Friday, December 24, 2010

What I learned from Sara

Sara was my boy friends mother. He’s not my boy friend any more but for 13 years, Sara was the woman I came to know and love as my boy friends mother. I met Sara and her husband Bob on a beautiful summer night in 1990, a few months before my 23rd birthday at the Lake house. When I met her, I liked her immediately and came to love her and admire her quickly. She immediately embraced my son and me into her family and always made us feel welcomed and so loved. Sara was easy company, easy to love and extraordinary in many ways. She loved and valued her family and had a deep richness about her. She was lovely, very lovely and everyone loved Sara. She was kind and humble, graceful and patient and beautiful in every way imaginable. A true woman of integrity, that’s who she was. Sara always looked great and kept a beautiful home, or homes I should say because at one point, she and Bob had three homes, all at the same time. She was always resourceful, generous and had a heart of gold. She had an ah-mazing memory and was an attentive listener. Sara also loved and appreciated the art of the hand written note. Her note cards were always great and a delight to receive in the mail. I’ve kept every single one. In fact, she was the person who helped me appreciate the art of the hand written note and inspired me to write them through the years to friends and family to stay in touch. Sara had a gentle spirit and yet was super resilient. In all the years I knew her, spent time with her, had coffee with her, took walks with her, visited her, shopped with her, she never, ever said anything negative about anyone, not anyone. Not once. And I think that's amazing. I have never met anyone quite like Sara. She was truly an extraordinary human being. She always saw the good in people and always found something positive to say about everyone and that always stood out to me. If someone ever mentioned anything remotely negative about someone, Sara was guaranteed to shine light on something good about that person. Meeting Sara in my early twenties influenced my life in positive ways and watching her do life, helped me see the good in people too. 

I learned a lot from Sara. I learned that real strength is born from biting your tongue and practicing patience. I also learned that even if something doesn’t unfold the way you expect it to, you don’t have to share your thoughts out loud. When those moments unfolded in her life, I would often catch her make an adorable little smirk but she never complained. She inspired me to put that into practice. I didn’t always fair well nor do I claim to do it well now but time and maturity and her example have certainly helped me in that area and I appreciate the pay off because it has served me and others well. Thank you Sara! Thank you so very much! 

Sara is no longer with us. She left us quite suddenly a few years ago and way too soon. It’s always too soon, no matter how old they are. She’s now in heaven resting in peace but she will never be forgotten. In fact, three days after Sara passed; I received a note card in the mail from her. She wrote to tell me that my son Michael surprised her and her husband Bob with a visit. She shared with me in her note card how delighted she was to see Michael. Receiving that card and reading her words three days after her passing wrecked me and made me feel special at the same time. She left me with the gift of words, just like Sara to do something wonderful like that.

If I could send a note to heaven to write one last note to Sara ... it might read something like this: Thank you Sara. Thank you for being lovely and so extraordinary and for being such a wonderful character in my story. Thank you for loving me and for teaching me in the most unassuming ways. Thank you for being a pillar of strength, for being such a bright light in my world and for being such a beautiful example of grace and beauty. You inspired me to be every bit of the woman God has created me to be, what a rich gift and blessing. I miss you so much and think of you fondly. I always will and I will always cherish the memories of yesterday.

I’ll forget you never Sara. Thank you for everything. The way you lived and the way you loved left an indelible mark on my heart. I’ll love you always … 

Missing you  ....


Nothing but a breath, a comma separates life from life ever lasting. Death is not a period, nor exclamatory or even a semi colon. Death is a pause as one transitions from this life to the next. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010


This morning I spent some time reading several old journal entries that date back to 2001 through 2003. Those were bittersweet years for sure. It’s always an interesting experience to go back and read what I was feeling and thinking and experiencing in my past. When I read those entries from that time period, I discovered that I’ve grown significantly as a person, both emotionally and spiritually. Perfect I am not, I have not “arrived” but I certainly have grown significantly since then. Reading these entries reminded me that I’ve experienced great healing from past emotional wounds and survived and learned some really tough lessons. Reading these entries also reminded me that we’re always evolving and growing at some capacity. I’ve experienced some really sweet blessings through the years, and yes some struggles for sure. But I overcame each and every one of the struggles I wrote about. It’s incredibly interesting to read these entries and reflect on the past because at the time, the struggle and the pain associated with the struggle seemed so monumental, and so overwhelming. The struggle felt like a giant that I was sure would cause me to cave and die a slow death. Fortunately, it didn’t unfold that way. God, time, hope and my willingness to persevere helped me to over come each and every one of those obstacles. I’m so thankful for that. A wise person once said: “Anyone can give up. It's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, well that's true strength.” Today, I’m thankful that I’m an over comer and for the strength I’ve gained through my experiences. I don’t always feel so strong but I’m discovering that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. Writing and reading what I write helps me remember that. And on a sweeter note, some of my entries reminded me of how sweet and delicious it is to be alive and to experience the sweetness of connectedness, connectedness to God, my friends, my family and some really special people in my life that have helped me along the way by just being part of my life. Their time, their love, their listening ears, their friendship, their words of wisdom and their prayers have helped me through some really tough seasons in life. I’m so thankful for them.

Dear God,

Thank you for each and every person you have allowed to come into my life and thank you for each and every experience in life. Some have been bitter, others sweet but in the end, they have shaped me and have made me who I am. At 43, I realize that everything happens for a reason. Good is good, in fact sometimes good is really very delicious and when the tough times come along, and they always do, you can and do bring good out of that too. I get that. I have a long history of that in my life. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for bringing good out of my hardships. And thank you for never giving up on me. I don’t always get it right and for that I’m truly sorry. Thank you for bringing such wonderful people into my life. These special people bring out the best in me and I like bringing my best self to everything I do and every one I do life with. Thank you for all the beautiful moments I’ve experienced and still experience in life because they’re magnificent, delightful and lovely. I live for those moments and treasure those memories. They bring me great joy, sometimes uncontainable joy and I love that feeling. God, I’m so thankful that I’m finally grown up enough, maybe wise enough to appreciate and treasure the people in my circle and their amazing impact on my life. I’m thankful for all the wonderful moments, big and small that I experience. Sometimes great joy is experienced in what others might perceive as insignificant but to me, acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and meaningful gestures regardless of size or frequency are what touch souls.

God, please help me to always be the kind of woman who lives her life leaving nuggets of love behind doing small things with great love. I may not always do things really great but I know that I have the capacity to do small things with great love. Help me to love great always.

Mother Teresa once said: “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.” I love that quote! Most days, my heart is filled with joy and great gratitude, for life, people, things and that makes me feel wonderfully blessed. When my heart feels that good, life feels super rich and lavish. I love what joy produces and I love what it attracts.

Feeling incredibly thankful today. Thanks God!

My cup runneth over …

~ Ruthie

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Breast Cancer Taught Me

And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anais Nin, Danish diarist

Up above is a quote that I referenced in my journal last year on August 13th which was the month before I learned I had breast cancer. I'm cancer-free now and ridiculously thankful. I was reviewing some of my journal entries from last summer last night and this quote really popped out at me and got me thinking about how radically different I feel today. I wouldn’t say that my life has been characterized or confined by remaining tight in a bud. Sure, I’ve had my seasons when I have felt hurt, fragile, confused and a bit broken and I can’t deny that those seasons wreck me a bit and cause me to walk more cautiously, to be more guarded but to park myself in a tight bud, well that’s not something I ever plan on doing.

I have to say that beginning with mid August of this year, I’ve become quite ravenous about everything and I feel like I’m blossoming in new ways. I have such a rich appreciation for so many people and things and experiences. I’ve met some fantastic people along the way and have experienced some really wonderful and beautiful moments that I will cherish for a lifetime. I’ve even taken up salsa (dancing) lessons which is something I have wanted to do for so many years. I’m really having fun with that and I’m glad and thankful that I finally signed up!

Cancer my friend is such a horrific word and such a nasty disease, really. It's absolutely nefarious with a capital N!  I’m thankful that we caught my cancer in the very early stages but if its not caught early, the fight takes every thing you’ve got to beat it and regardless of when it’s discovered, cancer invades your body, your life and everyone around you in unexpected ways. It’s not always awful because good and beautiful can still be experienced in the midst of adversity. Last night, I was thinking about what breast cancer has taught me. It’s changed me in really good ways and I wanted to share with you just some of the things that I scribbled down as I pondered what I learned. Below you’ll find my list.

  1. Breast cancer taught me to be more grateful and to find something every day to celebrate.
  2. It’s taught me to live fully alive, and created a new desire to be very present in every moment.
  3. It taught me to love more deeply and to love more richly.
  4. It taught me to say I love you more often.
  5. It taught me to be more grace-filled, and more forgiving.
  6. I learned that I’m deeply loved by many and I so appreciate their display of love and affection in my life.
  7. I’ve learned to care for myself in better ways by eating healthier and exercising more often.
  8. I learned how valuable it is to have amazing friends and family in your corner walking the journey with you.
  9. I learned to appreciate little things. And I have to say, those little things bring me great joy! Appreciation is a wonderful perspective and a great way to live.
  10. I learned to say thank you to EVERYONE for being a character in my story, good or bad, it has served me well. Every experience has taught me something.
Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family. For me, it will be a quiet intimate afternoon and evening with a small but beloved group of people I call family. Tomorrow will be more than just about giving thanks to God for His goodness in and on my life, but for second chances too. Tomorrow I will celebrate and be thankful for the woman I have become and the woman who is yet to be discovered because experiences shape us every day and I trust and hope and pray that I become every bit of the woman God calls me to be.

And before I end this reflection, I want to thank my friends and my family for being part of my life, for being a character in my story. Thank you for everything, thank you for being YOU! A brilliant writer once wrote: “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.” I trust that you’re in a sweet season in life so you can say thank you and celebrate how lavish it is to be alive.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires - disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way.          ~Bernie S. Siegel


Saturday, November 13, 2010


God allows specific people, at specific times, for specific reasons into our lives. Nobody comes into our lives without some kind of purpose. Some stay, others don't but no matter the outcome, there's always purpose and the experience can teach us much if we let it. We all benefit when we observe, pay attention, analyze, learn and grow from our experiences.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fighting Breast Cancer

Fighting breast cancer was never something I ever had to do alone. I'm so-o thankful for that. I felt closest to God and felt His love and protection and the love and support of so many dear friends and family members during that season.

People tell me all the time that I'm lucky but I feel like I'm more than lucky. I feel really blessed and I know that I’m God's girl. It's wonderful to feel it but its more delicious to know it, to really believe it. I was and still am incredibly blessed and grateful to have had an entire team of amazing, loving and wonderful people in my corner. That kind of love and support makes my heart feel really full. My cup runneth over... 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This morning I spent a significant amount of time thinking and dreaming and praying about what lies ahead. Today's the first day of Fall, so what an appropriate thing to do as we enter into a new season. This morning, I also thought about some of the other seasons in my life. There have been many times in my life when I have felt small, and fragile, and broken and scared. Those seasons almost always begin with great disappointment. Those have been my darkest hours in life. And every time I survive a season like that and get to the other side, I'm reminded that the more fragile I felt, the stronger I was because God's grace is absolutely and always sufficient and because His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I'm reminded that when I am weak, He is strong. When I can't, He can. I'm reminded that greater is He within me than any obstacle I am facing and that if I invite God into the process, He is my helper and my healer and my comforter. God is my tear dryer, my heart healer and my soul keeper. I'm reminded that God is able, He is always able my friend. I'm so very thankful for that and I can't imagine my life without Him.

These tough seasons in my life always come with choices. Some of the choices are: I can either choose to become bitter and consumed or I can choose to become better. I always choose better. Sometimes it takes me a while to surrender my pain and let God be God but in the end, I always choose better. I choose better because it honors Him and because I truly want to be every bit of the woman God calls me to be. I want to improve, and learn and grow and walk humbly before God and yes become a better me. The wonderful thing about free-will is that we can choose to be the kind of person we want to be and I choose better not bitter. I choose love and peace and forgiveness and I choose doing it God's way because it’s always the best way. It’s always within our power to choose and to be the best person we can be, the best person God wants us to be. So today, my prayer for you is that you too will choose well (better) in whatever season you're in.

Happy first day of Fall!  May you always fall forward, with love in your heart and into the arms of the One that will carry you through each and every season in life.

Wishing you peace and wholeness always,


Friday, May 21, 2010

Farewell to Grandpa (Abuelo)

My Dad's father passed away yesterday. His name was Ceferino and he was 93 yrs old. He died a month before his 94th birthday. He lived in Puerto Rico with his wife, my grand mother who he was married to for 75 years. They were so blessed to be able to live independently in their home together. Tomorrow my family will say their final good bye's to Abuelo as they lay his body to rest. I wrote him a letter, my final letter because I'm not able to fly to Puerto Rico to be there but my family will be present and the letter will be read at the cemetery on my behalf before he's buried. Below you'll find my final words to Abuelo, an extraordinary man who made everyone feel so special. 

Dear Abuelo,

I am so very sorry I couldn’t be with you during your final moments.  But I know you were not alone and more importantly, I know that you’re in a better place now, our true home and that brings me great comfort.  Abuelo, Lourdes wrote to me yesterday and shared with me that she went to visit you at the hospital the other day with her sister Ivette and father. She shared that she and her sister held your hand and caressed your face during their visit with you.  She said that you were very much conscious but could tell that your time had come. Oh Abuelo, I hope you felt those tender touches and I pray that they comforted you and reminded you that you meant the world to so many people. She added that she thanked God for knowing you and for how well you loved her Grandmother, your sister Toya. She shared with me that you were such a good man and that you were so loved.  I knew that already but it was so wonderful to read. Abuelo, you were so easy to love.  You had a special gift that was distinct and so set apart. You knew how to love well and show that love. You had a servant’s heart and I loved that about you. You loved your wife, our Grandmother unconditionally and so beautifully. You showed it in such marvelous ways and showed up every single day and raised three fine men, your sons whom I refer to as my very dear uncles and my wonderful Papi (father).  Abuelo, your eyes had a way of lighting up when someone walked into the room or came to visit you. And your voice always expressed genuine joy to hear from someone when they called. Everyone who knew you, felt loved by you. We love you so much and we miss you already. Planet earth feels a little empty without you and your love. I pray that you will carry our love for you and our smiles with you always. We will never forget you. Never, ever! Thank you for being such a wonderful example of love and for being such a bright light in our family. You have left an indelible mark in our lives and in our hearts. We will love you forever!

Your granddaughter,


In loving memory of my Abuelo, Ceferino Rivera.  June 15, 1916 - May 20th, 2010.

Nothing but a breath, a comma separates life from life ever lasting. Death is not a period, nor exclamatory or even a semi colon. Death is a pause as one transitions from this life to the next.