The Word of the Day: Vol-a-palooza


an all-out crazy party; partying at one place with a ton of people like there's no tomorrow
To use it in a sentence: "That palooza for Anita's birthday was crazy fun!"

* * *
and a Vol-a-palooza is a crazy fun party doing volunteer stuff!
Serving your community, making a difference...
Join me for VOL-A-PALOOZA as I celebrate my 53rd birthday!

As you know, a year ago most days we didn't know if I'd wake up on the right side of the dirt.

My 2010 birthday was spent at the Nebraska University Med Center. Times were uncertain and unpleasant. (That's what they tell me anyway, I don't remember.) BUT with the love and support of family and friends, I have a new lease on life and a new appreciation for... well, a lot of things! Health, family, friends, caring doctors and nursing staff (even though I was convinced at the time they were all plotting to kill me - my alternate reality at the time), each sunrise, the sound of the cranes flying overhead, the ability to walk, being (somewhat) sane and least in the same "reality" as most of you, being able to go to the bathroom like a normal person - well, just LOTS of things. :)
And, I'm thankful that I am able to give back to the community that I love.

I'm hoping you'll join me in showing gratitude.

This year, I want to return to the volunteering celebrations I've had in past years where we've painted (at Citizen Advocacy), we've called (for Stuhr Museum), we've built (Habitat for Humanity).
Please join me for "Vol-a-palooza!" on Saturday, April 16th from 9am-noon at Stuhr Museum, Grand Island NE.

We will be helping Stuhr get ready for the opening of Railroad Town and we'll be doing a variety of things - possibly painting, sprucing up the gardens and cleaning up in general. Dress to get dirty!
At noon, we'll share a meal in the garden area, no need to bring anything, I'll take care of that.

If you are unable to help physically but want to do something AND even if you are available to come out to Stuhr, please consider filling a grocery sack with non-perishable food items or paper products (Food Stamps don't cover toilet paper or any paper products) that we'll donate to "Food for Thought". It's a program to send a backpack of food home with selected students. Ten families from eight schools in Grand Island with the highest poverty levels are selected by school social workers and administration. The school ensures a hearty breakfast and lunch, but this will ensure they eat on the weekends, too.

To help me make sure there's enough lunch to fill everyone up, please let me know if you're able to come out. Bring family or friends - the more the merrier!
Plus... I consider strangers to be friends I haven't met yet anyway.

~Happy Birthday to ME!~

In abundance,
Anita Lewandowski Brown

The Power of Affirmations


"I live and dwell in the totality of possibilities.
Where I am, there is all good.
Life is wonderful and I am always moving to the greater good."

I'm an avid believer in affirmations, in fact I have several I repeat on the way to work every day. Some days other trivialities of the world take up space in my mind and I'm not affirming on the drive... in fact, I'd fallen out of the practice until Wednesday, October 27, 2010. For some reason, on that eight minute drive I said those affirmations over and over and over with such force and belief that I was WILLING it to be!

It was about 8:45am when my leader came and asked me to meet with him.
I knew what it was about.

On October 1, my company had announced they were exiting the medical insurance business and that, because of that decision, several employees would be laid off. We would find out prior to November 1 if we were affected and, if so, when.

As we walked to a meeting room, I sighed a BIG sigh.
It had been a good run. Twenty-six years and counting. A position I loved. Had learned alot along the way and increased by skills. Had greatly enlarged my network of contacts, friends and associates. And it had provided me security and income as I raised my three children. I rationalized that it was okay, they were all raised now, with children of their own.

We sat down at the table and my comment was "Just give me a good date :)", referring to the lay off date. We all knew they would be staggered and I was hoping for one in the future since I was scheduled for surgery in just a few days on 11/2.

I received a "second quarter, 2011" date.

I know I was in shock but honestly, I was okay.
I knew it would all work out.

After all... I'd reminded myself on the way to work:
"Today is a new day. I am now in charge.
Now is the moment in which I am creating the future in my life and my world.
Life is a joy and filled with love.
I am healthy and filled with energy.
All is well in my world.
I prosper wherever I turn. My income is constantly increasing.
I am willing to change and grow.
I am loving, lovable and loved.
Everything I need comes to me in the perfect time sequence.
It is becoming easy to make change.
I am free of the past.
I live and dwell in the totality of possibilities. Where I am, there is all good.
Life is wonderful, all is perfect in my world and I always move to the greatest good."

And so it is.

In Abundance,
Anita Lewandowski Brown

The Many Things Mohawk I have Learned

My husband is Native Mohawk from upstate New York. Over the years I have learned many things that intrigue and interest me. I want to share a few of these with you.

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There is no Mohawk word in his clan for goodbye. The closest is "dokshaw" (and I am not spelling this correctly) which means (loosely) "Later."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because we always hope to see our friends again. We don't recognize the word goodbye."

* * *


The Tree of Peace is a tall white pine that has been planted by the Onondaga, representing the great binding law which unified the five Nations. The cardinal points for north, south, east, and west are represented by four white roots growing from the Tree of Peace. The number four has great significance in Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) lore. Four also represents the four winds that blow. An eagle sits atop the tree of peace, watching over the five Nations, ready to cry out at the first sign of approaching danger. The eagle is considered to be a messenger sent by the Creator. The next symbol is that of a circle, representing unity and the cycle of life. According to Haudenosaunee lore, the Peace Maker made the Iroquois chiefs gather around the Tree of Peace, forming a circle by holding hands in order to keep the peace. The next symbol is a bundle of five arrows, each representing one of the five founding tribes of the Iroquois League. The Peace Maker demonstrated that one arrow could easily be broken, while a bundle five would remain strong.

All life is believed to have come from the Sky World, which is represented as a dome, or arch. In addition to the Tree of Peace, the Haudenosaunee often make references to the Celestial Tree, from which all lights in the Sky World originate. The Earth itself is represented by Turtle Island a giant turtle whose carapace features thirteen plates, each of which represent one of thirteen moons that make up an entire year. North-America (Mother Earth) is often represented as a turtle.

* * *

He speaks of "seeing thunder and hearing lightning".
"Don't you mean HEARING thunder and SEEING lightning?" I ask.
When you are in tune, even those things that are silent speak to you.
Even those things that are seemingly invisible can be seen.
I've thought about that a lot.
A beautiful thing to consider.

He often says, "There is a lesson in the leaf of every tree and every blade of grass has a story to tell." What I've learned is that even seemingly inanimate objects in this world have a spirit.

LISTEN. See what the Universe is saying to you at this very moment.

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He is an artist and author and many years ago, he dotted (he does pointillism) a piece titled "Living Spirit", shown at the top of this post. Here is his story that goes with this piece:
All things in life, whether animate or inanimate, have a spirit and these spirits speak to those who have the ears to hear. For the one who is able to hear this voice, the world and everything in it becomes a living, breathing being and things take on a life of their own.

There is a lesson in the leaf of every tree and every blade of grass has a story to tell. It is for each of us to learn to listen and hear this voice so that we may learn from the earth.

In "Living Spirit", the inanimate comes alive and the spirit screams its message to the old one who respectfully listens to its voice.
* * *

I hope I will learn to listen. To hear.
To hear the lessons of other cultures and incorporate them into my own.

...I hope you've enjoyed these tidbits from my husband, Ralph P. Brown.
To see more of his artwork, visit

Through Which Door do YOU Enter?

There is a museum in Los Angeles called the Museum of Tolerance.

When folks enter the museum, they enter a foyer and are greeted by a volunteer who asks them to enjoy this area and wait for their guide. The guide enters, welcomes them and tells them a bit about the tour they are about to take. Then the guide will say:
"Before you, you see two doors. One is marked 'Prejudiced' and the other is marked 'Not Prejudiced'. Decide now through with door you should enter."

Those visiting are alarmed and not prepared for this. Usually they look around at each other, not knowing what to do, not wanting to be the one who steps forward. But there will be one brave soul who walks up to the "Not Prejudiced" door and turns the knob on the door.

It is locked.

What is the story?
Each of us is prejudiced.
None of is "there". We all have work to do. Work to do on ourselves.
Be aware and find the ways in which you might be prejudiced.
Awareness is the key.
Once you are aware, you can work to evolve and change yourself, your thoughts, your actions.

You can, you know.
See people for who they are. Individuals. With no regard to race, creed, religion or anything else to which you might assign judgment.
Love one another.

Never Underestimate. Never assume.

Always on the lookout for some activity that will "teach", I asked my oldest granddaughters to accompany me to a Holocaust Survivor banquet at a museum in our state. It was going to be a dressy affair, a banquet with Jewish appetizers, guests of great importance, some talks and remarks from Holocaust survivors. These survivors were now old, but during the Holocaust were in their early twenties, were teens and some were children.

I drove the ninety miles to pick them up. They were waiting and all dolled up and looked very grown up! (They were ten at the time.) We drove the additional thirty or so miles to the museum. It was decorated tastefully but the real beauty was the pictures of Holocaust survivors on the wall. Current pictures of them, accompanied by a short story of something the remembered from the Holocaust.

This was not like any other museum show I've gone to, where you slowly walk along the wall and look at the pictures. Every person there would stop. Look at the pictures. Read each story. Look at the picture again. There were tears. You could tell people were connecting the stories they'd heard in history class with real people.

Dear Dad

Oh, and there was really good food. Food I couldn't even pronounce and had no clue what it was. You could tell that some of the guests of honor were THRILLED with the menu, to be eating cultural tidbits that reminded them of who they were, of where they came from.

Front step chilling by Sol Lang
After a bit, the program began. The museum director said a few words and then invited a few of the survivors up to talk. Their stories were incredible. Engaging. Unbelievable. They shared the torture and fear they endured, but they also shared how those trials, those atrocities, made them better people. More tears.

This was a fundraiser for the museum as they were trying to raise enough money to KEEP the photo display they had borrowed for this event. The photos of the survivors. Their stories.

After the speakers (and of course, several standing ovations), the museum director once again took center stage to appeal to the audience for donations. On each table were donation slips. These were slipped into a paperback book that included each picture and story that was in the exhibit. I wasn't sure the girls were picking up on this part (asking for money) and worried that they might be bored and thinking... "Grandma was nuts if she thought we'd have fun at this event!" I noticed them looking at the books and reading the donation slips. The donation slips were premarked with dollar amounts $1000, $500, $250, $100 and "other". (Keep in mind this was a high-faluting group, waaay the other end of my socio-economic upbringing or status.)

One of the girls tapped my arm. "Grandma, do you think it would be okay if I gave them $25.00? I have that much in my bank at home." The other said, "I only have $17 but I want to give it to them, too."

"Do you know what they're going to do with this money?"

"Yeah. They're going to make sure other kids see these pictures and read these stories. Maybe things like this (the Holocaust) won't ever happen again if kids learn about it." "And if they see that these were little kids and ugly things were done to them maybe we won't have war," piped in the other twin.

I have never been more proud of them. And I'm not sure I ever can be.

We made a point to stay and talk to some of the survivors and I wanted them to meet the Museum Director. Not really because he was exceptional. More for his benefit. I wanted him to know the lesson I had learned that night.

The lesson that you should NEVER underestimate the power of love. The power of a story. The power of human connection. And you should NEVER assume who will act upon that love, that story, that connection. You see, never did it even occur to me that the girls would consider a donation. And I'm guessing he didn't either.

Never underestimate.
Never assume.

Almost a year ago


Just remembering (which is a funny term since I was so out of it I can't remember anything much that happened for about six weeks) a year ago.

Had ulcer rumblings that went untreated and ended up with a perforated ulcer which caused all kinds of hurt (organs shutting down, lung collapse, blood clots and the list goes on...)

Just reflecting with gratitude for Dr. McBride and her staff at the University of Nebraska Med Center in Omaha and all those who offered up prayers on my behalf.

What blessings I received, what lessons I learned... it's all good. Life is grand. God is good.

The Virtual Dr's Appointment


Now, many of you know that I've had my share of health issues in the past year.

In a situation where life and death choices had to be made, my daughter made the decision to transfer me to the University of Nebraska Med Center by ambulance last spring. Now I want you to know that I LOVE my doctor and all her attendings and nurses and entourage in Omaha. But I do not like the two and a half hour drive every time I need to see her. It's bad enough when I'm hurting and want to drive across town to the ER and instead of that, call to beg a friend or relative to drive me to Omaha... but for the easy stuff, there's just gotta be a better way!

I'm proud to let you know that I've found it!

Monday morning I woke up and my t-shirt was damp. What?! So I looked and my stomach incision (it's a big one) that had complete healed following surgery in November had broken open and was oozing stuff. (I know, not real appetizing.) Thinking that this wasn't a normal thing, I contemplated the drive to Omaha to have the doc look at it. No, no, say it ain't so. I don't wanna drive 5 hours and sit and wait and use up a whole day! So all day long I thought I should but I didn't want to. Woke up Tuesday and still oozing, the opening was bigger and I knew something had to be done.

Technological, I am not. But I grabbed my digital camera and snapped a couple pix of my stomach area (not a pretty picture).


I emailed the doc's nurse with the photo attached and explained the ooze and no pain and how long and all the specifics. In twenty minutes, the doc's administrative assistant called me to say that the doc had diagnosed the problem (cellulitis) and prescribed antibiotics to pick up within the hour at the pharmacy.

Voila! Is that cool or what? I am so proud of me for figuring out how to do that and for thinking of that as an option to a whole day ordeal.

Now, the next step is figuring out how to take care of myself in such a way I don't have ooze or a need to go to the doc... I have some ideas. Wish me luck!