Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ghetto Fabulous

Okay, so I already know my car is ghetto fabulous and in need of a muffler. I annouce my arrival and departure to everyone within a 2 mile radius everywhere I go, but I'm starving, haven't eaten all day, and I'm ordering Taco Shop drive thru. I'm second in line and the taco shop drive thru window guy leans out his window and gives me the stink eye and I'm not even up to the window yet.

When I do get to the window - he side hands me my delicious, fat - carb laden messssican treat I've been craving all day and (still without looking at me) yells..."your car needs a muffler"!!

I didn't know Taco Shop employed geniuses.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

I saw the movie "Invictus" a couple of days ago. The film is a true story of how Nelson Mandela tried to unite South Africa by working with the Captain of South Africa's Rugby Team. Mandela understood that Rugby is hated by the Black South Africans who saw it as a symbol of Oppression and violence. But at the same time Mandela, being a man who was imprisoned in a tiny cell for 27 years also foresaw and believed that winning the Rugby world cup could be the thing that the country needed to feel unified. The overwhelming theme of the movie is Reconciliation and forgiveness and in turn hoped to foster a new "Rainbow Nation".

I was very impressed with a scene in the first 30 mins of the of the film when Mandela's Head of Security is not too happy with the white bodyguards being added to his detail, and that is when Mandela's talks about Forgiveness. This particular statement that he says made a very deep impact on me.

"Yes I know, forgiveness starts here. Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon."

Invictus (latin for unconquered) is at its very essence a classically Hollywood, inspirational underdog sports movie - but very well executed by Clint Eastwood. I enjoyed the movie immensely. I think Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon acted extremely well. Clint Eastwood has set up the context superbly and the movie has been woven well enough for the audience to realize what the winning of the Rugby World cup means to the entire nation of South Africa.

Even though the movie has it's share of cliches, it offered me an insight into the power of forgiveness and how it can change the hearts and attitudes of others. I was inspired and moved by this movie, as well as educated. I hope you can see the movie and share your thoughts as well.

I wanted so share the Poem by English Poet William Henley that President Mandela quotes in the movie. I was very very impressed by that poem. Here is the entire poem, but the four lines are the ones that made an such impact on me, and were repeated throughout the movie.

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

It was just awesome and very inspiring. "I am the captain of my soul".

Here is the entire poem,

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cone of Silence

When I decided to write a book about my life I started the process by writing down my memories. Anything, no matter how small it seems to me, I write what I can remember and file it online with all my other memories to be collected and organized later for the book. Even if this book is never published, it will serve as a journal of sorts, a way for me to restore so much that was lost of my childhood.

While writing, I’ve pulled out memories I had nicely tucked away for survivals sake and it’s been more than a little painful, but its part of the process. In mentally shelving parts of my life that were painful, unfortunately some good memories got shelved along with the bad ones. So I’m discovering that there is a balance, a payoff for my introspection that makes this almost exhilarating. I’m mentally deep cleaning all the clutter, and I find the occasional “happy” box. It’s like finding money you didn’t know you had in those jeans you haven’t worn for awhile.

Survival, it’s a marvelous tool we humans are endowed with. It served me when I was 5, 13, 16, 22, 40 years old. The incongruity of this kind of survival is it allows us to pass through the trauma and survive, but we must always at some point confront the trauma and if left unaddressed, exacerbates the issues and deteriorates the ability of the survivor to function fully. I’m acutely adept at surviving. It’s moving out of survival mode I’m not so good at.

Part of surviving, at least for me, was shutting down and shutting out. I was always aware that I did this to an extent, but a friend recently made the comment that he would like to “just once” crack that shell I have around myself. “The cone of silence” we jokingly called it. I don’t want to be that person anymore. My “cone of silence” or self contained shell I have myself in does not serve me any longer. It’s debilitating.

While at the State Basketball Tournament, the Special Olympics athletes have a dance. My friend and fellow coach made the comment that he loved watching them dance. “They are so free and not self conscience, they just enjoy themselves and don’t care what anyone thinks, they just have fun” ….. He added….”I enjoy being around that”.

Often I'm attracted to people who have attributes I lack. I’m unorganized so I’m attracted to men who are organized. I’m an introvert, I’m attracted to extroverts. I’m drawn to the Special Olympics athletes because despite their difficulties and obstacles, for the most part, they are just happy. Unabashedly,  joyful and in the moment.
I admire that. That’s where I want this journey to take me. To live unabashedly,  joyful and in the moment, every single day.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Channeling Becky

I’m one of those people that think of a great response to a cutting remark 2 days later while driving in my car and obsessing about what I should have said. Then I tell myself to remember that response for the next time that exact situation arises, which it never will, but if it ever does, I will be ready with a quick, witty retort!

Ish talk.( “Ish” is my word for sh**) has always been something I wanted to get better at. Ish talking, trash talking, BS’ing, whatever you want to call it, I stink at cutting someone else down. It’s engrained in me to be nice. Molly Mormon nice. Pollyanna nice, turn the other cheek nice. I still want to be nice, but when the occasion arises for ish talking, I would like to be Becky.

Becky is my sister. I write about her often because she is a big part of my life and always has been. One thing I haven’t written about her is her expertise in trash talk and her famous “stink eye”. She is the most giving, loving, caring, nurturing and nice person I know. But when the need arises for a good tongue lashing response to a smart ass remark, Becky is Queen. She puts away her nice girl hat, and puts on her “bitch” hat. It’s a thing of beauty to watch. She transforms from June Cleaver into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don’t think she ever obsesses over what she should have said because she just says what she’s thinking.

Even more impressive than her searing lingual skills, is her stink eye. It’s family lore that she came out of the womb and gave the Dr. the stink eye, stopping his hand mid-air. No one was spanking her ass unless she gave them permission first. That was 54 years ago, imagine how well honed her stink eye is now. I have literally seen it stop full grown men dead in their tracks. It’s made me take a step back a time or two. It’s freaking scary.

So, I’ve been practicing. I practice trash talk with the girls I work with. I practice with my classmates and family. I have my moments when I’m on top of my trash talking game and it feels good! There’s something empowering about not always being nice, about saying exactly what you want to say. I’ve also been developing my own stink eye. I feel a little like Zoolander, looking in the mirror developing my “look”, but in a “you better back that ish up” kind of way. When I practice, I try to channel Becky and gain strength from her example. It’s empowering. It’s freeing. It’s nice to not always be nice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

iPOD Faux pa

My sister Becky hates computers....but loves her IPOD. I mean ..... LOVES her IPOD. It's all she uses. It's how she surfs the net, facebooks and emails.

I'm sitting in the living room with my laptop and she wants to know what the weather will be for the next few days, so I google the weather on my laptop and take it over to her to look at. I sit back down and look over....and she is dragging her finger across my screen trying to make it scroll like her IPOD. I don't have a touch screen....she knows this. My niece and nephew are sitting here with us...and now they start watching her as she continues to try and make my screen scroll. We are all trying very hard not to laugh....we are enjoying the moment too much.

Now this may not sound as funny as it was....but it's dark and in the glow from the laptop screen we see her facial expression as she becomes more and more perturbed with the uncooperative screen as she drags her finger over and over it. Finally I can't take it any more and crack up. Through my laughter I try to coherantly tell her it's not her IPOD.

The look on her face was priceless.

Man I needed a good laugh and I appreciate Becky letting me have one at her expense. Although she threatened me with my life if I blogged about it......

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vampires at the Blood Bank

So I'm at the blood bank, hooked up with a line in my arm and watching the DVD they have playing for donors to watch which happens to be "Twilight". The irony of watching of a vampire moving while giving blood makes me smile. I love irony. I loved the following conversation even more:

Male attendant:
So what's the big deal with Edward, nobody thought he was hot when he was in Harry Potter!

Female attendant:
I don't know, he's just mysterious and stuff.

Male attendant:
So a dead guy that sucks your blood is girls are crazy and man I just don't understand what you all want. You say you want a good guy...but every girl I know is going crazy over this bloodsucker...whatever....(exasperated - throwing hands up).

Female attendant:
No! Dude it's the mystery! It's the power! Not that he's dead....geez! He's like all in love with her and wants to protect her and he's really powerful and willing to risk anything for her! He loves her unconditionally!! That's really hot!

Male attendant: we mortal men can compete against that.

Female attendant:
See you just don't get it, it's not his looks so much, even though he is's the way he treats her, he's respectful, he's protective, he's kind and sweet.....

Male attendant:
Ummm.....and he kills people!!!

Female attendant:! Edward doesn't! Gawd! (she stomps off)

Male attendant:
(Turns to me) What do women want?

I just smiled.
He wasn't listening very well. Typical man.

Yes, I love irony.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Carpe Diem!

“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: NOW.” – Denis Waitley

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is Yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise, and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds; but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is as yet unborn.

This leaves only one day: Today. Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities – Yesterday and Tomorrow – that we break down. It is not the experience of Today that drives us mad, it is remorse and bitterness for something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring. Let us, therefore, live this one full Today.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I was recently asked by someone very close to me to give an example of how a desire of mine came to fruition when initially I could not see any way my desire could be manifested.

I'm not a religious person in the common definition of religious, at least not any more. I pretty much define myself as a deeply spiritual person. I have great faith, and it has been tested, and tested.........and tested beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I've seen the miracles that result from great faith time and time again in my own life.

After Meagan had been in the hospital for 6 months it was time for her to be released. I was given two options. I was told she could not live independently and I should put her in a nursing home, or I could take her home and a home health aid could take care of her, a stranger. The state would pay for part of it and I would pay for the rest. I didn't like either option so I created a third choice. I found a loophole in the system that would allow me to take care of Meagan and get paid to do so, even though I was related to her, but first I needed somewhere to live. There was no choice in my eyes. I was going to take care of her, I just didn't know how yet.

There were many roadblocks. I knew what I wanted, but didn't see any way for it to happen. I was jobless, homeless, car-less, penniless, and had literally no income. How was I going to get a home with no job and no money. If I couldn't get a home then I couldn't get the job to take care of her. If I could figure out a way to get a home, then how was I going to get her to rehab, doctor appointments, go grocery shopping and was I going to make enough money to take care of us both.

The list of hurdles was overwhelming to me. I didn't see anyway to make it happen. I couldn't bear the thought of sending my 19 year old daughter to go live in a brain injury long term care facility that was 2 1/2 hours away for the rest of her life. I wanted her to have a chance, I'd lost two children, I didn't want to write off another would have been a third loss and I wasn't ready to go there, to give up on her, to give up on all of it, yet I had no idea how I was going to do it. I just believed, I had faith.

I told them to prepare Meagan to leave and I had two weeks to figure it all out. Going down Rock Road one day in a borrowed car on my way to see Meagan, I saw some apartments. I got an overwhelming feeling to stop. I stopped. I had no idea what I was going to do, or ask or anything....I just knew I should stop. I happen to catch the manager just before she was going to lunch. She seemed stern and very professional, almost cold as she approached me. I suddenly wanted to turn around and walk away, but I couldn't. My feet felt planted like they were encased in cement. She stopped uncomfortably close to me, put her hand on my shoulder and asked me what she could do for me in the sweetest, kindest voice that was the exact opposite of her appearance. I started crying. Something about her voice, her hand on my shoulder, the feeling of being in this place and not really knowing why I was there at that moment so unplanned and unprepared - broke my emotional dam.

She took my hand and led me to a chair, sat me down and pulled up a chair next to me. Her face was soft as she handed me a tissue to wipe my tears and blow my nose. She smiled and asked if there was anything she could do to help me. I remember looking down at my feet while the story of the last few months came out of my mouth like verbal diarrhea.

I kept staring at my feet for what seemed like forever, a little afraid to look up. I heard a noise. She was crying. It was my turn to hand her a tissue. After a few moments she regained her composure, stood up and walked behind her desk. She said, "Let's see what I can do to help you get a home".

She was my miracle that day. She bypassed all the standard requirements and gave me an apartment, gave my family a chance. With the financial help of close family and even distant family that barely knew me, I was able to move in and bring Meagan home. Two weeks prior, I could not see a way, but a way was made.

A few years later, Meagan was ready to move out. My job as her personal care provider was at an end. I needed to find another job. For almost 4 years while I had taken care of Meagan I had riden my bike everywhere. I did my grocery shopping by loading up my bike panniers and managed to go everywhere I needed to on my bike. When Meagan had to go to the doctors, rehab or anywhere else, we used a van service provided through medicaid and I was able to ride along. I'd manage to survive without a car, but how was I going to get a job and get to work without a car. I didn't know, but I kept going.

Eventually I got an interview with a Great Plains Industries. I got a ride to and from the interview from the maintenance man at the apartments. I got a second interview and took a cab there and walked home because I couldn't afford to take the cab home. I got the job.

Now I was faced with the issue of getting to and from work. The first couple of days I talked a neighbor into taking me to work and I asked for a ride home from one of my coworkers. The third day at work, I asked around and found out that there was a shower in the lab. I talked the lab manager into letting me have a key to the lab and using the shower at work after riding my bike there. So that's what I did. Everyday for months and months I rode my bike to work with all my cloths and essentials in my backpack, unlocked the lab, took a shower, stored my bike in the lab and at the end of the day, changed and rode my bike back home. I told myself and everyone else I was doing it for the exercise, which in a way, it was.

One day a buyer I worked with, Chris Carillo, offered to give me rides to and from work and only asked that I help pay for gas. I jumped at it. Later on another coworker, Lynn Charlier, gave Chris a break and took over giving me rides. Lynn's hours changed and she couldn't give me rides any longer, so another kind soul and coworker, James Mabry, stepped up to help me with rides.

James picked me up one morning and told me he was getting married, "Oh and by the way, I told her about you and what you've been through and she offered to give you one of her vehicles". I think my heart stopped for a moment when he told me that. I had not had a vehicle for years! James fiance had no idea who I was. I was a stranger to her, yet she was willing to give me a car. I was beside myself with joy. A few weeks later, after more help from Lynn Charlier for some financial matters concerning the vehicle and licensing etc, I was given a van by Julia Mabry. The only thing Julia asked me to do was to "Pay it Forward".

It's amazing to me the things I've experienced. The hardships, the blessings, the people that have been put in my path, the miracles, the growth, the pain, the joy. I've learned to live in the moment, to live in a state of gratitude and acknowledge the abundance in life - all are gifts. I have tremendously hard days, days where my faith is tried, days I question myself and my purpose but they are fewer and far between now. My family is everything to me. My children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers, parents, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces and daughter in law are all my oxygen. With the help of family, friends and strangers that bless me, even though I can't see the "whole staircase", I will keep trying to step forward in faith.

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step."

- Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Sunday, July 26, 2009


My brother is in town for his high school reunion this weekend and Kirk decided to take me out to eat. We decided on Nu-way on the corner of 13th and Woodlawn. It was Friday evening and for some reason we were the only customers under 80 in the place. It was a good meal, the root beer rocked. We ate quickly and had great conversation about just about everything. I love talking to Kirk. He's insightful, intelligent, sensitive and empathetic. He and I are quite a bit alike in many ways, so it's always easy and comfortable to be with him. I told him if I could find a man like him I would marry him. This coming from a woman who said she would never marry again, but I would if I could find a man like my brother. Needless to say I think highly of him......

Well, among his many qualities - humor is one quality that stands out for me. As we were getting into the truck, we were talking about Seattle and how I would love to live in that area....let's face it, Kansas is flat and geographically boring. So he says.......

(here's the Kirkism) :

"Well, you know what they say about Kansas don't you?"

"no" I say.

With a barely perceivable grin he says.....

"If your dog runs away today....four day later, you will still be able to see him running."

yep......Kansas is that flat.