Search This Blog

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Candied Nuts!!

Candied Nuts are something I need all the time but making them was the bane of my existence until I found the perfect recipe.

Past failures included...cooking them on the stove - I always burned some of them. Baking them...I never knew how long and they were not consistently good.

Then one day, there it was!! The perfect recipe! And I am passing it along to you.



Candied nuts are fabulous in salads, or just to eat one after the other! I also substitute candied nuts in muffin or nut bread recipes. The candied aspect adds just a little extra something, and I am always looking for a little extra something.

Sooooo easy to make.

Use Walnuts or pecans -


Whip one egg white and 2 teaspoons of water in a bowl until frothy




Pour the nuts in and stir until all the nuts are covered....work fast! Grab a large plastic bag and pour a mixture of one a 1/2 cups of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (you can add a tiny bit of cayenne pepper if you want, but a little goes a long way) in with all your nuts and shake it until everything is covered. Once the bag was broken so my whole floor was covered....
Now put them in a parchment covered cookie sheet - you will thank me later for zero clean up using the parchment paper, plus it makes it easy to break up the nuts. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour....turn them every 15 minutes.





Ta Dahhhhhh!!



They store well in the refrigerator.....but I don't keep them long because they are so good!!

follow us on Instagram @RayRaysCatering 

Facebook - RayRaysCateringAndFineFood

Website - RayRaysFineFood.com

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Joy To The World!!!

My favorite Christmas song is "Joy to the World!"...I especially love Mariah Carey's rendition because she includes my favorite Three Dog Night song also named "Joy to The World"....."

Joy to the fishes in deep blue sea, joy to you and me!"

I have so much to be thankful for starting with this day.

November 21, 2016 folks didn't think I would live. The surgeon gave my family a very grim prognosis. My friends told me as they sat in the waiting room the nurses looked at them with such sadness. They didn't think I would survive, I still cannot wrap my head around the fact I almost died.

But I didn't...so now what?

Over the last year I have recuperated both physically and mentally. Physically the body reminds you everyday what a miracle it is. I watched my scar heal (I think it accentuates my cleavage) felt myself getting stronger and simply marveled at what can occur after an almost catastrophic event. Each time I went to the doctor, they told me how well I was doing and then in September the doctor said I didn't have to come back for a year. I only take 2 medications, they have asked that I eat well and walk 30 minutes a day. That is actually harder than it seems for me....I am still working on that!

But mentally I did what I always do...think, think and overthink. To say I overthink is an understatement. In fact as soon as I woke from my surgery and everyone started to tell me what happened I began wondering why I lived. My internist spent some time with me explaining what had occurred and how I almost died. My surgeon, my nurse, and then another nurse who wasn't even helping me came in just to talk...because I had almost died. I couldn't comprehend what happened, or what to do next.

To be given another chance is the underlying theme of the best stories. What should I do with mine?
First you don't have to have a dramatic event in your life to have another chance. Each day is a new chance. The sunrise is a metaphor for a new beginning and I have found a new beginning is something we all want. Its why we do so much of what we do, we buy self help books searching for a do over, we buy new things searching for a do over....we move for a new outlook. And nature backs that up with a change of seasons...all to remind us to start over, leave what doesn't work behind and find new ways to be happier. Because being happy is the reason we are here.

Over the last year I met my biological family. To say it was one of the best days of my life is another understatement. They are the nicest most genuinely loving people I have ever met. To sum it up my brother said to me, "If I knew you were out there, I would have come looking for you." It was pure love. And a story that must be told if for no other reason to testify of the love of family.

Over the last year our business has grown and we have met and served some of the nicest people ever.

Over the last year I have spent time with friends, with my plants, my silly dogs...visited New Orleans and my beloved Texas. I toured Louisiana, the land of my people, and had as much gumbo as I could legally eat.

Last Mother's day my daughter surprised me with the news I was going to be a grandmother and my son is close to an engagement to a really beautiful girl.

Over the last year my husband had a stay in the hospital for complications from diabetes that had a very positive outcome. He is taking better care of himself and is enjoying his "do over." And he is now recuperating from double hernia surgery. We are hoping our "major medicals" are behind us.

But regardless what might be ahead for us what I intend to bring to everything is joy. Joy to the world! We all have today..a day to do great things. We can make a difference in peoples lives for the better every day. What does it take? Hardly anything...a kind word in a grocery line, ignoring someone cutting in front of you on the freeway, sending a thank you to someone, checking on someone you know needs support. Put yourself out there...be bold in helping, don't worry if you are intruding....99% of the time you aren't and if you are then you are guilty of caring. Not a bad thing, right? And above all.....Smile!

I have stories to tell, people to love and adventures to have....I will stop wondering why I lived and simply live....but live with Joy!!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A little help from my friends....

This morning I read a sweet reply from a woman I met last year at a blogging conference. (When you have things in common and limited time you get close to people quickly.) Her post was about aging and the effects there of. I sent what I thought was a throw away line, an innocuous reply. I was feeling sorry for myself and I went on and on about how old I felt and especially older since my heart thing. I am still repairing and blah blah blah....

What she wrote back will change me forever if I let it.....if I let it.

“My friend, do whatever you can to remain upbeat. You are young and healthy in so many other ways. Bodies can compensate. If you don't overdo, but just stay active, rested, and properly nourished, both in body and soul, you can improve. I say this because I saw you in 2016 and nobody with that much light radiating from them can be held down for long. Don't let your fears win. Think of my mom. She's 92 and broke her leg 5 years ago, a bad femur break. They put a rod in but it never healed, because she is very old. In spite of that, she is radiant. Systems do wear out, but you are too young for that to happen. So take care of yourself and have faith in the organism - bodies will fight to survive and thrive if you nurture them.”
 Lynne Morgan Spreen from Any Shiny thing - Life after 50

My friend Amy Ayoub from the Zen Speaker told me Monday to write words filled with light. Write words filled with light. 

To say I am blessed to have such amazing friends is an understatement, find these people in your lives.

 I recently read from Brene Brown that it doesn’t matter what side of the conversation you are on if you are filled with hate it is the same. Regardless of where you place your words fill them with light.

Sharon Eubanks says that “Creativity and innovation are gifts....ask for them.” Innovation will assist you every day, creativity will bring out the best in your life....use them.

Gordon B. Hinckley said, : “You don’t … build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.”

Last years heart thing caused a great deal of change in my life and  I will keep changing. One thing I do know I will be able to move forward with creativity, innovation, problem solving and hope with a positive spirit.

Thanks Lynne.....Thanks Amy...

Love my friends.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Very Good Among Us

As the numbness wore away from the shootings Sunday night the people in our community simply said, "What can we do?" It's a sentence that has been uttered a lot lately, from Texas to Florida to Puerto Rico...People want to know what they can do. It's inherent to want to help and we have seen it over and over again.

We saw it in Houston as people were rescued and when those people were rescued they went back and rescued others

We saw it in Florida...and now in Puerto Rico.

The awful shooting from Sunday night showed people at their best, and as their stories are told you will see how truly courageous they were. People with trucks loading victims up and taking them to the hospital, using police barricades as stretchers, refrigerators as bunkers. Strangers making tourniquets for bleeding strangers. It happened over and over again.

The Sheriff mentioned blood was needed and immediately the lines were blocks long.  They aren't even taking more blood until Thursday. So people showed up to feed the folks standing in the blood lines! 

Everyone found some way to serve.  

A request went out about noon that Ronald McDonald house needed supplies for the 80 family members of shooting victims staying there. About 200 people showed up with food, blankets, stuffed toys and more foods and in 1 hour we filled the backs of 3 trucks and an entire trailer. That happened all over the valley...Ronald McDonald House was overwhelmed and several other organizations benefited from the overflow.
I don't worry about mankind, when faced with real problems they show exactly what they are made of. Their Godlike qualities show through.

People are good. We might have been reminded of how precarious life is, but we were also reminded of how good life is. And how very good people can be.

Live your life looking to help and serve.
Write words that are filled with light.
Be Kind

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

And all I did was stop to help....




You would have done the same thing if you saw an elderly woman with a walker trying to flag people down. It was about 7:30 at night on a quiet road near my home. I did the only thing a person would do, I made a U-turn to see if I could help. She said. "I just want to go to 7-11, would you take me there?" Only Caligula would have declined so I loaded her walker in the back helped her into the front seat all the while wondering what I was doing....and what she was doing. She must need milk or something is all that was going through my head.

I start...."7-11 is pretty far, what do you need there?" I'm thinking, It's July, it's the desert, it's so hot...this is crazy.

She was a very nice looking older woman, stylish jeans, knit pink top, adorable straw hat with a scarf to match. So I was quite surprised by what came next. She began with an assessment of her situation which was 2 artificial legs and 2 fingers on one of her hands. Also a husband she hates with all her heart because she suddenly showed evidence of a previous longshoremen career. The number of swear words she packed into one sentence describing him was impressive. And not just the toe stub ones....the full on rap music ones.

It might have been the most incongruous moment of my life,

I also realized when she started speaking happy hour had long begun and I was probably on a beer run. And then I thought....my family is never going to believe this.

When we arrived at 7-11 I told her I would go in to get whatever she needed. She seemed relieved and handed me money with instructions to buy the yellow topped Chardonnay.

Yellow topped Chardonnay? Does 7-11 sell wine? I rarely go beyond an occasional Mountain dew and kit kat bar, so I went to the coolers to look for the wine. Sure enough there was wine! I chose 2 bottles of yellow topped Chardonnay and it was within the budget my new friend had provided. I quickly looked around to see how many people were there I knew because I was all ready to tell them "the funniest story!" I knew I was either in a Fellini movie or a Stephen King novel...time would tell.

I quickly went to the checkout line hoping to put an end to this escapade. But not quite yet.... the woman at the front of the line was also buying 2 bottles of Yellowtail Chardonnay. (Seriously? what are the odds?) She was having a disagreement with the checkout guy over the price of Yellowtail Chardonnay. She insisted it was 2 for $8, she was so insistent he had to make a call to someone to check. Even with a line that was now twisting around the store, she was not backing down and insisted it was 2 for $8. Not only am I buying Chardonnay at 7-11 but it is on sale, 2 for $8. She turns around sees I am buying the same thing and proudly tells me not to worry she is going to get this wine for us at the reduced price. All I can manage is, "Thank you so much" all the while hoping no one I know walks in because if there was ever a time for doing good deeds in private it was this one.

After finally getting to the front of the line, surviving the cold stare of the check out guy who has to sell more mismarked wine 2 for $8 I proudly get in the car with my purchase. Finding a deal seems to please me no matter what the circumstances so I think she will be delighted as well. I imagine her saying, "you wonderful woman! Thank you for providing me and my no good husband with enough wine to last us all week!"

Uh no....she is furious. That adorable straw hat does nothing to soften her anger at the 2 bottles of wine I have purchased.

"What am I going to do with that?" she practically screams at me.
"Wait, it's Yellow topped Chardonnay, isn't that what you wanted?"
"I wanted the little bottles I can just guzzle, that's too big! What can I do with that?" My vision of a couple of wine glasses, this delicious product, and some cheese must not have been her vision. She was highly incensed and I realized it was a Stephen King novel. I'm thinking if I don't make any sudden moves everything will be ok.
So I offer, "No problem! I will take it right back in and find the little bottles you can guzzle"
She calmed down and off I went wondering when this was going to be over.
I found 2 little bottles at $1.99 and convinced the beleaguered check out guy to swap it out and back to the car I went.

Happiness....I had completed the mission....now, where does she live? I couldn't remember where I picked her up and I am not sure she knows where she is either. But the Scarlet O'Hara comes out in me and I calmly ask her where she would like to go now.....oh please know where you want to go.
"Take me to the bathrooms at the park." Not exactly what I anticipated but ok there is a destination in that sentence, so good....
I start driving and she asks, "Where are you going?"
"To the park."
"This is the wrong park."
"OK, which park?"
"The one on Gowan."
To myself I think there's a park on Gowan? I had no idea...Where is the park on Gowan?
Then she says, "It's ok, you can drop me off anywhere" Well, I know where that is, so I pull over and she impatiently looks at me and says..."Can't you take me to the park?" I ask her, "A park on Gowan? How about if we just drive over to Gowan and look until we find the park?" That appealed to her so after driving quite a while we finally find the park. Yes! I drop her at the bathrooms, but not close enough the first time so on my second effort I get her walker out of the back of the car, situate her things and bid her goodbye...

Lucy Ricardo would have been so proud....

Monday, July 17, 2017

My Side Of The Bed



Yesterday I glanced at the table next to my bed and realized I was seconds away from an OSHA fine. There were books everywhere, on top, underneath, and the shelf in between, books I didn't even know were there. Since "the" surgery my attention span has diminished to that of a tweet. About 140 characters. I seem to be able to comfortably do a few minutes of scrolling on Facebook or Instagram, check the news on Twitter, then I deem myself informed and well read.

So much for reading a book, I'm like the pilot on Top Gun who admitted in that most dramatic scene, "I've lost the edge"

The confusion on my bedside table had to be cleaned and organized so I gathered and stacked. Then I took a moment to analyze because the books were like an archeological dig representing the last 7 months.

Some self-help books.
Some informational books
Some "good feeling" books
Books from friends
Books written by friends
Books for work
My favorite book.....

So many people brought books to me because, well, I love books...but I haven't been reading, just collecting....do you ever buy books and then forget to read them? Today I am putting an end to that..I am going to start reading again. And I mean more than 140 characters.

I bet some of you have the same problem....admit it, you spend so much time on facebook, twitter, and Instagram and who knows what other social media sites that you have also forgotten how to read an actual book. So here are some wonderful suggestions My dear friend Carol Cassara put together a great summer reading list that I ordered several books from. Click on her name for ideas of great books.  From the books on my bedside table notice Midlife Cabernet written by my great good friend Elaine Ambrose, I highly recommend it.  There's a book from Tony Robbins Patti suggested, a book from Anne Lamott from Ann. The Jan Karon books are favorites of Connie, and then the books I ordered in the night - a cardiac book and a what to eat book...also how about the "younger next year"book?...Peggy Noonan, because well, it's Peggy Noonan and several work books....

We truly overuse social media, so join me while I cut back some and read more....

In no time at all we will be decorating for the holidays and won't have the time, so I am sending you to your room....Go read!!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Little Social Experiment Or Was It Lord of the Flies?






Recently I participated in a social experiment on Facebook. Could a group of conservatives interact with a group of liberals long enough to understand why they believe the way they do?

We managed to prove that if we were all in a lifeboat we might have rowed in the same direction but if the G20 Summit had come up someone might have received an oar to the head.

This morning I woke up with such a headache.

Here is my takeaway of almost a week of spirited debate.

1.) It's too hot for spirited debate, I tried to give it my "all", but I get to "all" a little faster than most. I wasn't nearly as understanding as I thought I would be.
2.) The people who were willing to find common ground, even though they still respectfully disagreed, engendered trust. When they brought up points I had not been exposed to I listened.
3.) When I debated (argued) with the sole purpose of being right I felt terrible. Because that was not the purpose...to just be right, it was to learn about each other and discern why we believe the way we do. When we strayed from that purpose and just became partisan we were war like. Sometimes even eating our own.
4.) I met some intriguing and intelligent people. Over and over it makes every difference when we take the time to get to know each other. One person I found particularly intriguing had a serious heart event similar to mine. I was able to confide in him over some issues I have been dealing with about my heart and he gave me some great advice.
5.) We believe our bias and find news to prop up that bias, but sometimes we are wrong. The people willing to accept they could be wrong (and what cost is that anyway, is there a cosmic scorecard?) were the ones I learned the most from. The ones who simply considered themselves right and their side blameless for negative discord I ignore.

As some of you know I survived a very large heart event 7 months ago. I have to wonder what I was saved for.  Certainly not to bring contention, so I am tempted to back away. Or do I stay and concentrate on honest civil discourse? Is it even possible?

I know it is a gamble to discuss religion or politics and I wholeheartedly agree with that in a social setting. But can it be possible to interact civility in a designated forum without it turning into a food fight? Can you weigh out important issues when everyone in your circle looks and thinks just like you? Do you know someone without insurance? Or terrible insurance? Deductibles too high? Do you know someone hurt by Obamacare? Do you know someone hurt by taxes or strident regulations? Do you know someone helped by taxes? Do you know anyone in the military? On Welfare? Trying to manage care at a veterans hospital without luck? With luck? Do you know a woman unable to find care?

Getting outside our circle is imperative. I believe it is one of the reasons our government is so unresponsive to us. Our elected officials are clueless to our basic needs because they have iron clad pensions, health care and privilege. Go down the list of civil servants and see how many have been in government their whole lives yet are millionaires. Little is more important to them than fund raising as the process of election is incredibly expensive. Of course they are more responsive to money over constituents.

Here are my top 4 ways to survive the current political atmosphere.

1.) No click bait in fact I will not pass along articles at all as most are partisan.  I will be impeccable in my word and I won't manipulate facts to support my opinion. I will venture into conversational places I am timid to travel for balance and understanding.
2.) I will not root for someone to be wrong just so I can be right.....I won't be rigid without trying to see another persons point of view. and I won't take anything personally.
3.) I won't assume what someone is thinking...I will respectfully ask questions.
4.) I will do my best to continue a civil conversation, to see the good in others and stop labeling people for their beliefs. I will be respectful at all times.

If this reads like the 4 agreements then you spotted my artistic license with a way of thinking I find brilliant.

Maybe we can keep going with our social experiment, maybe we won't. But whatever happens I learned a lot about myself and which people I really listen to.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Psychic Boob Job

                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                             



I have a problem, you see I am funny and it's not coming through anymore. I have allowed the slings and arrows of life to impair the vision that always saw the funny. If I couldn't see the funny I made it up. Some call that artistic license, some story telling and some sad, hopeless folks call it lying. If I couldn't make something funny of "anything" then "anything" won and that would never do.

For instance, when my husband hired a man named Bulldog to hang curtains in our den right before a wedding in that same den, you know it will be funny. Bulldog's job resume consisted of sitting at the bar of the casino my husband managed. Who wouldn't think he was the perfect candidate for hanging curtains before an important occasion? Within a few minutes of trying to hang the curtains, he missed and put the drill through the window. Then spent the rest of the day removing all the glass and I tried to find someone to install a new window. While getting ready for a wedding nothing is as relaxing as the sound of breaking glass no matter what anyone tells you.

Which brings me to today..... I have to get this off my chest, in fact, there is a weight on my shoulders that is shifting south even as we speak. An impending psychic boob job. Remember my quest to find the funny in everything again?  Well, a dear friend came over the other day with zucchinis. After the initial vegetable oohs and aahs she got quiet and asked me if I had considered all people have gifts. My first thought was about regular gifts, like with paper and ribbon. Since most of my thoughts stay in a perpetual state of "party" I wasn't thinking personal gifts or gifts of the spirit, but she was. Intrigued I made a big paradigm shift and listened more closely. She told me about a friend of hers with a special gift who attended a wedding at my home a few days before. She had received a message for me. Because I had never met her this was indeed curious. It seems she is a "reader" or a "psychic" and my friend was hesitant because she couldn't know how I would react to news from a psychic, but she felt she needed to tell me.

Our conversation went a bit like this....

"My friend wanted you to know something about your health" Oh, no.....my health has been an issue since open heart surgery for an aortic dissection last November. I am a bit paranoid about it...and sick of doctors, medications, and the limitations since.

With more than a little trepidation I asked, "What does she want me to know?"

"That you aren't out of the woods yet."

Yikes.

"Meaning?"

"You need to rest every day, take a nap even."  That works, so far so good, this begs just one more question...

"Anything else?"

"Yes, she said you need to get a mammogram and especially check your right breast."

My first reaction was after all the heart stuff I have endured I'm to go back to thinking about the regular stuff that can go wrong? It's true I have put off pap smears, mammograms, skin cancer screenings and colonoscopies for endless blood tests, stress tests, EKGs, and ultrasounds. I foolishly thought I was immune to regular catastrophes. So thank goodness God sent a psychic to remind me to take care of the girls.

In order to honor cosmic forces, I spent 2 hours on the phone the very next day scheduling tests and doctor appointments. What's funny about this? Well, who does this happen to?
Considering most people get a card in the mail as a reminder for upcoming tests, I got a psychic!

After this is over I will contact my friend to let her know all is well and to please thank her friend for the psychic boob job!





Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fall Into the Holidays.....October 7, 2017

                          FALL INTO THE HOLIDAYS!!


Recently we were trying to think of a way to satisfy a request from the bank that would be fun, because banks are rarely fun. And then an inspired thought...have a party!! My friend Betsey is a great example because she never lets any occasion pass whether it be good or bad without having a party. So almost immediately the party began to take shape.

First thing don't let a little thing like dour bankers get in the way because........



So I started at the very beginning. What kind of party should I have? When? Where? 



The where has to be at our home...we have spaces everywhere to accommodate all kinds of gatherings. We have been blessed to host parties, showers, weddings, conferences, meetings of all kinds, thousands of kids of all ages at all times, political functions, and two funerals. So it has to be here


Then I had to think about what would be fabulous to offer my friends, associates, and clients. What would be worth their time to blast out of their homes on a Saturday afternoon?


So I contacted my artistic consultants on what they thought


 And My stylist



 And My Social Media Guru


 And My Photographer 


Not to Mention My Logistics Manager and his sometimes crew




Then there was my monthly planning Committee


So we all thought long and hard and made a dream plan. We would get Ray Ray to teach a cooking class, hands on and right in front of everyone...

Then we would get my famous friend Valerie Dimick to speak on really handling holidays. And the rumors are her book will be finished so she could do a book signing also!

Valerie at a conference she did at my home last year


Then we thought we could get Ray Ray's Artisitc team to teach a class on basic flower arranging, wrapping the perfect gift, and display some of our amazing products.



And of course there should be food!! How about all our favorite foods that you could make (or order) for your holiday dinner. 
And then guess what? All my dream plans came true! Everything I wished for is going to happen, so.......


Please Make Plans to Join us October 7, 2017 At 1PM  
 Buffet at 4 PM
Tickets are $50 but only being sold until the end of May
We take all forms of payment, Paypal and Venmo

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

So this Happened.....

When you are addicted to channel surfing and the remote is broken frustration abounds.  My husband scowled at me as though the broken remote was my fault and insisted I call the Dish folks.

We were somewhere between a full on tantrum and a stroke.

I went on the computer to find the number to DISH, and when I got them on the phone I told them my problem.  Then they told me their problem, our account was nowhere to be found, not by name, address or phone number.

Seriously?

"Ma'am, how do you pay your bill?  Your account number would be on the bill."

"My bill is bundled with the internet and land line, I never see the bill.  I gave you my name why can't you find my account number?"

"Ma'am go to your receiver and tell me the serial number."

"No, the cord is too short to turn it around on the shelf.  Why can't you just find my account number by my name, this makes no sense"

By now my dogs are under the couch.

"Ma'am hit the menu button twice and when system info comes up the serial number will also."

"That does not occur when I hit the menu button, there isn't a system info on my screen."

"Ma'am what do you see on your screen?"

"It says, My Direct TV, search and browse, recordings, settings and info"

"It says My Direct TV?  Ma'am this is DISH Network."

Oh no....

So I said the only thing I could think of.

"Well, I guess that is why you couldn't find my account number, I am so glad I finally figured this out. Thank you....good-bye"


Monday, May 1, 2017

Solving Problems

A few years ago I wrote a blog called The Problem With Tall Wheat. The solution of this particular problem fascinated me. Paul Ehrlich wrote a book in the 60's called The Population Bomb, in it he said it was a fantasy that India could ever feed itself. Then along comes Norman Borlaug who saw a problem with tall wheat in that when it fell over, it took a great deal of room to grow. Dwarf wheat is credited with saving over a billion people from starvation because of how much less room was needed to grow the same amount of wheat. Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this discovery and a most unlikely solution was found for feeding people.

This world is filled with problems, I will not deny that. But it is also a world filled with solutions. I know that the negative emotions of anger, anxiety and worry keep us from finding the solutions. However facing a problem with the calm assurance of an answer is usually met with success. Not all problems are solved immediately, but they will be solved.

Case in point....we recently installed wood floors, they are lovely and the addition of 2 area rugs just sets them off. However the 2 area rugs pick up everything but money and babies, so they need to be vacuumed often. My vacuum didn't work on the high pile of the rug. I looked everywhere for the adjustment to raise the vacuum head, it was nowhere to be found. Rugs and floors covered in debris is a pet peeve of mine and it interrupted my peace. This morning I called the company and low and behold the adjustment setting is nowhere near the typical spot I expected it to be. It wasn't a lever, but a ring that turned which would adjust the suction of the vacuum and not the level of the machine. It wasn't a solution I expected.

Isn't that the case with many of the problems we have? A vacuum not working isn't a big deal, but the pattern for problem solving is the same whether you are vacuuming or feeding India.

1.) We have a problem
2.) We come up with a solution
3.) It doesn't work
4.) We throw our hands in the air and give up and in some cases just live with the problem (door knob stops working we giggle it rather than actually fix it, you see what I mean)
5.) Then when we can't live with it any more, we get quiet, sort it through and let the solution appear.
6.) Trust it will happen

I promise it works....

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In Case You Thought I Have This Whole Thing Wired....

I talk a good story....peace, positive energy, smiles....solutions appear problems solved...life is good. I know its true I wrote about it just the other day. Two wolves? Remember? One had negative traits the other had positive traits. And then I made the connection between the second wolf who was the peaceful one also being a powerful wolf, of course making the case that the positive wolf is the one we want to follow.

Rainbows.......

And then I tried to refill my husband's prescription.

As you may or may not know both my husband and I were hanging by a thread health wise. We quickly became conversant with health insurance, lots of prescriptions, doctors, more health insurance, and the need for patience. We were told one of the main things to avoid when you have heart issues, is stress.

If that is the case, you should also avoid:
1.) Traffic
2.) Money - making it, spending it, managing it.....even spelling it
3.) People
4.) Doctor Appointments
5.) Politics
6.) Social Media

I have been helping my husband keep up with his medicine and when the pharmacist was filling the prescription she nonchalantly mentioned the new medication's copay was $500. I immediately asked if there was some other medication it could be substituted for. There must be a box of leeches in the back somewhere that would suffice, right?

They agreed to fax the doctor. Call us in a couple of days.

One week goes by....I call the Doctor. They will handle it.

Another week goes by, we go into the Doctor's actual office. They will handle it.

Another week goes by and the phone call is the same as all the others, we are researching the medication and will handle it.

Another week goes by and the story now is the Doctor has been out of town and only he can rewrite the prescription. That makes sense but he was in town when it all began..right?

Today the story is different again, and no surprise it is now our fault.

As I was wrestling with my human frailties and obvious hypocrisy I thought I would come clean and make the record clear.....the second wolf is still the most powerful wolf, no doubt, but that first wolf can push you to your limits.

I know my thesis is correct. Negativity is devoid of light, therefore it is devoid of solutions, because you can't "see" anything in darkness. When I am frustrated, angry and anxious solutions are beyond my reach. People that can help don't appear, the ones that are in front of me are not at all motivated to help. In our health debacle I have been very clear that it's new territory for us. My husband and I went from never having to deal with insurance companies to doing it constantly. We have gone from no medication to lots of medications. We are maneuvering medicare, pharmacists, doctors, side effects of medications and dealing with the after effects of our health issues. With each new saga we find ourselves in a definite learning curve. And just as with every other new thing I have done, it can be daunting.. Algebra comes to mind as does my first pregnancy and starting a business.

So what is the solution? I can only tell you what I did.

After a full morning of zero sucess, I stopped. I simply stopped. What I was doing wasn't working, so I needed to change lanes, pull over, and start over.

I concentrated on breathing....it is centering. It takes you from focusing on your problems to just breathing.

As soon as I was calm I started calling anyone I could think of that could give me answers to my questions. I reached out to the insurance company and asked them to tell me what I should have done from the beginning. What language should I have used? What questions could I ask that I didn't know to ask? How long do I wait in between queries? Should the doctor know what medications are covered and which ones aren't? I was taught a long time ago a good question is better than a good answer.

And then I waited.

I wrote down the answers the woman started to give me. I collected phone numbers of the pharmaceutical advocacy team that I could call right from the doctors office.

Knowledge made me calmer.

Then the doctor's office called with a sample of the medication he has needed for a month. She explained that would give us needed time to work out the problems we were having.  She offered to spend time with my husband to go over his medications and make sure he was getting what the doctor intended.

I am sure your situation is different from mine, but the pattern is the same. We live in a fallen world filled with people just like us who are dealing with all the nonsense of the world and gravity....so you can give in, or.......

Stop -  pray or simply meditate
Breathe  - give yourself a minute to refocus
Think - what is my real problem?
Ask good questions - good questions come from understanding what the real problem is
Listen - Have faith and trust that a solution will come
Act - take action on the answers that come to you

Each step brings you closer to the solution you need. And each step brings more light and more power. Remember the second wolf is also a wolf and because of that is powerful.

None of this is easy, our default emotion is negativity, but with practice, you can learn to master your emotions.

Ta Dah!

My husband just walked in with a month's sample of the medicine he needs and a big smile.....

Life is good.




Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Wolf Within You

Finding peace has been my quest over the last few years. I have met a great many friends on this personal journey, so I know it is a shared need.

We all look for peace....and if I could add something I have learned on my quest maybe you will find it useful.

I know this for sure.....Peace brings power.

In the past I felt unless I was angry, fired up and annoyed activism would not occur, and angry activism was the only way for change to occur.  I was very foolish because anger clouds our thinking and keeps us from the best solutions that are right in our path.

The world is an angry place.....joining that anger will not bring peace. There is no energy in anger that can actually change anything. Only peace brings power and power is what we need for change.

Protests and demonstrations born out of hatred have no staying power because they just destroy. We have only to look to Martin Luther King who is everyone's hero to see how change is really made. His voice is one we all listened to, even the evil voices eventually listened to him. Great leaders bring us together and encourage us to feel no matter what our opinions are they love and care about us. As a small girl in the south, I felt Martin Luther King loved me, I felt love from him because he was no respecter of persons. His focus was equal rights and he loved all people. If you are going to offer a path to change then you must have a love for all people, not just the ones who agree with you.

Remember this?

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life, "a fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogant, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "the other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The Old Cherokee simply said, "The one you feed." 

One point we miss in this legend is there are 2 wolves...the wolf of joy and peace is still a wolf. Still powerful and strong. No one says you must sit idly by and do nothing. Be a wolf, but be a wolf of infinite power guided by peace. Not a wolf limited by anger.







Monday, March 6, 2017

In The Blink Of An Eye - Part 3


The saga continues after I woke from surgery. Crazy things ensued as I started to piece together a new way of life.

The aftermath of surgery brings lots of hazy and crazy thoughts and images. It's sort of like being in a dream...or maybe under water.

When I woke up that Tuesday after my surgery, I was convinced my friend Lisa King had been my doctor. Lisa is a very talented woman, but as far as I know she isn't a heart surgeon. I remember wanting to call Kris Welte and have her convince Mitt Romney to be Secretary of State. Another example of the many delusional things I thought and said for a few days after surgery. My children found my foggy musings hysterical and do what they always do at my expense...write them down for future torturings.

Several times I would get a rush of memory and realize where I was. My mind would start racing as to things I needed to do or people I needed to call..but then anesthesia brain would take over and my sentence would sound like...."Would you call? Would you call?? Would you call?? ........" they would all lean in to hear who I wanted them to call and I would go back to sleep.

Mikey decided to quiz me about the paramedics/firemen at the beginning of the aortic adventure. He wanted to see if I remembered. I remembered all right. They, the firefighters, started off being cross with Raymond, Karla and Matt for calling 911 and reporting I had chest pains (which I did) but when they asked me about the chest pains I said I didn't. Instead of taking the word of the lucid folks surrounding me they decided the woman who had the current brains of a goose, laying on the bathroom floor was the better resource. So they made me walk to the gurney because I said I wasn't having chest pains. I.  walked.  to.  the.  gurney! From what I have read being upright with an aortic dissection could be fatal. Remembering amounted to..."Those Bast**ds". My children found this description very entertaining. Karma took care of the firemen/paramedics a few weeks later when Karla had dinner with someone who was influential in the life of the Captain of that particular station. From what I understand everyone involved received a bit of education. Nothing more was needed.

According to "The Book" on Wednesday afternoon, it was time to start recuperating, just because I had about 15 tubes, a million staples and 5 IVs meant nothing to Nurse Cratchit. 

At 3:33 I drank water, sat up on my own and practically signed up for CrossFit. 

At 3:39 someone walked into my room and said, "I hope you make it" to which I responded, "holy sh*t"

Wednesday night my surgeon (No it wasn't Lisa King) came in to see me on his rounds. He noticed the room was full of people and remarked how happy he was to see that. "you have lots of support. you will be fine". Before he left I wanted to thank him....no matter what we were to each other, mostly strangers, he saved my life. That meant something to me and I had to let him know how grateful I was. He is famous for not having a bedside manner, but I didn't care at all. He performed the surgery that allowed me to live. I put out my hand and simply said, "thank you." He took a moment, looked me over and then shook my hand, simply saying, "you're welcome."

I obsessed over the tube in my neck. Its very presence was annoying on every level. I asked anyone who came in my room to take it out, including the person who brought my lunch, 2 of my friends, the cleanup crew and my husband. None of them would do it. That particular obstruction to physical peace didn't come until Friday.

Once very late at night a nurse came in to see how I was. He wasn't my nurse but had read my chart and wanted to meet me. He asked if I knew how rare it was for people to live through an aortic dissection. All I could muster was, "I'm starting to get that." Then he repeated what became almost a mantra."I hope you find out why you lived, because you should have died." I told him "I rarely do anything I should do...I should lose weight, I should exercise, I should be nicer...but I do all the things I have to do. And I guess I had to live."

The book my children got for me is also filled with little things friends wrote while visiting. And lots of silly things I said. 

Like the discussion Mikey and I had about football.....he was wrong I was right.

Trey and Heidi arrived from their unfinished honeymoon in Italy. (something I still feel terrible about) Trey reminded me of something my Uncle told me several times when I was faced with hard things....."Donna you are made of better stuff" I know that sounds simplistic, but just remembering my uncle, who never gave up, never saw a situation he couldn't overcome was reassuring to me.

My reaction after they took out the lines in my stomach - which hurt more than the surgery - cannot be repeated here. But let's just say it was a brand new adventure in pain.

Raymond slept next to my bed the first night and the kids took turns sleeping next to me every night after that. I was not ever alone.

Wednesday the book reports I sat up and then stood up 

Thursday I walked from my chair to the hallway. Trey told me to "walk it off" which is something I would tell little Trey. Oh how those things will come back to bite you since at that moment walking amounted to a painful and abbreviated effort to the bathroom and one time down the local speedway known as the hallway.
Dear friends brought an entire Thanksgiving dinner for all of us. So we fed every person that was working. Can you imagine on Thanksgiving day stopping to bring an entire dinner to the hospital? Not to mention dinner every night...every single night I was in the hospital including a week following that friends brought us dinner. I will never forget that.

I have been asked many times if I had any "experiences" during the time I was unconscious. Only one, but it wasn't otherworldly. It was a gift though and exactly what I needed. Even though I only remember one thing from the time I walked to the gurney Sunday night to Tuesday afternoon I must have heard everything that was being said. I believe I heard every nurse and every doctor commenting on my condition. I know I heard my husband's prayers and felt him rub my feet for hours while waiting for test results. I didn't see it but I know I felt my son and daughter's pain as they heard the diagnosis and then prognosis. Our minds are always awake and that explains my one memory...a friend of my sons came in late at night to see me, he walked in during my unconscious time, touched my hand and I woke up,
he said, "hi Donna its Kevin"
Me: "I know who you are Kevin"
Kevin "I just wanted to stop by and see how you're doing. It looks like you're doing well. I'm not a heart surgeon (he is an orthopedic resident) but I know enough about medicine to read these monitors and see that you're going to make it"
Me: "you think so?"
Kevin: "Yes, I think so. You have a great group of doctors taking care of you and have a lot of people here that love you."
Me: "Thank you so much for coming. I love you Kevin."
Kevin said I reached out to him to hug him, but he didn't want me to move so he kissed my hand.
Kevin: I love you too, you need some rest, and I'll let you get some. I'll try to come back in a couple of days and check on you again. You are going to do great."
Me: "Thank you for coming."

Why would I remember that and nothing else? I believe it was a gift, just a gift of comfort, information and direction from a voice I would recognize and trust. A tender mercy. It was a part of my healing.

There were lots of tender mercies on this ride and they keep coming up. One I only found out about last Sunday was from the ER Nurse who coincidently was a former student. As we were talking she said you don't know very much about what happened to you do you? I told her I didn't have a lot of medical details and then she told me one that still has my attention. When we checked into the first ER they found 2 blood clots in my lungs, the protocol is to give the patient heparin.......but they didn't. We dont really know why, but if they had I would have bled to death. A lot of celestial planning went into making sure I lived...I am grateful for that plan.

I have thought endlessly why did I live and so many others don't? Finally, I realized it is nothing more than I am needed more on this side of the veil than the other. And the most important thing I can do on this side of the veil is to be kind, to comfort and to serve anyone I can. What does that look like? I have no idea, because it will be different all the time. Earth life can be a tough place and we have no idea what other folks we come in contact with are going through. It has been said, treat everyone as though they are having the worst day of their life and you will be right 50% of the time.

Maybe that's why they cut you off on the freeway or stepped in front of you in the grocery checkout line, maybe that's why they didn't return a call or the product you ordered wasn't what you thought it would be, or they were late with a payment....People make mistakes and I intend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

It will be good for my heart....right?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An idea for Lent


Although I'm not Catholic I love the idea of concentrating on a bad habit for "release" so Lent is a doctrinal idea I am embracing this year. As some of you may know we have had our share of health issues lately and with any challenge it can rob you of your peace. So this Lent I am avoiding the small things and some of the big things of life that rob my peace. Not easy to be sure, but certainly worth the effort. These are some of things I am going to "release".

Arguing for the sake of argument. No one on Social media is beating down my door for editorial comments. My commentary is best shared with my ficus trees.

Reading inflammatory comments and absorbing them. No one gets up in the morning with the intention of personally attacking me. No reason to take anything personally.

But most important is to stop the personal focus on myself. There will only be unhappiness when we focus on ourselves. Of course personal care is important, self love and acceptance are so vital - but when I spend time thinking about my problems I get afraid. Fear is my biggest vice, and I get most afraid when my energy is low....positive thoughts, positive people and positive pursuits give me energy. And that energy helps me overcome the fear.

Writing helps me cope with fear. I didn't know where this was going but as I let the words lead me the next 40 days are clear. I wanted help with my fears, and now I see this is the focus I need to concentrate on.

Lent got very important for me this year and I would love to hear how you have overcome fear in your life. Maybe your favorite saying, song or idea...anything that gives you hope and conquers your fears. 

Thank you 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

In the Blink of an Eye Part 2

There are 36 hours missing from my life. I only remember one thing that occurred during that time, and it wasn't otherworldly at all. I asked my family to share their recollections with me so I could try and piece it all together. What I learned from them was hard to hear because I scared them so badly. Intellectually I know it wasn't my fault, but I felt responsible. Since then I have replaced that negative feeling with gratitude for a family that loves me so much.

When Karla got to our home Sunday night it was obvious to her something was very wrong and she told my husband to call 911. I was taken to the nearest hospital only 4 miles away. My daughter Ashleigh followed the ambulance with my son and husband following behind her. On the way, the Ambulance stopped and pulled over which frightened her terribly however it was only a brief stop to fix wires that had come undone. At 1am we arrived at the emergency room, now the doctor and his staff had to find out what was wrong. My blood pressure was 60 over 44 and Raymond remembers them giving me something to bolster that. I was intubated to help my breathing and sedated (thank goodness) Then the testing began. For each test given there was lag time while results came in, which is understandable but excruciating for families. Ashleigh noticed that my arms and legs were ice cold. The nurse explained my body was shutting down to protect the vital organs. And that protection gave the medical staff needed time to discern what was occurring.

The ER doctor at the first hospital did not stop until he figured out what was wrong. It was not until the cat scan did things start to come together when they found fluid in the pericardium (the sack around the heart). This was impeding my heart's ability to beat. The doctor told my husband I needed to get to Summerlin hospital immediately for surgery and if they couldn't find an ambulance they were prepared to use the helicopter. Everything changed to warp speed. An ambulance came available for the trip to Summerlin Hospital which is equipped for the kind of surgery I needed.

It was about 6:30 Monday morning.

Ashleigh remembers the kindest nurse meeting her outside the ER and letting her break down...then showing her exactly where to meet everyone in the hospital. Raymond remembers the Emergency room doctor being unnecessarily rude and asking questions they had already answered. He was also the one who asked the most chilling question of the whole experience. With my husband on one side of the gurney and the doctor on the other he demanded to know what kind of insurance I had. No one had been able to find my card with all the information on it (note to all...keep your important information handy).

He said...."I have to know what kind of insurance she has so I know what doctor to give her."

This can be interpreted many ways, but my family took it to mean there was a hierarchy of doctors and without the proper insurance I was not going to get the best doctor or the best care. Tensions and emotions were very high and this was the only insensitive person my family came up against. Ashleigh immediately called my long time friend John Daly who is the national spokesman for my Healthshare program. He contacted the hospital and a representative came to the emergency room right away to say everything was in order and I could have any doctor. Since time was of the essence this was great relief to my family.

Next they met with the surgeon who painted a very ominous picture. Dr. Afifi told them without surgery I would die, with surgery I had a 50/50 chance to live. After the surgery I would still be critical as I could bleed out or have a stroke. He said it was the most complicated heart surgery there was including heart transplants.

Imagine what this was like for my family, they were working on no sleep, extreme worry and just meeting a surgeon who would be doing the most complicated surgery there was on a heart, my heart. So my daughter started calling people...we have lots of friends who are doctors and she was determined to find one who knew this surgeon. They needed comfort and any kind of reassurance. Her first call was Susan, she and her husband Bill are close friends and Bill is a surgeon. Susan was able to find out right away that Dr. Afifi was a good doctor who had performed this surgery many times. She was also able to help Ashleigh call our friends to let them know what was occurring. Raymond told me the minute Ashleigh got off the phone with Susan his phone rang with my friend Betsey on it. The troops were alerted! Every person who found out called someone. Ashleigh had been in constant contact with my son Trey and daughter-in-law Heidi who were in Italy on their long awaited honeymoon. My youngest daughter Emma was driving in from St. George with her husband. Within an hour people had gathered from everywhere to wait with my family. Several people brought food which was so kind since no one had eaten all night. My Stake President who was the Bishop while I was relief society president (I was the leader of the women in my ward and worked every day with Bishop Gardner for 4 years) came right away. He said he had his hands in someone's mouth (he is an orthodontist) when he found out and couldn't stay at work. He called his wife Lianne who told me she immediately gathered her family to pray for me. When they arrived at the hospital it was Lianne who convinced everyone I would be ok, giving my daughter hope. A positive attitude brings energy! Don't ever forget that. Raymond told me when Emma arrived at the hospital all three of my children just flew into each other's arms...they were there for each other.

My friends have always been my family and on this day they filled every need. In the waiting room Betsey sat on one side of Raymond and Stef sat on the other. Denise told me in her rush to get to the hospital all she could think of was stopping at Starbucks and getting Cranberry Bliss bars, she has no idea why. Mikey and Ashleigh finally collapsed and slept across the chairs. All of my friends have a role to play in my life, Denise, Betsey and Stef are always there...they love my children and have always been a part of our lives. Denise helps us celebrate everything, Stef keeps me spiritually grounded and Betsey makes sure we remember our cups are half full. She did her job well that morning keeping everyone as upbeat as possible. Surgery was 7 hours what a blessing it was to have so many people come through the waiting room. They brought hugs, encouraging words, and food.

When the surgeon came out after it was over he said things went well, they were able to repair the tear and he was very hopeful. But he let them know I was still critical and the next 24 hours were very important. But surgery was over! Denise said she still remembers the sound of my daughter's laughter....they were so relieved.


I didn't fully wake up until Tuesday afternoon. It was surreal to find out so much time had passed...and that so much had occurred. I am still processing the entire experience, still recuperating...still amazed at how incredible everyone has been to me.

Part 3 to follow










Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In the Blink of an Eye

I have always known that life can change in the blink of an eye, we all know that, but what do we do when life literally changes in the blink of an eye?

On November 20 of last year I blinked in a big way.

I  remember so little....Sunday night we came home from the airport with our oldest daughter who had just come in from Texas for Thanksgiving week. Everyone went to bed except me. I love being alone when it is quiet and I can read, think or just watch TV. About 10 I went to bed and immediately experienced the sharpest pain in my chest, unlike anything I have ever felt. I jumped up and thought I could "walk it off". I got as far as the den and couldn't walk any further. I literally crawled back into my bedroom and woke up my husband. I was terrified and I know I terrified him. The first thing we did was have a prayer, then he called our good friend Karla, who is an emergency room nurse. She came right over and it only took her a moment to see I needed to be in the hospital. It is so foggy from there on.....I remember the firefighters coming because they were not happy to be there and made me walk to the gurney (no worries, Karma has dealt with them) But that is the end of my memories until Tuesday afternoon. I was unconscious for about 36 hours.

When I woke up I was surrounded by my family. I remember how happy they all were. Huge smiles on their faces and each one hugged me and told me how grateful they were.
Raymond was right next to me holding my hand, Trey and Heidi were there..But that was confusing because they were supposed to be in Italy on their honeymoon. I saw Ashleigh, Mikey, Emma and Kacy, everyone was there. Then my confusion turned to reality. I couldn't move very much, and from all the tubes, machines and pain I assumed there had been an operation so I checked for an incision. I looked like an autopsy.

What happened to me?





One of my doctors walked in the room and introduced herself to me. She said "you had an acute aortic dissection, which means your aorta had a tear in it and you were bleeding internally, if the surgeon had not repaired it when he did you would have died. In fact most people die from this, you are our Thanksgiving miracle."

She said died...she said you would have died. I immediately discounted the word miracle and focused on "died".  And then I had to let it go....too much for right now. Reality was pretty basic at this point when the nurse asked me what my pain level was from 1 to 10..... I held up all 10 fingers.

My change of heart was beginning.

Part 2 to follow...















Saturday, November 19, 2016

The things that bring us joy

Recently some folks have unfriended me on facebook. And here I thought I was lovable and my cuteness would transcend politics. For the record I was very sad when Romney didn't win, but I never hated anyone who voted for Obama. I didn't unfriend anyone.....Not. One. Time.

The rejection should have meant nothing, but having someone say they didn't want to be friends caused me to feel like an insecure teenager.  So, I reacted like I did when I was an insecure teenager...I retreated to my books.

I decided to go through my book shelves in order to give some away, and maybe dust. Books I had already read and didn't love or didn't intend to read I put to the side. While making a pile of super giveaways one book in particular caught my attention and I had a strong impression to open it. I realized it had been a gift from my friend who recently passed away. Inside the cover she had written, "Look in chapter 3, I underlined the parts that reminded me of you." What an incredible gift from her for this sad day.  I don't know how long ago it was she gave the book to me but as I read through chapter 3 I noticed she underlined "noble individual" and "knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt".  She had no idea that years after she wrote in this book I would find it at just the right time when I needed comfort, wisdom and love.

Once again my books did not let me down, not when I was an insecure teeenager and not today when I was an insecure adult. In their many forms books will be a purveyor of exactly what you need.

If Keahi were here today she would have said exactly what she did in the message from the book she gave me years ago.

My other touchstone, Valerie,  would remind me to focus on peace, as it is the only emotion that cannot be counterfeited.

We are never left alone so don't be afraid.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Our Weaknesses Can Be Our Strengths



Over the past 10 years my weaknesses have held daily meetings to discuss how best to torment and torture me.

Worry, anxiety and fear chaired this committee - they read the minutes of the last meeting on how to provide worry, anxiety and fear into my life - then they read the agenda for the next meeting which was how best to provide worry, anxiety and fear into my life.

And I let these meetings occur, in fact, I facilitated their ability to meet. I provided room for their meetings.

And then I stopped. With a lot of help, I stopped.

Like some cosmic exterminator I wiped them out. "I gave them room no more" to torment and torture me. It required an intervention from a good friend who noticed I was struggling, she suggested a therapist  named Valerie Dimick. I agreed to go, but I had to be convinced it was possible to live without worry, anxiety and fear. After all, they had been my go to guys...they were familiar. It was going to take a lot to teach me how to live without them.

Because of her the meetings in my head started to change.

Long ago my husband and I built a house. We were warned this would not go well, that couples fought and even separated over the building of a house. I knew one woman who divorced her husband and ran off with the contractor! But we didn't have personal problems when we built the house. We focused on building the house. It was a great way to tackle such a huge project but we did it unconsciously. We built the house with faith...faith that although we really didn't have the expertise to do this project, we would do our best and trust it would work out. Without question we made a lot of mistakes. For instance we forgot to order interior doors for the entire house, but it worked out mainly because we never considered it wouldn't.  We moved into our home on time and I didn't realize it at the time but as we built the house we were being taught a valuable pattern. We didn't focus on each other weaknesses, we focused on building a house. I was too busy, or too young to realize what was being taught. A pattern of focusing on the big picture and not on the minute to minute minutia that is a part of everyone's day.

Because I was unaware of what was being taught, I followed a different pattern with some very negative outcomes when faced with another big event in my life. Although I had been shown a pattern for getting through hard times I didn't use them. My fear paralyzed me.

When the recession in 2007 hit all my basic fears emerged. An entire childhood of abandonment issues came to light. Safety concerns hit me from every direction and I became the most worried, most anxious, most fearful person you would ever meet.

But when Valerie gave me tools to combat the daily and sometimes, hourly, attacks my mind would conjure up, I started to get better. The meetings in my head began to have a different tone. The agenda at the new meetings began with thoughts are not real. When I would think all is lost, there is no hto lose everything I would stop and literally say to myself "that thought is not true, because thoughts are not real." It's all choice isn't it? After all I had gone through far worse things in my life. But for some reason complete financial ruin was my Waterloo. I saw no way out...no possible remedy of any kind.To explain hopelessness is impossible. I can't. But looking back now I do see that my problem was where I placed the focus...entirely on me. MY life is a mess, MY life shouldn't have turned out this way, MY life....MY life....MY life. When we focus on ourselves, of course, we will be depressed.

Weaknesses are part of our DNA. That is very simple. But here is the best part, those weaknesses can be our best friend. Weaknesses can be made strengths. I know God gave us weakness in order for us to overcome them. Not to punish us....but to give us strength.

Here is the best quote ever on strengths and weaknesses I have read. It is by Thomas S. Monson

"God Left us the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of unfinished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation." 

Part of my weakness is worry, anxiety and fear....but I have a determination to combat it and make it a strength. The meetings in my head are far more positive now. I still have to reframe a lot of situations in my life. I remind myself that God wants me to be a success and that the end result of anything I do will be positive. Maybe just the confession of my path will comfort someone who thinks they are alone with weakness. And when you feel that way it is easy to stay miserable. Accept that many people have your same weakness, hell, embrace that! Support groups are formed for that very reason.

And then travel with me as we find ways to make our weaknesses strengths...whatever that might be. Meeting adjourned.



Previously published in June 2016 - Revised because of new information and enlightenment

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Keahi



Recently I sat with one of my closest friends as we attended the funeral of another dear and wonderful friend. A woman we both love.....the loss is painful, sobering and yet poignant.

I honestly cannot believe that Keahi is gone. She was a force of nature, she lit up every room and taught us all how to laugh in any situation, how to have fun and how to love. The line, "too soon gone" has never been more true, but "never, ever forgotten" is more to the point.

I simply loved her, and I miss her so much.

She was without guile. Have you ever met anyone without guile? No deception just total honesty in all her actions with never a mean word out of her mouth, ever. She always reminded me of what I was doing well, I never left her without feeling better. Often she would text or call and say, "I need some Donna time, lets go to lunch!" And she would always make sure it happened, not those vague, empty invitations of "we should get together"but then never do. I cherished those times together, we talked about politics, family, callings and what we had just read. Each conversation was uplifting because she never spoke ill of anyone, being positive was simply who she was.. We would go on for hours with never ending diet coke from very patient waitresses as we just kept laughing and talking.

You may think I am stretching the truth because no one is really like this, but she really was that amazing.  A rarity in all of our lives...a happy, joyful, vibrant woman grateful for every good thing in her life. The best example of hope there could ever be.

She said to me one time, "When I wake up in the morning I think, What fun thing can I do today?" She must have said it to everyone because it was in the program on the day we celebrated her life.

When I went to her home right after she was diagnosed with cancer she said to me, "I don't think I am going to beat this." I would not listen, I would not accept that. I fought it with every fiber of my body. Miracles occur, right? Going through the rest of life without this woman that I counted on to always be there was inconceivable. Then she said, "I am completely at peace." Not once did she complain or ask, "Why me?" She told me what an incredible life she had led, that not only did she have the best family in the world, but the best friends. That is easy to understand because she was the best mother, daughter, wife, aunt, sister, cousin there could be and the best friend anyone could have.

We taught seminary at 6am for years which is an exhausting and stimulating experience. We would get together afterwards with all the other teachers every day at 7am to talk about teaching, points of doctrine and anything else that came along. She was always the best example, the best friend anyone could ever have.

I went through a terrible time in my life and Keahi never let me do it by myself. She took me to the spa, we went to bookstores, we went to lunch, we ate ice cream, we went shopping, we drove in the car and listened to tapes....she prayed with me, and reminded me we had one more lunch to go to and I couldn't ever give up.

And we talked about Rome. Quite a while ago our church announced a temple being built in Rome and we made plans to go when it opened. I felt it was out of my reach, but she convinced me we could do it. We talked about it all the time. I don't know when it will be finished, but when it is, I am going to go...for Keahi. Not because I don't think she can see it from where she is, I am sure right now she is helping Peter and Paul pick out the tile. I want to go....to finish the journey we talked about so often.

I will do everything I can to be a better friend to people, to be kinder, to enjoy life more...to bring joy to others every chance I get.

I had a hard time understanding why she was in so much pain. Why did a woman who loved so much, who was so good, so kind, have to suffer so much? And then I realized through her courage she showed us how to withstand the tumults of life. If she could withstand the horrific effects of cancer without ever giving up, then we cannot give up either. If she could withstand all of that pain then I can go through whatever life has in store. I will never forget her example, her courage, and her incredible love for God. She was at peace.....no matter what she never questioned why, she simply felt her incredible blessings and her biggest blessing was her family.

Families are Forever
Her celebration of life was just as she wanted it....nothing sad...2 of her daughters and 2 of her sons gave beautiful tributes to her, all filled with laughter. Her beloved sister sang a song she had written herself and the Hawaiian music, well it was simply beautiful.  And then her husband spoke...how he did I have no idea. No one loved a husband more than Keahi loved her husband. And then he mentioned that written in Hawaiian on her tombstone will be, "Don't tell me what to do." Don't you love that? After the closing prayer everyone stood up and sang the song she had picked out years ago as her family was filing out with her casket. 


Spirit in the sky...Everyone sang it with pure joy for a life so well lived.

Aloha Keahi, thank you for being my friend, and for showing me the way....