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Thursday, October 30, 2014

A story of 2 women

This is a story of two women, one I have cherished a friendship with my entire adult life and the other woman I only met last night.

Amy is an amazing friend, I have known her a million years.  We met when I went into the family business.  My family business is grandfather and grandmother were casino owners, my father dealt craps when he was 16 standing on a coke box in Kemah Texas.  I came from a long line of card and dice folks.  When we moved to Las Vegas I was only 13, but I knew more about games of chance than I did fairy tales.  Since Amy also worked in the casino as the personal assistant of the owner, we would sit after work and talk about everything.  And we bonded....No one in this world makes me laugh more and harder than she does.  Amy went on to do one interesting thing after another.  She was the first woman to sit on the Boxing Commission in Nevada.  Amy led the commission to not reinstate Mike Tyson's boxing license even though a fight of that stature represents about 12 million dollars for our city.  Brave?  I think so. She kept going and became an incredible fund raiser.  Raising more money for the democratic party in Nevada than anyone ever had, over 100 million dollars for politicians and charitable causes.  She built on her success starting a business called the "Zen Speaker." (

Specializing in helping clients speak in public to their best ability.  In her words, "How to be calm, confident and compelling in the spotlight."  Everyone wants that, everyone needs that.  I recently attended a 6 week seminar she gave and in my class was a boxing referee, a woman from Metro, an intuitive, someone who worked for "Make a Wish" and the legal counsel for a child advocacy program.  Fascinating people are attracted to her, they always have been.

I know a lot about Amy, in fact I thought I knew everything.

Then one day she invited me to breakfast and told me there was something she needed to tell me.  Over bagels and cream cheese she told me a story I never thought I would hear from her.  She confided to me that she had been a victim of sex trafficking.  When she was very young, she had been forced into prostitution and was almost killed by the man who had trapped her.  I knew she had gone through some difficult times as a teenager, but never this.  It was time, she said, to go public with her story so that she could be a voice for so many who had lost theirs.  Amy wanted raped and abused women to know they could survive and flourish.  She had survived and wanted to look in the faces of girls and women and show them...not just tell them...that it can be done.

So she did, she shared her story in what has to be one of the bravest things I have ever seen.  The reaction was incredible.  She first spoke at the graduation of a  girls school, not coincidently the one she had attended while being a "challenging" teenager.   Her message was clear...don't be defined by the negative occurrences in your life.  Believe in yourself, believe in your potential and don't stop until you reach it.  Her many speaking engagements led Senator Harry Reid to appoint her to the national Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities and her appointment was later approved by Congress.

The first time I heard her story in public was one of the most emotional experiences I have  had.  I knew what she was going to say but I sobbed through it anyway.  How could my friend have gone through such a harrowing experience?  How could anyone be that evil to force her to do things so heinous?  How does anyone have that right?

That is her message, no one has the right.

So when she called and asked me to be her guest at the Anniversary dinner for the Rape Crisis Center I was happy to attend.  I grabbed my friend Betsey and off we went.

Which brings me to the second woman in this story, the keynote speaker from last night, Elizabeth Smart.

She was calm as she spoke but very strong and she mesmerized the crowd.  Although young she is incredibly articulate, extremely engaging and passionate about this cause of supporting and helping women who have been broken.  Amy told me later she is the introverts introvert, large crowds and speaking in front of people is very difficult for her.  When she was signing my book I told her my 12 year old son was on his way to scout camp when she was abducted.  He told me scout camp wasn't as important as going to Utah to help look for her.  Everyone looked for her....everyone.  When she began to tell her story she never equivocated, didn't back down from very uncomfortable facts.  She had been kidnapped and raped by one of the most evil people on Earth. She described a cleansing ritual, a mock marriage that was followed by a rape.  Looking at this incredibly beautiful, sweet woman I was rocked by the remembrance she had been 14 when it happened.  A completely innocent 14 year old child looking forward to nothing more serious than attending high school.

She said the question she is asked the most is "why didn't you try to escape?"  Her explanation?  "Everything my kidnappers told me came true."  So of course she would believe them when they told her if she tried to escape they would kill her and her family.  They told her no one wanted her anyway, and no one would believe her.  Of course she wanted to escape, of course she wanted to go home....but she knew they would kill her and her family.  When she was finally found and taken to the police station she thought the police wouldn't believe her.  She went though a scenario in her mind that jail would be much better than what she was currently experiencing.  The police held her in a small room with no explanation and she had no idea what was occurring. But then the door burst open and her father was standing there.  He shouted,  "Elizabeth is that really you?" Suddenly I knew why there was box of kleenex on every table...there wasn't a dry eye in that room.  A complete miracle, she was rescued! She received 3 standing ovations and the respect of every person there.  One thing she said will stay with me forever.  She wasn't angry.  She said "I have come to a place in my life where I'm not sorry for what happened and I don't pity myself.  I believe 100% in happy endings."  That went through my mind over and over.  Elizabeth Smart would not be defined by this incredible act of violence, but by her faith and the knowledge of her worth.

I never thought my friend Amy would have so much in common with Elizabeth Smart.....but she does.  And statistics will tell you there are a great many women out there with memories no one knows about.  Except for their attacker.

Lets do all we can to end this....lets make the punishment so severe that attackers think twice before they attack a woman, or a girl.... or anyone.

Thank you Elizabeth Smart for your example of courage, survival and hope, and thank you Amy Ayoub for your example of courage, survival and hope.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oh, My....

This has been the busiest last four days...well, maybe not the busiest.  But far busier than I am comfortable with.  I don't mind working but I do mind working too much.  My grandmother would always say to me, "I am not afraid of work, I can lay down right beside it and go to sleep." I don't understand overachieving at things we don't have to overachieve on.

Like natural childbirth.

I tried was awful!!  They lied to me, they said the childbirth process is don't need medication.  What a pile of excrement...I bought into all that focal point stuff only to discover it is hard to concentrate on focal points when you are screaming in pain.  I know it will not be written on your  tombstone that you endured natural childbirth.  Horrible pain versus one shot for total bliss?  Not really a coin toss in my book.

There are a lot of things I either bought into, or felt guilty that I didn't do.  It seems children who are put to bed at a decent hour each night, are no smarter or responsible than children who simply fell asleep on the floor.  Hey, don't judge, I put a blanket on them...

And then there was nursing.  I was a nursing mom because I had children when the La Leche League ruled the world of young moms.  If you didn't nurse your children you were not a good mother. Don't tell anyone but I did it because it was cheap and easy.  No bottles to wash and no formula to buy.  Bonus?  I looked like the perfect mom.   We were told cows milk is for calves and giving them milk was practically poison.  However, my children still got allergies, they got colds, and that stupid RSV thing (while I was nursing by the way).  Cure all?  Nope...

How about moms working?  There was a fence 10 miles high between working moms and stay at home moms.  For awhile the working moms were winning....what do you do?  They would ask...knowing I was obviously too stupid to actually get a job since all I did was wander around my house in my bathrobe.  I usually came back with my usual, "I am a rice farmer."  Then the stay at home moms won for awhile when it turned out being at home with children was actually rewarding.  Then too many working moms left the work force for the PTA....I remember volunteering with a woman who used to be some big deal at a hotel on the strip.  She started making it all work and our $500 fundraiser wasn't good enough.  She changed things around, raised $37,000 and put in a petting zoo....guess who had to feed the goats?

It seems all of our kids came out the same...with just as many problems and just as many successes.  What a lot of wasted time trying to decide who was right, not to mention a lot of hurt feelings.   I met a woman who told me she prayed about what she was supposed to do every day and assumed everyone else did too.  Who was she to judge someone's decision? That was simple brilliant logic.

Who is right and who is wrong?

And Martha Stewart with her revolution of being everything, doing everything and being perfect.  It was a relief when she went to jail, we could practically eat out of cans without feeling guilty it wasn't made from scratch.  Wasn't it amazing when we found out all those things she seemed to be doing herself was done by a staff?  Here I was chopping my wood and carrying my water and she was just pointing to things that needed to be done.  

Oh, Martha

Low fat, non fat, carbs are good, carbs are the devil, Protein only, vegans, vegetarians and juicers.   Do you know I found a notebook of my mothers after she had passed where she had carefully journaled, everything she  ate and how the diet she was on was working.  That is the only writing I have of hers....a journal of food she ate.

What is right and what is wrong?

It's all very clear now that
I don't know very much, and the experts I listened to knew even less.
One great thing about getting older is I don't have to be right, and if I think you are wrong I don't have to tell you about it.  I don't have to be right...
All those rules, all those hoops I jumped through, all the parenting books, marriage books, diet books, exercise books.......all the millions of self help books.....turns out the best advice was.....

"Go to bed at 10 and get up at 6 and let the day take care of itself"  Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Stevie Nicks, 100,000 Views, and Essential oils

The best part about my writing is I can write about anything.  I am certainly not making a living at writing so whatever goes from my head, to my fingers, to my keyboard is a luxury of real free speech.

Emphasis on the free.

Stevie Nicks has a new album.....I love that rockers never quit.  Really good ones just don't seem to stop.  Maybe they have so much energy that they keep going despite themselves.  Like some rocker aura takes over and they are powerless to stop it.  For the record, I am not obsessed with Stevie Nicks, she simply transports me to a very carefree time in my life.  I was that girl on the front row at the Aladdin....with nothing in my head but how much tennis I was going to play the next day, just listening to Stevie Nicks.  I worked at the tennis courts at Caesar's and I remember laying out by the pool (we had access to everything in the old days) and thinking, "Man, if I couldn't do this everyday Las Vegas would be really boring."  I was also psychic in the old days.

So that is where Stevie takes me...... to my "Inner Diva" at almost at a moments notice.

Next thing....I have started using Essential Oils.  If you haven't looked into them, you must!  I had this thing on my leg....kind of a barnacle.  The doctor had already told me it was just getting older and it wasn't dangerous, but this last summer it seemed to grow.  And since I didn't want to end up on the learning channel with a 60 pound tumor I decided to have it removed.  But I am so lazy that instead of making a doctors appointment I reached for a thimble sized bottle of Frankincense (a friend had given it to me - not sure why - ) and I rubbed that bad boy on it.  I had been told it would work on skin things, Funny when I think of skin things I always think of Frankincense.  Isn't that your go to remedy?  Well I used it for four days.....repeating that....four days. It just came off.  After years (I told you I was lazy) it came off by using an oil I thought was made up.  Abandoned in a pyramid maybe....but no it is still around.  And it smells like old stuff, like my Grandmother's attic.  But it also smells familiar, which is a little weird.  So after Frankinscense made that miracle change on my leg, I have since decided there is something to this.  In our current world situation (yikes!) thieves oil - a very cool essential oil - is being ordered by the ship load.  The  story behind thieves oil is very interesting.   There was a group of thieves during a European plaque outbreak that were robbing the dead or the sick.  After being caught they offered to exchange their secret recipe, which had allowed them to commit the robberies without catching the disease, in exchange for leniency.  So why not give this blend of oils the coolest name?  They did, thieves oil.  I kind of love that, its like pirates.  So I have been learning as much as I can absorb (absorb!! Oils!!  Pun!!) from a dear friend who has been studying oils for 35 years.  A long time ago she had kidney stones and wanted to find a natural way to fix them.  She was successful and has been teaching about nutrition, oils, muscle testing if you can name a natural way to heal, she knows about it.  She is a self professed "Buffalo Woman".  Her husband gave the nickname because he likened her strength to an Indian Woman, a Buffalo woman.  
I like that's right up there with Pirates and thieving plague pillagers....without the stealing and pillaging.  So when your friends start talking about essential oils, don't think they are nuts.  A bottle of Frankincense is way cheaper than all the doctor visits I would have had to make for the same result...And I use peppermint, and oregano, and lavender....and something called Ocotea.  That's right I am practically a Shaman.

Now for the 100, in page views.  Tonight I should go over 100,000 page views on my humble little blog.  It's not really a big deal since some of my blogger friends do that in an afternoon. I say it to the writing demons who have bullied my muse for years.  For years I say!!!!  For years I have listened to the demons who have told me not to write...waste of time, what do you get out of it?  Are you paid?  

No more!!  Get behind me satan!! And take your little nasty minions with you.  I have the ghost of William Wallace on my side.  William Wallace doesn't care about my blog, he doesn't care if I have a teaspoon of talent....he only cares about my freedom!!  I am free to write and fail, or write and succeed...or the freedom to not write at all.  Here's to our freedom.  Enjoy are the only one who can give it away.  Unless you are in a Turkish prison.  (Wow, remember when Turkey had the worst prisons?  It's a spa day now...)

So read my little blog tonight, maybe you will be the one to put me over 100,000.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Aunt Stuff and the things we are made of........

This is a blog I wrote in June of 2012 - with a few additions....

Aunt Stuff called this morning, she is one of those folks who seemed to know the right time to call.  There was Aunt Stuff on the phone right before I was about to use Aunt Connie's recipe for cobbler instead of MeMaw's recipe.  You would have thought Aunt Connie's recipe was poison.  Aunt Stuff howled, "how could you ever consider using Connie's recipe?.....It's made of turpentine!!" Tragedy averted, MeMaw's cobbler prevailed and Aunt Stuff made me promise to check with her before ever using an unapproved family recipe.

Then the time she called after I found out the Houston Chronicle offered me an opportunity to write a column for them.  I was so excited!!  I went home and told my parents and all they said was, "how much does it pay?"  I felt the Chronicle was taking a huge chance on a twenty-two year old kid and the fact they weren't paying me wasn't important.  The reaction of my parents hurt so much that I went into my room and threw my purse through the window.  May I just say the sound of breaking glass felt great....Later that day Aunt Stuff just happened to call.  I told her the whole pitiful story...she stopped me and said I could write, she had initials were still on her Duncan Phyfe dining room table from a thank you note lesson that went horribly wrong.  She also told me to quit crying and write about it.  Unfortunately I failed to follow her advice and didn't write again for years.  At that time I wasn't strong or courageous enough in my personal life to ignore parental opposition.  I had to let life teach me about strength and courage....watching Aunt Stuff was a big part of that.  She is fearless.

Aunt Stuff, great hurricane fighter, fisherwoman and philosopher.  She is that woman who will die fighting an oil rig fire in her nineties.  She knows the right things to say, and doesn't hesitate to say them.   She keeps her sense of balance strong by never forgetting who she is and what her passions are.  Unless you want a fiery speech that Winston Churchill would be envious of, don't mention politics, even if you agree with her..  Unless you are completely without sense never mention Oklahoma in the same breath as her beloved Longhorns, don't leave the dinner table without talking about football....and never forget Texans invented Barbecue.  She always said it takes a special kind of crazy to bury your food in the ground for 24 hours, covered with mesquite wood and then eat it with sauce the family argued and fought over for as long as you could remember.

Aunt Stuff is a character, and life is filled with characters......they are what makes life so much fun!!!