The year of 2014 has been filled with changes. It has brought new life and a deep gratitude for my Creator and for each one of you who have journeyed with me. This includes my family, my community at St. Agnes Church in San Francisco, my Dog Park Community and my community in my neighborhood of Cole Valley. Each of you have played a part in encouragement, challenging me to move ahead and through it all you have exhibited love. I am also grateful to my friends on Face Book. Often we think and say what a waste of time this is but FaceBook has allowed me to stay in contact with those near and far bringing together those whom I have known for decades and those whom I have known but a short time.
After being in a wheelchair for over a year I finally received my prosthesis for my right leg in the middle of June. Through an amazing physical therapy team which includes not only UCSF but friends from my neighborhood and dog park but also my co-workers at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa. It was there that I initially began to walk during the summer. It was here where I needed to be vulnerable and a bit dependent as I took my first steps with a walker, a cane and eventually on my own free of any support devices. I am grateful.
In July I became a board member for the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco. This is an organization for advocacy for people with disabilities and paving ways for independence and freedom. This includes programs, speaking out for disability rights and advocacy. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve in this capacity.
August brought a family reunion on my mother”s side of the family, the Ryan’s. It was so wonderful to see cousins I haven’t seen in decades but were so close to when we were children. It was filled with joy. I was able to visit my brother and sister, niece and great nieces, Wayne and Paula and I was able to spend significant time with my cousin whom I call Aunt Rosemary. She has in many ways been a second mother to me over the years. I also got to spend time with my cousin Mike, his wife Jackie and their son and daughter Sarah and Tony. Mike and I were mischief makers as kids and guess what? We still are!
Lest I not forget the great lunch I had with some of my grammar, junior high and high school friends in Saratoga; Lynn Nutter Eddy, Susan Cramer Colleen Brundage, Maryanne Brundage Fredericks and Fred Lee. What a time it was reminiscing, looking at one another and thinking, Wow, we’ve not aged, we’ve grown richer and deeper and besides that we look great, just like we hadn’t aged much at all! Of course the lighting was a little dim, our vision isn't what it used to be but…….Hey!
I must also mention what a delight it was to spend time with an old, ok not old but long time childhood friend Tom Benson.
Onward to Boston where I spent time with Rich Arnold, his lovely wife Carolina, beautiful daughter Gabriela and Matt her ever clever and humorous fiancee. Rich is like a brother to me and he and I have known each other since SUNY Albany days. Rich donated one of his kidneys to me in January, 2010 and saved my life in the process.
On October 28cannot I started my own business in medical case management, VENIA CASE MANAGEMENT. I have been blessed thus far with five clients. It is both exciting and scary.
I have also been privileged to serve the poor and homeless this year in ways I never dreamt possible. I have gotten to know a number of people in the homeless community in our neighborhood and also have begun volunteering at the Wellness Center in San Francisco. The Wellness Center is part of a ministry through St. Vincent dePaul and many in our community at St. Agnes are a part of this. My hope is to begin a group called “Our Stories” which would encourage participants to share their stories, what gifts they believe they have and what have they done that day to encourage someone and to bring life and healing to them. I am also on an advisory board at the Wellness Center which is prayerfully discerning spiritual formation and spiritual direction. I am privileged to be a part of this. I also participated in early December at a retreat for Non Violent Communication. This was eye opening and it is my hope I will become more a part of this in this coming year.
Thank you, all of you for your love, encouragement, practical serving me when I was in need and your prayers. Words cannot express my true gratitude and the love I have for each of you.
May 2015 bring you peace in body, soul and spirit.