Beyond Life's Challenges

It's time to think, see and live…BEYOND!

41 years later: Freedom and independence was bittersweet

Forty-one years ago…

I was pulling into the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Los Angeles about this time early in the morning. My mother drove me, as I did not even have my drivers’ license.

I had few friends to speak of as I had not been allowed to forge the friendships that most kids do, so it was just my Mom and me. (I learned later that the friendship situation was not because of Mom, but I will tell that story later. )

A few days earlier, Mom threw me a surprise going-away party. Some of the friends/acquaintances I did have showed up, but for the most part it was attended by the adults who were my mother’s friends, or adult relatives, and people we knew from my mother’s shop, a Curries’ Ice Cream Store.

My parents were already divorced My father did not attend, and I am not sure now if he was even invited.

When I called him several weeks before my 18th birthday to tell him I wanted to join the military and needed his signature on the paperwork (women needed parents’ permission until the age of 21), he got angry and refused to sign it.

“There are only two kinds of women who join the military. Whores and lesbians. Which one are you?”

I did not know what either of those two types of women were (yes, I was that naive) , but I knew it was an insult to me.  I went to the dictionary to look them both up.

I called my recruiter and lied to him that I did not know how to reach my father.  I remember distinctly using the words, he abandoned the family.”  At 17, I suppose I felt  justified in using those words.

My paperwork was pushed through with a waiver for paternal consent.

So, here I was finally on my way to freedom from a crazy, mixed-up family to a life of me making my own decisions.  Of course, I see the irony in that decision today.

As my Mom pulled around the circle of the MEPS center, I remember not wanting to have her walk-in with me, but simply drop me off.  Secretly, I wanted her to put her arms around me and tell me that she did not want me to go.  I do not remember if she came in with me or not.

That whole day is a bit of a blur, though I remember raising my hand and taking the oath of enlistment. I remember a lot of paperwork. I also remember waiting around for a lot of time.

My clearest memory of that day is being on the airplane, my first plane ride. I was off to San Antonio to Lackland Air Force Base for Basic Training and was the day I, with many others, were off…

…into the wild, blue yonder.

One more thing that I remember very clearly of the day was my mother and I both crying at the MEPS Center, though I do not remember if it was in the building or out in the parking lot.  She did not generally show her emotion, nor did she speak a lot of it, either, but I will never forget her last words to me before I had to do all those things needed before I was processed…

“My baby is growing up.”


Looking at life through the eyes of my six-year-old nephew

“When I’m 20, how old will you be, Auntie Coco?”

The words brought tears to my eyes tonight, my thoughts going immediately to the idea that I would not be around to see his 20th birthday.

I have 10 nieces and nephews. Each of them are very special to me, whether they realize it or not. Unfortunately, I do not know most of them very well, nor do they know me.  In fact, to some of them, I am the “old aunt” who is (fill-in-the-blank-with-an-adjective-that-may-or-may-not-be-accurate), their view of me being some story of me told to them by someone else.

That is how it is in some families.  That is certainly how it is for me, being the oldest child of a family of five with two-and-a-half to four years age difference between each of us, and my growing up and leaving home at age 18 when I joined the military.

My youngest nephew, Aiden, was born six years ago today.  I have had the opportunity to see him throughout his young life.

I missed his being born by only a few days, as he decided to wait until after I returned home to Washington to be born.  I am glad , however, to have had the time my youngest sister during those last days of her pregnancy. I went back out in the fall and was able to meet him as a tiny infant.

A few months later, my sister, niece and nephew moved to Washington, and we have had the opportunity to build a family relationship over these last six years that has been relatively foreign to me during the previous 35 years.  I have been included in and able to go to concerts and graduation, birthday parties, holiday get-togethers, and so much more.  My youngest sister, who is more than 13 years younger than me, has helped to bridge and fill a large gap that was missing in my life, as circumstances of life have taken  twists and turns.

Through my nephew, I have seen pure joy, as many receive with their grandchildren, which I was not able to see during these same stages with my own two.  Once again, life’s challenges have prevented that, which affects the relationships we share.

Aiden has filled that void for me, and we have a special bond, as no other, even though we do not see one another often enough.

When I called him tonight to wish him a “Happy Birthday,” and he asked me the age question (followed by the, “when I’m 30, 40, and 50″ follow-ups),  I felt an incredible sense of fear that this cancer will take away the experience of joy of seeing him grow up.  There was a sense of sadness that he, too, might not know the whole me I want him to know, just as with my grandchildren and other nieces and nephews.

I realized that as this little boy asked me how old I will be when, he does not have the same sense of time that I do.  At six-years-old, he is in the moment, and lives for right now. Of course, he does not understand all the realities of life that he may face in his adulthood. He is simply living his life at six years old, excited about getting a bike and looking forward to his next birthday.

I was reminded of a big lesson tonight, when I called…

Live in the moment.  Dream big. Hope for more.

I am looking forward to seeing him on Sunday at his party at Chuck E. Cheese’s, where I plan on being a kid with him.  Laughing with him, playing with him, and his friends, my niece, my sister and whomever else shows up.  I don’t care how silly I look or how foolish I may sound.

I look forward to the surprise on his face when he returns home (I’ll be there to see it) from the party, and he walks in to see the drum set that I bought him for his birthday and set up while he was away at church before meeting at the pizza parlor.

But most of all, I look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with him.

Let’s see, Aiden…Auntie Coco will be 73 when you are 20…83 when you are 30, 93 at 40…and 103 when you turn 50.

Let’s keep dreaming, my dear, sweet nephew!

What Even Robin Williams Probably Didn’t Understand About Depression (by Theresa Wiza)

What Even Robin Williams Probably Didn’t Understand About Depression.

This article by Theresa Wiza is self-disclosure and wisdom that few writers are willing to share so openly.

In light of the recent news about the tragic situation in the life of comic and actor Robin Williams, and his family, this author gives you more than just a glimpse of what may be going through the minds of many who suffer (often) silently.

Technological Challenges of an Otherwise Adept Communicator

I am a communicator.

I like to talk. I like to write.

I like to interact with others.

I know that technology has opened up the doors and made things possible in ways we never dreamed possible.  But even as I try to maneuver through a process of trying to figure out what direction to take my blog, there are too many options and some of the language words used make absolutely no sense to me, let alone trying to understand how this all works.

Technology, though it has helped me in some ways, has left me feeling rather inept as a communicator.

Perhaps the time has come that I take a class somewhere.  Is there an adult education class at the local community college on “How to Blog Using WordPress”?

I am sure that there is a tutorial somewhere on this site that should take me through it, but what about those of us who learn better in a classroom, with collaborative, face-to-face learning?  I have watched videos, but I value the one-on-one connections with other human beings, where I can ask questions, get answers, and have someone talk me through the process interactively.

It has been suggested that I simply hire someone to do it for me.  My experience with that has been that the one who is hired is unwilling to do it collaboratively, but is impatient and wants to do it his way and has no time for me wanting to understand the process.

So there is just one of my dilemmas, as I move forward.  Any suggestions or advice?

I simply ask that you do not send me a tutorial for said advice. ;-)


Making Changes Soon

I am at a crossroads in some of what I want to do with this blog and where I want to go with a coaching business.  I’m looking for a mentor, and others with whom to consult, regarding getting things on the right track, and launched before the end of the year.

I like collaboration and finding the right people to bounce ideas off of seems difficult for me.  I have not yet figured out exactly why.

But, there are some things churning.  I’m also in a process of purging myself of those elements that do not serve well.  This is especially difficult, but necessary.  I simply need to remember that progress is more important than perfection.

As soon as I figure out the details, I will disclose.  My target date is in the late fall.

In the meantime, I will continue to post here from time-to-time, as well as the other sites.  Learning more about what is possible using social media comes slowly for me, as I am also still working, but I’ll get it figured out.

So, tell me…what changes are you making in your life?  In your business?  I’m curious!!

Another Birthday: 59 and Time to Shine

10577148_10152632930742451_1949963698388710712_n  Another birthday has come and is nearly over, though I use my August to celebrate each day as a reminder to find something in each day that is good. Today I celebrated another day, another year, another birthday.  Two years ago, there were many of us who were not too sure that I would see the end of the year, let alone another birthday.  And here I am, now at the age of 59, getting ready to enter into my second day of what will be my 60th year of life.

Life is one of those things that I have taken for granted so much of the time.  I know that I am not alone in that, as it takes some of us a bit longer to realize what is truly important. I have certainly come to understand it much better.  I still wish that I had more influence in this world, so that others do not have to take so long and waste as much precious time as I have over the years.

Rather than ruminate on that, I will simply say that I am so grateful to have lived two more years of life, and my plan is to get another decade or two out of it.  But for now, I shall simply enjoy this last year before the next milestone.

And I must admit, I don’t think I look half-bad for an old gal of 59.  In fact, I don’t think I look half-bad at all.  There are just some things that get better with age.

When you add a little heat…

…amazing transformations take place.

This certainly happens with glass, as you can see from the pictures of the first firing of my initial projects.

There is another firing yet, where these pieces will be “slumped.”   This is a technique which will shape them over a mold and they will be subjected to the same high temperatures in the kiln. These two flat pieces will be transformed into a small dish.


The first firing 060214


Personal growth is often like that, as well.   We may feel that our lives are “flat” and have no depth.  Or perhaps, we have endured so many challenges that we feel that we have been left shattered with nothing more than a few shards to proved that we ever existed. Can we take those broken pieces that seemingly have no other use to us and turn them into something functional, or magnificent and beautiful?

We must begin to look beyond our own pain, fear and ego to be able to push past the discomfort. Until we do, we never can see what is truly possible.

Is it time for you to turn up the heat?

© Copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved, Author Coral Levang
Photo credit: Julie Misterian, co-owner of Misterian Roses



The coup loses its power with a smile

This morning’s post at the other site where I write, I wrote about a “coup d’état” that was taking over my day, my body, and my week off.  (Click here to read the article.)

As I look at the challenge for the day, it was to try to rid myself of whatever it is that is trying to claim my time this week.  Unfortunately, though I rested and drank plenty of liquids, amped up on vitamin C, and did my best to drink plenty of broth and eat some lean protein and vegetables, things are settling into my chest.

I did make my way reluctantly out the door for a drive into Lakewood, which is about an hour drive one way for me.  I have a friend who administers my Octreotide LAR shot once a month for me, and it was “my time of the month” for that injection.   Even though I felt like garbage, seeing he and his wife and their little boy for a few minutes is always a joy.

So many people, when feeling poorly, act in a way that brings others down.  No matter what we are feeling, it is important to be able to find some joy in life.

Tonight I shared with them some pictures, and a recording from 60 years ago that is very special to me. My friends thought it was a picture of me, but it was actually my mother.  I felt especially close to my Mom tonight, because of it.

And I realized that no matter how poorly we feel, we can bring a smile to others’ faces, and they to ours.

Now, back to resisting this coup…

Goodnight, my friends.

Art projects are my challenge for the day

First Project OrangeTurq Small Bowl Stage 1  053114


Challenges come in many forms.  My challenge today came in an art form.

Today’s challenge reached down and grabbed me in a place I have not dealt with   in a very long time. I have never felt comfortable where art projects are concerned.

I went to a glass studio to make my first glass projects.  The owners of the studio are sisters, and have become friends of mine.

I was with two other friends, one of whom has done it before.  The other went for the first time.  The owners of the shop are also friends.

The initial beginner project gives the opportunity to make two small projects that will be each be a “bowl” to use for candles or candies or whatever I choose to do with them.

At first, I was excited about it.  But as I get into doing anything artistic, I find myself shutting down, closing myself off, and not wanting to proceed.   I actually started to feel a lump in my throat and wanted to cry today.

I suppose I should start to write about the reasons why, but I am not quite ready yet to delve into the anxiety that I associate with art of any kind.  I will in due time.

I did finish putting the two projects together, ready to go into the kiln.  I am not yet certain that they will look “good enough” after firing that I will be proud enough to display them.  I also did not like that I was comparing mine to the others my friends were putting together.

So, here are the beginnings of my attempt at glass art.  I will share the next two stages, once I receive the pictures.

I really need to learn not to be so hard on myself where artistic expression is concerned.

First Project BrownBlue Small Bowl 053114 Stage 1


From A to Zebra

I tackled a writing project to describe myself using the alphabet as my prompt.  Several of my writer friends suggested it, and I put my own spin on it.

I used the ABC method as a tool to assist my clients in a way to build a list of things to say, when they feel “stuck.”  It is an exercise that is difficult for many of them.

Because I believe that I cannot ask another to do something I will not try myself, it only seemed fair that I take the project on myself.  The twist for me was that I could not use anything to describe myself that I would go down a negative trail.  It made the exercise particularly difficult sometimes, because it is easy for us to think of the things others seem to dislike about us.

We begin to use adjectives that describe behavior as words to describe who we are as  human beings.  We use those words to negate or excuse bad behavior. Or maybe, we do not know how to shed ourselves of those labels others give to us.

Though difficult, I did finally finish with this project.  I  went back to read all of the series  and am mostly satisfied with the words I chose to describe myself and for the reasons why.

What 26 words would you have used?  Are any of them the same as those I chose to describe me?

Even if you are not a blogger, this exercise is one from which we all can benefit.

The ABCs of Me…

Have a great weekend!


(To read the first of the series click here.   The others are listed in the first of the series.)


00 a zebraPhoto credit:  MorgueFile




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