Saturday, May 29, 2010

Words from Mother Theresa

"Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor...Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting."

Friday, May 7, 2010

An Evening with Regina Brett

A few months ago, our local paper, The Plain Dealer, featured excerpts from a book written by one of its columnists (one of my personal favorites) - Regina Brett. Based on those excerpts, I ordered the book from the library. I am not a big buyer of books. I read them once and I return them. That works for me.

So I got my email from the library that the book had arrived, and I went to get it. Even though I was in the middle of some great trashy magazines (hey, I write technical stuff all day; I'm entitled), I started on this book immediately.

Then my friend Sharon invited me to The Gathering Place to hear Regina speak. What a perfect setting. The Gathering Place in Cleveland is a place for those who have been touched by cancer. In its own words, "the mission of The Gathering Place is to support, educate and empower individuals and families touched by cancer through programs and services provided free of charge. We are proud to recognize our decade of celebrating life."

Sharon recently went for a tour and tried Reiki and plans to go back to try other programs.

We went together last night to hear Regina speak. And what a wonderful evening it was. Regina is a breast cancer survivor, so it was fitting that she would speak at this support center.

A woman in her 50s who looks like she's about 16, Regina has packed a lot into her life. And she chronicles everything in "God Never Blinks - 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours." The fact that she refers to the events in her life as "little detours" kind of says it all.

Regina describes herself as "one of those broken souls." Raised in a Catholic home with 10 other siblings, she became an unwed mother at age 21 and raised her daughter on her own. She found the love of her life and married him at age 40. At 41, she became ill with breast cancer.

This book describes her journey.

She is a survivor. She could have easily felt sorry for herself, but she didn't. She continued to move forward through every challenge. She talks about the "chemo shower" her friends gave her, giving her hats, scarves and earrings. Every event that could have been a cause for a pity party became a celebration of sorts.

One of my favorite stories in her book was when she decided to create a gift for her husband's 40th birthday by asking 40 of his friends to write a letter to him. "Most of them ended up saying what is most difficult to say in person, what is often never said in person." She presented the collection to him on his birthday. And he said "most people don't ever get to know how people feel about them. This is the kind of stuff they say at your funeral."

Everything about this book and about Regina is a celebration; learning difficult life lessons; understanding that there will always be ups and downs; and knowing things will always get better.

I bought the book for Sharon. And I recommend it to present as a gift to anyone who is going through rough times.