Things I learned in 2018
1.  You never ever know where life will take you. Life is a wild ride.
2.  Did you know the Philadelphia Eagles logo is the only logo in the NFL that faces to the left?          It’s because there is a letter “E” hidden in the Eagle’s feathers.
3.  Acupuncture really helps with pain. 
   I started acupuncture therapy this year. I found a wonderful practitioner that I could afford. I think it helped with pain and mood. After a few weeks I was feeling pretty good so I stopped going. I know that sounds pretty dumb but it made sense at the time. “Hey I feel so good! I think I can stop!” No. Now I am crappy again.  (I restarted last week)
4.  Rheumatoid Disease can not only freeze all your joints but it can put you a ventilator. My cousin who also has Rheumatoid kept loosing consciousness.  It turned out that her lungs can not expand due to her frozen rib cage. That caused a build up of CO2 which caused her to loose consciousness. Rotten disease.
5.  My dog’s butt looks like the Lorax from Dr Seuss.

 

6.  Italy has one of the highest electricity costs in the world. If you rent an apartment there and it is connected to the owner’s apartment…DO NOT leave the bathroom fan running all night. Just sayin.
7.  Also, if you rent an apartment in Venice that is in a building from the 1400’s…..the apartments may not be numbered. We came home at 1am and spent a half hour trying to get into the neighbor’s front door. Evidently numbering the apartments is not a priority in 1400s Venice.

 

8.  Did you know there is such a thing as Sicilian Oregano? Our home chef used it in preparing our dinner in Florence.  She picks it wild when she visits her home in Sicily. It smelled AMAZING. Best of all….you can buy it on Amazon. 
9.  When we questioned our Italian driver Stephano about running multiple STOP sings he  explained to us that…In Italy, STOP signs are…..just a suggestion! Now it all makes sense. Just try crossing a busy street in Florence.
10. I took my 80 year old mother to Disney this year. They have a new Disney “Minnie Van”   taxi service that uses red vans with white polka dots. We tried it out. My mother was anxious to point out that Minnie-Van rhymes with Ativan. She worries me.

 

11.  Did you know that when an elephant walks, they are almost totally silent? They have a huge fat pad in their feet to keep their footsteps silent. (We went on the elephant tour in Disney)

 

12.  This is important. Did you know that when a woman in her 50s presents at the ER with chest pain she is 7 times more likely to be misdiagnosed than men? This happened to me this year. I was told to take some Nexium and go home. I did. Then I presented at another hospital 18hrs later with more chest pain. It turned out I needed emergency quadruple bypass surgery. Thanks Rheumatoid Disease!
Listen to your body. Question test results. Your life may depend on it.
    This year I had to think about my life and possibly loosing it. I’ve had a lot to time to think about the important stuff of life. Here’s what I came up with.
            Everything, I mean EVERYTHING comes down to Love and Kindness. 
    The people I love rallied behind me. It was beautiful. Friends making me laugh the night before surgery, dinners showing up at my house, waking up in ICU to see my cousin sitting quietly at my side, friends taking care of my house and my dog, people feeding my Mom and Jolene, friends who took off work to sit at my mother’s side during the long surgery, friends who secretly brought my dog up to the hospital and my nurse sneaking me out to see her and a cousin that commuted 4hrs a day just  to hold my hand.
   
After the surgery I felt really down for a long time. I tried to be grateful and happy but I just couldn’t feel it. I’m better now but I can’t help but wonder why God chose me to go through this particular crap. I guess I’ll never know for sure but I trust there is a reason.
    When I am at my lowest, I find the thing that  always helps is….to help someone else.  It can be just letting a car merge into my lane or giving up my spot in the grocery check out to the Mom struggling with her kids. During my recovery a friend told me she tries to do one kind thing everyday. Now I do too. 
   Carry some  peanut crackers or a disposable rain parka for the homeless guy at the red light, slip $20 to a college student, help out that cousin who is always struggling, collect food for your local food pantry, make eye contact and smile when you see a disabled person – don’t just look away. 
  Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  That’s the legacy we leave behind. It’s not about money or success. This life is about sharing love and kindness. It’s about taking care of one another and enjoying this amazing world we get to live in.
And don’t forget to laugh. Pain, sadness, grief….laughing makes it all a little bit better. We all can do it. Hug your dentist, hold the door for the people behind you. Smile at a stranger. The stranger the better.
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