The Blog of a Bluegrass Belle: January 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

#MyLifeIn5Words

It seems like many of my blog posts seem to be inspired by things I read on Twitter.  I saw the hashtag MyLifeIn5Words.  

Happy.... Grateful... Loved... Excited.... Hopeful 

At the moment, those five words seem to sum me up best.  I don't know that I would have used those same five words a year ago and maybe not a few months ago.  I am finally starting to learn to cope with my brothers murder.  I know I will never truly get over it, but I have found ways to manage the anxiety and loss.  I think I am finally seeing my life with direction and purpose.  I feel that is largely in part to all of wonderful people I am surrounded by.  There are those I have known a lifetime and others barely a moment, but all have had a positive impact.  




Happy:

Adjective
  1. Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
  2. Having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation).
Synonyms
glad - fortunate - joyful - lucky - merry - cheerful
I am happy that I have a feeling of purpose, and that I am no longer consumed with anger and hate.  

Grateful:
Adjective
Feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.
Synonyms
thankful - appreciative - beholden
I am so very grateful to my family and friends so standing by me the last few years.  I know it hasn't been easy and I was exhausting to deal with.  You are loved and appreciated more than you may ever know.  

Love:
Noun
An intense feeling of deep affection: "their love for their country".


Synonyms
noun.  affection - fondness - darling - passion
I finally feel loved and I have built deep trust in several relationships.  I lost the feeling of being loved and my security in relationships following Brandon's murder.  I wasn't sure I would ever be able to truly trust anyone, and trust is paramount in any relationship.  

Excited:

Adjective
Very enthusiastic and eager.  


Synonyms
elicit, enkindle, evoke

I have so many exciting things happening in my life.  I finished a Tough Mudder in the fall (and holy cow was it tough, mentally and physically).  I have a few big races coming up and I want to run a full marathon by fall.  I love to watch my son grow and develop day by day into an independent, kind, and well-manner "little man."  Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club is always doing incredible things in our local community and I am excited to see what the future holds for our group.  My new friends at Shot@Life have inspired me already and I am looking forward to working with all of them.  

Hopeful:


Adjective
Feeling or inspiring optimism about a future event.


Synonyms
promising - sanguine - up-and-coming

I feel like there are so many promising projects and opportunities just on the horizon.  I have both a mission and a purpose, I am not sure I had previously.  I am hopeful that the coming months and year bring more inspiration and healing.  

Happy Tuesday!  

XOXO
~Jess   







Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vaccination: More than JUST a shot


As a mother, I can remember all the important milestones in my sons life.  The first time he said, “Mama,” we were driving through Boise, Idaho.  His first steps were in our living room.  He stole my heart for the first time, the very moment I laid eyes on him.  I am hopeful I will get to see many more milestones in his life.  His college graduation, marriage, and eventually the birth of his own child, are  just a few I would be overjoyed to see.  There are millions of children and parents who won't get a chance to see just one of those milestones, because they do not have access to vital vaccines.  Measles, polio, rotavirus, and pneumonia are just a few of the diseases which could be prevented with very simple vaccines.


I believe that vaccines are a personal choice for each parent.  I never second guessed my choice to vaccinate my son Gabriel.  I just hope that if a parent chooses to not vaccinate, they would make an educated decision with their healthcare provider and without the aid of anti-vaccination propaganda.  We lived outside of the United States in Bogota, Colombia.  Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, measles,  yellow fever, and malaria are all prevalent in that country.  Malaria is the only disease which cannot be prevented with a vaccine.  We went to Bogota completely prepared.  Parents in other nations would be willing to walk miles for a chance at getting vaccines, while people here often take those opportunities for granted.  I was saddened recently to hear the story of a father in the U.S. who had denied his daughter access to the flu vaccine, and she died shortly after from complications of the flu.  It is heartbreaking to believe that her life could have possibly been saved with the use of the flu vaccine.  Last year 26 children died of flu complications in the U.S. alone.  That could have been 26 chances at high school proms or drivers licenses that were lost to something as simple as the flu.  There was 1.5 million children who died in developing nations of diseases which could have been prevented through vaccines.  

Gabe and I will the Presidential Palace guards in front of the Colombia Presidential Palace in Bogota
The United Nations Foundation developed the Shot@Life program as a grassroots movement to advocate for and provide vaccinations to children around the world.  They work in conjunction with the GAVI Alliance. They provide vaccination opportunities through various other programs and organizations such as the World Health Organization, World Bank, and United Nations Children’s Fund.  There are so many ways to help through both donation and advocacy.  Did you realize that $20 would cover the cost of vaccination for measles, polio, pneumonia, and rotavirus in one child?  


It has taken me 30 years to discover my true passion in life which is advocacy.  I would love to give a child at shot figuring out their passion too!  What would you give a child a shot at?  Please read more about Shot@Life at their website www.shotatlife.org  

Friday, January 25, 2013

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive

Harlan Kentucky miners courtesy of miningusa.com
You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive is one of my favorite songs performed by Brad Paisley (and I am still ticked he did not perform it the last time I saw him at Rupp Arena).  It has special meaning to me.  It is about the long and hard road that many coal miners in Harlan, Kentucky (and across this region) face.  I am proud to be a coal miners daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter (and niece, better not forget my uncle Mike).  I was born because my grandfather left Harlan alive.  

Most of the nation became familiar with Harlan, Kentucky not from a Brad Paisley song but from the television show Justified.  Who doesn't love a little US Marshall Raylan Givens?  Although Harlan and its residents aren't portrayed in the most flattering light, it brought attention to an area I hold dear to my heart.  Nearly 13% of the employed population in Harlan works for the Coal industry.  They are plagued with the same problems that much of southeastern Kentucky is ridden with.  A lack of jobs, poverty, and drugs are just a few of the socioeconomic disadvantage which trouble a beautiful mountainous landscape.
 


Timothy Olyphant as US Marshall Rylan Givens on Justified 


I have the utmost respect for coal miners, especially those who work in some of the harshest conditions possible just to provide a basic existence for their families.  They often struggle day in and day out just to "make ends meet" and they never give up.  Mining isn't a safe profession either.  I have heard the gossip down in the mining camps following an accident, and seen the worry consume them, hoping it wasn't one of their own.  It was a realistic fear for many mining families, which often had grandfathers, fathers, brothers, siblings, cousins, etc. working in the same mine.  

Coal Miners memorial Harlan Kentucky 

I can't and won't take sides in the great debate about the coal industry in Kentucky.  My grandfather suffers from Black Lung and melanoma, a lifetime in the mines is hard on the body.  Mining kept my family in existence.  Mining still helps sustain many families across the region.  Why would you take away the job openings of those willing to work?  Especially in counties such as Harlan where according to the US census bureau 31% of residents live below poverty level , which is double the poverty average for the entire state.  It is even more heartbreaking that half of those residents live on much, much less than poverty level income.  


Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”  

             Nelson Mandela 


I can remember as a child traveling the winding road up KY highway 119 once a month to visit my family in Harlan.  It was a long and often car sick ridden trip for a young child.  My great grandparents George Sr and Lucy Peace, and I believe their parents too are buried on a hillside in rural Harlan Kentucky.  They never left Harlan alive.  I have been back very few times since their death.  My grandfather left for another mining camp in Kay Jay, Kentucky, where he lives to this day.  I think the only time he left was for his tour in the Korean War.  His body weakened and damaged from years in the coal mines, but forever grateful that he provided a home for his family.  My dad worked very briefly in the mines, and we lived in rural southwest Virginia while he did.  He is now a successful barber in Knox County, Kentucky.  


My grandparents, George Jr. and Norma Logan Peace 

I'm proud to be a coal miner's daughter.  It isn't often highly regarded a profession, but how many people sacrifice their health and safety to provide a very meager existence?  My grandfather isn't a rich man by worldly means, but he worked hard, loves God, taught me to harm no other living creature (unless you plan to eat it) and is genuinely kind to all that he meets.  It isn't be hard to be proud to be a coal miners (grand) daughter when you have a grandfather like him, and especially since he left Harlan alive!  


You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive 

written by Darrell Scott performed by Brad Paisley  

In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone
You will never leave Harlan alive

Oh, my granddad's dad walked down 
Katahrins Mountain
And he asked Tillie Helton to be his bride
Said, won't you walk with me out of the mouth
Of this holler
Or we'll never leave Harlan alive

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life just thinkin' of how to get away

No one ever knew there was coal in them mountains
'Til a man from the Northeast arrived
Waving hundred dollar bills he said I'll pay ya for your minerals
But he never left Harlan alive

Granny sold out cheap and they moved out west 
Of Pineville
To a farm where big Richland River winds
I bet they danced them a jig, laughed and sang a new song
Who said we'd never leave Harlan alive

But the times got hard and tobacco wasn't selling 
And ole granddad knew what he'd do to survive
He went and dug for Harlan coal
And sent the money back to granny
But he never left Harlan alive

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life just thinkin' of how to get away

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life digging coal from the bottom of your grave

In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone
You will never leave Harlan alive

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cold and hungry..

I was walking my french bulldog Escobar this morning, I shivered and thought to myself this is too cold!  I thought about all the kids standing out waiting on their school buses, my friends and old co-workers at the University of Kentucky hospital who have a long walk in the mornings, and anyone else who had to walk their dog.  I gave myself a quick reality check, I really have no idea what it is like to be truly cold.  I have been cold by choice but never from lack of necessity.  Most of us never know what it is like to be truly cold or hungry.

Escobar and I, such a spoiled puppy


 The coldest I have ever been was running the Maysville Tough Mudder in October.  My teeth chattered and I covered my hands in mud to keep them warm.  There were others treated for hypothermia that day but we all made the choice to be there.  When have you been cold that you didn't have access to a blanket, adequate shoes, clothing, or heat?  What about hunger?  When was the last time you were truly hungry?  I don't mean stomach growling hungry, but instead when your stomach aches in pain from days without adequate food.  There are children and families within your own community, state, our wonderful nation, and across the world that go without basic necessities.
 
I was laughing in an attempt to keep from freezing following a dip in the arctic enema at the Tough Mudder

I am as guilty as the next with having more than I need.   I tend to focus on wants instead of true needs. There are shelters in need of lots of things that are laying around our homes.  You can donate your old coats, shoes, and clothing to various local organizations that can distribute to those in need.  They are often also in need of towels and bedding.



Clean out your pantry before things expire.  While I was living in Bogota, Colombia, I got to see first hand what hunger looked like.  People digging through the trash set out at night looking for food that wasn't too spoiled to eat.  The thought of wasting food while others went hungry truly sickened me.  Few people have seen the heartbreak of looking out your window and watching someone plunder through rubbish looking for food.  There is enough food in this world wasted that no one should ever go hungry.

There are so many organization on the local, national, and international level that focus on poverty.  Recently an organization called RESULTS was brought to my attention.  They focus on poverty within the home front and abroad.  Food banks, shelters, and community centers are often a very good local start.

You might not be able to change the world but you could change someone else's life.  I hope todays post inspired a little good and made you rethink about ever complaining about being cold or hungry.

XOXO

Jessica







Tuesday, January 22, 2013

People you admire..





I saw a post on twitter earlier asking who you admired and why.  I occasionally get amused at some of the responses.  The response is often something similar to asking a 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up... There is one person I admire above others.  She never had a drivers license, carried a paddle with her everywhere she went, never traveled out of the country and rarely out of the state, she was known to be stubborn and contrary, but she was one of the wisest, kindest, and loving women I have ever been blessed to know.  Her name was Rose Garland Cole and she was my great grandmother.                                                                                                                                                

She was born on September 26, 1911 to Perry and Ida Townsley Garland.  She had several siblings who were equally talented and amazing, three brothers James, Beckham, and Charles Garland, and one sister Etta Garland Bargo.  If I am correct all of the siblings attended and graduated from college, several of them working in education.  My great grandmother graduated from Union College in 1933.  Amazing, huh?  Most women weren't even dreaming of college in that era.  I would have loved to have known and befriended her back then, I can only imagine what a feisty and spitfire woman she was.  She started work at a very small school in Cole's Branch, Kentucky which is in rural Southeastern Kentucky.  She met and eventually married my great grandfather, Delmar Cole.  They had two handsome sons Earl and Freddie, along with a daughter Ruby Lenore who died shortly after birth.   She continued teaching following the birth of her sons, working their modest farm, and being very active in their local church.

She walked to school most mornings, and impacted countless lives in our small town.  One morning while walking to school she was struck by a drunk driver and thrown into a ditch.  It fractured both of her femurs, did significant damage to her knees, and nearly crippled her.  She never gave up.  Her injuries would have been hard to overcome with modern medicine, and she survived this many years ago.  She eventually required bilateral knee replacements, and the constant use of a brace and walker to get around.  Even after the death of my great grandfather, she lived and managed their farm alone.  I can remember as a small child helping her work in the garden, can tomatoes for the cellar, canning jam, or making her famous peanut butter fudge.  I can also remember having a brush or two with her infamous paddle.  I have been approached by many of her former students who told tales of how they encountered the same paddle many years before me.  

Dewitt School 1950-51
She taught me about life, sewing, hard work, love, and education.  When I had to be home schooled because I was in a wheelchair, she taught me multiplication tables and made me french fries.  We worked on quilting and made my senior Halloween costume, Alice in Wonderland.  She encouraged me to travel and see the world that she never got to see.  She loved me unconditionally and never missed an opportunity to remind me of that.  I am a better person because I knew her.  

The summer after my freshman year of college I was staying with her.  She lived in a small white farmhouse just past the Dewitt bridge. The house had no central heating, so we relied on air conditioners and heaters to manage summer and winter.  The last memory I had of her was telling me goodnight and closing the curtain to her room. My Mamaw Cole was a creature of habit, much like I am now.  She was always up, sitting in her chair at about 6 am, prepared to watch everyone leave for the day.  I got up at about 7am to use to the restroom, I never realized her chair was empty or the erie silence in the house until I sat down.  My heart began to race with panic.  I screamed her name and ran through the house.  My world came to a screeching halt.  I found her eyes wide open, laid halfway off her bed, unable to move or call for help.  She had a massive stroke.  I have always questioned if she tried calling for help and I couldn't hear her for the air conditioning.  I laid sobbing at her bedside until the ambulance arrived to pick her up.  There wasn't anything that could be done other than wait on nature to take its course.  On September 11, 2001 while the nation was mourning an incredible loss, I mourned the most incredible loss of my life.  

Mrs. Rose Garland Cole with one of her many school classes 
I wish that everyone could have someone like her to admire.  She was incredible in every way and the world was a better place because she lived.  She was my great grandmother, but she was also one of my closest friends and biggest supporter.  I have spent too long focusing on how I failed her instead of how I could please her.  I hope she is proud of the woman I am, and she knows that every day I am trying to be better than the day before.  Her life is a testament to never giving up and overcoming whatever obstacles may be thrown her way.  She stood out in a crowd and was well ahead of her time. She is my inspiration, and I still miss and think of her daily over 10 years later.  

Who do you admire and why?  We should choose those people carefully.  Don't raise your children to admire star athletes or movie stars.  Teach them the meaning of a real hero, or better yet show them with your own actions and deeds. 

XOXO
~Jessica 

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Testament of Hope

I am sure Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrating today, we have made incredible steps toward equality since his murder.  Every U.S. citizen should be celebrating our freedom today.  He gave his life so that others could have equal rights and freedoms, he was a martyr for his cause.  I think U.S. citizens regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, etc. often fail to recognize how lucky we are compared to citizens of many other countries.  We have freedoms that many people still only dream about.  When Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech, do you think he fathomed we would get this far?




There is a quote, "I am better than I was yesterday but not as good as I will be tomorrow."

The United States has made steady improvements toward equality but there is still work to be done.  There is a large sector of the U.S. that is socioeconomically disadvantaged regardless of race or ethnicity.  Poverty is heartbreaking.  We should all do our part to help others.  You may not have money to donate but why can't you donate your time?  There are countless ways to help.  If you want a few ideas, volunteer with your local Habitat for Humanity, drop off items you are no longer using to a local charity, volunteer at a food bank, or organize a dinner at your local Ronald McDonald House.  These are just a few ideas of how you could help make a difference in the life of someone else, while setting an example for others to follow.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our nation is a much better place thanks to his courage and innovation.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.


“Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr.

XOXO
~Jessica

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It's never too late...


I think I have spent most of my life focusing on how things were suppose to go instead of letting them progress as they should.  I have actually spent the last few years of my life focusing on what I "should" have done instead of realizing how far I have came.  Every decision I have ever made has led me to where I am now and I have been given some incredible opportunities recently.  I am wholeheartedly excited to be joining the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life team and working on vaccination advocacy.  My journey has just begun with them, and I have already met some incredible and inspirational women.  I am counting the days til I get to join in them in Washington, D.C.  I wouldn't have this opportunity if it wasn't for my friends from Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club who encouraged me to apply and the women at the General Federation of Women's Clubs in D.C. for choosing me.  There are days that I look at some of the bio's of other women, and I am so grateful for being chosen.  I think this journey could open some new doors for me and I hope I can inspire others to follow their dreams.  We may not see it in the moment, but the timing is always perfect.

One important thing we all should remember is dream big!  We should surround ourselves with other individuals who dream big, people that drive and inspire us.  A few years ago I walked into a the Beaumont Centre Clubhouse to my first meeting with the Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club and it changed my life.  I had always loved community service and helping others, but these women inspired me.  I am so grateful for the women I meet through the organization and I am so proud to be part of such a wonderful group.  My sponsor was Beth Cramer, and even after she moved away I still keep in touch.  I gained a best friend who I adore more like a sister, Brittney Wells and her lovely momma too! I wouldn't have made it through the months following my brothers death if it wasn't for Brittney, Lauren, and Renae.  I could never truly express the gratitude and love I have for the women of the club.  If you read my blog and live in the Lexington, Kentucky area, come join us for a meeting!  Santa's Shoppers, Habitat for Humanity, the Ronald McDonald House of Lexington, the Children's Advocacy Center, and Bluegrass Domestic Violence are just a few of the many organizations that have benefited from the hard work of those involved in the club.  If you don't live in Lexington, check out the General Federation of Women's Clubs website and find a club in your area!  Change begins with you!

Hope everyone had a blessed and peaceful Sunday!

XOXO

~Jess

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What should you be afraid of?


This quote stood out to me because I have problems with fear.  I can be overwhelmingly fearful of the silliest things.  You should fear things are are actually physically dangerous, but why be afraid of the future or how we feel?  I have a fear of trusting people, and it chronically sabotages my relationships with others.  I also have a fear of failure.  I am often afraid of trying new things because I fear of failing at them.  We can choose to not let fear hold us back.



Friday, January 18, 2013

What's in a name?

It was no secret that I was named after my fathers favorite newswoman, Jessica Savitch.  She died a very tragic death, drowning in a car accident, but not before it was stipulated that she had a drug problem.. nice huh?  I decided that when I named my own children, it would be meaningful.

My previous post was about the months leading up to my pregnancy and this post is about how we chose a name.  My sister knew she was pregnant at the time of our brother Brandon's death.  She had already disclosed that she would like to name her child after Brandon if she had a boy.  My nephew Branton Dylan Stanley Brown was born November 26, 2009.  My husbands name is Arturo Alberto Urgelles, his fathers name is Arturo Patricio Urgelles, and his fathers fathers name was Arturo Aurelio Urgelles.  Now most people would follow the pattern but if you know me, when do I ever follow a crowd?  ;)  Although it did not come without controversy, thankfully my husbands grandmother felt the tradition needed to end too!  Arturo and I could not agree on a single name.  I wanted traditional and classic, not trendy!  I researched the meaning of many names but nothing seemed appropriate.

We were faced with our first Christmas without my brother.  It was devastating for our family.  If you are Christian or know biblical stories, Mary was visited by an Angel named Gabriel who foretold of Jesus' birth.  He uttered the words, "Be not afraid."  Mary had to trust Gabriel, that God had a plan for her and her child.  My child, was God's promise and gift to me, that I would be okay.  We realized instantly that our son should be named Gabriel which means strong man of God.  He was God's messenger.  Our son, Gabriel Christian Urgelles was born January 26, 2010.  He is my angel and a reminder that there is good in this world.
This is Arturo's tattoo of the angel Gabriel visiting Mary.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tears of joy



So if your reading this blog to get to know me, then you have to get to know my son Gabriel. He is the purest light in a world full of darkness. He saved me from a deep despair and he was Gods promise I would be okay. I was already having a rough spring in the May of 2009. I took a job at the University of Kentucky in January. It was demanding but I had great co-workers and I learned a great deal about diagnostic laboratory medicine. My husband who had returned from a tour in Iraq several months before was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP). I'll save that story for another post too. He underwent medical treatment but it failed. His physician suggested a course of a chemotherapy drug called Rituxan. We were counseled that not only could Rituxan make you sterile, it was teratogenic. If Arturo and I wanted to get pregnant, it had to happen immediately. We had one month to try before his treatments began. The week following his first treatment my brother was murdered. Two days later I took a pregnancy test that was negative and I had double devastation. In one week my brother was murdered and there was a significant chance that my husband and I would never have children. It was rough the weeks following. I sat watching them fill Arturo with poison, I grieved over my brother, and I wasn't having a baby... Or so I thought! I didn't want to drag myself out of bed, I was always sick and exhausted. I assumed the overwhelming stress of everything was getting the best of me. I reluctantly made an appointment to see my physician. I knew the first thing they would ask was if I could be pregnant. I decided to prevent any embarrassment I would take another pregnancy test as a precaution....I cried the first tears of joy in weeks. It was a miracle.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beginning today...


I hope everyone will read that message and really think about it.  If you have ever lost a loved one suddenly, you will can better understand it.  My brother and I were in different states when he passed away.  I sometimes wonder how other people treated him the last weeks, days, hours, and minutes before he died.  Sadly I know he died alone, lying in a pool of his own blood, after begging for help.  Every person that we cross paths with, we have no clue when their life will end.  What if you were the last smile or the last frown someone ever saw?  How would you want your loved ones treated?  We all have bad days but need to recognize how we influence others.  I don't always feel like smiling but I would rather be the last happy face someone saw than the grimmest.  Has anyone ever randomly done anything for you that changed your day?  What if you could do that for someone else?  How different would this world be?  If we all set out in the morning to make a positive difference in someone else's life, no matter how small.  I could be grim and pessimistic, but I refuse to let the act of one evil person negatively change the outcome of my life.  If I let him make me scared or angry, he wins.  My brothers life and his death would be in vain.  Instead I try to live positively, helping others with an open and kind heart.  I ask each of you to do something simple today to help someone else.  Don't do it for me, do it for my brother and his memory, and others that have been lost to evil and violence.  Smile my dear friends, today is going to be a great day!

XOXO
Jessica

Monday, January 14, 2013

Starting over...


The past few years for me have been plagued by distrust and heartache.  On December 15, 1981 I became the loving older sister to a blue eyed brother that would be my playmate, friend, and adoring younger brother.  We were "irish twins" just barely 14 months apart in age.  We didn't always get along and rarely agreed on much, but we loved and defended each other.  On May 25, 2009 my world stopped for a second.  There was a crack in the universe that could never be mended.  I lost my brother to a cruel villain.  He was murdered by my stepfather following a domestic violence altercation with my mother.  I never knew what true pain was until that moment.  People always ask why I run so much... I have the simplest answer.  When you have felt real emotional pain, physical pain becomes nothing.  There isn't a day that goes by I don't miss his voice or his laughter.  The middle of the night phone calls as a prank.  The fighting and the hugs.. I can tell you where I was sitting and who I was talking to the very last time I heard his voice.  I dedicate my life to him, Brandon Michael Peace.  The life that was cut short and taken from us by real evil.
For every night there is a morning.. and from the darkness you can see new light.  
It took me a while to see any good in the world after Brandon's death.  I saw anger, hate, and rage for many months.  I was mad at God and mad at the World.   I eventually realized I had friends that would never fail me.  I saw kindness from complete strangers.  I received an outpouring of support and love.  His tragic death made me really want to live my life and appreciate it.  Brandon's death taught me to never take a second for granted, lives are lost in the blink of an eye.  I wanted to turn tragedy into triumph, so I have devoted myself to charity and helping others.  Brandon lives on through the people that loved him.  I like to think he is always watching over me, helping guide my path.  I cherish every moment I spent with him and I am grateful I got to be his big sister.  

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
BRANDON MICHAEL PEACE
DECEMBER 15, 1981-MAY 25, 2009
GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN 

The road less traveled..



Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.
1. The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;       
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,       
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.       
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
        


I think if you were to sum up my life, I think that The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost would describe me best. It seems that following everyone else has only led me to trouble. I have occasionally made the wrong turn, but it all led me to where I am now. I am happy with this life. After all we are only given one life and we have to make the best of it. In my situation, I live my life for 2 people (well really 3 if you count my son). My beloved brother Brandon Michael Peace was taken from us too soon (but that is for another post). I try to live every day like it could be my last. I love to travel and see the world. I find beauty in small things and I love helping others. I may not die famous but I want my family to be proud of the life I lived no matter how long or short it may be. I think people fail to realize how the small things can add up to be big things. We should take chances, smile more, laugh often, and enjoy the beauty in nature. You should never miss an opportunity to tell someone how you feel about them because you might not get that opportunity again. I am working on being more optimistic and less afraid. Remember only you can choose your road and eventually you will walk it alone.... 

 ~Jess