Search This Blog

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....







Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What I Should Have Said Was Nothing....

Recently a woman on Facebook asked a very provocative question. Her views are left leaning and she wondered how anyone could support Trump. The posts her question created reflected incredulity from all her readers. After scanning the page I read she is a very talented writer, professor and journalist. I trusted her question was sincere and honored her the request to know why anyone would vote for Trump. Be clear I am not a Trump supporter, I do not have a candidate, perhaps I will but for now, I am one of millions of Americans classified as "undecided".

After writing an emotional response that included my family’s experiences over the last 8 years or so, I expected to be skewered. The response on her facebook page was phenomenal. She expressed empathy to a plight she didn't realize was occurring. She was kind, and expressed true concern for our situation. Then she did something akin to asking my husband for a recipe, she asked me to write about it.

I can do that.

These are my simple observations from personal experiences. No hyperbole, just our agenda to survive. I am not running for office, nor am I advocating a candidate. I really don’t know who to vote for. My views are mostly middle right, I mostly stick to a live and let live attitude. Making a living is hard so I don't picket or boycott since you rarely land a glove on the folks you want to hurt anyway. I have friends from all walks of life and lifestyles, all races, creeds and tongues...You can believe my honesty on this front or not.

Our politicians say a great deal for votes and then do very little once they are in office. The apex of our crisis came to my family 8 years ago when the recession began. Nevada has the second worst unemployment rate in the country and during the worst parts of the recession it was number one and number one in foreclosures. Not one Nevada politician came to help. They could have at least said things are bad but we know they will improve. But they did nothing. I asked Rep Joe Heck our republican congressman what he was doing to help with our crisis. He said to my face..."I am introducing legislation" So basically nothing. Construction everywhere stopped right in the middle of projects, and overnight businesses closed. And then the ripple effect began, construction stopped, jobs lost, homes lost and great people began to leave Nevada in droves because there were no jobs. The recession went across the country and our president in an attempt to encourage people to tighten their belts made a careless remark about not going to Las Vegas. The next day companies cancelled conventions scheduled here and folks cancelled vacations.The mayor was apoplectic and in a rare move Harry Reid objected. President Obama later corrected his statement in a letter, but few people heard it and the damage was done.  It was a deep financial hit and a morale killer. Years later he told a group there is "nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week". We live and learn.

When our health insurance bill became so high we considered giving it up, instead we signed up for Obamacare because our income was so low. I misunderstood the instructions - which in my defense are as complicated as a nuclear arms treaty - and didn't know we had to state our income on a guess going forward instead of what we made the previous year. When our business began to make more money, (and that is what we want to happen, right?) we were fined $4,000 for incorrect information. It was a huge mistake I am still bitter about. Everything we make goes back into the business and our survival so it was a huge hit. When Mrs. Clinton made mistakes with emails that could have - might have - impacted national security, national security, and received no consequences I was angry. Why isn't there an insurance mulligan with Obamacare mistakes? National security gets a mulligan but not the regular guy? I got off of Obamacare as quickly as I could find different coverage and now we have coverage through a private healthshare program that qualifies under Obamacare. For the record some of the changes Obamacare have made are long overdue. Children staying on their parent’s policies until 26 (although if there were more jobs this wouldn't be necessary) and preexisting illnesses no longer preclude you from coverage. Changes did need to be made to health insurance and republicans were not going to do it, so the discussion starts with Obamacare. Repealing it without an alternate plan will not work, but too many people are facing higher deductibles and premiums with less coverage and there will eventually be a rebellion. Small businesses cannot afford the guidelines and they will continue to hire more part time workers. And that doesn’t help anyone going forward.

I did not caucus for Trump, but he took Nevada by a huge margin. Why? Jobs...or lack of jobs. Hardworking people are looking around at no retirement, no savings, no IRA's and a government hell bent on taking more of what we don't have. I have watched my college educated husband start over at 60...why? Because he had to, the choice was giving up or going forward. Some folks did give up, they walked away from their homes and every obligation they had. In the last 10 years 16 million (excellent article) people have left the labor force making it 92 million people total. It is easy to quote a very low unemployment rate when you take so many out of the equation. I realize that number includes retired people, but it also includes people without hope of work or they find themselves unqualified to work. With our savings, investments and IRA's gone, the Tagliaferri retirement plan changed to "no retirement plan"or "work until you drop". But what could we do? We were too old to get jobs that would come close to our obligations, so we started a business. Nothing has been harder, but we refuse to give up.  Learning social media, quickbooks, advertising, buying, and a never ending conga line of regulations has not been easy. We are competing with companies that are long established with much bigger budgets to hire people to advertise, do books and keep up with regulations. I didn't even know where to start. So after a nervous breakdown (real) I realized we are not alone in this, as my dear friend and accountant said to me during a raging meltdown, "Donna do you know how many of my clients are in the exact same place you are?" I finally realized it wasn’t just me, the whole country was 50% off.

Enter Trump. The anti-candidate, the guy with all the answers but mostly sounds like he has none of the answers. He wants to be our proxy against the established team of politicians on either side. He throws mud at ideas and concepts that haven't worked. And he has tapped into a group of Americans that are afraid continuing to use these failed ideas and concepts will finally finish us off. Up to now any candidate that stood up and said things need to change was unelectable. But the Donald came at just the right time for a whole group of people politicians have been ignoring. People who have lost his or her life savings and finds no one in government really cares. I am a county planning commissioner, I know the language of distress, distrust and disgust from constituents. When no one takes the time to hear their concerns they rebel. That is what’s happening in America, people are rebelling and their pitchforks and torches come in the form of Donald Trump. When I talk to people about who they are voting for gender doesn't come up. People don't care if Hillary is a woman or not, but the media does and it provides another wedge to drive us apart.
I don’t see any proof that either candidate has any idea what today's economy is like. They are all privileged beyond measure. All of them attended Ivy league schools, their children attended Ivy league schools (I consider Stanford a Ivy league school - at least by cost) none of them have student loans or a dismal path to employment, they will never worry about health care or retirement. They don't even have to be concerned about ISIS since they are surrounded by secret service or private security 24 hours a day. To insure I will never understand their lifestyles Mrs Clinton gave a speech at UNLV in 2014. (I have provided a link stating her demands for giving the speech from the Review Journal article) When people were struggling to pay mortgages Mrs. Clinton is demanding a Gulfstream and a presidential suite.

It doesn't help that the entire DNC was devoted to how good things are and the RNC was devoted to how bad things are leaving me to wonder....

"Where do I go now?"

Enter Trump

He isn't a politician, he isn't nice, he isn't smooth...he has no filter. He got the nomination because he isn't a politician. Politics haven't worked for the hoi polloi in a long time. His rhetoric is grating and nonsensical, he is PT Barnum. When I ask people why they are voting for him two things are mentioned...He understands the economy is challenging, and he says the snarky things they want to but can't. In an interview Nancy Pelosi referred to "uneducated white men" when discussing those voting for Trump. The phrase “blue collar worker” had been replaced. Probably because blue collar workers are a democratic stronghold. Instead of trying to find out why Americans are feeling disenfranchised and hopeless they dismiss them by diminishing them.  And then Trump leaves us all dumbfounded when instead of trying to find a solution for immigration Trump wants to build a wall...seriously? He talks about torture and nuclear bombs as though they are pieces to a game. He doesn't have a plan to fix anything any more than Mrs. Clinton does, for the record her plan is more of the same.  Since neither side has a path to recovery for the economy just admit it and get out of the way. The people are the reason America is great, not our politicians. We work, we invent, we dream, and we take risks. Government was never supposed to make jobs, it's sole purpose is for the "common good” , that which is shared or beneficial for the common community.

Working through my dotage is our retirement plan, I get that, so get out of the way and let me do it.

And someone find a leader I can follow.....





Monday, August 8, 2016

And Perhaps What I Should Have Said Was Nothing.....



Recently a woman on Facebook asked a very provocative question. Her views are left leaning and she wondered how anyone could support Trump. The posts her question created reflected incredulity from all her readers. After scanning the page I discovered she is a very talented writer, professor and journalist, so I trusted her question was sincere and decided to honor the request as to why anyone would vote for Trump. Be clear I am not a Trump supporter, I do not have a candidate, perhaps I will but for now, I am one of millions of Americans classified as "undecided".

After writing an emotional response I expected to be skewered. The hate on social media is intense and because I am adhering to an almost zen like approach to life these days I avoid exposing my opinions for anyone to read. I adore my friends, and find it head scratching to sacrifice friendships on the alter of politics. Has anyone had their opinion turned around because of something they read on facebook?

Well, no.

The response on her facebook page was phenomenal. She expressed empathy to a plight she didn't realize was occurring. She was kind, and expressed true concern for our situation. Then she did something akin to asking my husband for a recipe......she asked me to write about it.

I can do that.

What follows are my observations from personal experiences. There isn't any he said, she said...no hyperbole...just my agenda to survive. I am not running for office, nor am I advocating a candidate. When I stated indecision about the presidency I meant it. For the record I am middle right. Which means I am liberal about some things, conservative about other things but mostly stick to a live and let live attitude. I understand how hard it is to make a living so I don't picket or boycott since you rarely land a glove on the folks you want to hurt anyway. I have friends from all walks of life and lifestyles, all races, creeds and tongues...so I get you and being a good Christian woman I am thrilled to never judge, just love. You can believe my honesty on this front or not.

Over the last 60 years we have been steadily sliding into warm water not noticing it has begun to boil. Our politicians say a great deal for our votes and then do very little once they are in office. The apex of this crisis came to my family 8 years ago when the recession began. Right now Nevada has the second worst unemployment rate in the country and during the worst parts of the recession we were number one with number one in foreclosures. None of our politicians came to help. They could have just said things are bad but they will improve, but nothing. Not republicans, not democrats....no one. I asked Rep Joe Heck our republican congressman what he was doing to help with our crisis. He said to my face..."I am introducing legislation" So basically nothing.....Construction everywhere stopped, sometimes in the middle of a project, and overnight businesses closed. It happened everywhere, on the strip, in our neighborhoods...everywhere. And then the ripple began...jobs lost, homes lost and great people had to leave Nevada because no jobs were here. The recession went across the country and our president in an attempt to encourage people to tighten their belts made a careless remark about not going to Las Vegas. The next day companies cancelled conventions and folks cancelled vacations. We were left with ever worsening problems. The mayor was apoplectic and I think in a rare move even Harry Reid objected because President Obama corrected his statement in a letter. Very few people heard the letter and the damage was done.  It hurt financially and further damaged suffering morale. Years later he told a group there is "nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week". We live and learn.

When our health insurance bill became more than our mortgage we considered giving it up, instead we signed up for Obamacare because our income was so low. I misunderstood the instructions - which in my defense are as complicated as a nuclear arms treaty - and didn't know we had to state our income on a guess going forward instead of what we made the previous year. When our business began to make more money, (and that is what we want to happen, right?) we were fined $4,000 for incorrect information. It was a huge mistake that I am still bitter about because everything we make goes back into the business or just survival, it was a huge hit. This year when Mrs. Clinton made mistakes with emails that could have - might have - impacted national security, national security, and received no consequences it caught my attention. Why isn't there an insurance mulligan with Obamacare mistakes? National security gets a mulligan? But not the regular guy. I am happy to report we have coverage through a private healthshare program that qualifies under Obamacare. For the record some of the changes Obamacare have made are long overdue. Children staying on their parents policies until 26 (although if there were more jobs this wouldn't be necessary) and preexisting illnesses no longer preclude you from coverage. Changes did need to be made to health insurance and republicans were not going to do it, so the discussion starts with Obamacare. Repealing it without an alternate plan will not work, but the way it is now isn't effective either. Too many people are facing higher deductibles and premiums with considerably less coverage and there will eventually be a rebellion. Small businesses cannot afford the guidelines and they will continue to hire more and more part time workers. Which makes the whole system worse.

I did not caucus for Trump, but he took Nevada by a huge margin. Why? Because of jobs...or rather lack of jobs. And that is the way it is all across the country. Good, hardworking people are looking around at no retirement, no savings, no IRA's and a government hell bent on taking more of what we don't have. I have watched my college educated husband start over at the age of 60...why? Because he had to. The choice was giving up or going forward. Some folks did give up, they walked away from their homes and every obligation they had. In the last 10 years 16 million (excellent article) people have left the labor force making it 92 million people total. It is easy to quote a very low unemployment rate when you take so many out of the equation. I realize that number includes retired people, but it also includes people without any hope of work or find themselves unqualified to work. With our savings, investments and IRA's gone, the Tagliaferri retirement plan changed to "no retirement plan"or "work until you drop". But work at what? We were too old to get jobs that would come close to our obligations, so we started a business. Nothing has been harder for me yet we refuse to give up.  Learning social media, quickbooks, advertising, buying, and a never ending conga line of regulations has not been easy. And we are competing with companies that are long established with much bigger budgets to hire people to advertise, do books and keep up with regulations. I didn't even know where to start. So after a nervous breakdown (real) I just starting working. I am not alone in this, as my dear friend and accountant said to me during a raging meltdown, "Donna do you know how many of my clients are in the exact same place you are?" My head cleared up a bit and realized I thought it was just me when the whole country has been placed on the 50% off shelf.

Enter Trump. The anti-candidate, the guy with all the answers but mostly sounds like he has none of the answers. He wants to be our proxy against the established team of politicians on either side. He throws mud at ideas and concepts that haven't panned out. But he has tapped into a group of Americans that are afraid these failed ideas and concepts will finally finish us off. Any candidate up to now that stood up and said things need to change and mean it, were unelectable. But the Donald came at just the right time for a whole group of people politicians have ignored. People tired of losing things they had worked their whole lives for and having no one in government really care. I am a county planning commissioner, I know the language of distress, distrust and disgust from constituents. When no one takes the time to hear them they rebel and that is what is happening in America, people are rebelling and their pitchforks and torches come in the form of Donald Trump. When I talk to people about who they are voting for gender doesn't come up. People don't care if Hillary is a woman or not, the media does and they do all they can to keep us hating each other.

From my standpoint neither candidate has any idea what today's economy is really like. Both are privileged beyond measure. All attended Ivy league schools, their children attended Ivy league schools (I consider Stanford a Ivy league school - at least by cost) none of them have student loans or a dismal path to employment, they will never worry about health care or retirement. They don't even have to be concerned about ISIS since they are surrounded by secret service  or private security 24 hours a day. To insure I will never understand their lifestyles Mrs Clinton gave a speech at UNLV in 2014. (I have provided a link stating her demands for giving the speech from the Review Journal article) While people are struggling to pay mortgages, while they lay awake at night wondering what will their future be, Mrs. Clinton is demanding a Gulfstream and a presidential suite.

It doesn't help that the entire DNC was devoted to how good things are and the RNC was devoted to how bad things are leaving me to wonder....

"Where do I go now?"

Enter Trump

He isn't a politician, he isn't nice, he isn't smooth...he has no filter. So why did he get the nomination? Because he isn't a politician and politics haven't worked for the hoi polloi in a long time. His rhetoric is grating and nonsensical. He is PT Barnum......When I ask people why they are voting for him two things are mentioned...He understands we need to work, and he says the snarky things we want to but can't. In an interview Nancy Pelosi changed her rhetoric from "Blue collar worker" to "uneducated white man". Instead of trying to find out why Americans are feeling disenfranchised they dismiss them by diminishing them.  Instead of trying to find a reasonable solution for immigration Trump says he will build a wall...seriously? He talks about torture and nuclear bombs as though they are pieces to a game. He doesn't have a plan to fix anything any more than Mrs. Clinton does, for the record her plan is more of the same.  Since neither side has a path to recovery for the economy just admit it and just get out of the way. Let us do what Americans do because we are the reason America is great, not our politicians. We work, we invent, we dream, we are the ones who take risks. Not our government, government was never supposed to make jobs, it's purpose is for the "common good". What is shared or beneficial for the common community.

Working through my dotage is our retirement plan, I get that, so get out of the way and let me do it.

And someone find a leader I can follow.....


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Our Weakness Can be a Strength



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.





Thursday, June 23, 2016

Who Am I?




Thanks for sending in your DNA sample.

And that is how it starts.

Being adopted I wanted to find out where I came from. I have done a lot of family history but only for the family I know. Finding birth parents hasn't been a driving force in my life, I honor their privacy. But I am curious. I am not expecting a big surprise. I look a bit Anglo Saxon, so I imagine I am from Northern Europe...but maybe I am the product of a Viking experience. 10 generations back my people were stolen from Spain or Morocco,and brought to, I don't know, Norway, or Poland...Maybe I am a descendant of Catharine the Great....or Genghis Khan.......
Maybe Italian? That would freak out my husband who is really Italian.

All I know is I am from Texas and that is not going to change. And my birth mothers name is -

Opal Leigh Jones

I didn't know anything about my birth mother until my father passed away and I found my original birth certificate. No dad's name....

This might be the reason I enjoy saying the word "bastard" so much.....

I will let you know the results of the great DNA mystery. Although I am not expecting much more than, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. 

I'll know more in 6-8 weeks. It's kind of exciting isn't it?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Meet Jessica Durrant...

"Jessica Durrant is a freelance illustrator specializing in fashion, beauty and lifestyle genres" That is the opening line from her webpage. In case you aren't aware of her work, this is an introduction that needs to be made.








Jessica is one of my daughters best friends. She has been part of our family for years so we have been on the front row watching her success skyrocket.

We simply adore her.



Jessica started off with an Etsy shop in 2009, and now her work can be found associated with Target, Lancome Paris, L'Oreal Paris Kerastase, QVC, Fenwick's, Marionnaud and Avene. Harper's Bazar named her a fashion illustrator to follow on Instagram in 2014 and 2015.




Once a year she has a flash sale that my daughter Ashleigh flies out to Atlanta to help with every year.



Jessica took a chance on herself which has inspired us all.







Her work is inspired by fashion and her travels and anything else she sees that strikes a cord.



Her 5th Annual Flash Sale Begins at Midnight June 21st, 50% off all 8.5 x 11" prints. 
 
Jessicadurrant.com
Midnight tonight (June 21 for 24 hours) a coupon code can be found in her Etsy shop banner and on Facebook - This is not a sponsored post, I'm just a fan.

Friday, June 10, 2016

I'm A Baby Boomer...You're Welcome!

I have the best friends. They are smart, articulate, kind, giving and smart. Did I say smart twice? That's because it bears repeating.

I have very smart friends. And for the most part my tribe are all baby boomers, growing up during some of the most turbulent times in our country. But Baby boomers got up one day and decided things needed to be changed. So this generation, these baby boomers, made some changes.

Women burned bras and busted through glass ceilings.

Black people drank from any water fountain they wanted and Jim Crow laws disappeared.

"Crippled" gave way to "disability" and "wheelchair accessible" became part of our lives.

Lets hear it for seat belt laws that saves thousands of lives, and 60 is no longer professional death. Start a whole new life at 60 if you want.

Frozen dinners are better...peas are not nearly so fluorescent.

Electric rollers, blow dryers and curling irons all started to come onto the scene with Vidal Sassoon. I don't know why..but they did and we stopped seeing women shopping with curlers in their hair.

Smoking is way down since we sent the Marlboro man packing....and drunk driving, thanks in large part to MADD is a serious crime.

We were charged with saving the oceans, the whales and the rain forest. Since they are all still here we must have triumphed over that. I don't hear much about acid rain and the brown skies of Los Angeles are clearer. Folks stopped littering....in fact throw something out of your car window and watch your butt get a ticket.

Again, you're welcome.

And then we made other changes.....

Computers, cable TV and the internet!!

On the word of a president we went to the moon.

On our watch we have mobile phones, and polio, whooping cough, and small pox are things of the past, and cancer has a much higher rate of survival.

Voyager I was the first man made object to leave the solar system - the universe got a lot bigger after Voyager I.

Baby boomers have made some mistakes...but even with the wars we have had there has not been a world war III. 60 million people died in world war II and we have had the capability to destroy the whole world with nuclear weapons since 1945.....but we haven't.

You're welcome.

My parents were children of the depression, they lived lives of scarcity even when things got better. I don't save every bag as my mother did, or wash off the foil paper to use over again....but I appreciate the world they left me.  Baby Boomers started to gear their lives toward abundance and so many great things have happened. Our parents had to live through World War II but we watched the Berlin Wall come down without a whimper. Communism in the USSR disappeared and Hungary became Hungary again, Poland went back to being Poland...and on and on and on.

People who have changed our lives forever are baby boomers...Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steven Spielberg and the Beatles..not to mention the Beach Boys. Jerry Seinfeld, Stevie Nicks, George Clooney...Wolfgang Puck, Craig Venter, Steven King and of course, Oprah Winfrey. String theory came about as did the human genome project....Ben and Jerry, Gary Trudeau, Michael Jordon and Rush Limbaugh.

And Millennials? When we annoy you with requests for help with our computers, remember we gave you the Super Bowl, the mini skirt, and saved you from beehive hairdos and fins on cars.

You're welcome.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Harambe the Gorilla

I join so many others who are saddened by the death of Harambe the Gorilla...what a beautiful animal he was! Having said that after reading several comments by folks about this tragic event I am amazed at the clairvoyance so many seem to have. Not only are some completely convinced they would never make a mistake like the mother of the 3 year old, they also seem to know the exact thought process of a gorilla. Over the years I have been told wild animals are just that....wild. Trying to domesticate or give them more human like qualities is often a foolish endeavor. There are a great many so-called experts who have tried to make pets of wild animals only to have some very tragic consequences occur. Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy comes to mind, or many others who have tempted fate with a wild animal.

At this point the zoo needs to make some big changes to their habitat.  And although I am very sad that Harambe is dead I am greatly relieved the little boy is safe.

This world is a place of a million mistakes, we all make them, even the folks who think they are not capable of mistakes.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

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 like an object from an Indiana Jones movie. 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

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Gratitude

I have the best friends in the whole world. They come in all sizes, shapes, nationalities, religions, colors and opinions. What I love the most about my friends is how they inspire me and keep me going. The past couple of days have not been great, I had some terrible news to process about 2 children of 2 different families. One family here and another in Kentucky. Both children are critical and it has been heart breaking to watch these great families go through such difficult times.

What I forget is without difficult times we don't see miracles. And miracles are in place to remind us we aren't alone in this crazy life. The outpouring of love for both families has been wonderful and important and necessary. Number one rule - we cannot get through this life alone. A dear friend posted on Facebook the other day that her mother was in surgery and although she wasn't particularly religious she would appreciate good thoughts for her mother....from her friends. She just didn't want to be alone. And everyone responded! Some with prayers, some with wishes of good luck, some with stories of how their mom had the same surgery and was fine.  We don't have to be religious to be thoughtful, or kind....I appreciate it when friends of different faiths and beliefs tell me they are doing everything they can in their part of the "spiritual" world for me. That caring is everything to me.

My friend's 9 year old daughter had a severe Asthma attack and her brain was deprived of oxygen. She has been in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator since last Friday. Today the doctors slowly took away the medicine that was keeping her in the coma and found she didn't have any brain activity. It is one thing to beg and plead with God to keep your child here, it is quite another to accept the fact that may not occur. This is all the harder since they lost their 22 year old son just last year.



Life isn't fair. Tornadoes hit and little girls have asthma attacks, people are robbed, and floods occur and cancer strikes, its all part of earth life.

But guess what else is part of earth life? 

Wonderful people who drop everything to help. The meals that are brought in. The hugs that are given. The needs that are met without anyone asking. 



We have puppies, guacamole, and a song I love more than anything, especially now. This was my step-mothers favorite song, one of the few things we had in common. It brings a lot of peace...by the way peace is the only emotion that cannot be counterfeited. When you feel peace it is real....it is truth. 







So we will go through hard times, but we will go through them together. We will hold each other up and get through the day. Then we will rejoice when the skies turn blue again.

We will celebrate each others victories, the graduations, the babies, the perfect chocolate cake. We will laugh together more than we cry.....but somehow when we are sad, when we are afraid and alone, is when we need each other most.

Take those things from your life that keep you from seeing people as God sees them. Avoid mockery at all costs, work on your judgements of other people that make them smaller than they are. But more than anything else.....love....love with all your heart. Don't miss any opportunity to show love to someone else. We have no guarantees, our futures are completely unknown. All that matters is what you do right now. And if you see a need, and you can, fill it. If you have an opportunity to simply tell someone they look great....do it. If you can show a kindness....do it. Let someone get in front of you at the check out line, or on the freeway. buy someone in need a hamburger, clean out your closet and donate everything you aren't using, take someone flowers, write a thank you note to anyone who has impacted your life. Show love.....right now.

You only have right now.

Don't waste it.