Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

My friend, Nuria July 13, 2016

Filed under: Blessings,Girlfriends — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:51 am
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I wish you could have met my friend, Nuria Hawkins Kudlach. If ever there was a person who could put a smile on your face with a single comment or facial expression, it was Nuria. She had this quirky sense of humor that could range from the sincere to the hilarious at a moment’s notice. She looked for the good in people and would go to any lengths if she felt it could make a difference and make someone’s life better.
We met in high school. I had moved to Carlisle and we had the same lunch period… so we became friends. We had a class or two together but went our separate ways for college and our “young married” years. We came together again around the time she had her gastric bypass. Her surgery was done at MCV in Richmond and we lived close enough to be her “way point” any time she had an appointment. I looked forward to those times when she would burst through the door for an overnight visit and her positive energy would fill the house! She loved to shop and loved a bargain, so our visits always included trips to TJMaxx and Marshalls. Wandering through stores with her was therapeutic and we’d chat about life, kids, challenges, and goals. We were so similar in so many ways that it was as if I had another sister. We had the best time doing “nothing”. A visit could include a shopping trip but it could just as easily include sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee while we talk over what was going on in our lives. Nuria was always interested in world events but equally involved in her own community. I loved hearing how much she adored Johnstown and that beautiful home she’d worked so hard to create!
When my younger son was recruited by a D-II school in Greensburg, Nuria opened her home to me anytime I traveled to see him. I would drop him off and then spend the night with Nuria and her family… It didn’t seem to matter what else might be going on, I was always welcomed with open arms. Her home was inviting and warm… and I never felt like an intruder. I remember that Al traveled every Monday through Thursday, so she was protective of her Fridays, since those were days when the two of them could spend time together before Alex got home from school. They planned lots of weekend family activities and took their beagle, Sparky, with them at every opportunity. I thought it was great that they did so much together as a family even though Alex and Al weren’t into sports. My family did the same, although ours were centered around sporting events, so we shared that passion of family togetherness.
I became concerned about Nuria when they moved from Johnstown to State College. I always felt that she’d be ok, but she shared that the move wasn’t as positive as she’d have liked. She said they’d moved to be closer to Al’s new job, but that he’d still be traveling quite a bit. She also shared that Alex was even more insulated and isolated than he had become during his HS years, which had her worried, but she was sure that he’d “grow out of it” in time. Nuria didn’t love the house in State College like she had loved the house she’d built in Johnstown… but she liked the bones of the house and had plans to renovate when and where she could.
Nuria had a really hard time when her mom died. She was an only child and had become her mom’s caretaker, something we discussed especially as my mom was becoming increasingly dependent on me. She shared information on wills, medication, doctors, continued care, and dealing with “parenting” our parents… all things that were hard to discuss but always shared from a loving perspective. Nuria felt great remorse that she wasn’t physically present when her mom died… something she internalized until she tried cutting herself in order to ease the pain. Hospitalization did little to help and she was so embarrassed to have been put in such a position that she refused to return to that hospital for any medical procedure afterward. She felt that they would always see her with that event in the back of their minds and she didn’t want to be seen as a victim.
That’s part of what makes things so hard now. The Nuria I knew would be so pissed that people now see her as a victim. She fought so hard for the underdog… first for children and youth, then for beagles, but always for her family and friends. She helped countless people in so many ways and always wanted to find (and fix) any situation she felt was wrong. She told me that she and Al were having problems but that they were in counseling. She did say that she felt they were headed for a divorce but she never expressed concern for her personally. I wholeheartedly believe that she would have mentioned that concern if she honestly thought her husband could plan to hurt her.  
Hearing *his* account of her murder is so unfathomable to me. Nuria had a wicked sense of humor and could make scathing comments, but anyone who truly knew her, knew that she could never hurt another human being. She had a quick wit and could easily throw back a cringeworthy comment that would stop someone in their tracks, but she was absolutely not a violent person. I do know that she was being verbally abused, both by her husband and son when they used the “C” word at her, but her plan for the future didn’t include violence. She had worked hard, gotten her Realtor’s license, and was already finding success in her new career path. Her plan for the future was one in which she could provide for herself and her son… Her plan was NOT to die at the hand of the man she married.
Shortly after Nuria’s murder, our friend Cindy and I realized that there was no one else to write Nuria’s obituary. Included here is the result of our efforts to honor our friend.

Nuria Hawkins Kudlach March 11, 1964-August 30, 2015 

Nuria Kudlach, 51, died on August 30, 2015, in State College. Born March 11, 1964, she was the daughter of Kenneth and Meftuha Adyar Hawkins. She grew up in Spain and Portugal, until her father retired from the United States Army, in Carlisle when she was of school age. Nuria is survived by her husband, Alois A. Kudlach; and a son, Alexander Paul Kudlach, of State College. She was preceded in death by her parents. She was a 1982 graduate of Carlisle High School. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Penn State in 1987. 

Her first career after college was with Children and Youth Services in McSherrystown. She married in 1989, and moved to California for a short time before they moved to the Washington, D.C. area where she became a full time mother and did volunteer work. The family lived in Johnstown while Alex attended school. In 2013, Nuria relocated with her family to her beloved State College. She recently started a new career as a Realtor with Home Edge Realty Group, LLC, State College. 

Nuria had a smile that would light up the room and an infectious laugh she shared with everyone she met. She went all-in on everything she did, from planning events, remodeling her home, to cooking and crafting. She was an avid Penn State fan and always showed her Penn State pride wherever she went. Nuria was full of life and was always planning gatherings for family and friends; her door was always open for visitors. She would do anything to help a friend and would always fight for what was right. 

A private memorial service will be held for family and close friends at 12:00 noon on Sunday, September 20, c2015, at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton St., State College. Memorial contributions may be directed to Nittany Beagle Rescue, P.O. Box 127, West Decatur, PA 16878, in memory of Nuria Kudlach. Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at http://www.kochfuneralhome. com or visit us on Facebook.


When Someone Truly Cares… May 12, 2014

I had a birthday recently… a “milestone” birthday”.  I had anticipated it and knew that it was going to be mentioned with gentle jokes, happy laughter, and loving joy… what I hadn’t expected were the feelings that hit me as the subsequent days rolled along.

Maybe it had to do with the fact that we recently moved away from our home of 13 years.  Since this was the place where I’d put in the most effort in making, and keeping, friends, I was actually looking forward to this birthday.  I was looking forward to wearing my “It’s my Birthday” pin (which I apparently forgot to pack) and have random people wish me a Happy Birthday.  I was looking forward to scads of emails, texts, and Facebook messages sending a bit of birthday love my way.  I was even looking forward to having some of my “nearest and dearest” complain that I wasn’t close by to visit for coffee or a drink.  Isn’t that what usually happens when someone close to us celebrates a birthday of any age?

Before I go any further, I must say that I was overwhelmed by the kindness and love that were showered on me throughout my birthday weekend. There were texts, calls, emails, and so very many loving FB messages that I truly felt blessed… and I thank each and every one of you for reaching out in any way possible.  My mom called and invited me to meet her for lunch… and  brought a special birthday cake.  My husband planned a special dinner at my college friend’s restaurant so we could celebrate.  Thank God for Facebook (really!) for reminding people about my birthday, because my feed was going crazy (in a delightful way) with wishes of fun, joy, love, etc… I read and appreciated every single one.  I was also touched that so many sent emails or texts… in this age of instant/constant activity, I was grateful for all forms of communication.  The cards that arrived at our new address or forwarded from our old one were especially sweet… when one isn’t “on the clock” or scheduled to  be somewhere, the trip down to the mailroom can sometimes be the brightest spot in an entire day.  I pray that I remember this piece of information in the coming years when friends move, because any and all written correspondence has been a balm to my bruised soul.  FYI:  No… bills do not count as “correspondence”.  😉EffortNotExcuse

What I wasn’t expecting was the sadness that I felt in the subsequent days when a few select people in my life chose to ignore my birthday.  I truly cannot fathom the reason for someone “forgetting” the birthday of another.  We are bombarded with information in so many different forms that it ends up feeling intentional when such a slight happens.  While excuses will most likely be made as time goes on, I don’t know that I’ll be able to simply forget this year.  The quote included in this post says it all, in my opinion.

This post isn’t meant to change the past or alter the future.  It’s simply my way of trying to let go of expectations and move on with my life.  I understand that everyone deals with loss in their own ways… some attack it head on while others try and pretend it doesn’t exist… but that doesn’t mean that I have to accept the subsequent feelings of loss that I experience when someone makes the choice to make an excuse instead of making an effort.

I admit to being one of those people who keeps a mental tally of those who slight and those who don’t. I recognize that this is a character flaw, but it has saved me in the past and I’m reluctant to change at this point in my life.  After all, I’m now FIFTY years old… I believe that I am old enough to choose to forgive & forget or to stand up for myself and not allow myself to be used as a doormat.

I’m going to choose me this time.  I believe that my feelings are important… they matter… and if someone in my life doesn’t feel the same way, then I am going to try to let them go.  It’s not easy to leave a life that you worked hard to build, but we each should understand and support the fact that our lives will take us on our own paths.  Changing the course of your life doesn’t mean you have to shed those with whom you have shared your life… it should mean that you do the work to keep those people close.   NOTE: For the most part, my HS friends and my HoodLums understand this in spades… each one of you is a gift more precious than gold in my book and you each have my eternal love and friendship.

As the saying goes, “when someone truly cares about you, they make an effort, not an excuse”.  It would be so sad if this were the end, but sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles… right?


Lifelong Girlfriends August 31, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Girlfriends,Life Balance — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:26 pm
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There’s something so special about “lifelong girlfriends”. You know what I mean. Those women who have known you the longest and like you anyway? Those women who met you before you really knew who you were and helped form the person you are today? Those women who know your secrets and share your history? There are some girlfriends who become your new “adult girlfriends”, but there’s something so amazingly wonderful about your girlfriends from High School.

I moved to a new town at the beginning of ninth grade. We lived in a neighborhood adjacent to the High School and began the journey of meeting people, finding friends, and trying desperately not to be a dork. I tried out for the Marching Band (a huge deal in my new hometown) and didn’t make it that year. I played in the Orchestra, tried out for (and made) the appropriate basketball and volleyball teams, and settled into our new church youth group. I made the Marching Band in my 10th grade year and decided to be the volleyball manager when I became interested in participating in our HS musicals. I was a Mat Maid (who came up with such a weird name for wrestling managers?) and sang in our church musical productions. I was busy and loved it… and I was blessed to some of the most wonderful women along the way.

During college, I didn’t spend a lot of time at home… I was busy with all the things that commanded my attention at that time. After all, these were the women who would help me figure out how to become an adult. With college completed, my attention was commanded by my first job and then my engagement/wedding, followed quickly by years away as I began to carve out my life as an adult. Being a wife and a mom gave me an identity, but my friendships were primarily child-wife centered. I had some friends who met me as an individual, but I was most seen in one of those familiar roles. I didn’t miss being back in my hometown… until this past reunion weekend when I got reacquainted with the women I met over thirty years ago.

Yes… it’s been thirty years since we graduated from High School. There have been many births, deaths, weddings, divorces, children, grandchildren, moves, returns, and LIFE. We’ve each lived the past thirty years, with varying amounts of contact with one another, but this past reunion was something really special.

I have no idea if it was just the reach of Facebook that made this reunion work so well, but I do know that I had the most incredible time reconnecting with these women. Yes… there were men in our class and yes… there were a bunch of men at our reunion, but it was the women who made the weekend so amazingly special. To me, it felt as if we all fell into a familiarity that would have taken days to create under different circumstances. We laughed until we cried… we danced any and every line dance that the DJ played for us… we sang (shouted) song lyrics that had us laughing all over again. We did drink (wow… that flavored moonshine was amazing) but it was the fact that we were together that was important. We hadn’t seen one another, as a collective group, in 30 years yet we connected in a way that I think was really special.

All too soon, our weekend was over. We went back to our respective lives and vowed to keep in touch. Thankfully, one of us decided to hold us all to that promise… and started a FB chat group we now call “My girls of CHS”. I cannot tell you how much I love this idea.

Being able to continue to keep in contact with these women, as often as we can, is such a blessing. They connect me to my roots… they keep me grounded… and they love me because they know me, and have known me, for most of my life. These are my Lifelong Girlfriends… and I am blessed to have each one of you in my life.


The thing about Friends… June 28, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Communication,Girlfriends,Life Balance,Navy Life,Parenting — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:52 am

I have truly been blessed with some wonderful friends over the years.  Throughout my life, some amazing people have shown up, stuck around, been there for the best and worst, or simply popped in at the most God-divined moments that I feel the need to write and share with the blogging world.  Maybe you, too, have had some similar situations?

The friends of my youth:  These people met me when my parents’ marriage ripped apart, my world collapsed, and I was learning how to be Humpty Dumpty by putting all the pieces back together again.  I tended to categorize my friends geographically or by activities… those I knew through one HS or another, those I met in marching band, those from Camp Robin Hood, those who knew me through plays and musicals, or those who knew me at church.  Many of these groups of people didn’t coincide, so my opportunities for knowing a large number of people was great… I just wish I had realized that at the time.   I wasn’t a particularly unkind child, but I do wish that I had paid attention more in those formative years.  Having the gift of seeing these people now that we’re adults provides a glimpse into the life I lived then and allows me to use hindsight to foster better and more lasting relationships with some really terrific people.

The friends of my college years:  The people from my college years saw me though the most important and formative years for my personality.  I loved and lost… I triumphed and failed… and I was slowly able to craft myself into someone of whom I could be proud.  Not “proud” like, “look how cool I am”… but more along the lines of taking pride in creating a person on whom others could trust and depend.  I learned to make my word not only matter, but make it meaningful.  I found people who helped me learn self-respect and taught me to expect that from others.  I truly believe that my four years at Hood College, and the friends who meant the most to me, helped form me into the person I wanted to become as an adult.

The friends of my adulthood:  These people have watched me grow as a new wife and mother… new to the transitional life in the military… and learning to be “an adult” instead of a child.  It was the women I met in these years who demonstrated to me the attributes I most wanted to emulate and incorporate into my own life.   Seeing how other couples treated one another in public offered me the insight, however misguided, into how I wanted my own marriage to be seen by others.  Being honest, trustworthy, dependable, loving, caring, and forthright, all those “white knight” characteristics I had so admired in my darling M during our college years, became the  structure from which I endeavored to build my own life.

While the Navy, and subsequent moves, would add and subtract people from my day-to-day life, it has been the friends who stick with me that matter most.  The words of a well-loved poem (of disputed origin) come to mind when I think of friends…  it goes something like this:

People always come into your life for a reason, a season and a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are. They are there for a reason,you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die, Sometimes they just walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season. And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall, the season eventually ends.

LIFETIME, relationships teach you a lifetime of lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway);, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. Thank you for being part of my life…..

I am grateful for every friend I have ever made.  As Facebook changes and redefines how we term someone as a “friend”, know that I am blessed and forever changed by every person who has ever allowed me to lay claim to the term “friend”.

The thing about friends?  They are what makes the world go on… the sunshine seem brighter… and life seem that much sweeter.  Open yourself up to a friend and you will be forever changed.  Allow yourself to be affected by a friend and your life will be made that much richer because of it.

The fabric of our lives isn’t cotton…. the fabric of our lives is friendship… that’s the thing about Friends.


Everyone benefits from a Girls Weekend March 7, 2012

I’m headed out of town this weekend for a weekend with my cousin and a girlfriend of mine.  I can hardly wait to get on the road, even though I know I’m going to miss my husband while I’m away.  It’s a rejuvenating experience that will allow me to come home with fun memories, some tasty new wines, and a greater appreciation for my life overall.  I always have a wonderful time when I’m gone, but it’s not something that would make me want to change my life… it allows me to appreciate what others might not.

I went on my first real “girls weekend” when we lived in MI.  Three friends and I went to Dresden, OH to spend the weekend doing “Longaberger basket” things.  We each made an official Longaberger basket, walked around the Longaberger Homestead, had High Tea in their tea room, and shopped/talked/laughed/relaxed to our hearts content.  Two of our companions were vegans, so we tried some vegetarian options for a meal or two.  “Having pie” was a priority for our trip, so we made sure to incorporate that into our plans as well.  We consulted one another throughout the trip and made sure to respect everyone’s “must do” list as we went.   It was a wonderful break from our busy lives as moms and we enjoyed every moment of the weekend… but were all very glad to get back home again.

After our move to VA, it took a while before I felt the need for another “girls weekend”.  Moving and keeping up with the boys activities took much of my time and we did a lot of family traveling for sporting events.   Spending concentrated quality time with a girlfriend or two didn’t seem as important, so the plan got demoted to a “someday” on my list of things to do.

A few years ago, my BFF came up with the idea of going to OBX for a “Taste of the Beach” weekend in March with her sister and a few friends.  Since I’d never been to the Outer Banks of NC, it seemed like a really fun thing to do… we are both foodies and love to cook, so we planned to take a cooking class, make food and drinks at the beach house we were borrowing, and generally be lazy and relax.  Again, we talked out all our expectations and “must do” lists – mine was relatively short, since I had no experience with OBX or what was available in that area.  We drove down, had a fabulous time, and made plans to repeat the experience the following spring.

The best part of a Girls Weekend, I think, is simply sharing the event with girlfriends… as any woman knows, dishing about personal history and sharing likes/dislikes are things that guys just don’t like to do.   Women like to share with their friends… we like to know that we’re not alone in how we approach things in our lives and we enjoy bouncing ideas off one another without asking for a solution.  We may already have the solution in our heads, but talking things out with a girlfriend can help to clarify the situation for us.   I could drive M crazy by running every little thing by him, or I could chat about things with my girlfriends and then talk with him about the “important stuff”… the stuff that really matters for us.

M likes to say that I’m distracted easily… and he’s absolutely right.  I have so many plans, ideas, and general thoughts running around in my head that as soon as something “shiny” draws my attention, I’ve lost the task at hand.  This wonderful man puts up with so much from me – he even does the laundry because I can’t seem to complete a single load of dark clothes within a reasonable time frame.  Thankfully, he understands my need to talk… to communicate… to simply be heard by a friend.  Don’t get me wrong…. I talk plenty to M.  It’s just that I feel more able to be quiet after a Girls Weekend.  Spending time with my friends allows me to release all those random ideas and thoughts into the universe, without judgment or follow-up plans.  I can allow myself to save the important stuff for M and let the small stuff go… because I’ve talked it over with my girlfriends.

So I’m off to a Girls Weekend.  I’ll be combining two of my favorite pastimes and enjoying the Hilton Head Wine and Food Festival with my cousin (whom I haven’t seen since 1980!) and one of my dearest friends (whom I rarely get to see even though we live less than a mile apart).  I’ll have an 8-hour drive each way to talk and chat and clear my head and I’ll be able to relax, knowing that M will be able to handle whatever may come up at home.  The best part is that I’ll come home on Sunday and be totally focused on seeing my beloved M again… rejuvenated and refreshed from spending time with my girlfriends.

See?  Everyone really DOES benefit from a Girls Weekend…


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