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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Universal Truths...Part 1

There was a time I believed my brain was virtually "all that".  It was smart beyond belief and I believed my thoughts were true....after all, why would my brain lie to me?

But isn't it your brain that sends the message you can make it across the tracks even though a train is clearly approaching?  Messages from your brain come quickly and you need sort them quickly, and it takes practice to understand thoughts are not real.  Recently I found myself in a jam, a big jam.  I believed every thought I was having about this problem, many placed in my head by well meaning parents.  Since we are programmed to believe everything our parents tell us we are at the mercy of some very inaccurate, though apparently noble thinking.  For instance if your parents (and their parents, and their parents etc) taught you to depend on yourself, which is apparently noble, you will not ask for help.  When you do find yourself against a wall, (and everyone does) failure is all you see because you cannot handle the problem yourself, no one can.  If your parents grew up in hard financial times and all they saw were hard financial times, then that vision is what they pass to you.  Have you ever heard the phrase, "I come from a long line of....." You fill in the blank of, doctors, dentists, farmers, policemen, drug addicts, gamblers, alcoholics, ministers, or artists.  The tapes I heard as a child were to never give up, don't reach too high because someone will take it from you, work hard and remember you aren't really that smart.  Also times are always hard, money will always be tight, vacations are for rich folks and working the angles is something everyone does.  There wasn't a shred of abundant thinking, it was all limited in scope, belief and truth. Isn't that called learned behavior?

Those were the tapes that played in my head all the time.  Not always loudly, but always there.  When my life was fairly routine the tapes presented no real problem, but when a real challenge presented itself those tapes were all I had to fall back on.  After all, your parents are never wrong. So you find yourself trying to use information incorporated into your life from generations of people.  Some of it helpful and some destructive.  We find ourselves doing exactly what our parents did, even if it didn't work for them, because we feel powerless to change.  But here is the rub.....I wasn't even aware of what I was doing.
Being faced with a problem too big for me to handle, my apparently noble brain told me I had created it, therefore didn't qualify for help.  So I told no one.  Not until I met Valerie Dimick and began to understand thought patterns did my life begin to improve.  She taught me that my thoughts were not real.  I wrestled with that for a long fears were real, she was wrong....I listened to the thoughts that told me money would soon run out, I needed to find a way to get my couch to the third floor of the apartment building I would soon be living in, and that I had caused the problems therefore I couldn't ask anyone to help.  Weren't those thoughts real?

No, thoughts are not do not have to accept someone else's destiny.

But I was accepting someone else's destiny.  My brain was telling me things taught to parents generations upon generations back, because that is all my brain knew.  I didn't realize mastering my thoughts could change the trajectory of my life.  I did not need to live under the Sword of Damocles, but fear was all I knew.  It had invaded every part of my body with a saturation I have yet to understand.  I believe the reason some soldiers have PTSD is because war uncovers something in them they can't handle.  The trauma of war uncovered that weakness and the disorder appeared. For me, the recession uncovered every fear planted in my being and I experienced my own PTSD.

My thoughts filled me with hopelessness....."times will never get better, I have ruined my future, I deserve this, there is no help for us, we are too old to improve our situation, we should sell everything we love because we don't deserve it."

Although I am very religious I didn't even think I deserved help from God.  All because I did not understand the true nature of God.  The relationship I had with God mimicked the one I had with my earthly father.  I knew my earthly father loved me, but he placed quite a few conditions on that love.  I transferred that experience to Heavenly Father....I believed he was unhappy with me and therefore wouldn't help me which increased my fear and hopelessness.  Valerie helped me understand the true nature of God, which transcends all beliefs.  I now understand that God is not punitive, we cannot disappoint Him.  He doesn't crash airplanes into the side of mountains, or give you a disease...He doesn't dig a hole to push you into it, just to see if you can get out of it.  Earth life does that, which is something every person on this planet has in common.   For all of us this is a place of good and bad, disease and accidents, dishonesty and character. ...If you are free from fear and other negative emotions you can find the positive solutions God has planted in our path, because He wants us to succeed and be happy.....Don't stop reading because I mentioned religion.  Fear and anger suppress our ability to see the solutions that are always there.  It is a Universal Truth.

Even after months of study with Valerie I didn't really believe I could be happy or believe I could change.  But I kept working with her hoping for relief because what she was teaching felt right and felt good.  I so needed relief because the fear I experienced was painful, like a chronic headache.  The anxiety was painful....fear is painful.  Often I heard that the opposite of faith is fear, which drove me deeper into guilt with the obvious conclusion I didn't have faith.  More hours with Valerie patiently and sometimes not so patiently explaining truth.  And the truth is we can choose different thoughts and believe, really believe there is happiness to be had.

I now believe I am the architect of my life.  I make choices that will either drive me away from happiness or toward it.  I shape so many things in my life through my thoughts.
First I choose to believe solutions will appear.  When faced with problems in my prior life I would panic (negative emotion) melt down (negative emotion) and resign myself to hopelessness (almost suicidal reaction)  The replacements for these emotions are .....deep breaths, (shallow breathing really does contribute to panic) forced calmness with a focus on success.  Concentrating on how many ways this can succeed over how many ways it can fail.  I no longer limit myself by saying I am too old or too inexperienced to succeed at what I do.  My thoughts are different, they are positive and peaceful.  I am learning to let go of the past and regrets I have, and to not look to far into the the future which can bring fear, but to love today.  Because today is all I really have.  

Do I regress?  Of course I do.  But to help the regression be as brief as possible I read uplifting books, right now I am reading "For Times of Trouble" by Jeffrey Holland.  I do all I can to avoid contention and pray to see people the way God sees them.  That helps me look past their sometimes troubling veneers into their hearts.  I spend some time each day definition of mediation is concentrating on breathing and being very calm which drives out negativity.  I have always prayed a great deal, but now my prayers focus more on gratitude.  I still ask, and ask and ask and I still plead for forgiveness from God and from the folks in my path I know I injure, but the focus is on gratitude.  I try to avoid taking things personally and forgive as quickly as possible.  This is a big when I fall short, I forgive myself as quickly as possible, assess and start over.  Earth life is a place that ebbs and flows with storms and peace.  In order to stay as peaceful as possible I pray to either be saved from the storm or saved in the storm.  However your parlance defines what I have just written, it is another Universal Truth.  As my relationship with God increases with an understanding of His nature, my temptation to judge others has lessened.  There was a time I wanted everyone to believe the way I do, now I just hope everyone is kind.  What a person believes no longer is a stick I measure with and I am filled with more love than before for them because there are no conditions on our relationship.

My journey is hardly over because my default emotion is still negative so I fight it every day.  Some days are more successful than others for sure and I long for the day I no longer have to struggle with it. But in the mean time I will use this struggle to become stronger, more grateful and closer to God.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Stevie Nicks and Me

The best part about life is when something totally amazing and unexpected happens.  A few months ago a friend from Facebook contacted me with this delicious news.
"I didn't realize you were such a fan of Stevie Nicks, my boyfriend is Mick Fleetwood's body guard and I will make sure to get you tickets for their next concert..."

This was better than a lottery win!  I hadn't seen Fleetwood Mac for years and they (Stevie) are my favorites.  Fleetwood Mac was there through quite a few of my relationships...songs for when it was good, and songs for when they ended.

I relived every one of those emotions last night. 

The pictures are terrible...but I know what they are.  Just reminders of great memories...

 When they sang "Tusk" I went back to that beautiful day when my daughter graduated from USC and we all stood on our chairs as the Trojan band played was one of the happiest days of my life, at one of the best Universities listening to one of the best bands college has to offer.  If you don't already know Fleetwood Mac recorded the song with the Trojan USC plays it at every single football game (with the added yell at the end "UCLA sucks"....sorry Bruins, it's just part of the reverie)
This band is absolutely ageless....Christine McVie is 71.....Lindsey Buckingham is 65....Mick Fleetwood is 67....and my Stevie?  Almost 67.

Isn't this amazing?

Mick Fleetwood had the best time.  It's true we were an incredible sold out,audience.  But he was so happy.  So glad to be there.  And so amazing on the drums...

They came back out 2 times...each time Stevie
Nicks told a story from their past.  They are open about the problems they have had, the drug abuse, divorces and just being dysfunctional. But they have come out the other end, and that is what they are all the happiest about.

Christine McVie is back after 16 years...I thought she sounded great.  Stevie said the first thing she told McVie when finding out she wanted to come back to the band was, "find a trainer"

In one of the stories Stevie told she said, "Don't ever give up, don't stop dreaming or believing in yourself."  It sounded like she had learned that the hard way.  Funny how we think some people have it all, when in fact they are struggling with things just like the rest of us.

But they do have the rockstar thing down cold.

Friday, April 10, 2015

What is your mission?

"When you live your mission through your business brand, mission statement and vision, then amazing phenomenal things start to happen.  Your perfect dream clients are drawn to you.  People get really excited about what you are doing.  They spread the word to their friends, they sign up for your services, they give you great testimonials.  You get more customers, make more revenue, and your business grows with ease.  And best of all - your team is more creative and having more fun than ever before because everyone is in absolute alignment with your Why."

I don't know who to credit this beautiful statement to.  A friend's wife put it together from some things she had I can at least credit her with recognizing the worth of this.

Everyone can learn from this, everyone can benefit from this simple, clear statement.  

Notice how positive it is....there isn't a bit of wishful thinking in it.  

What is your mission?  That is what comes from this, when you live your what is your mission?  Are you too timid to say it out loud?  Too timid to say you want to be the very best at what you do?  I read a Facebook post today from a woman who had invoiced a huge company. She was thrilled and better than that, her company was 3 years old!  She was living it...she was her mission.

Right now, sit down and write down what your mission is.  And after you do put it next to your computer, or your bed...tape it to your mirror.  Put it in your phone.  Find reasons to make it happen.  And when reasons occur for you to give up....counter them!  I think so many things were just that close....that close, and then we stop.  Right before we get there...right before incredible were going to happen.

We live so beneath our privileges...we listen to the voices who tell us we cannot do it.  Don't try, stay safe....

Nothing great has ever occurred staying safe.  Walk out on the edge and fly!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My Thoughts For This Holy Week

When my life story has been written, and I hope it is when I am very old so I can soften the edges of my personal emergencies, yesterday will go down as one of my most memorable.  To say so much is occurring at one time would be an understatement.  In the middle of a very shallow breathing episode and tremendous anxiety, I began a fast.  I wanted my world to calm down so I could gain perspective and find some direction.  When I am in full "run for your life" panic I cannot see solutions.  It is only when I find a way to be calm, that solutions come.  Not easy, but completely necessary.  I don't have to find peace yet, just give myself a chance to find peace.  

I understand that it is good for the soul to stretch, but when you feel as though there is no room left to stretch then joy disappears.  I try to think of life without problems, because avoidance feels better, but life will never be without problems.  We can find peace in the storm.  This is a very hard concept for me, because it takes a great deal of effort.  Having a fit and crying is easy and takes no effort at all.  You don't need control, you don't need to think, or care about anyone around you...just let it explode.  But you learn nothing, no solutions come because there is no truth inside a tantrum.

I realize we all have different beliefs and most everyone goes through the same process.  We search for something to believe in, try a few beliefs on for size, wear them for awhile, and see if they fit.  If we like them then, hey, we go from there.  If not we return them to the belief counter and continue looking.  I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ because they are so simple.  Love one another, be peaceful, forgiving and grateful.  I keep a picture next to my computer of the Savior standing in a ship surrounded by frightened men in a terrible storm.  The story is the wind and waves are pounding and He is asleep.  The men on the ship wake him scared to death asking him, "do you not care if we perish?" The Savior stands, puts His hands up and the waves and wind subside.  He could sleep because He knew everything would be ok.  I have much more in common with the men on the ship than I do in believing the Savior will calm the storm.  Being frantic is more my style than finding serenity.  Sometimes I want to just sit by the side of the road and let the wolves eat me, but that is not what the Savior wants.  He wants to save us, pick us up, pull us up if need be all to save us in a storm.  There is a scripture that is widely misinterpreted, "After all we can do, we are saved by Grace alone" It's the "after all we can do" that throws people.  They feel that they must somehow earn favor, when all we have to do is follow the Savior.  And that means, Love each other, Be grateful, Be forgiving and Be peaceful.  Religions and beliefs have these things in common because they work.  

It's not easy to find peace in a storm, but it's possible, and then we can sleep though any storm.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I had no words...

I have writers block, completely unable to write anything beyond a ransom note in 10 days.  Some might say that is a blessing, but I have to write.

It is the grease for my wheel

My perfect wave

Open heart surgery without having to use the paddles

Using a charge card without a message to "use alternate payment"

It's how I used to feel about being tan or getting on a scale

Writing is an outlet for pain, joy, or sarcasm....I love to string words together watching them dance in the wind, catching the moonlight just right....not so bright as to startle, but a bit subtle, just a glimpse.  A flirtatious giggle of words that remind you of the moment you met your true love......or saw a painting that took your breath away from the sheer genius of the strokes.  My writing is as comforting to me as the voice of a dear friend saying not to worry, it will be ok.

Writing fills my voids and adds to my strength so I can voice pain, concern or acrimony.  Writing is there when those around me demand I speak - not understanding sometimes I simply cannot.  And those words remain unsaid until I find a way to the keyboard to paint the page with words I couldn't say out loud.

The words I write are precious and need to be protected from harm or ridicule until I decide they are strong enough to live outside my heart.  Then I stand on the edge of the cliff holding the words close until the wind is just right to carry them into the universe.

And I watch while they soar.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ray Ray's...

Just a few things we have been doing lately....a fuchsia centerpiece, with a submersible in the vase...a cocktail party for the County.

 From Cake toppers to mantle flowers for a wedding...there isn't much he won't tackle

He even did a casket spray.....

As sad as it all was, the family loved this arrangement


A fiftieth birthday party for an amazing client

It can't be a party without our lemon bars..and that is for sure!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dr. Christiane Northrup

I recently listened to a lecture on PBS called "Glorious Women Never Age" by Dr. Christiane Northrup  It was a hour of information and inspiration that has given me a new direction to follow.   I have written often about starting a business at this stage of my life, well, more than written about it, I whined about it.  I was too old, I couldn't keep up, what are we doing?  And why am I so far out of my comfort zone.  Yada, yada, yada.  I believed my age was equated with, canasta, loudly colored pants and an overall winding down.  It sounds so odd to admit because I am smarter than to believe such , but yet that was my thinking.  I bought into the idea getting older meant dementia, disease, hearing loss, just an overall feeling of hopelessness.     This lecture inspired me to not only keep going with what I am doing but rejoice in it! I hope you will find her lecture and listen, or read her book.  If you do, I promise you will never say, "I am having a senior moment."  I will never say it because when I do, I hear it, and we believe what we hear.   I will also never say, "getting older is not for sissies"  Doesn't that sound ghastly?  Just an overall feeling of doom.

I found these 10 tips by Dr. Northrup online.  They give you a flavor of her philosophy which focusses on health in all aspects of your life. 
Christiane Northrup's Top Ten Tips for Women's Health. This is a great place to start, although her lecture includes even more helpful ideas.  I hope you will find her lecture or her book.  It will be amazing for you and for the hundreds of women you come in contact with.  Teach them through your words and example.  

Here are a few of her ideas....

  1. Get enough sleep: Proper sleep is essential for optimal health, and it helps metabolize stress hormones better than any other known entity. 
  2. Meditate for at least 3-12 minutes each day, to calm and soothe your mind. 
  3. Begin your day with a positive affirmation. 
  4. Exercise regularly. Ideally, aim for a comprehensive program that includes high intensity exercises and strength training along with core-building exercises and stretching. 
  5. Breathe properly. When you breathe in and out fully through your nose, you activate your parasympathetic rest-and-restore nervous system, which expands the lower lobes of your lungs, and therefore engages the vagus nerves.
  6. “Relax the back of your throat. So many women have thyroid problems – it’s from chronic tension here; because you’re pretty sure your feminine voice isn’t going to be heard. It hasn’t been heard for 5,000 years. You’re not alone. But it’s being heard now,” she says. 
  7. Practice self love and unconditional acceptance. Dr. Northrup suggests looking at yourself in the mirror at least once a day, and saying: ‘I love you. I really love you.’
  8. “After 21 days, something will happen to you. You’ll see a part of you that looks back at you, and you begin to believe it. “I love you. I really love you.”
  9. Optimize your vitamin D levels. Get your vitamin D level checked. Ideally, you’ll want your levels within the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml. According to Dr. Northrup: 
  10. “Sunlight is not the enemy. It’s lack of antioxidants in your diet that is the enemy. Natural light is a lovely source of vitamin D; you can’t overdose. But many people – to get their levels of vitamin D into optimal – are going to need 5,000 to 10, 000 international units per day. So, vitamin D is important. You can get your level drawn through without a doctor’s prescription.”
    Just remember that if you take high doses of oral vitamin D, you also need to boost your intake of vitamin K2. For more information on this, please see my previous article, What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium
  11. Cultivate an active social life; enjoy some face-to-face time with likeminded people. 
  12. Epsom salt baths (20 minutes, three times per week) are a simple, inexpensive way to get magnesium into your body. 
  13. Keep a gratitude journal. Each night, before you go to bed, write down five things that you are grateful for, or five things that brought you pleasure. 
  14. “Remember: every emotion is associated with a biochemical reality in your body. So, you want to bring in the emotions of generosity, pleasure, receiving, and open-heartedness. The same things that create heart health create breast health.”

Listen to it, read it....There is so much we can do to make our lives very much. 

By the way, I did this blog all on my own, I was not compensated at all. If you go to her website you can sign up for the free downloads

Friday, February 20, 2015

High Adventures with L'Oreal!!!

I realized a long time ago that I didn't want to be anything but blond, but then I wasn't exactly blond any more.  So I did what we all do....tried a million things.  I went the beauty salon route, but after I had it done that a few times it wasn't worth the time or money to me.  So I tried doing it myself.   After I did it a few times I noticed it got blonder and blonder and blonder.  Every time I had a picture taken all I could see was a couple of eyebrows and some lipstick.

Then one day by chance I stopped at a unique beauty supply shop.  I don't even know what brought me in, but this incredibly nice woman asked if she could help me.  After hearing my tale of woe she knew exactly what to do.  Turns out she was an ex-showgirl who colored all of her friends hair and understood completely about hair getting blonder and blonder.  So she steered me over to L'Oreal, we picked out a color and I have been using it ever since.  Then she whispered a great trick in my ear.  "Save a little of the color and about 15 minutes after you put it on your roots, take what is left with some shampoo and pull it through your hair."

Since L'Oreal was a good fit when I started doing my hair twenty years ago, I enthusiastically responded when I was given an offer to try a new L'Oreal product.  I noticed the color I was using wasn't covering the white/gray very well, but I thought that was just part of the whole getting older thing.  The new product is called "Excellence Age Perfect" and is specially developed for mature, gray hair.  L'Oreal sent the product over and I stared at it for a few days.  Am I really going to do this?  Use a new color when I am pretty happy with the way it is?  More staring.  I am not very intrepid when it comes to change.


....I did it, but not before I took some before pictures...

You can see where my white is coming in
This has been my color for 20 years.

Right at my hairline the hair is pretty white and needed better coverage

Roots....color that hair!!

Now it's go time!!

Everything is included, and the directions are very clear.  It had been a long time since I used a box like this (I have been mixing my own) so I read everything carefully.  It was a snap even for me.   The developer is already measured and in the bottle, the color is a cream (impossible to spill)  and is easy to add...there is a handy dandy plastic brush to do your hairline with....and the obligatory gloves.  It went on easily and I waited the 30 minutes (did some yoga) for a  I washed it out in the shower and used the conditioning treatment that was included.  I am a "conditioning-aholic" with a low tolerance for bad treatments, but this one was really effective.

This product covered my white hair a lot better, and I like the color...


Although the color is not very different (thank goodness, I worried for nothing)  the coverage is much better.   It was hard for me to change, but it was just what I was looking for!  

I would also like to add that I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer network campaign for L'Oreal Excellence Age Perfect. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.  I am in no way affiliated with L'Oreal Excellence Age Perfect and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.  #sponsored and #AgePerfectColor 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Strength and Struggle

"Strength and struggle go together.  The supreme reward of struggle is strength.  Life is a battle and the greatest joy is to overcome.  The pursuit of easy things makes men weak.  Do not equip yourselves with superior power and hope to escape the responsibility and work.  It cannot be done.  It is following the path of least resistance that makes rivers and men crooked."
Ralph Parlette

The Bristlecone Pine lives in the wilderness for thousands of years but planted in your backyard where it is regularly watered and sheltered it won't live beyond a hundred years.

Embrace the struggle for the strength it will give you.  It is why you are here.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

5 simple ways to Happiness

I recently listened to a Ted Talk that fit all my Ted Talk criteria....entertaining, not very long and relevant to my journey.   It was by Shawn Achor (over 8 million views) and his topic was happiness.  Since I am fascinated by happiness (or lack of) I read and listen to everything I can about it. My personal search for "where did the funny go?" has been constant and illusive.

His talk is only 11 minutes...11 minutes is just about perfect for a Ted Talk, anything more than that and I start making shopping lists.  But I can chew tacks for 11 minutes....

Achors talk mirrors a class I have been taking on mind mastery.  My teacher, a psychologist herself, has proven to me my brain is not as smart as I thought.  Brain has always been a word of honor..Brainiac, Brainy, etc. However, it turns out our brains are easily manipulated.  Which explains a lot, but also means we can retrain those not so smart thoughts. Our brains have been having the same thoughts habitually for a long time.  So we have to retrain our brains.  Brains seem to live in a default emotion of pessimism.

Had any of these thoughts?

"You can't make a living to support your family."
"Financial ruin is right around the corner"
"You are too fat to go to the beach, disneyland, out with the family"
"You are not pretty, you are not worth knowing, you have no talent"
"You cannot start a business, give up"
"I am afraid of loosing my job, my house, my family"

Insert your catastrophic statement, I know you have one.  And remember thoughts aren't real.

Achor says we can retrain our brain in 21 days, mind mastery.  Sounds very Yoda-esque doesn't it?  However the concept has settled on me as truth, and his 5 ways to retrain your brain are simple and easily doable.  And instead of happy hoo-ha he gives the reasons these things work.
For Twenty-One Days.....

1.) Gratitude- write 3 NEW things down every day that you are thankful for.  This starts your brain scanning for positive things instead of negative.
2.) Journaling - journal about one positive thing in the last 24 hours you are grateful for, giving your brain the opportunity to relive it.
3.) Exercise - This trains your brain to realize that behavior matters
4.) Mediation - takes your brain out of the ADHD of life and gets over the multitasking and focus on the event at hand.
5.) Random acts of kindness - write a grateful and positive letter to someone in your inbox every day day, reflecting on the good in people.

Twenty one days....just twenty one days and you can retrain your brain.  But then understand, you aren't finished.  You have to keep going with this, but you will feel so good it won't be hard.

Take your brain out for a walk and discuss the changes you will be making, you are in charge after all.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sometimes Life is Left in the Hands of Amateurs

Last Thursday I received a message on Facebook from the husband of a dear friend.  He told me Ann (his wife, my friend) had finally given him permission to tell people she was going in for an operation to remove a tumor on her intestines.  They had found it by chance, of all things, through a cough.  After a series of specialists, and almost 5 months, they finally found the proper diagnosis.
I called last Friday night, I had to know what to do...but what could I do but listen and pray.  The operation was to be intense, and she would be hospitalized for a week.  We spoke about how blessed she was to have such incredible health care and how carefully she had been led to the correct diagnosis.  Both of her sons are doctors and they concurred she was incredibly blessed.  Most of these cases are not found until it is very difficult to treat, instead of simply difficult to treat.  

We hung up on the note of a very cherished friendship of thirty years....through children, marriages, big problems and small ones.  Even though she lives far away, distance has never been an issue.  She is my friend, my sister in life and I so wish I could be there with her.  I adore her.

Today I received another message from her husband.  He told me the operation was very long, and more involved than they anticipated.  They wouldn't know the results of the tumor for another couple of days.  His anxiousness and worry were palatable and then he said something I wasn't expecting.  He had been putting off telling her that their son, Brian, had passed away during her operation.   I knew he was failing from brain cancer, but I didn't think it was eminent.  He closed by asking for my prayers....a dad who had lost his son and was so concerned for his wife only wanted my prayers.  I couldn't move....I was paralyzed for a moment.  How could this have happened?  There was not a better man than Brian......He was a young man with a sweet wife, twin daughters and a son.  He was a doctor, a hiker and a Texas Aggie Alum.

I am an amateur on life because I just don't get it.....there are so many awful people who we could gladly give over instead of someone as kind, sweet and good as Brian.  He was making a difference in the world, he was a good doctor, an incredible father, and an adoring husband.  

I am an amateur on life because I don't focus on what is really important.

I am an amateur on life because I have to be reminded every day as to the true purpose of my life, why can't it hold over just one day?

I am an amateur on life because I don't really understand that I can be right or I can be happy, but I won't be both, because if I "have" to be right at the expense of others, I will not ultimately be happy.  
Rancor is never peace.  

Brian is at peace, his family is comforted by the knowledge that families are eternal, and they will go forward.  No rancor, no anger...they will simply go forward.

Love you Brian...and just for you, Gig 'em!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mountain Ridge Little League

The Mountain Ridge Little League Baseball team was notified they are now the World Champions.  So that means the Little League team who represented me won the title almost 6 months after the game was played.  I live within the Mountain Ridge boundaries, I actually know the coach, Ashton Cave....


Because Jackie Robinson West who won the title did not abide by a very important rule that you use the players within your boundaries.  It isn't an all-star situation, which some people think.  It is a neighborhood team, that is why it is so hard to win.  Little League officials have all kinds of checks and how did this happen?

This is not the way Mountain Ridge wanted to win.  And now that they have, so what?  Did they get to hold up the trophy?  Did they get to throw out the first pitch at the World Series in San Francisco or meet the President?  Nope....

Mountain Ridge is a very special team who won the hearts of everyone in Las Vegas.  They beat the team Mo'ne Davis played for.  You remember her, the phenomenal girl pitcher who was on the cover on Sports Illustrated and also received an Espey.  They even beat Jackie Robinson West 13-2 earlier in the double elimination tournament.  These were not kids of privilege, these were regular kids with parents who raised money with baked sales and garage sales for the trip to Williamsport.

My friend April Nakasone sent me this message, " I liked what Coach Cave said on the radio this morning.  He wishes instead of them getting the trophy, there would just be a big blank on 2014 so parents can use it as a valuable teaching lesson."  Thanks are right.

I feel terrible for the Jackie Robinson West players.  They have spent the last 6 months thinking they won a title that was taken away today.  I hope Jesse Jackson, who took them to Disney World, gathers them together and explains what happened. That is wasn't their fault but some coaches and some parents decided to pull kids in from the suburbs to play with an inner city team.  It is going to be a terrible fall with brand new circumstances because they were rock stars in Chicago.  And it isn't their fault this happened.

It really does come down to success in life is what you learned in Kindergarten.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Brian Williams and Robert Capa

I am sick for Brian Williams.  He is so loved, so flawed.

Just like all of us.

I don't know what I would do in that situation...maybe it got away from him.  Maybe he told people he had been in a fire fight in a helicopter so many times it became reality.  I couldn't say.  Just being there and in the vicinity of war would be dangerous enough for me.

But then I think about Robert Capa, the most famous war photographer of World War 2.  He was there on D Day...his description of D Day in an article from Vanity Fair was riveting.  Steven Spielberg said he used the 11 remaining pictures Capa took (out of hundreds) for "Saving Private Ryan"


Spielberg gave these pictures to his Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and told him he wanted the entire D Day scene to look just like this.  Kaminski won the Oscar for his work.

Robert Capa took these pictures....he was there.  His descriptions of what he saw are horrific....along with all the other war correspondents who brought us these images and their first hand reports.

That's why men held Brian Williams responsible, even after all these years.

They were there, they took it, he didn't but said he did.  It's hard to defend and hard to condemn.  I am not going to, but he does owe an apology and an explanation to those men he wanted to be, but wasn't.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday February 8, 2015

I subbed for a class yesterday at our local college and had the best time.  Being surrounded by youth is extremely inspiring to me.  I love their comments and energy...I really enjoyed it!  I gathered up my things and went out to the beautiful warm afternoon to drive home.  Before I drove off I checked my mail and messages.  One of the messages caught me by surprise.  The husband of an incredible couple we have known for thirty years said he had finally gotten permission to tell me his wife, my dear, dear friend had a tumor on her intestines.  It was quite large and major surgery is scheduled for this Tuesday.

I wrote back and told him how sorry I am.  What do you really say that could matter?  I told him we would fast for them this weekend..we would pray and I know they will feel our prayers.  I wanted so much to take their pain away.

I cannot do that.

But we can share the burden.  And it will make it so much lighter for them.  I believe that.

To a little nicer, a little more forgiving, a little less anxious to fight and someone you haven't spoken to for a long time.  Resolve that you do not have to be right...bring peace to a room....

Tell people you love them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Best Time And The Second Best Time

Oddly enough over the past few days I have come in contact with several people who have intimated to me their time has past.  Their dreams were not realized and now it is simply too late.  They told me "I could have done this, I could have done that.....Why didn't I finish school?  Why did I pass up that opportunity?  Why didn't I take the job with all the security instead of gambling on myself?  Why didn't I have children, get married, get divorced....why didn't I eat better or exercise more?

"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today."

I believe it is never too late.  There was a time I did not think I was capable enough, smart enough, or healthy enough to start a business.  But we had to, there was no other way to make a living.  After searching for jobs my husband and I discovered we were largely unemployable.  And facing the fact the recession had cleaned us out the future looked pretty bleak.   So we started our own business, and we have had some brilliant successes, and also made some pretty big mistakes.  But we keep going.  When things don't go our way we just say....

"Now what?  So What."

Does this take work?  This kind of care free attitude?  Yes we start over every day.  Every day we pray, we read, we tell ourselves we can do it.  I believe God wants us to succeed.  Believing that has helped me a hundred fold.

Last night I asked a very successful, hard working colleague of mine if he ever wanted to give up.

"I wanted to quit day before yesterday.  But I didn't because I can't.  I just get up the next morning and start over.  I believe that, and because I believe that,  solutions come, panic wanes and emergencies abate."

Our journey began with realizing what we had to work with.  What do we already have?  Well, we can cook, we can entertain, we have nice serving pieces, a sense of style (love adding that)  Raymond is a brilliant floral arranger, and we have great friends.

Catering...our little business was born.  We gave it the whimsical name of Ray Ray's.  That was my husbands nickname as a little boy.

It has not been easy, but doors have opened, word is slowly spreading and we do better all the time.  As the saying goes above, we built a windmill.  There are a million reasons to fail.....but we won't. God wants us and you to succeed.  He helps us build a windmill.

We are starting now to make a brand new ending, in a life we never expected to have.  When I hear people say, "I never thought my life would turn out this way,"

I want to ask them "Isn't it great?"

....please understand, that is how I feel on a good day.  But many, many days I haven't felt that way.  I have sat in a puddle and thrown dirt on my back, I have been resentful life didn't play out the way I imagined...I have cried, screamed into my pillow, bemoaned my fate and been angry as hell.

But I am better.

And as we get better at what we do I am not as nervous....that's a simple word, the truth is I have been terrified at times.

I am not as angry as I was.  Still very far from where I want to be, but at least I am on the path.

Build a can do anything.

Friday, January 30, 2015

My thought for today....

A dear friend came by the other day, completely inconsolable.  She had a problem that was taking up all of her time and thinking. She was obsessed with it.  After listening for a while I asked her why she was so angry?

She explained, that although some of the fault for the problem was hers, the bulk of the blame had to go to someone else.

She was surprised at what I told her.

"Forgive them, when you do, the anger dissipates and the solutions will come.  Anger darkens your mind so much you cannot "see" how to proceed correctly.  Your anger will keep you from the answers you need.  And the best way to forgive someone is to be grateful...they go hand in hand.  Be grateful and you can forgive, forgive,  and you will see all your blessings, gifts and opportunities.  The solutions are there....but you need light to see them, and your anger has made that impossible."

Forgiveness clears you to see your preferred path.

Because gratitude gives forgiveness a place to grow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What I Believe

A dear friend of mine writes a column for the Salt Lake City Tribune and recently wrote the most thought provoking column I have read in a long time.  Ann Cannon is one of those writers that brings emotions you love to feel.  Find her column here.  She wrote about the concept of beliefs and the ongoing "This I Believe Project" (  Ann inspired me to think about what I believe in....

I believe being surrounded by books is more comforting than macaroni and cheese

I believe the sound of my children laughing together is the best sound created.

I believe dogs are the best barometer of our worth, if your dog loves you then you are OK!

I believe hugs should be at least 9 seconds long and several times a day.

I believe older people have the best wisdom.

I believe a drum line at a football game could make you forget all your problems.

I believe good feelings from a sweet memory should be brought out and worn often.

I believe in learning, whether a formal education or simply living life, it equals the same.

I believe winning is wonderful, loosing is educational, and having the right attitude about both is inspirational.

I believe Frankincense is a miracle essential oil.  Or maybe magical...whatever, it is amazing, and it works.

I believe the things you should never be without in the kitchen is a great olive oil, fresh herbs, onions, garlic and celery.  With that you can create anything.

I believe you should never make excuses for wanting to set your table with the "good stuff".  Your grandmother will be happy you did.

I believe knowing who "your people" are is important.  Know where are your grandparents and great-grandparents are from and celebrate them!

I believe having a hobby and making time for it is imperative.

I believe lipstick and a strand of pearls make you feel pretty.

I believe prayer is the greatest power on earth.

I believe sitting by a fire in a comfortable chair, with a great book, watching it rain or snow is the essence of comfort.

I believe in having a favorite blanket and a favorite bathrobe.

I believe in the magical powers of a donut you bought while no one was looking.

I believe furniture finds you...

While I believe in the intelligence of order, keeping a few odd things does not clutter make.

I believe some books are holy and are filled with truth.  They make us better for having read them.

I believe God talks to us, and if we are willing to listen, our lives improve.

I believe we are all entitled to our own beliefs and deserve the respect of others as we follow the "dictates of our own conscience"

I believe making assumptions about what people are like will rob you of the potential of a great friend.

I believe the causal effect of forgiveness is intelligence.  Anger literally halts our progression and keeps us from finding the answers that are always there.

I believe in the power of words, be careful how you use them.

What are your beliefs?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

How far is too far?

A lifetime ago I wrote exclusively about politics, very strident, very opinionated.  I was very loose with facts in order to prove my point.  Funny, I was able to see all the mistakes and weaknesses of my "foes" but I never saw the ones on my side.  Their leaders were useless, out of touch and actually evil.  My leaders? Forward thinking, honest and trustworthy.  I never thought I hurt anyone because the response from readers was so positive.  People loved what I wrote.  And then one day I ran into a friend of mine who happened to be a member of the opposite party.  He looked at me and said very slowly..."you are very.....political."  His words just hung there, like a gym sock on a curtain rod (totally stole that) I knew exactly what he was referring to, and I realized immediately how hurtful I had been.

I had gone too far.

I realized that politics is subjective and worse it is often run on emotion.  There is a big difference between being lighthearted and light minded, and when I started to look at both sides, really look at both sides my point of view changed.  I saw that hypocrisy drives the political bus. One side screams in pain over tactics they employed when their crowd was in power....I guess amnesia was riding on that bus to.

Right now we have the equivalent of a rancorous family dinner with all the organization of a food fight.  Democrats fling accusations that republicans want poor people to remain poor, women to remain barefoot and pregnant and hungry children should stay hungry.  And don't forget Republicans would like babies to have gun permits.  To flick the mashed potatoes back in this food fight the democrats are being served up as anti-Israel and not caring if Iran has the bomb.  Democrats are so anti war that they will let prisoners out of Gitmo under any circumstance, give them a one way ticket to Falujah where they receive a hero's welcome and immediately go back to the front lines of Al Qaeda.  In this fight, Democrats don't care about the Arab problem because President Obama is a Muslim and those are his people.  With democratic rule our military is weak, our debt is skyrocketing, and we have impossible rules from small business to environmental problems.  Republicans are the party of hate, they hate homosexuals, women and Marni the Instagram dog.  Democrats just want to tax you to death (and after death) spend your money on a $300 million dollar blimp and give Facebook a $250 million dollar tax refund.  Republicans are hailed as the party of "NO!"  Yet their Republican held congress passed more bills than any other congress had.  But none of those bills were even voted on in a Harry Reid Senate.  President Obama pushed through a health bill that made insurance affordable to a great, great many people.  But because it had to be paid for somewhere, many middle class folks got hikes in their premiums to a place they had never seen before.  Some people see it in a monthly bill so it hurts...others don't see it because their employers absorb the extra cost.  But someone will have to pay for that, so the widgets being made at the factory are now more expensive.  If you are not able to breathe in the next 20 years, or if your home is under water due to glaciers melting, well find a Republican and thank them.

People who are pro choice view pro lifers as getting in the way of freedoms...a woman's freedom to choose.  But should it be ok to abort a baby because its a boy and not a girl?  Just like there are speed limits on a road couldn't abortion limits be a good idea?  Speed limits don't keep you from driving just keep you a bit safer.

Gun Control.....oh how I hate the word control, no matter where it is used.  But the problem with the anti-gun crowd is they don't like the people who like guns.  Think about that....they don't like the people who like guns.  And to the Republican backed NRA, is a waiting period to buy a gun such a bad thing?  Why don't we trade?  A waiting period for the gun crowd, and a waiting period for the abortion crowd.  They could have just a few days to think about it.

"We are supposed to fix our problems, government is not supposed to create them for us."

Both parties are expert at putting a bill together for something wonderful, then inserting something in the bill the other side would never pass.  AND THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING!  Then they go to the press and say "See!  See!  We try to govern but they won't cooperate"  When in fact both sides make governing impossible.  It's all staged to make the other side look unreasonable.
I would like to ask most folks to admit the news they listen to is biased.  Fox is slanted right, MSNBC is slanted left.  We watch to buoy up our position, not for critical thinking.  Some will bring the opposite viewpoint in for a more interesting debate, but Rachel? Nope, Sean? Nope, Megan? Nope, Ed? Nope.  For instance this morning I heard the president's trip to Saudi Arabia for the King's funeral described two ways.  The Right leaning network said President Obama changed his mind and decided to go to the King's funeral instead of the planned Biden led group.  He didn't want  another "Paris" like firestorm.  The left leaning network reported President Obama was cutting his trip to India short to attend the funeral.  One side reports the news and adds an opinion, the other side reports the news and adds an opinion.  Not very honest is it?   We watch "our news" just like I read the football bleacher report from the University of Texas.  It's always slanted toward the Longhorns, weaknesses are hidden, strengths are heralded and anyone who disagrees is an idiot.  Hook e'm!

Every time I see something on Facebook that is politically incendiary I "hide" it.  I am able to avoid  disliking the person who posted it, or taking it personally.  I wrote a lot of opposition papers in college...lots of them. I have learned how to bolster almost any argument.  It's easy...use enough truth to make it plausible, mix in some threats and emotion and you really have something.  I am suggesting we think about the stories we share.  Words are powerful, if it is written down people have a tendency to believe it.  Fact check your articles to the best of your ability and then if you still think it's worth passing around, well, go ahead.

People that I am friendly with I have written some ghastly things about conservatives...they are all this or all that.  And people I am friendly with have written some ghastly things about liberals.  They would be the first person to be appalled at hearing a racist is this different?  
We have even discussed anti-bullying laws, don't you feel bullied sometimes when someone attacks your opinion?  Remember that the next time you suggest a liberal isn't patriotic or a conservative hates women.

Most people are center right or center left and want as much government as it takes to keep the water running and bad guys off the streets.  

We are supposed to fix our problems, government is not supposed to create them for us.

I want a leader to stand up and say America is a great place and we not only have room for all opinions, but we must have all opinions.  If your stand is a good one it will stand up to scrutiny.

Maybe I just want someone to stand up and lead us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


The movie Selma is important for many reasons.  For one, Selma uncovered what evil looked like in America.  Human beings hell bent on denying other human beings the right to vote.  People so blinded by prejudice they could not see the obvious unfairness of their acts.  It was finally time to change wrongs for good.  But the fact that the person who ran the entire country wanted the voting rights bills passed is important to me.   It gave me comfort that not every white person in power was determined to keep black people from voting.  So why did the filmmaker feel the need to make Lyndon Johnson such a force against voting rights when he was, in fact, so determined to make it happen?  Why did she infer LBJ ordered the FBI to investigate Dr. King?  The director felt making LBJ a sympathetic character would result in him being the great white Savior.  In my opinion, nothing could have been further from the truth.  Martin Luther King Jr. was the heart and soul of the civil rights movement, no one else.  There are certain facts associated with Selma and the entire civil rights movement that are simply beyond my comprehension.  Law enforcement being ordered to beat defenseless men and women is small next to the fact that these same men and women came back to march in Selma again, and then again.  That is a testament to the capacity and limits a human beings will go to seek freedom.  In this case the freedom to vote.  Without Martin Luther King it would not have happened in the compelling and inspiring way it did.  I watched him give "The Dream" speech on Television...I was only 8 years old but he touched something in my soul I will never forgot.  I knew he was telling the truth, and I raised my children to judge people on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.  One generation in my family went from not being able to drink from the same water fountain to being best friends.  Dr. Martin Luther King was the central character in this story, in comparison no other leader even comes close.  It wasn't necessary to make LBJ small to heighten Dr. King.  Martin Luther King was the giant in this story.  He changed the lives of disenfranchised people everywhere, and he did it with leadership, love and fairness. As much as he could have, he never appeared to hate anyone.  He is an American hero for all Americans.  

Although the climate of my generation made it easier for me to be "color blind" my father had the seed.  He told me about the time his Platoon was moved by train from San Diego to Jacksonville Florida.  It was 1952 and the Marines were "cautiously" desegregated.  They all rode together until the New Mexico/Texas border then the black marines were forced to go to the back of the train.  In a show of solidarity these men who had trained together, lived together and could all die together went to the back of the train together.  My dad, raised by segregationists....knew what was right.  He didn't think it was a big deal...but it was.  And it is the reason I know things will continue to get better and better.  I have been chastised by some because I feel we have come such a long way.  There is still so much unfairness they tell me.  Of course there is...and it is heartbreaking to me.  

But this is my reality.  

This is a picture of my daughter when she was homecoming queen.  When I was growing up this would never have happened.  

I believe things are better...I hope things are better...and I know you have to hope and you have to believe before anything substantial can occur. 

Here are 3 articles you can read that may help formulate your own opinion

By Lois Alter Mark Movie Review on Boomeon "Selma"

By Ann Hornaday Film Fact Checking is here to stay

By Joseph A. Califano Jr. who was President Lyndon Johnson's top assistant for domestic affairs from 1965 to 1969

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What are you afraid of?

What are you afraid of?

Take a moment and ponder your fears....don't be afraid.  I am not talking about the typical stuff, heights, edges, snakes, the scale and libertarians.  I mean real things that go bump in the night.

Like being afraid you will run out of money...that you cannot provide for your needs.  So you pay bills at the last possible second, sometimes even late because you are afraid to send out the money.  You certainly don't pay a bill are afraid something might happen.  You don't spend money to fix something in your house or your car or your mouth because you are afraid to spend the money...the problem exacerbates and the money to fix it quadruples.  You ignore the phone because you are afraid of what bill collectors will say.  Awful, awful fear.

If money is not your fear, great, but look at the pattern.  Fear runs in the same pattern.  Fear is the same for us all.  It does take different shapes, different themes...but it follows the same pattern.

Until you face it, and begin to have faith.

I know that some of you will dismiss this immediately as a religious reference, and actually it is for me.  But no matter what you believe in faith dismisses fear.

Do you need faith in yourself?  Face it.....

I always wondered what the heck that meant, face your fears.  Then something happened the other day that was my waterloo moment.  I am weary of the same problem cropping up over and over again.  It became obvious to me I haven't learned how to be fearless in the face of this problem.  Being fearless is a pretty great attribute...but I am afraid to be fearless.  I have an empty cup of faith.

From the amazing Corrie Ten Boom

What happens when you let go and just leap off the cliff?  I have written about this is in the past, but nothing has changed for me.  I am still stuck on the edge.....holding on for dear life.....unable to just jump off.

Fear keeps us from trying so many things.  Fear keeps us safe, like some kind of creepy Stockholm syndrome.  Safe, but the captor is a harsh taskmaster...taking from us our peace.

What are you afraid of?  And is it worth your peace?  Wouldn't you really like a miracle?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

From Ann Hansen who wants you to know this might make you mad

I am blessed to know a great many amazing people in this world.  Ann Hansen has always intrigued me and frankly her life is worth noting.  She has always been a fierce supporter of her adopted country, Israel, and although not Jewish she never wavers in her love for the country or the people. 

I know that what I am about to say will probably upset some people, but I am furious about all these "ye suis Charlie" marches, etc. Three attacks were made this week in France, and possibly a fourth. The first was made against the Charlie office, but the other two were made against Jewish targets. The second attack, in which a French policewoman was killed, was also against a Jewish target. The terrorist was in a traffic accident on his way to commit "slaughter" (his words) against a Jewish elementary school. This was the same terrorist who then attacked the Jewish supermarket, in which 4 French Jews were killed by him. He was a friend of the brothers who committed the attack on Charlie, and was in contact with them during their respective sieges.
Of the 17 victims of the French attacks, 5 were Jewish, including one of the Charlie cartoonists. Ironically, his parents had left France in the 1930s to escape anti-Jewish violence.
My anger had two sources. One is that so much of the Western world still refuses to acknowledge a very real threat and therefore take necessary precautions to minimalize it. The world is outraged about an attack on the press, but how many have reported the numerous attacks against Christian schools and churches in Nigeria the past week in which several HUNDRED innocents have been killed? How many reported the suicide bombing the same day in Nigeria which killed more than a hundred? The bomber was a girl aged 10 or 11. This is a new technique employed by Boko Horam - kidnap girls and allow them to choose between rape or suicide bombing.
My greatest anger, though, is that the Western world is so ready to assemble and mourn the attack on a magazine - a symbol of Western values - yet remain absolutely silent about attacks on Jews. Do any of those Suis Charlie signs include any mention of the Jewish victims or Jewish targets? 
Where was world outrage a few months ago when The Jewish Museum in Belgium was attacked a few months ago and 3 Jews were murdered? Where was French or world outrage last year when a Jewish school in France was attacked and Jewish children were killed? Where was world outrage last month when a Jewish baby was killed last month in Jerusalem when a terrorist deliberately ran over her mother, who was standing at a train stop?
It feels good to stand up for what you believe, and joining candle vigils and holding placards helps us to feel like we are doing something constructive, but when "solidarity" turns into a way to put our heads in the sand this attitude is dangerous.

The gatherings I have seen in the news show people holding pens in honor of the victims and theoretically the principles.  Almost a third of those victims were Jewish.  Two of the three targets this week were Jewish.  But did one single person in those gatherings hold a Star of David?