It’s All About the Climb…From the One She Left Behind

My wife recently blogged about her Mt. Washington climb with my step-daughters and her cousin Kellie. She completely ignored the one she left behind to defend the fortress and care for the critters – me.

Their trip was originally planned for a few years ago, but got postponed for reasons beyond her control. As she related in her blog, the girls finally got her moving. Once the trip was planned, she got into it heart and soul, as she does with everything. She bought hiking boots, wore them on her daily walks, and found the steepest and longest hills in our neighborhood to climb. When we went on a week’s vacation in the Berkshires, she found a hiking trail straight up a steep hill, attacking it with a vengeance several times. She and her friend tackled the mountains in Catoctin State Park.

As the trip got closer, plans became more intense, with much texting, messaging, and yes, even old-fashioned telephone calls, about what essentials to pack for the climb. Daughter Steph and cousin Kellie made their way to our house, and they shoved off first thing Sunday morning, picking up daughter Laura outside Philly on their way.

I was left behind, to remember to feed the dog and cat, clean litter boxes, and – yes – fend for myself for 5 days. Clearly, no thought was given for my coming hardships. I’d like to say that I made the most of my time, living la vita loca, but hey, at my age that could kill me! Alas, I just went about my normal routines, reading a lot, watching noisy action movies, and – here’s where I went crazy – staying up late, not cleaning up after myself entirely, and making a mess (which was quickly cleaned up when Michelle called telling me they were on their way home from Philly – hey, I may be a wild guy, but I’m not stupid!) I did make myself my famous (in my mind) Chicken Piccata, and lots of hot dogs, which I love.

On the day the gang climbed the mountain, it started to get dark, and I hadn’t heard from them, and, as I do, I got worried, imagining them stuck on the mountain in the dark. Michelle finally called, telling me that they had been off the mountain for a while, but had no cell coverage, and oh, by the way, we’re on the way to the ER – I think I broke my wrist. Ironically, the day before they left I had gotten 2 light, collapsible hiking sticks, and I urged them to take them along to use on the climb, and was scornfully told, we don’t need no hiking sticks!

The irony – Michelle lost her balance and fell; gee, I wonder if a hiking stick could have prevented that? I was later told that she was rushing down the mountain when she fell. Anyone who knows Michelle will find that hard to believe! Everyone got back in one piece, or in Michelle’s case one extra piece (her radius was now in 2 pieces), and they all had a special time together, and say that, all things considered, they would do it again – this time with hiking sticks!    

William H. Poole, Jr. – Attorney Bellomo & Associates

It’s All About the Climb…

About a year ago my oldest daughter Laura sent me a Facebook message about Mt. Washington, asking, “So Mom, when are we going to do this?”  Seven years earlier when her step-father and I visited her in New Hampshire at her internship, she had asked if we were interested in climbing Mt. Washington.  My husband’s answer was, “I know she hasn’t lived with me very long, but hasn’t she realized that I don’t even climb to the second floor?” Thus began the quest to climb Mt. Washington.

My answer was, “When you have time”.  My other daughter Steph chimed in, “We will make time”.  And with that, the plan was hatched; soon my cousin Kellie joined the quest.  On September 2, 2018 we four headed for New Hampshire.

Mt. Washington has the most volatile weather on the east coast, so we allowed for three possible days to make the climb.  Day one we got up at 5:00 a.m., to find out at 5:05 that they were calling for afternoon thunderstorms. I have no desire to be on the top of any mountain in a thunderstorm.  Day two arrived and it was supposed to be a perfect day: 90 degrees at the base and in the 70s at the peak.

We arrived at the base at 7:40 a.m. to go into the camp store and see the display of all the ways people died climbing Mt. Washington.  My cousin was questioning her decision to join us at this point. Standing at the base looking up, we were reassured by Laura that she did it before and we would be fine, so off we went.  About 2½ hours in we got to the Forest Ranger cabin where we could fill our water bottles and take a break. We looked up to see a small waterfall coming straight down the wall of the mountain.  Little did we realize that we would be climbing up right next to it in about an hour. It was at that point that Kellie said, “I told everyone I was HIKING Mt. Washington. I am changing that to CLIMBING!”

When we reached “the bowl”, Steph’s back started to spasm and she began to hyperventilate from the pain.  She stopped to rest. Laura kept going, and when she made it to the parking-lot at the summit she waved her hands wildly and said, “This is it, Steph, this is all you have to do!”  She lied!! As we crested the parking lot, in front of us sat the longest set of wooden stairs I had ever seen in my life!! You might be thinking, you have climbed a mountain, stairs should be nothing.  When you have climbed a mountain and you see the stairs, you think, “You’ve got to be kidding me; I have to climb those to get to the peak!!!!” Legs trembling, we climbed those stairs, to get our picture with the sign at the peak, only to wait in line behind people who had “climbed” Mt. Washington in a car or the train. We made it!! But the climb was not over yet; now we had to get back down…..

After resting, we headed down the Lion’s head trail at 2:30 p.m. This was supposed to be the easier way down for bad knees, from which three of the four of us – not me – suffered. Karma must have felt I had an unfair advantage; at 4:15 p.m. I lost my balance. We were still up above the tree line, and the shrubbery was thin, so there was nothing to grab hold of to catch my balance. My head said “stop, drop and roll”. I know, that is for fire, but I wanted to protect my head, and I was going down one way or another, so my left arm took the brunt of the fall. My cousin yelled, “Miss, are you OK?”, my answer, “nope”, her answer, “Wrong answer!”.  My cousin is an EMT. She rushed over, checked my arm, and asked me questions to try to determine the damage done. Not a scratch, not an abrasion, but my arm was highly questionable. She sent the girls to find sticks and she made a splint with two sticks and two bandanas. My daughter’s shirt became a sling and we were off again to finish the climb down the mountain and find an emergency room. We reached the base 7p.m. We got to an emergency room by 7:30 p.m., and by 8:30 p.m. we were out with my broken arm in a temporary cast.

As we all tend to do, I was beating myself up thinking, “What were you thinking climbing a mountain?”, but when I went to my grandson’s first birthday party the following Saturday, his other grandmother looked at me in my big cast and said, “What an awesome story!! You could have tripped on the stairs or fallen off a curb and done the same thing. YOU climbed a mountain!” YEAH, I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN AND THEN CLIMBED DOWN WITH A BROKEN ARM. How many people can say that? Wow, what a change in perspective! I am so proud of all of us and how we handled the entire experience. I would do it again in a minute, though my husband probably would not encourage it this time😊!

And now, for the rest of the story…a month later they were chipping ice off the weather station on Mt. Washington; 25 degrees with 30 mph winds.

By Michelle Poole, Director of Community Outreach

Do Something Good For Yourself Today

Have you ever had a tough day at work, at home or school and you think you’d feel better if only you could relax? The blog offers some helpful advice.

Many people think they need somebody else to make them feel better. But really, we can just as easily make ourselves feel better with the use of our five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing. Being able to calm yourself down on your own can make overwhelming situations more tolerable. You don’t need anything too fancy, either – just a little bit of mindfulness meditation and one or more of your sense.

Let’s take a look!

Something to See

Sometimes having something to see is all we need to soothe our senses. You can do this by taking a walk or going for a drive. Find a pretty part of town and simply walk around, observing the beauty it offers. Looking at nature around you is another way to do this. Going to a museum or a farmers’ market offers beautiful art for your eyes to admire. Placing a flower where you can see it helps as well. Sit in a garden, watch the sunset or rise. Light a candle and watch its flame. Watch a travel video or a movie. Anything that stimulates your visual side is a great place to start.

Something to Hear

Just sit and listen to all the sounds coming and going all around you. It’s a practice called mindfulness. Listening to beautiful or soothing music mixed with nature sounds is great place to start. Looking up videos with sounds of baby laughter or small animal noises can be equally soothing. Sing to yourself or learn to play an instrument. Sit by water and close your eyes – can you feel that relaxation?

Something to Taste

The sensation of taste can trigger memories and feelings, so it’s important to find the tastes that are pleasing for you. Try sucking on a hard candy or some mints for a calming effect. Sip a soothing warm cup of herbal tea, or even a smoothie if you prefer something cold. Taste the rain. Sample flavors of ice cream. Eat a favorite food from your childhood. Chew on gum. Having something to taste is a great distraction during stressful times.

Something to Touch

Sometimes we just need a hug. When no one is around to give us one, we can bring that same level of warmth by touching something. For example, start by changing into something comfy – something silky or fluffy will feel great against your skin. Float or swim in a pool and feel the water caress your body – showers and baths work great too! Pet an animal, or get a massage. Play with play dough or give out high fives. Sink into a really comfortable bed and tuck yourself in – maybe even try a zip-up body blanket or heated pad. Touch is a very wonderful way to feel cozy and relieve that stress.

Something to Smell

Ahhhh, it’s the smell of “everything is going to be okay.” With aromatherapy, you can diffuse essential oils into the air or smell the oils right from the bottle. Take time to literally smell some roses, or arrange fresh flowers. Put potpourri in a bowl, or in sachets for your drawers – even under your pillow. Even just spritz yourself with perfume cologne to feel refreshed. Maybe light some scented candles or incense. Use linen spray for your bed. Smell food being cooked at home, or as you walk by a restaurant. The possibilities are endless really. Identify some smells that you like, and bring them into your life!

What do you think – a lot of fun and easy, right?

With just a little bit of thought, practice and imagination, you can leave stress behind and start down the road to relaxation.

As Mark Twain once said, “Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”

If you want to join us for one of our upcoming workshops just click here to find the date and time that works best for you.

Thanks for your time – Author unknown

The telephone rang. It was a call from his mother. He answered it and his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.”

Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

“Jack, did you hear me?”

“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him.

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.

“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said.

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important. Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered.

Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture…Jack stopped suddenly…

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.

“The box is gone,” he said.

“What box?” Mom asked.

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said.

“I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read.

Early the next day Jack went to the post office and retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.

“Mr. Harold Belser” it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope.

Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.

“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filled his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved: “Jack, Thanks for your time! — Harold Belser.”

“The thing he valued most was my time!”

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days.

“Why?” Janet, his assistant asked.

“I need some time to spend with the people I love and say I care for,” he said. “Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!”

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Think about this. You may not realize it, but it’s 100 percent true.

I wonder how many people in your life value your time more than anything. Whether it’s a relative, friend or neighbor, I’ll bet there’s someone who would thrill to a visit, call, or letter. Take the time to enjoy others. It may just make your and their day!

To everyone who reads this just now…. “Thanks for your time.”

To join us for one of our upcoming workshops: Click here to RSVP.

Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.

The Kindness of Strangers

The kindness of strangers is something that many people rely upon to get by, but trusting people we don’t know can sometimes be a real risk.  Every so often, if you’re not careful, things can really get out of hand. But sometimes, a stranger can renew your faith in mankind.

On a recent rainy day, an elderly woman became stranded on the side of a rural road with a flat tire. Her cell phone had no reception and she began to worry how she would get back on the road.  Hunched over her steering wheel and looking a little troubled, she caught the attention of a man who was passing by. He instinctively pulled over to see if he could help her. The old woman was naturally concerned about the stranger approaching her. Was he going to hurt her? Why would someone be so ready to come to her aid?  Nevertheless, she decided that, because she couldn’t fix the flat tire herself, she’d better let him take a look.

“I’m here to help you, ma’am ,” the man said reassuringly, and before the old woman knew it, he was retrieving the spare tire from her trunk and switching it out in record time. She couldn’t believe that she’d been so lucky to have him come along! But that’s not where the story ended…..

The old woman thanked the younger man and offered to pay him. He refused. Instead, he told her, “Just think of me the next time you see someone in need. Just remember Bryan Anderson and pay the kindness forward.”

Just like that, the man hopped back into his car and drove off. The old woman was overwhelmed by the man’s kindness and generosity.  She drove her car half a mile up the road to a local diner and decided to get something warm to eat and drink. Upon entering the diner, she was greeted by the smiling face of a waitress, who welcomed her and offered her a towel to dry her rain-soaked hair. The old woman noticed that the waitress was about eight months pregnant. She was obviously exhausted but never lost her pleasant smile.

The old woman ordered a cheeseburger and fries and ate quickly. Then she remembered what the man who helped her said, so she paid her meal with a $100 bill, and when the waitress left to make change, the old lady slipped out of the diner and drove off. When the waitress returned, the old woman was nowhere to be found. Instead, she spotted a note scribbled on the napkin at the table. It said, simply, “I have been where you are and someone very kind once helped me the way I’m helping you. Please just remember to pay the love forward. She then noticed four more hundred dollar bills on the table. 

The waitress’s head was spinning. With the baby coming in a month, it would be tight for a few weeks, and she and her husband could really use the extra money. She gratefully folded the bills and put them in her pocket, and finished her shift.

Hours later, when the waitress finally made it home after her long day, she climbed into bed and told her husband what had happened. Thinking of how lucky they truly were, she leaned over, kissed his forehead and simply said, “I love you, Bryan Anderson.”

Sometimes, what goes around really does come around!

Jeffrey R. Bellomo, Esquire

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