Thursday, June 30, 2005

NUMBER 2: KELLI ASHLOCK


Olivia and Kelli
Inspired by Grace Photography
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you just the same.”
Elbert Hubbard


My friend, Kelli Ashlock, did not become my closet companion over night. Honestly at first we did not even like each other. But as circumstances changed, our personalities complimented one another, and soon our lives were sharing a relationship beyond friends and perhaps more like sisterhood.
Both of our lives have directed our hearts towards truth, value, and compassion. Our pasts quietly remind us of where we have come from, but also how far we have traveled. She is one of the smartest people I know. She is real in her happiness and struggles. We can have a serious conversation, have completely different beliefs, “argue” about it, respect each other, and then go out for coffee. Now that’s a true friend!
During my pregnancy with Natalie Grace, Kelli too became pregnant with her first daughter, Maddison Marie. An event like Natalie’s death not only destroyed the hopes and dreams of my family, but also put sadness into our friendship. We both acknowledged this hardship and told each other we were going to get through it. After Natalie’s death and during my hospitalization, even if it were awkward and extremely painful, Kelli would call and visit. Again I use Peck’s quote as he states “Often the most loving thing we can do when a friend is in pain is to share the pain- to be there even when we have nothing to offer except our presence and even when being there is painful to ourselves.”
I never comprehended Kelli’s concern for me while she concluded her pregnancy and delivered Maddison in San Antonio. I was beyond depressed and Kelli stood by me. About a year ago, she and her family moved back to Abilene. The conditions of our lives were different. We too had changed, but held on to our friendship even though it was hard to know what to say or sometimes even feel around one another. The fact she did not give up on me as a friend sometimes astounds me. I am thankful she and her family are a part of my life.
Recently our friendship has been given opportunities to grow and deepen. Somewhere between skipping class to talk about life, and me being single again, God created something we both never saw coming: a sisterhood. We are family to each other when our families feel so distant. She is an inspiration to me. She challenges my thinking. She doesn’t even realize who she is, but her talents far out way many many people. She is a great mom. Her daughter, Maddie, is a sweet angel who is being taught of love from someone who desires to show it with every ounce of her being.
My life is blessed and enriched by knowing Kelli. If I could give her a “gold medal” I would. She deserves it. Not for being perfect, or being the best, but for being a friend that is a sister.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

NUMBER 3: PEGGY MARTIN

“There are times in ones life when to get where he or she has to go- if there are no doors or windows- they walk through a wall.”
Bernard Malamud


In attempt to stay consistent with my effort of continuation I will keep this entry short and to the point. I ended up going to see War of the Worlds today with some friends and I have just returned back and realized I have not yet posted my number three. Not that in its entirety it matters if I post on this consecutive day, I just rather write and keep my “Ten List” consistent.

I must place my psychologist, mentor, and teacher, Peggy Martin, at number three. She has known and counseled me for almost three years and has patiently taught and pushed me to grow. If it were not for her ability to educate and tell me when I need to change I would not be where I am today. I have been very weary of “counselors” in my life. I do not like to feel as though my existence can be processed and handled by a textbook strategy. Meeting with psychologists before Peggy made me feel defined by my past. Walking into the first meeting with Peggy put me at ease almost instantly. She knows how to “feel” what matters, and allows you to “lead.” Her job is a calling and her passion has guided me to a place of peace where I can find healing. I thank her for the time and effort she gives to help others. Through her love I know in my heart I am alive by the power of prayer and I can dream impossible dreams. I am going to thrive and if I feel trapped there is always a wall out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

NUMBER 4: CHURCH AND LIFETEAM

“Often the most loving things we can do when a friend is in pain is to share the pain- to be there even when we have nothing to offer except our presence and even when being there is painful to ourselves.”
M. Scott Peck


Right before I was put on bed rest during my pregnancy with Natalie Grace, I joined and became a member of Highland Church of Christ. One visit to the Families Built on the Rock bible class was all it took for me to feel welcomed, cared about, and loved. Then I started going to Lifeteam and felt the power of fellowship even stronger. I never placed membership as an adult, and now Highland has become a community and a family to me when I need it the most.
Because of Highland I am blessed to know Mike Cope, the preacher, and learn from his knowledge and struggles. Lifeteam members like, the Werthiem’s, Folwells, Heil’s, Kilmer’s, and Lott’s came numerous times to visit me in the hospital. They continue to enrich my life with support, prayers, and friendships. It is very difficult for me to ask for help. Though you may not believe me, inside I sometimes feel shy and insecure. My Lifeteam has broken this shell with unconditional support. I know I can count on them and I hope they know if it is possible, I will do whatever it takes to show the same support to them.
Families Built on the Rock bible class was a consistent help as well. Some of the most beautiful people I know belong to this group and embrace me like they have known me for years. Lee and Stephanie Fletcher, Bob Nutt, the Kilmer’s, Karin Kuykendall, the Bank’s, the Carter’s, and many more people have affected my life in immense ways. I do not think they even comprehend the joy they have given me. This is another reason why I recognize these people. I desire to express my love and thankfulness to them.
I believe number four represents the quote of Peck. All these people, day after day, sat with me, prayed, and witnessed my recovery. Unfortunately they are reminders of my past pain, but also can represent hope as witnesses that God has a purpose for me.
Night after night, and day after day, I contemplated my experiences of loosing Natalie Grace, being hospitalized, and having to take Chemotherapy. But, what I can’t comprehend is how everyone else felt and reacted. It must have been horrible to watch someone go through what I did and feel completely helpless. Not only was I forced to grow, but also others around me were affected. I pray no one will ever go through anything like I did, but if someone does, I hope I can pierce the darkness with truth and let him or her know that there is hope even when you don’t feel it. This is what my church and Lifeteam taught me.

Monday, June 27, 2005

NUMBER 5: MOM (ANYA)

Mom (Anya) and Olivia in MA


“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.”
Charles Dickens


I hold great esteem for people who have come through storms and tornadoes, and live and keep going even when it is too hard to take one step. One of these people is my mother. She has shown me great strength and will to press on despite unimaginable circumstances.
If you ever met my mom, I guarantee you would never forget her! She is beautiful, funny, and real. When she does something, it involves all of her: heart, mind, and soul. But, by far, the best thing about her is she is Hungarian! She is a fierce, deep, passionate, expressive, exotic person.
She flew into Abilene when I was hospitalized and did everything possible she could to comfort me. Sometimes the distance seems so far when we talk on the phone. I have written before of my emotions of having to say “good-bye.” But just the simple sound of her voice gives me hope. Knowing she has been through so much and keeps going, gives me strength to keep going. Her beauty lies not only on the outside, but also within a person who can admit hardship.

I say this in thought, and to you mom: your life and smile lightens my burden, and for this you will never be inadequate.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

NUMBER SIX: DR. COX, DR. ROBINSON, and DR. MELNYK


Dr. Robinson and Olivia at the Inspired by Grace Reception in Januray 2005.
Dr. Cox and his wife also supported IBG with a purchase of one of my favorite framed photos!


Olivia in the hospital having a well deserved root beer float, bought and promised by Dr. Robinson after surgery.
“I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter; to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” Leo Rosten

There are three doctors in my life that I will look up to and admire everyday that I live for the rest of my life. Dr. Conald Cox, Dr. Noel Keith Robinson, and Dr. Anton Melnyk are a team of doctors who have witnessed my illness at its most destructive moments and placed personal interest in my recovery and ongoing prognosis.
Two days ago I finally obtained enough courage to revisit the hospital ward, “Parker Three,” in which the majority of my stay happened. I had no idea what emotional response I would have. Upon walking up to the nurses station I flashed back to those long days where even consciousness seemed like a dream. I remember the needles, the ports, the chest tube, examinations, being sick, not being able to walk, and the list go on and on. I looked around and saw a familiar face. It was one of my nurses, Priscilla Wyatt. We both looked at one another and ran to give each other a hug. She smiled, I cried, and soon we talked about how so long ago seems just like yesterday. The moments she shared with me last year were devastating and affected both of our lives. Her hand held mine through the most piercing of pain. It was no doubt God who led me there this day to see and be encouraged by Priscilla. I hugged her good bye, looked down the hall, and walked where I once struggled to take one step.
My doctors have patiently stood by me as this disease takes time and caution to support. It has been a long road for all of us, but I believe my situation is an inspiration. God does miracles. Everyone in my hospital room witnessed this when the day my permanent dialysis port was to be put in my kidneys began to work. I believe Cox, Robinson, and Melnyk are instruments of God. They may not believe this, but there is no convincing me otherwise. You don’t have to notice God is using you when for Him to do so. Sometimes people don’t recognize what kind of impact they have on others lives. I am not sure if these men do, but their commitment to helping others through medicine states something powerful in itself. Not only are they good doctors, but kind people. Every time I have an appointment with either of these doctors I make it a point to remind them how thankful I am for them and their abilities. Dr. Robinson and Dr. Cox supported my photography reception back in January. Not only do they believe in my strength to live, but also in my ability to express my heart through art.I have told each of them, and wish to find a way to make this happen, that I will bring them on “Oprah” one day and thank them in front of the nation for who they are and what they did for me. They have unquestionably “stood for something,” as Rosten quotes, amazing in my life: to me, they are angels in disguise.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

NUMBER SEVEN: ACU FRIENDS


(left to right, top to bottom)
Olivia, Tracy, Lynn, Cari, Julie, and Summer
“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Initiating this entry with such a profound quote articulates almost a good enough introduction in itself. My thoughts express admiration of friends that have stayed by my side through many years. In fact my first blog ever had to do with my “number seven.” My friends, Tracy Major, Summer West, Cari Dugan, Julie Bastuk, and Lynn McClellan have shared with me a companionship that is exclusive and rare.
We all met our freshmen year in 1998 at Abilene Christian University, and nearly seven years later, we still laugh, cry, and whenever possible get together. Each of our paths has directed our lives different places, countries, and cities, but no matter how long passes by between phone calls or e-mails, our hearts are still close.
Recently Julie got married and we all were there together cheering her on! We all changed so much, but inside each of us we were really the same. Not only have these women shown me friendship and love, but also they demonstrate an honest concern for me. I feel as Emerson states, “someone else believes in (me).”
Tracy has always been there to call and talk to. She flew in after Natalie passed away to just spend time with me. She is calm and pensive. And there is a side to her that maybe only those close to her know: She’s hilarious and can become very outgoing and humorous given the right sugar foods and people.
Summer and I went through many classes together at ACU. We have been partners, study-buddies, but most of all friends. I remember many times of us talking and praying. She was there for me to cry with when my heart was broken, and still today she exemplifies virtue and radiance.
If you need something done ask Cari. She is gorgeous, fast, and extremely smart. I admire her ability to love beyond any situation and honestly believe she will do amazing things for the Lord. Cari involves herself in the people she loves and everyone around her loves her for it.
Julie, my newly wed friend, is considerate, compassionate, sympathetic, and real. Her journey in life with missions work has deepened her ability to love. Our conversations always leave me feeling understood and accepted. It strengthens my heart to know she is happy. If I am allowed to express what I think people deserve, one is Julie being happy and blessed.
Lynn, aka Lynn-i-age, has shown me love and friendship that only someone like she could do. Starting with helping me when I was sick in college, until today, her smile and infectious laugh give great joy to my life. There are countless memories I have with Lynn, driving, at her apartment, and going with her at Thanksgiving. If there is something you want a friend to be happy with you about, call Lynn. If there is something you want a friend to cry with you about, call Lynn. She is there for you, always.

These friends warrant appreciation, just as all real friends do. We all have different circumstances, but one is blessed when there are people like these in your life. It is important, however, to remember that friendship works both ways; to have friends, you first need to be one.

*Before I continue in recognition, I must clear up my own miscommunication. These ten positions are in no way ranks or hierarchy. I have chosen ten people to show how they have been examples to me. Maybe a better way to express these blogs would be "ten people that have made a difference in my life." A little longer to say, but perhaps a little more understandable.

Friday, June 24, 2005

NUMBER 8: GRACEY THE CHAWENNIE DOG

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”
Bern Williams




"Olivia and Gracey at Stanley Park, MA"



“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
Samuel Butler




"Gracey in MA with a "helicoptor" seed on her nose!"


“A Dog wags his tail with his heart.”
Martin Buxbaum




Number eight is not an escape or a falsehood; it is an honest step in this ranking and composing of admirable feelings and authenticity towards those in my life that have given me unconditional love. Gracey, my dog falls in comfortably at this place. Although, I preferred at moments to raise her position, this seems adequate and appropriate in the grand scheme of this “count down.”
I got Gracey after a Chemo treatment in October 2004. You can easily scroll back to blogs and read how much joy and laughter she has given me over the months, but something that may not have been assumed, is how much she, and sometimes only she, has been my reason to keep going.
For any human, the pressure of such truth can be overwhelming and unrealistic, but for her it is perfect and intended. This little ball of fur needs me. Besides the fact she was very ill when I got her at 5 ½ weeks, she needs love, discipline, and treats! Soon I found myself not concentrating on how bad I felt, but rather I consumed my time in loving Gracey and teaching her to be the best dog she could be. I potty trained her at 6 weeks, she knows how to sit, give her paw, dance, speak, lay down, roll over when I say “Bang – Bang”, balance a peanut on her nose and when I say “Go,” she catches it in her mouth, and many other tricks and habits.
The best things, however, about her is she loves to snuggle with me. On the nights when I feel lonely I just watch her breathe, twitch, and dream. Certainly, it makes me think of Natalie Grace and how much love I have for her. The symbolism could be ignored here between the two, but if a heart is open enough, the comparison is divine. My Gracey is a little spirit of love and joy. Something that is not touched by the world and if I take appropriate precautions she will stay that way.
Gracey does not solve anything; in fact she can be very good at being the center of a problem. There is something about an animal that can touch a part of the soul a human can’t. They use their softness, playfulness, and spunk to show us of perhaps a less confused life that we all wish for sometimes. Who wouldn’t want their only requirement in life to be to eat, sleep, play, and be loved?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

NUMBER 9: FOLKS AT DISABILITY RESOURCES INC.

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have limited time on earth- and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up- that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross-







Disability Resources Incorporated (DRI) is home to adult disabled men and women. I was privileged to work directly with these amazing “folks,” (as we say) for over two years. The reason I am compelled to highlight these people as my number 9 is because I lived with them, watched them, and learned more than I have from those considered “less-abled” than from any other person living or dead. All six men and women possess diverse skills in each house run by two House Managers. It is a home, not an institution, which serves as a means of independence and development for people who otherwise may be placed in a nursing home, or maintained in settings that love, but possibly could not challenge and aid the person as much as the staff can at DRI.
When I was released from the hospital I returned to help Manage with the folks at Amber House. Two girls and four boys kept the house lively, active, and happy. Each weekday all six would work at the “Work Shop” and return home for dinner, chores, and an activity. I could not do much while I regained my strength. Most days I observed and watched the folks, as they seemed to have the “key” to the door of happiness I was looking for. I can still hear one of the folks tell me, “I prayed for you Olivia. Last night I prayed that you would feel better.” I did not know how to pray. I was angry, especially for loosing Natalie Grace. But, I knew if God did listen, he heard these innocent prayers.
Other times, one of the folks would laugh with me, tell me a silly joke, or show such enthusiasms for the simplest of things it would make me think about how big Gods love is. Many days I would have a sense of understanding that I too needed to become simple-minded. I too needed to have joy because I had a friend who loved me. These miracles are living proof of contentment. They may not choose this contentment, it may be their disability, but they speak and live in a world far from here. And where they are is pure and innocent. Their earth is protected by mom and dad and saddened by someone else’s tears. They go on day after day, growing up and old, having the same friends, one job and still laughing and bringing joy to others. They are not deprived because of their mentality; they are blessed and rise far above my corrupted sense of thinking.
I appreciate you Amber House and all the guardians thereof. When I was interviewed on the DRI DVD I spoke truth from my heart. The folks at DRI refreshed my soul and keep me going when I certainly had an excuse to give up. I was involved in a community in which I will never forget.
Writing this entry has made me emotional. I am reminded once again of the things God teaches me. Why is it that we forget the moments we are so certain we will remember? They taught me to love freely, laugh at myself when I mess up, and to always believe God is there and He listens.


For more information about DRI and its services please visit
http://www.disabilityresourcesinc.org/

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

NUMBER 10:MENTORS, COUNSELORS, AND TEACHERS

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failures, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
-Theodore Roosevelt-



I initiate this honorable contemplation through those is my life considered mentors, counselors, and teachers. Men and woman like Sarah Anderson, John Carroll, Leigh Ann Heil, and several academic professors and instructors (John Willis, Jan Hailey, David Wray) demonstrate not only skill but also a tactful passion in their lives and beliefs.
It is with these people I have spent time with and grown. They have taken time specifically for “Olivia” and believe in my ability to achieve my goals even when I did not.
Timed perfectly by God, each of these people stepped into my life to act as another turn of the wheel that keeps me going. It does not take a lot to impact someone’s life. It takes ears to listen, a heart to understand, and passion to see things through someone else’s eyes.I appreciate each one of these men and woman and hope one day I too can be an inspiration to someone else in the ways they have to me. They have let me know that discovering who you are is powerful. And sometimes when you realize who you are, it is enough to be loved and cherished by others.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

And the Count Down Starts!

I have embarked on a new journey for the next couple of blogs. My blog, Inspired by Grace, will honor the 10 most influential people in my life. I sat down and narrowed a long list to ten persons I have actually met and whom have effected my life greatly with knowledge, love, and most importantly with being themselves. Take this expedition with me and reflect on the people who have impacted you the most as well. Starting tomorrow with number ten, I will work my way to number one!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

"A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words"


"Buda Castle Quarter (1987) Budapest, Hungary"

I had the opportunity to document hundreds and hundreds of photos from my family history dated back to my great-great grandparents. Some of these prints have not seen day light for years, and I was there not only to see and copy them, but also learn who they are, and really discover what they mean to me. My father and mother are originally from Hungary, Budapest and I hold great pride in what I have of custom, traditions, and personality. Although, I wish I knew more, I speak Hungarian well enough to get around. I am always going to keep trying to learn it, and definitely pass it on to my children. I have walked the streets of this country, been in awe of its splendor, and even though I have not been to visit in years, I remember standing in front of buildings and castles knowing my heritage is unique.


"Budapest Parliment Building"

Hungary is a European country that has just as much detail, depth, and circumstance as any eastern European country particularly because of wars, public and economic struggles, and certain persons holding fame and honor. People like: Claude-Michel Schönberg: author of Les Miserable; Gábor Csupó: producer of the Rugrats; Simpson’s; and Harry Houdini: the greatest magician on earth, and many Pulitzer prize winner, give only a taste of this countries involvement in America.
Going through all the old black and white photos made me feel as though I was actually there in the pictures. I helped my grandmother cook in her kitchen framed with beautiful Hungarian plates and decorations. I sat with my great-great-grandfather as he smoked his long pipe and told me of his actor days. I met my moms pet, Suky, and walked the streets to lake Balaton and dipped my toes in the cool water. I met my grandmother, Marta for the first time and finally understood why she was loved so much. Her smile brings comfort. I saw my dad’s father who died before I was born. I noticed intricate detail in each photo and soaked up everything like I was a sponge.



"After the unification of the two cities of Buda and Pest an unprecedented development started in Budapest, the new capital city. This development also coincided with the preparations aiming at the celebration of the 1000 years' anniversary of the Conquest of the Carpathian Basin by the Hungarians. Andr�ssy Road was built during this period, on the basis of uniform architectural concepts." Excerpt taken from: http://www.hungary.com/servlet/page?ageid=7058,6177&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30


My mom sat with me all day as I went through these moments and told me the story behind each photo. I left her house that evening feeling as though I experienced, and now had record of the most precious jewel ever made. A piece so rare that those guarding it stay up all night wearing combat gear and caring machete guns. I never had the regular "overnighters" with my grandparents, or Aunts, Uncles, and cousins visiting us for holidays and birthdays. My dad and mom came to America to be free from communism and hopefully live a better life. Because of this sacrifice, I grew up never really knowing my extensive family. We traveled to Hungary several times and made the most of every moment with all our family. Although the posted photos are not my own, I recall these places and wish everyone could understand the magnitude of the architecture .
Having these old photos help me know where I belong. Especially when right now I tend to feel misplaced and forgotten. I realize I am a part of an ongoing story and just have happened to consume my time in something that compliments this journey and continuation of my Hungarian life: with a picture, because it truly speaks a thousand words.

These are incredibly interesting pages about famous Hungarian people that we all know:
http://www.cord.edu/faculty/buslig/HungaryFamous.html

http://www.webenetics.com/hungary/filmartsandmedia.htm


If you like history or are interested in Hungarian history a good movie that was released a couple of years ago is: An American Rhapsody. It is very good.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"A Mother's Touch"


"A Mother's Touch"
Copyright © 2005 Olivia M. Hall.
All rights reserved. No reprints.
Olivia M. Hall Inspired by Grace Photography.

"Butterfly Kissed"

"Butterfly Kissed"
Copyright © 2005 Olivia M. Hall.
All rights reserved. No reprints.
Olivia M. Hall Inspired by Grace Photography.

I was given this beautiful quilt when I was in Massachusetts last week. I had no clue it was being made for me by the sweetest lady that my sister works with. She does not know me very well, but heard my story and my love for butterflies and what they represent and started making this quilt for me. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am. I love it so much.
Apparently Gracey does too!

Art

I am entering some photography in a national competition and have been asked several questions regarding my work and passion. If it were not the limitation of words asked by the officials, I could have written an entire book of what art is to me and how it has changed my life. This is a portion of my response:

"Art is an expression of my heart and soul that words and paper could never communicate. There is urgency in my need to articulate my story through photography. I was given the opportunity to explore this after I was released from a nearly three-month hospital stay. My rehabilitation is a miracle and I am blessed to view life differently. I believe I must create beauty rather than wait for it to happen. My motivation is my journey. My struggles and my accomplishments both help me stay focused on what truly is important: life. With my experience I have the ability to tell others that change is scary, but necessary, and if we allow it, it can be beautiful.
Art is not a hobby or a business; it is a way to move beyond my disability. If I did not have SLE and undergo this recovery, I would not have this opportunity to discover my passion. I can no longer do the physical things I love, but I can create! I can use this spark in me to discover what I can do. Art in itself is endless. It is not limited, although I am. I can live in a world of art that frees me from such boundaries. "

Who knows what will happen regarding these entries. I hope it will inspire me to reach far above what I think is possible. There are no limits to my creativity only challenges that are in my way.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Making Flight

I’ll admit I must have seriously looked like a maniac trying to make my connection flight at Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. Taking off from Massachusetts was interesting when the pilot announced we had a problem with the fuel gauge and wanted to make sure everything was ok. About 20 minutes of that and finally we left. The flight seemed to go on forever. Where was I going to Hawaii? Not that I would have minded if the captain accidentally altered our route, but at least have some type of in-flight movie and more than pretzels to eat! Four hours and a bathroom needing Chawennie dog later, we landed late. My flight to Abilene was already boarding and I had 15 minutes to make it to the satellite terminal. The stewardess announced our arrival port was Terminal C, the farthest one from my destination. Of course! I grabbed my bags, Gracey, and my purse, shouted at all the first class snobs conversing over who knows what and ran fast. VERY fast!
Up the port-attached walkway to the first American Airline representative I could find. “Please, Miss, could you call and tell the plane to Abilene that I am on my way and not leave without me?” I said practically crying. Gracey decided to give a little whimper in hopes she would help the lady feel compelled to help. She explained I would make it and told me how to get there. I had to have her repeat it several times because I was shaking. It was the last flight out to Abilene, and I was NOT going to sleep in this airport. Furthermore, I have dealt with the American airline service personal and I can tell you I was in no mood to have to do this if I missed the flight.
Off I went, Gracey under my arm, I Chawennie’d as fast as one could to the Skylark Shuttle deck. I had a rolling suitcase with me and nearly let go and watch it fall to its doom on the way up the escalator. I ran, arms flailing into the shuttle and then realized, in my state of panic, I entered the wrong one. I started to yell, “A, is anyone going to Terminal A??” No one responded. I must have looked as crazy as I felt. Finally I sensed I was on the wrong one and leap into the other shuttle as the doors were zooming in. I relaxed for second knowing I almost made a fatal mistake and went to Terminal E. I never even have heard of Terminal E! Anyway I put Gracey down and started to re-group myself, when the prerecorded voice warned me to hold on. As soon as the shuttle started to move I went flying across the bus, feel on my face, and all the stuff in a side pocket in my bag fell everywhere and began to move around everyone’s feet. No one helped. I was below deck searching for my items. At one point I thought to just leave them, but it was my CD player and CD’s. Finally, we stopped at the next exit. The next one was mine and I had to run again. I gathered everything and stuffed it in Gracey’s carrier. The door opened and I began to run once more. This time I had to go down the escalator while balancing Gracey, the suitcase, and her carrier. People going up decided to cheer me up by looking, pointing at me and laughing. Let me tell you how encouraging this was!
I ran from Terminal A13 all the way to A2, and then had to once again go down. I saw the bus and could not go any faster. It got off the escalator and arrived at the double doors. The girl waiting there told me the flight had already left to Abilene. “NO!” I yelled. I was so mad. “How can that be?” I yelled. “Tell them I am coming, please!” The sweat was pouring down my face. Gracey dared not move.
“There is no need to yell,” she said. “The plane has not left yet.” All I heard was her telling me not to yell. I could not believe this, first I miss my flight, and now I am not aloud to yell in frustration? Then I heard her say the flight had NOT left. Apparently her accent caused some miscommunication. I sighed. The bus came and I ran on and tried to hold on as we drove to the satellite terminal. Arriving there I ran off, told people to get out of my way (even those annoying golf cart drivers dared not to block this crazy womans path), and went up to the ticket counter at my gate. It said, “now boarding.”
“I’m here, please tell me I can still get on!”
“No, I am sorry we are already boarded,” she smiled.
“You’re kidding, please tell me you are kidding?” She smiled and said I had nothing to worry about and I could get on soon as the flight boards.
I looked around and realized everyone was still there for the flight. My hair was practically standing straight back from running. I almost threw-up. The agent called my name and allowed me to pre-board with Gracey and my suitcase of medicine (which they had to strap in a seat of its own!). I breathed and realized I had made it. The only thing left was a 33-minute roller coaster ride home. And I thought I was going to be sick before! Gracey shook the entire flight. But they let me take her out and hold her. I am not sure if she was truly scared, or did not know what happened to her mom in the last 15 minutes.
Good thing there are many people in the world and the chances are slim to none that someone I know saw me in my sprint across the airport. I don’t think I’d have to many friends if they did.

Friday, June 10, 2005

"From the mouth of Grace"


"I'm the cutest Chawennie
in the whole WORLD!"
Copyright © 2005 Olivia M. Hall.
All rights reserved. No reprints.
Olivia M. Hall Inspired by Grace Photography.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Magic Wings

Dedicated to Cyndi

I experienced a taste of heaven on earth today. My sister, Cyndi, and I went to “Magic Wings” (http://www.magicwings.com/). It is a butterfly conservatory located a short distance from Yankee Candle and surrounding picturesque green forest. We did not know what to expect, but upon entering the parking lot, my eyes beheld a dream world. We paid, went through the gift shop that I knew we would raid later, and briefly stayed in the small room that described the establishment. Then walking through the “entrance” doors and another set of doors, we came into the actual conservatory and were greeted with every array of color be known to man. The building resembled a huge green room with skylight’s, waterfalls, bridges, streams, and every color of exotic flower imagined. But most importantly- flying around freely was hundreds of beautiful butterflies. Blue, pink, purple, yellow, green, and millions of other colors and shades painted around us as if we were the live sculptures in an invaluable canvas. The fragile creatures fluttered from tree, to flower, up and down a path in their own world visiting friends and living solely to be admired. We spent nearly four hours watching, listening, and meditating within this utopia.

Every time we circled the path it was as if we were walking into a completely different portion of paradise. I had my camera on the entire time and took advantage of every opportunity to capture such magnificence. We sat on a bench for a while to reflect in silence. I thought of Natalie, the hospital, and how much it meant to be alive and see my sister next to me. A big blue butterfly flew right in between our heads. Three pink ones played a game of tag around a blooming tropical bush. They represent peace, love, and hope. They were putting on a show for us. They danced, glided, and fluttered by us tickling our cheeks with their soft touch. I remembered the event that happened last October when God changed my heart. That day too was about a butterfly and today made me realize how amazing that moment really is. I flashed back to months ago when God sent a beautiful monarch butterfly to land on my hand. There was a parade going on and people lined the streets. I saw a butterfly coming straight for me and put out my hand. As if we both planned it, the butterfly landed on my hand and stayed for minutes. It changed my life. I was tired of being sick and weak. Who I had become offered no familiarity of who I used to be. But like this butterfly, the transformation could be something more, something beautiful. God sent something meaningful and spiritual to tell me it was ok to let go and be free. I did not have to live in fear.

Being at the conservatory today made me realize how uncommon it is for a butterfly to land on your hand. There were hundreds of them flying up and down, sideways, and diagonal, but they would not land on my hand. It made me recognize the intention of that moment back in the fall. I kept the butterfly on my hand and walked through the crowd to a spot behind a building (we were downtown). I said a prayer, told Natalie Grace I love her, and put my hand up in the sky and watched the monarch flutter away.


"God Sent" (Miracle in October)


I will dream of butterflies tonight. They were numerous and each represented hope, beauty, and peace. Looking at these soaring jewels of beauty reminds me what was once nothing can become unimaginably radiant. What comes forth from the cocoon, from suppression, is a day where sadness empties and we are able to float, fly, and flutter away to show others of triumph and simplicity.

I will remember sharing this day with my sister. Our hearts are each one wing that makes a whole butterfly. Our friendship gives it entirety, beauty, and most important support to carry each other through the hard times and keep going.


"Magic Wings"