mentioned social media and the impact it has on us.

I'm 46 and although I do use the Internet for many things I had no idea how big a role it played in my life.  I had been meaning to write about it so thank you Anne for reminding me.
A lot has changed electronically since I was in high school.  I graduated in 1984 and there were no cellphones.  None of the kids I went to school with carried anything like that.  "Pagers" were the first big thing I remember and when one of those went off the person had to go find a regular phone to return the call to whatever phone number was paging.  I never had one.
My first cell phone was in 1989 and it was one of those huge "bag phones."  It had an actual full size receiver and cradle, the same as one that hangs on a wall.  It was so heavy, like toting luggage.  I used to take it with me when I sold real estate and I thought I was so cool because I could make phone calls while I sat doing an open house on a Sunday afternoon.

As time progressed the phones got smaller and smaller and thinner and thinner.  Then the whole World Wide Web was new and exciting too.  I remember the first computer I ever ordered was enormous.  The monitor weighed a ton and had a gigantic back.  It stuck way out from the wall just like the old TV sets did.  The hard drive was completely separate and took up its own massive space.  Of course computers are slimmer now too.  We also have laptops and iPads, etc. which are so much easier to transport and quick to navigate compared to the "old days".
When I was in school our big electronics were Walkmans.  First the one that held a cassette and then the one that used a CD.  Our parents didn't spend a lot like they do now.  Have you read the kids Christmas lists these days?  They're filled with electronic "wants.”  Their two year phone contract can't expire fast enough for them because a new and improved product comes so fast.  It's mind blowing.
When I went to college there was nothing being offered as a major in Social Media.  There was Communications and Journalism but nothing like what is being offered today.  It's quite interesting and a whole new avenue of communications that has created a variety of career opportunities.  

I hadn't given much thought to social media before Chris passed.  I do recall being at the hospital and the Chaplain asked me where Jeremy was.  When I told her he was away at college she insisted we get hold of him before social media did.  I was so confused.  It never crossed my mind he might find out before I actually got to tell him in person.

My mind was swimming with panic to get to Jeremy quick.  My nightmare of losing one son was magnified by the pressure of connecting with the other son before some random Internet post got to him first.  If ever I experienced terror, the night at the hospital was it.  I’ll never get over it nor will I forget it.
Thank God almighty I got to Jeremy first.  I cannot imagine him reading about it!  There is relief for me in that.  I'm so thankful.  When so many others found out so much earlier and the news spread like wildfire, God provided me the opportunity to tell Jeremy about his brother.  That was a blessing.  I didn't get to tell him in person like I would have preferred but I got him by phone and that was as good as I could have hoped for with the travel distance between us.  I couldn't leave the hospital to go get him.  The hospital waiting room was filled with family and football players and parents and coaches and the texts and Internet posts were running wild and Jeremy never saw.  Thank you Lord!!

So there's quite a lot to social media in my life; in all of our lives.  It's here to stay.  It's an instant connection to one another and although I do find it to be a very good thing, it can also cause panic.  It did for me that night.  I was scared to death.  But look what else it has done.  It's caused us to connect and share thoughts and stories.  The good outweighs the bad.  I choose to use this blog and any of my other posts for positive reasons. 
I hope you will too.  

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I'm not big on winter.  I'm a three season kind of girl.  In order of preference my world would revolve from summer to spring to fall.
(image below was taken by my very talented brother Paul)  
I'd skip winter.  I'd be very good with that.  I participate in no winter sports and it seems I’m always freezing and my nose is dripping.  I constantly have a tissue in my hand or shoved up my sleeve. Have a chat with me sometime and you'll see, Kleenex is never far from my hand. 
(images below were also taken by my brother Paul)
Unfortunately I was born and raised in Albany and so I make no bones about blaming my mother for not moving south before she started her family. I've told her for years we've been in the wrong place, the wrong state, the completely wrong climate.  The poor woman just shrugged her shoulders at me... For years!  Still does.
Well, I was wrong, moms always know best! :-)  I'll have to tell her that.  If I lived somewhere else, I wouldn't be on the healing path I'm on with you.  My mom did just fine by staying put in Albany and placing so many of you in my life to meet and hug and share with personally.

Who would I rely on every day thru all this if not for this community?  You allow me time in your day to bend your ear and share whatever happens to run thru my mind.  You let me cry on your shoulder or share stories about my kids.  Would this happen anywhere else?  Not like this.  I don't think so anyway.  I mean, I could write but would anyone read?  We've come to know each other a little bit now.  I've never heard of anything like this happening before and the more I think about it it's not accidental.  Why are you reading and I'm writing? The only place I've ever written a sentence publicly in the past has been on my Facebook page and the only readers were my high school girlfriends.  I only started tweeting after Christopher passed.  What's the give and take we exchange and why is it that I'm the connector?  How did you find this page anyway?  And furthermore, I'm curious where you're reading this.  Are you even in the Capital Region?  I have no way of knowing how many are reading or from what state or country.  I have a lot of questions!  Ha hah.  I'm as curious as all of you.
I'm just spewing out my thoughts here because that's what's on my mind.  This world of blogging is brand new to me.  A friend set it up and told me to just start writing.  He gets the credit for us meeting.  It wasn't anything I gave thought to or even knew how to start. Thanks Mike! :-). I don't know how I'd be handling Christopher's death if I didn't have this blog and all of you.  I think about you every single day.  You post responses and tell me about your families and you have no idea how many times I check to see what you're saying.  I look forward to your stories because I care about your life and also because I get to spend time focusing on you and my "stuff" goes away for a while.
You know, at some point every day I feel like I'm hearing the news of the accident for the first time.  I have fleeting moments where I feel like I'm standing with my mouth gaping open saying "What? No way! That's impossible.  It can't be so!!"  It feels dreamlike until I give myself a reality check and realize I truly am wide awake and it's for real, the answer is yes. Tragically it did happen and my son is gone.
You know what else I think?  I think we are full of compassion.  We are a world of caring individuals.  Some are more outward about it than others.  I think I was one of the quiet ones, sort of standoffish and uninvolved with my time.  I would write a check and donate but I didn't spend time assisting.  It's not that I lack compassion; I simply remained in the background.  I wasn't a doer.  I was a lurker.  I'm getting better at seeing the need to help by jumping in.  I'm not sure why I've hesitated in the past but I do know I'm learning how compassionate people are and how much they genuinely care.  Not just about my situation but in all areas.  

Sometimes it appears the world is as cold as winter but that's just not true.  Sometimes people are afraid to get involved.  They already have more on their plates than they can handle and so they hesitate.  Getting involved and spending time when they already need more of it themselves is a heavy burden.  How do they juggle it?  It doesn't mean they're not compassionate.  I fit that mold. I'm really working on changing that now.  Yes, it took a tragedy to enlighten me but I noticed and now I can do better.
You've already shown me tremendous compassion by getting involved in my life and holding me up. My appreciation will be forever yours.  I ask you to continue please, it helps me so much.  I also ask that the next time something happens in your life, where you have the opportunity to outwardly show you care, that you step forward and get involved even if it means your schedule gets stretched even thinner.  I promise it will feel good.  Say hello when you pass someone in the parking lot.  Don't just put your head down and walk.  You be the connector like I'm learning to do too.  It's a small thing but an important one.  We live here together. 

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I find it interesting from where I sit today - to turn around and look back at the path I created career wise.  Many years ago, when I was in high school I didn't have my head wrapped around what I wanted to be.  All I wanted at that point in time was some spending money.  I needed a job to pay for my social life!
At fifteen I landed my first part time job.  I was so excited.  The funny story behind it is one ill never forget... For those of you who grew up in the capital region you'll remember this place... chuck E Cheese in Northway Mall.  Ha hah!! It was where Staples is now, out by Central Ave., not in the actual strip mall with Target, but by the main road.  Anyway, I saw the ad in the Times Union that they were hiring when the place first opened up so I went with a friend and applied.  He got a phone call to come in for a group interview but I didn't.  I was mad.  So, when he went for his appointment, I tagged along and pretended I got a call too!  The manager couldn't find my application (of course) as he was talking to each perspective employee but I assured him I wouldn't have been there had I not been invited! (Yeah, self invited....!). Well, the guy didn't seem to care that my paperwork was missing, guess he liked me enough to hire me, so he stuck me in the "hostess" group and I went on for training and learned to wipe down tables and keep the place tidy.  That was probably the most fun of all my jobs.  After the place closed we used to flop around in the "ball crawl" where the little kids play in that netted area with a tremendous pool full of colored plastic balls.  We'd fling them at each other so hard we'd end up with welts on our arms.  Good times.  We also used to use gobs of gold coins and play all the video games.  My favorite was Centipede but I did OK at PacMan too.  
I even got promoted to wear the "Jasper Jowls" dog costume eventually.  Now that was a hoot.  The characters aren't allowed to talk to the customers but under that doggie helmet?  Oh wow, I had a few choice things to say to the little kids who punched me in the stomach or pulled my tail!  And it was so hot in there, OMG!  We used to take breaks like every fifteen minutes so we could breathe.  I needed a quick lesson in walking in those pawed shoes too :-)

I went on to have some other fun jobs too.  I was a bank teller for Albany Savings Bank in Colonie Center for several years.  Remember that branch? On the back side of the mall just down from (now) the Christmas Tree Shop... Flah's Department Store used to have an entry near there. (I'm dating myself...). I loved working with all that money.  I used to dream about what I would do if it was actually available to me.  I remember standing there many times thinking to myself "I literally have thousands and thousands of dollars in my possession right here at this very second!". Now it's not like it was really mine, but I recall vividly letting my imagination run wild at the variety of things I could do if it was.  Imagination is a fabulous thing when you're fresh out of high school and the world is yours!  Imagination is good at ALL ages. I've got a pretty good one still. :-)
I worked waiting on tables at several different restaurants, sold retail clothing, worked in the office at a car dealership, worked for an airline checking people in for flights, sold real estate, sold cosmetics, was the payroll assistant for a nursing home, became an Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant and then moved on to Office Managing.  WHEW!  Turns out I know a little about a lot of things!  I did most of all that while I commuted to college locally so I tended to bounce around the 518!
I went back to school in the late 90's for television production which lead me to work as a Production Assistant and make up artist.  Those are fun jobs, I still do it when I can.  I really like being behind the scenes - not so much being on camera.
Doing the Healthlink segment with Benita Zahn a couple of weeks ago was probably not uncomfortable for me because I already knew what was going to happen and I'm familiar with the goings on around the set.  I was also passionate about the topic so nerves weren't a problem.  I've assisted with the taping of many different topics over the past ten years or so and I really enjoy it.  My biggest claim to fame? Colin Powell.  Yes, I did his makeup!!!

So why am I blogging about this?  It's really a long winded and roundabout story regarding a comment made to me years ago by a family member.  One of them said to me "You are so lucky! You find the best jobs!".  I never forgot that for some reason.

I logged it into my brain and somehow it never left me.  I've thought about it many times since then but it now occurs to me I didn't "find" these jobs easily, I searched them out.  I created my opportunities by going out on a limb and stretching.  Some of it came to me but not without work on my part too.  I'm sure you've gone thru it too.  Fear of the unknown can hold you back but most times taking a chance is so much sweeter!  Had I cowered at the opportunity to work on the video shoot with Colin Powell I would be mad at myself! Plus my story would be different.

I also worked with several other celebrities over the past decade but to be among a military leader was amazing!  He truly commands a room.
What makes life interesting are the choices we make - the choices we have control over.  It's important to keep your eyes open for opportunities to broaden your horizons and be the best you can be.  I'm learning that even more now since Chris passed.  My life has been redirected, things have shifted.  Sometimes I have clarity and I know where I'm going and other times I'm nothing but a fuzzy mess.  I'm a work in progress. My 100% is not complete yet.  There's more for me to do and although I don't know how it will all play out I do want to get even further down my path so I can once again turn around and see where I have landed.  I hope you carve an amazing path for yourself too :-)

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What to write?

So I'm sitting here on Sunday evening wondering what to write about.  Well, you're going to get a hodge-podge.  Seems the blog about my purse yesterday hit a chord with a lot of people.  I'll start by saying I'm glad you don't think I'm nuts for carrying Chris' small urn with me.  I haven't encountered anyone who does; nobody that shared that information with me anyway. I'm sure I'm not the first but I'm the first I know of so thanks for embracing me, I was sort of nervous to share that.
This weekend was very nice.  Zumba on Saturday evening was a lot of fun but wayyyyy too energetic for me.  I'm inspired by the enthusiasm but I couldn't keep up with the pace, I sat out a lot.  I can see why it's a great workout! :-). Thank you to everyone who volunteered their time and effort to putting the night together, teaching the class and making us all feel welcome. 

Click below to view:

The slideshow was really moving.  I'm dumbfounded by the generosity of the Capital Region.  What wonderful people!  A ton came out to dance and participate which made for a packed gym.

On another note;
I went back to the Northway Church Sunday morning for another fabulous service.  It was nice to be in a room full of people who were all there for the same purpose; to praise God.  It's interesting to be in such a place after wandering away from it for a while.  It felt good knowing everybody's attention was focused in the same direction.  No one was looking at the next person because each was busy dialing into the sermon.  I had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Troy Gramling who was visiting while Pastor Buddy is out of town.  He spoke about not throwing in the towel, among a multitude of other things, and I found myself sitting in my seat wanting to raise my hand or jump up and interject with some of my own experiences as he helped the congregation reason their way thru the trials and tribulations of life.
I met my friend Melissa there and she brought her son Alan who happens to be one of Christopher's pals.  They played football together and became good friends.  I wanted to get Al's opinion of this church because I vividly recalled when I went there a couple of weeks ago this deep tug in my heart telling me Chris was with me and he was enjoying the service.  I was really curious to get Al's spin on it.  
The football team has been suffering terribly since Chris passed.  They are full of questions, they don't understand and they are also angry.  I worry about them because they're so young and at such a vulnerable age.  As they apply to colleges and prepare for graduation it hurts to see them confused and suffering.  I was hoping Al might find some relief and maybe enlightenment from the upbeat service.  I was happily relieved when he told me he liked it a lot. "I've never been to a church like that!" He said.  It made me smile all the more because it validated my instinct that Chris definitely would have like going there. 

I'm making progress on the Chris Stewart Memorial Scholarship.  If I'm able to share the details about it once completed, I will.  It may need to wait until May though, as that's when the awards ceremony is for the seniors.  Please know that all of you made it possible through your donations upon Chris' passing and my gratitude runs deep.  I'm really glad to have this scholarship to work on right now.  It keeps Chris' spirit alive.

I was running some errands today when I had a yearning for, soup.  I stopped at the Halfmoon Sandwich Shop (yum!) and lo and behold the family in front of me paid my bill! Wow, now that was really nice.  Of course being that my brain is mush some of the time, I can't recall their names!  I do know their young son plays SHEN basketball and the wife reads my blog.  Well, thank you for picking up my tab, it was very generous of you!  I'll pay it forward, I promise.

Seems you got menagerie of thoughts from me today.  Have a great Monday, make it count!

Thank you for reading