Holy crap balls, we are going down…

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Our last day in London and this could have been our last picture on this earth…

My sister Shelly is laughing, you know that nervous laugh, I am saying the Lord’s Prayer out loud and Jessica is screaming hysterically. This was the second flight of nine flights we would take in the next 14 days.

The skies are dark, very dark almost evil and the wind is howling like a nightmare in your dreams. The plane is shaking from side to side as we are taking off. The creeks of metal clashing together, the twin little girls are talking to their Mom in the seats in front of us and all I kept thinking, should we be taking off in this weather? We finally get airborne for this 30-minute flight from London to Paris and it was the most frightening event of my life. I have flown in rough weather but nothing like this. The plane was literally bouncing through the air and when I mean bounce, I am talking about up and down, side to side with dramatic plunges. The plane was silent for the first 10 minutes and then you start to see people look around, hold hands and whispers of “oh man, this is it”!

Frightened and starting to panic we are going to crash and drown in the English Channel, I do the only thing that flashes through my mind. If I pray hard enough it will all go away. Shelly is in the seat in front of me and she turns and looks at me through the crack in the seat. It is going to be okay Laurie, relax. My reply is “holy crap balls, we are going down”! She starts to laugh her little laugh that she does when she gets nervous and all I can see is the iconic airplane scene in “Almost Famous”! Seriously, that is what I envisioned…  Jessica is now in full hysterics and I am praying out loud at this point. The whole plane is silent at moments and then when we plunge, the screaming begins again.

After 20 minutes, the Captain comes on and is trying to reassure everyone that we will be fine and to just hold on and brace yourselves. In my mind, that definitely means, get ready to crash. They have said your life flashes before your eyes in moments where you know life is dangerously close to being lost. It really does happen that way and finally I was at peace with it all and I turned to Jessica and said, “I love you”.

This was our whirlwind trip to celebrate her graduation from College and also a trip of a lifetime. We were jet setters traveling Europe, a trip for her to really apply the different cultures for her new career in Interior Design. Something she had dreamed of. Something to hold dear for the rest of her life. Memories and tangible ideas for her new life as an adult. She looked at me and said, “Is this really happening Mom”?   You really do reach a point where it is all out of your control and you just start to relax and go with it. I do admit, I have a flair for the dramatic and I rock it but when that plane landed my whole body was in a nervous shake, the adrenaline I guess, my head bowed forward on the seat in front of me and all I kept saying is how are we going to get home because I will NEVER get on another airplane, EVER.

Needless to say we did get on the airplane but with a little help called Xanex. Let the drooling begin…

By the way, the next day we were watching the news and found out we had flown thru a hurricane. Something that is very rare and never happens in Europe. I guess now, they will be a little more cautious taking off in weather they do not understand. We all looked at each other in amazement that we actually survived but what a story we have to tell…

28th Random Act

28th act ronaldRonald DeBernard was diagnosed with PNET brain cancer Easter Sunday of 2013.   PNET stands for a Primitive neuroectodermal tumor. It is a very rare tumor that is typically found in children and young adults under the age of 25. Ronald was 25 years old when he was diagnosed, and 26 when he passed away on the 5th of June.

Right from the start, the cancer was very aggressive and hard on Ronald, as well as his family. Doctors didn’t really have an idea on how to treat it because it has rarely been seen in someone at Ronalds age. Treating the brain at his age was completely different than treating a 5 year old child with the same cancer.

Originally, the doctors told Ronald and his family that he would only have 2-3 months to live, due to how aggressive the cancer was and how little they could treat it. This didn’t prevent Ronald or his family from doing anything and everything to fix it. He was always up for a cure. He was willing to fight for his life. Those short 3 months turned into 14 months of a strong fight.

It was December when the tumor started developing more in Ronalds brain. With a 3rd of his brain already removed, the doctors couldn’t operate again. He started to grow very weak. In the morning he would struggle to get out of the bed. He also had a lot of trouble walking around. Slowly, his body started shutting down. He couldn’t talk well at all, and was tired all the time.

As things started to get harder and harder for Ronald, days became shorter and shorter for him. All he wanted to do was rest his eyes because he was too tired to do anything. Its at times like these that true family and friends are recognized. Siblings, cousins, niece’s and nephews all stepped up to help out with things. His family was there for him every step of the way, even when they needed others to be there for them. They stayed strong even though they were hurting on the inside as well.

My best friend and roommate Priscilla, is Ronald’s niece. Her mom is Ronald’s sister. Her grandmother is his mother. So many people who were so close to him were in a lot of pain, and thats when the community stepped up and wanted to help.

Its the little things that people did that really stood out to Ronald’s family. His friends would come and sit at his bedside while he slept, and would speak of all the memories they shared. There was laughing, there was crying, and along the way, friendships were made that were very unexpected. People traveled all the way from California and even Costa Rica to see Ronald in his last few days.

Nobody wanted to grieve his sickness and instead they celebrated the wonderful life that he had. He brightened so many people’s days, and made a mark on this world that we live in. You could say he was quite the intellectual human being.

I sit here smiling writing about this because I know how important Ronald was to his family, his friends, and frankly, everyone around him. Even though I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing him as well as everyone else, I feel that his story should not go unnoticed.

After Ronald passed, the surrounding community sent flowers, dinners, cards, and just stopped by to keep Ronalds family some company.

Ronald’s sister, after everything happened, shared a pretty meaningful quote with her daughter, and my best friend, Priscilla.

She said, “True friends are recognized in some of the darkest moments, in prison, and in a hospital”

So many people were there for them when they needed it the most, and that never went unnoticed.

Priscilla was talking to me the other day and she said, “Its really a shock that something so beautiful, like the friendships I have made, have come from something so terrible. “

Ronald was able to bring so many people together through such a dark time for him, and that, in my opinion, is one heck of a random act of kindness.

 

Say nice things… People notice…

18th Random Act of Kindness

A whole lot of stuff…

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A Mama, Daddy, newborn, kids, Grandma and Grandpa with a whole lot of stuff.

We go to the same place everyday at the beach in Rehoboth, DE and we always sit where no one can swim. It is designated for fisherman only. It is smack dab to the entrance of the beach at the very end of the boardwalk on the North side.

We see the same thing everyday. People come and set up not realizing the kids cannot play in the water. The reason they do this is because of a rock wall you can’t see when the tide is high. A place that someone can get hurt if they do not know this. So everyday we go and tell them, “You might want to move”.

We wanted to tell them this before they set the tent, chairs, blankets, toys and just everything else that goes into a beach day with the kids. Boy, I remember those days chasing my little angels around, making sand castles and playing in the water.

Jessica walks over to tell them and she says that the Grandma and Grandpa are coming and that is why they chose this spot so close to the entrance. They were older and walking fifty feet would be hard enough.

We sat there for a little bit an watched as they looked at each other trying to decide what they should do. I could see them start to pack up as I saw the Grandparents start to come down the hill. “Come on kids” I said, “lets help”.

I know how hard it is to just get to the beach with a chair and towel with grown children that can carry their own stuff but imagine a huge tent and everything else.

We helped move them to a different spot and they helped with getting the Grandparents safely to the spot they chose.

A day of fun in the sun ends happily…

BAT CAVE to the Service… Exceptional.

From beginning to end, the best trip ever…

Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas is just one of the most beautiful and jaw-dropping places I have ever travelled to. We arrived in Cabo a little tired because I wanted to use my points on Virgin America to fly. Hey, it is free. If I can fly free or stay for free I’m going to do it or so I thought. We set out from Washington DC, flew to San Francisco and then hopped a jet to Cabo. All in all, a 10-hour trip, longer than a flight to Europe. Maybe next time I will pay to get there a little faster. Washington, DC to Houston to Cabo, 4 hours big difference and you don’t have to fly clear across the Country to get there.

We arrived at SJD Cabos Mexico International Airport late afternoon, went to our rental car company and set off for Capella Pedregal. I have to say, it was my first time going to Mexico and I was a little nervous being American in a foreign Country especially with all of the warnings traveling there. We drove through a very poor part of town and as David was driving I was looking and wondering what the hell are we doing?  It was really depressed, children running in the streets and very different from our world. That was my first impression, which was just ignorant. I am a certifiable idiot on so many levels.

We finally after a 45-minute drive down the coast arrive at Capella and you have to go through a huge gate that leads to a mountain and yes, the entrance is a bat cave. I felt like “batgirl”!  You know when you drive through a mountain to get to your hotel you are in for a treat. I just did not know how much of a treat.

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The “Batcave”

I can see the light and hear the rumblings of our tires as my thoughts are saying I am hungry, tired and just want to rest at this point. It is so bright and all I can see is this circular drive way with a man standing in his cute “Mexican mariachi outfit” holding a tray with some drinks on it. He opens the car door and says, “Hola, Mr. and Mrs. Calkins and immediately I think, how does this man know who we are? What the heck, I felt famous or just very important for a moment. But then I remembered, they asked us for our name when we arrived at the dramatic gate entrance.

He offered us a margarita as we started to walk down this outdoor veranda to the check in desk.

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We walked up this beautiful stately entrance to a beyond believable scene of magnificent beauty, I thought I was in a post card. A sweet girl came us to us with a warm welcome and said she was our “personal concierge” for our stay. We walked and talked for about 20 minutes, by the end, she had our dinner reservations, spa treatments and activities planned for our stay.

Whoa, we are famous… This is the type of treatment for movies stars, really famous people, not us. All I can say is they make every single person who walks or drives through these gates feel very important. In fact, I did not want to leave.

She then walked us to our room up small hills and stairs that lead to our own suite, terrace and pool. Yes, I said pool overlooking the vast beautiful ocean that will just captivate you the moment you let your eyes settle. Quite honestly, you cannot move you are so stunned at the beauty of this place.

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Just to be able to experience this level of service, beauty beyond belief and just rest and relax after such a long day of travel was heaven, just heaven. Now, sleep.

WE woke up refreshed and ready to go. Run, Breakfast and then the pool. I thought on our second day they would forget about us. They had shown us the royal treatment the day before, they had done their job. We were happy. Before we left for our run, ring ring. It was our girl, the one who greeted us. She wanted to know how our sleep was and if she could do anything, anything at all to make our stay better. This was the first of many daily calls she would make, just to make sure we did not need a thing.

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One thing I will warn all of you is, you absolutely cannot swim in this ocean or walk near it. It is a pool only kind of place. I have never in my life seen the power of waves as I did here. It has something to do with the current on that side of the land. Of course, I asked and they told us that the undertow is so bad that the beach is always shut down for swimming. In fact, a man drives around on a four-wheeler to make sure you do not even get near the water. Now, that is danger but of course I don’t listen. I want to run near the water. My husband is screaming at me to stay away, next thing I know the water took me down. The guy is driving up on the four-wheeler fast and I feel and look like a fool, just because I never listen. Uh, I would say listen. Do not be rebellious like me you literally may die.

I guess these kids did not get the memo but I sat behind them for an hour while telling them, do not even think about it. I made them promise me they would not go in. I think they thought I was a stalker. But I was so worried that I could not help myself. A Mother is always a Mother even if they are not your children.

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The start to our afternoon with sinful guacamole and this wonderful banana oh so delicious beverage. It was so delicious I had two. I am not really a drinker, so the whole time I was afraid to get up for fear I might fall on someone, in the pool or just make a fool out of myself. I was a little lit to say the least. But we sure did have a wonderful, relaxing day.

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The restaurants at this resort our so good you really do not have to leave. Our final night came and we had reserved a table at El Farall an elegant outdoor restaurant tucked at the edge of a cliff. They have a fresh catch menu, every type of steak cut you can imagine and al a Carte sides. You pick your own cut of meat, fish or other delectable’s at the outdoor kitchen where everything is cooked to order. While you are eating dinner, the waves crash along the stone sea wall and yes, you may get some sprinkles, which was fine by me. I could have sat at that table all night staring at the velvety black sky with the shimmering of a million stars overhead. It was the end of a beautiful, magnificent vacation of a lifetime.

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I do have to say, I did get sick of everyone tending to my every wish.  You do not think you would but you do. I loved this place so much my husband and I are giving this as a honeymoon gift to our daughter Jessica who will be getting married in September of 2015. The perfect honeymoon spot. You can not go wrong.

And, as far as my smart a lek comment in the beginning about this being a depressed environment, these are the sweetest most genuine people I have ever met. Walking through these towns and just being part of this world was a great experience and one I will never forget.

Pedregal Capella

16th Random Act of Kindness

Act like a duck

My homage to ducks…

I thought this was the sweetest thing as I walked through a park and noticed they had actually constructed a ramp for ducks to easily get into the water fountain. In everyday life we can find the beauty in bridges, ramps and just simply your hand. I have certainly used the analogy of a duck many, many times and I have been told, “Laurie, when you walk, you waddle “like a duck”! I do have a certain style and if it is a duck walk, then I love it because it is me…

You know you love ducks.  How many times have you said this?

“If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck”

“With a rubber duck, one’s never alone”

“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”

“A few feathers short of a whole duck”

And my personal favorite!

“Let it roll off, like a duck”