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Friday, March 24, 2017

My Favorite Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Jen Reviews ( is a blog from New Zealand and author Jess Miller reached out to me after reading my blog posts about #intermittentfasting and how I wrote my book Starving Girl– My 30-day Experience with the Miracle of Intermittent Fasting and Prayer.
The research is incredible and Jen Reviews lists 15 health benefits. If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, the article is a wonderful resource. To read more, click here.
Although I started practicing daily fasts for spiritual and personal reasons; specifically to overcome the harsh reality of sexual abuse I suffered as a teenager and young adult, to understanding the medical benefits makes me so thankful I've had the opportunity to practice intermittent fasting. 

Practicing yoga in the morning.

Of course weight loss, improved tolerance of glucose, longevity and others are great, but the number 10 on her list discusses the spiritual benefits of intermittent fasting. It says fasting improves spiritual well-being.
"Fasting is practiced by almost every religion around the world – it’s no surprise, then, that a lifestyle that includes intermittent fasting could lead to a deepened sense of spirituality. Regular practitioners have reported feeling at peace during their fasts, and studies have proven that fasting can help regulate mood by reducing levels of anxiety and stress. In fact, fasting is recommended as a natural treatment for a variety of emotional and sexual problems.
Whether or not you fast for religious reasons, intermittent fasting will help you feel more connected to nature and the world around you, and you’ll benefit from having a clear mind and a positive outlook." Jen Reviews

I know this is true. This is exactly what I experience. Nature became alive to me and I started connecting with smells, time, sunsets, wind, trees and more. I was so present.  You can listen more about this in my recent podcast here.  

I don't know how it works, but fasting is an untapped power that is truly a blessing and a resource given to us by God.

I did not start 16-hour daily fasting without what I call my food crutches.  I wrote about how I started here
Intermittent fasting with prayer is a daily commitment with God.  During my first 30-day fast, I prayed for people who I loved, I prayed for our country, I prayed for my enemies, I prayed for the walls of my home, I prayed for neighbors, my kid’s school teachers, even strangers who were suffering with health or emotional issues that I was connected to through social media.  After my 30-day fast, I had to get creative.  Who should I pray for?  I fasted for authors I love, humanitarians, public figures and more.  I fasted for the little girls I love so much from India, for girls in China and North Korea and other parts of the world where woman are oppressed.  My mind came alive with all the blessings I experience and how if I ask God, He would let me play some part in helping others in the world.  I prayed for the poor and hungry.  I would cry as I felt them all around me.  I prayed for different parts of the world and the land.  I prayed over current events, police officers, members of Black Lives Matters, I prayed for girls and women considering abortion that their minds would be open to how amazing their unborn child was.  I prayed for researchers’ of cancer, for doctors, judges, journalists and more.  Seeking out who to pray for each day made me so aware of others.  God loves us, this I know.  God is real.  During my last day of my 30-day fast, I had an experience that still leaves me in tears.  I felt impressed to write about my fasting, so from day one I kept a journal which is now my memoir.  Going back and reading it is still very emotional for me. 
I am a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  In my religion, the members of my church are asked to fast one day a month, skipping two meals.  I do not think you need to practice a 30-day fast to have a testimony of fasting.  I know God speaks to each one of our hearts and we know what we need to do to improve our relationship with Him.  My goal in sharing my experience is not to promote a dieting technique or even start a trend of intermittent fasting, it's to share how I have healed and developed a more meaningful relationship with God.  I know more then I ever have, that I am a child of God.

After my 30-day fast, I felt impressed to give money to the poor.  This is something encouraged in my church.  It's called a fast offering.  The amount that came to my mind was $1000.  My baby was seven months old and Derek and I had yet to pay off the hospital bill for his birth.  My husband is so supportive, he encouraged me to write the check to Rising Star, an outreach to children in India.  This was not easy for me, but giving money to the poor was essential to my fasting experience.  After losing 30 pounds, I’m so happy to give money to the hungry instead of to a diet company.  I’m so thankful God gave us the law of fasting.  

Starving Girl book trailer:

To see it on youtube, click here.
Staving Girl is available on Amazon or Kindle.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How Many Shoes Does A Girl Need?

Have you ever accidentally donated something to the thrift store only to realize you’d made a mistake?

That happened to me in a big way, or at least I thought. 

Several months ago I was cleaning out my closet.  Preparing to sell our home, we had new carpet put into the bedrooms and everything was being shuffled around.  

Typical night in our home.

Piles and piles of clothes, toys and other miscellaneous “how did I acquire so much junk” items ended up going to Goodwill.  It felt great decluttering, a task I could have never accomplished without the amazing skills of my determined husband. 

Through this process, we would fill the truck with “I’m never going to buy that again” items and off my oldest son would go to Goodwill.  He got pretty good at that, picking up giant black trash bags filled with “way too much stuff” and dropping them off at the donation center. 

But wait!  Where were my shoes?

When I cleaned out my closet, I put almost every pair of shoes I owned in a giant black trash bag, the same bags we’d been using for “get that junk out of here” donations.  I got busy again and that night, looking for my flip-flops my heart filled with dread.  Where was my bag of shoes?  I asked my son Chandler and he insisted he hadn’t seen any shoes when making his daily “Holy heck, Mom has a shopping addiction” drop off to Goodwill.  I had hope.  I had faith, but after looking high and low that bag of at least 20 pairs of shoes – running shoes, boots, high heels, sandals, slippers, flip-flops – many of which were still new, was gone. 

Sometimes, an unexpected life-lesson comes when all your shoes are lost.  Not quite a depression, but I did some deep soul-searching over this.  Why had I acquired so many shoes?  Did I really need that many?  Could I be happy knowing they at least would help someone else in need?  I’ll admit, I thought of going to the thrift store to see if I could find any of my shoes on their shelves, but I had to let it go.  I wasn’t going to grovel.

Somehow, in the dark corners of the home, almost like the ghost of shoes past, I did find an old pair of TOMS, my pink running shoes, a pair of black books and a pair of sandals that had never fit me quite right, but they would do.  I could get by on four pair of shoes, right?  I mean if a man can go to the moon, I could do this.  To make matters direr, I’d made a promise to myself and my all-supportive, loving, decluttering husband that I wouldn’t bring anything else into the home until we moved.  

Funny, looking in every picture I’ve posted on social media in the last three months, and you’ll see me in one of those pair of shoes.  

Those black boots weren’t meant for many of the outfits they were worn with, but if the shoe fits . . . I’m not sure if this analogy really fits here, but you know what I mean.  

Eden said to me just last week, “Mom, are those shoes old.” Yes, TOMS do not hold up that well if you wear them every day, but desperate times call for desperate matters.

Well, we decided not to move (you can read about that here), but we still had one more clean out to do.  It’s like our “I need serious help” junk was breeding.  Our garage was still full of “I just might need that later” stuff and we started one more decluttering project.  Honestly, I couldn’t face it.  I was so burned out on going through trash, I gave Derek the green light to just get rid of whatever.  My defeat was a victory to finally parking a car in our garage when later that night, I noticed a big black bag in my closet.  Yes, my friends.  This story has a happy ending.  In his greatest moment of chivalry, my husband like a knight in shining armor found my shoes and like a kiss on a sleeping princess, he slipped those shoes in my closet in the stillness of the night.  Has there ever been a more romantic scene written? 

It’s been three days since all my shoes were returned and I haven’t even opened the bag.  I’m wearing my holy pair of TOMS.  I call them holy because they have holes.  I did learn a valuable lesson.  I don’t need that many pair of shoes, black boots can look pretty good while wearing a silk dress (please tell me you're picking up on my sarcasm)
and uncomfortable sandals eventually mold to your feet.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I Asked My Brother To Help Me – My Podcast on Intermittent Fasting and Prayer

Have you ever wanted to do something, but weren’t sure how to make it happen?  This is what I love about coming from a big family.  I have four brothers and four sisters and enjoy the relationships I share with my siblings tremendously.  When I was growing up, I always had a friend.  I was the second oldest, so many Friday and Saturday nights when I was home I was in the company of two and four year-olds, but that didn’t matter.  I love my siblings, big and small, young or old, boy or girl. 

When I wrote Starving Girl, I had lots of emotional support from my family and my brother Tadd became very interested in what I was doing.  He noticed a change in me.  In his own words, “There was a change in your posture and there seemed to be a light in your eyes.  Something in you was different and I wanted to know what it was.”  It’s easy to see why I love my brother.  He's always been a dear person.

Here he is with his little baby.

And another baby.

And lots of his babies.

He's a great uncle.

Plus, I love his wild side.

But, this is how I'll always remember him.

When it came time to make my podcast, I knew he was the one to help me make it happen.  He has a master’s degree and loves to read and learn.  He had many questions about fasting, overcoming, writing and more.  Last week, Tadd and I spent some time together and we made a podcast. 

I walk 4-5 miles a day and love listening to books on tape, lectures, spiritual leaders, interviews, TED talks, inspirational discussions and more.  If it wasn’t for those who’ve shared deep experiences of there life, I don’t think I’d be an avid walker.  I need to hear your stories, your books, your ideas and be inspired (I wrote about that here).  In my podcast, I hope to return the favor.  Those of you who like listening to interviews while walking, driving or working around the house, this is for you.  Tadd asked great questions and we had a very meaningful discussion.

I discuss intermittent fasting, intention, prayer, how sexual abuse destroyed my self-esteem and how I over came this, food addiction, unplanned pregnancy, how I felt God spoke to me while I was fasting, why writing/journaling has been important and more.  I hope there’s something of value for those out there who take the time to listen.

My next project with my memoir Starving Girl will be putting it on audiobook.  

I know I rarely have time to read.  Unless it’s book on tape, I don’t have time to get around to it.  In the meantime, here’s the first podcast on Starving Girl and I appreciate my brother taking the time to create this with me.  He’s the best. 

So, here it is.  I hope you enjoy it and if you have other questions please message me off facebook at My Dear Trash and Tadd and I can work on another podcast.  There are so many fascinating aspects of intermittent fasting and prayer and I don't think we covered nearly every beautiful thing I was able to experience.  

Click here to watch it on youtube.

Friday, March 10, 2017

My Accidental Giant Wedding Photo

I never know what to get Derek for Christmas.  In years past, I’ve gifted him cologne, clothes, gift certificates and chocolate.  We’re way too practical for me to surprise him with a trip or large purchase.  Anyway, I’m the worst at surprises and spill the beans the moment I get an idea.

This last Christmas, we were preparing to put our home up for sale.  With all our kids turning into giants, we'd outgrown it.  

We’d spent weeks and months decluttering, repainting, re-carpeting, rearranging, re-plastering the pool and cleaning up the back patio.  

The kitchen cabinets were removed, sanded, primed and painted, the laundry room re-tiled and we were waiting on putting everything back together again.  We’d found our dream home and once we finished up with a bit more staging, our current home would be up on the market.

What should I do at Christmas time when the goal was to get as much out of the house as possible?  Every room needed to look clean and spacious.  I had stopped my furniture restoration business and no longer spent time digging through trash at thrift stores.  Everything was gone and all that was left standing were the essentials.  In the past, I’d gone all out at Christmas time, but I needed to minimize purchases and get just a few good things.  No clutter, no broken throw-away toys and no waste.

I’d recently purchased a laptop and told Derek this was a great Christmas present for me.  I didn’t need anything, but what about him?  We were trying to save money, but I had to get something to show how much I loved him.  That’s when I had an idea.  Our wedding photo had been misplaced nearly two years earlier when I’d done some redecorating in our living room.  When I found it later, it had water damage. That’s when I had an idea: I’d order a beautiful new wedding photo for Christmas.  I went on the Costco website and decided to make our wedding photo a canvas.  What size?  I wasn’t sure and I had no idea where my tape measure was, so decided on 24x32.  That sounded about right.  A few weeks later, I received a call it was ready to be picked up.  I asked my friend Jann if she’d pick it up next time she was at Costco and I would hide it in the garage until Christmas morning. 

A few days, Jann comes walking up my front path with this giant box.  She’s a small woman, just 5 ft tall and she was barely able to carry this thing. “Here’s your wedding photo,” she said with a huge grin on her face.  What size did I order?  This thing was huge!  I carried it into the garage and opened it up.  Did I really order a larger than life giant wedding picture?  It was big and bold, that’s for sure.  Um, a bit unorthodox for a wedding photo, but there it was, bought and paid for.  It would have to do.

Christmas morning, Derek peered into the giant box.  This was the big moment.  Would he like it?  He pulled out the wedding photo and he and the kids oooohhhed and aaaawwwed over it.  Really?  I thought it was a bit tacky.  Most people’s wedding photo wasn’t the size of a living room television, but there it was.  Because they loved it, I decided to take on the same attitude.  It would be great. 

Because of an unsuspected leak behind our refrigerator, our kitchen floor flooded three days before our home was going up on the market.  Until we gutted and replaced our kitchen floor and cabinets, we would not be placing our home for sale.  The news was upsetting at first, but as the weeks went on, we made the best of if and even decided with a new kitchen, our home would be better than ever.  It felt right to stay in our current home and not move.  After months and months of being unsettled, we settled right back into where we’d always been - our home. 

Our bedroom had been recently painted and not a thing was on the wall.  Now that I knew we were staying, I decided to hang that giant wedding photo.  

It dwarfed in size up on that clean freshly painted wall. I guess I ordered the right size after all.

 Now, every morning I wake up to my giant face staring back at me.  I’ve caught my kids staring at it and Eden wants to talk continuously about my wedding day.  I’ve even caught Derek staring at it more than once.  It sure makes me think a lot about my wedding day, how I feel about Derek and how blessed I am.  Funny, a giant wedding photo was not what I meant to order, but it’s worked out to be a nice addition to our home.   

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

After A Year, I Stopped Intermittent Fasting Only To Start Right Back Up Again

My experience with intermittent fasting and prayer has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  I started fasting January 3, 2016 and finished January 3, 2017.  During this time, I did daily 16-hour fasts.  My life needed to change and I didn’t know how out of alignment I was until I had long periods of time without food.  I started to see how food controlled me, my mood, my body, my perspective and more.  Ultimately, fasting helped me with several very important components of my life and I don’t think I could have changed any other way.

First, fasting kept me present because when I was hungry, I didn’t live in the past or future, but in the now.  Living in the moment opened up windows of time and I no longer lived in a state of rush. 

Second, I learned to be more grateful.  Being hungry forced me to consider the millions upon millions of people in the world who live with hunger every day.  I thought of them and prayed for them.  I had the idea to donate money to the hungry and this experience was very humbling.  When I did eat, I thanked God for my food. 

Third, fasting helped stop the negative voices in my mind.  When I was fasting, my physical body became weak.  Somehow, this process calmed my irrational, self-degrading, negative mind.  Fasting was almost like a state of meditation.  My mind hushed and that part of me that loves myself, I call it my soul or spirit, that part of me could rise.  Let me tell you, my spirit LOVES me.  With the love of God (because that’s were I believe my spirit comes from), I was fed love, positive self-talk, beauty, encouragement and more.  My best self finally had a chance to shine and my dreams were in reach.

Forth, I lost weight, 30 pounds to be exact and I kept it off.  Although this was wonderful, of all that I experienced, weight-loss was not the most meaningful.  It was necessary and I’m so thankful I did lose weight, but the other components of intermittent fasting were more essential.

I want to be a good example for my daughter.

I've always got that baby in my arms.

I haven’t written about stopping fasting because my experience has been so very personal and at times, wonderfully strange.  Now, with a bit of perspective, I wanted to write how I felt once I stopped fasting.  I was ready to be done.  The last month of December was difficult.  Every day I wasn’t sure how I was going to continue fasting.  Food had a very strong pull on me.  Many days during the last month, I watched the clock ticking and had my meal ready on the exact minute I could finally eat.  I could feel food become more and more important to me.  Even when I wasn’t hungry, I was thinking about what I wanted to eat.  On January 4th, my first day back in the real world, I was nervous.  Where were my boundaries?  Could I step back into full-day eating and be alright?  Would I gain back the weight I lost?  That day, I was all over the place – thrilled to have such freedom, but unsure if I could trust myself.  I ate very healthy and at the end of the day, was happy to have the freedom.  Second day, much of the same, except one thing – I could feel my mind leave the present, my gratitude was slipping and the negative voices in my mind were like, “Hey, we’re back.”  I tried to ignore this, but by day four, my mind was foggy.  I didn’t like it at all.  I ignored it best I could because I really wanted to be done with fasting.  I wanted food more.  I carried on, but food addiction became more and more present.  I would eat and want more.  I would be full and consider what I could eat next. 

I prayed about it and it didn’t take long before I recommitted myself back to intermittent fasting.  Intermittent fasting felt like a lifeline being thrown to me.  I’ve learned I need boundaries and with all my battles with dieting, feeling fat, food addiction and negative body image, intermittent fasting is the one tool I can’t live without.  I’m so thankful to know the medical benefits of intermittent fasting and that if I pray while fasting, God will use my sacrifice to bless someone else.  Recently, I read about the reported the rapes in Sweden, I committed my fast to pray for the women of Sweden.  This was a very powerful experience and I was emotional the entire day.  I prayed for them and I felt a love running through me that felt like a buzz. I was on a love high.  Even as I write this, I can feel that love running through me and it makes me cry. My passion is to help those who have been sexually abused and as I considered the women that were suffering, my fast became magnified.  I could almost reach out and hug them.

Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool. It lifts me up out of the muck.  There is no other way I could manage my food addiction and negative self-talk without it.  Life is too short to spend another day at war with myself.  Intermittent fasting is a gift and I’m so thankful I was led by God to discover how it can help me.

To read more about my experience with intermittent fasting and prayer, click here.  

*Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.*

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How Blogging Has Helped Me as a Writer

I started blogging because I had something to say and I wanted to write about my experiences in a way that was available for others to access.  From the very start, I cared so much about those who would be reading.  I wanted to help others, become friends and share something meaningful.  Ultimately, my hope was to connect with people, so the first time I was recognized out in public, I felt that wonderful sense of the connection I’d been seeking. 

No surprise, I was at Goodwill.  I noticed a woman on the other aisle who kept looking at me.  I had three little kids with me, so I was a bit of a skeptical anyway.  When I had lots of little kids, I feel a bit like a circus performer.  “And for my next act, you will watch as I juggle all my children while they squirm and yell for Cheetos!”  I smiled and the woman quickly walked over to me.  “Do you write on My Dear Trash?” She asked.  Oh, this was so special and we hugged and talked for the while as my kids ran up and down the aisle.  As a writer, this was such a meaningful experience.  As far as I was concerned, I needed no other accolade EVER.

This type of experience started happening more often and I loved meeting strangers and becoming instant friends.  Not only strangers, but people in my neighborhood, at church, up at the kid's school all knew about my eBay business, when after four boys I became pregnant with my daughter, how I felt when I was kicked off eBay and my passion for furniture restoration. 

During this time, I was out at a bookstore and saw a friend I hadn’t seen in over 20 years.  She ran up to me and we embraced in a long hug.  Because she followed my blog, she knew all my kid's names and more.  She loved my writing and found my posts entertaining and humorous.  Oh, she thought I was just amazing.  Now, don’t think for a minute here I let any of this go to my head.  As she was gushing about this and that, my youngest son at the time, Reef, managed to pull books off the bookshelf and as I was lovingly, with affection reaching for him, he managed to slug me in the face, scream and wiggle back out of my arms.  I did my best to maintain some sort of composure, but whatever impression my friend had of me was now blemished with reality.  I wasn’t a perfect mother.  My kids acted out.  I was tired.  My roots needed touch-up and for peat sake, I couldn’t find my car keys. 

Blogging helped me learn how to write about the spilled milk

 and the spilled sprinkles.

From the start, I’ve done my best to be real, to share my up’s and down’s and to mention, “Hey, I still haven’t lost my baby weight.”  It’s been this type of self-disclosure that has inadvertently helped me in my writing.  Looking back, I know the first years of blogging were fluffy and surface experiences.  Nothing too deep, but then I was kicked off eBay.  Most of my blogging persona was about finding trash at thrift stores and selling it on eBay for profit.  Without an eBay connection, what would I write about?  Would I have something to share?  It took courage and I had to dig deep into my internal confidence reserves (which were already pretty sparse) and tell my readers I could no longer sell on eBay.  Would I lose my credibility with those who read My Dear Trash?  What happened next was incredible.  Others started reaching out to me, not only boycotting eBay, but sharing their own stories of disappointment.   It turned out writing about a struggle was just as significant as writing about fun, family and thrift-ing.

My writing eyes broadened and writing about scorpion stings and a serious love affair with Edward Cullen could be funny and entertaining.  Slowly, blog post by blog post I chinked away at my armor and allowed more of myself to speak out and be honest. 

At the end of my 30-day intermittent fast in February 2016 my mom asked “Have you shared about fasting on your blog?”  No, I could never do that, I thought.  After seven years of blog writing, I didn’t know if I could do it.  Talking about weight loss struggles, negative body image, food addiction and overcoming sexual abuse is not easy, but I fell back on my laurels.  If it might help someone, I would share it. 

I’ve been asked by others how to start a blog, if blogging is worth it and how to attract followers.  Just a few days ago, a friend asked me about blogging.  It’s a lot of work getting started and I was just about to talk her out of it, to tell her to focus on her novel writing and such when I realized through the years blogging has helped me to write deep, be vulnerable and poke at myself.  In everyday situations, my writing eye searches for the storyline, the punch line and the angle that can be used as a hook. Doing this has helped me find a meaningful purpose in writing.

So, with that said, yes, I would encourage any writer to start a blog.  It’s an instant gratification that rarely can be found in the writing industry.  I’m in control, I have lots of interaction on-line, have made amazing friends, been featured in newspaper, magazine and even on the evening news.  Most importantly, I would have never been able to write my memoir Starving Girl.  Talk about the big reveal.  I share all that I’ve been holding back for years and I do it in a way I’m very proud of.  Starving Girl is the ultimate guide to finding value in what others throw away.  It’s about finding value in yourself.  I would have never been able to write my story, the highs and the lows, the good and the bad, if I hadn’t started blogging.    

Click here to watch on youtube.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I Share My Dreams With Him

Derek and I love taking the kids on trips.  We have an array of tablets and iPods, so while traveling there are many hours where the kids happily watch movies while Derek and I (wait for it)  . . . have uninterrupted time to talk.

This rarely happens. 

We’ve been married for 18 ½ years, so with that track record I’ve noticed some meaningful patterns in our communication.  One that is most special to me is the conversations he and I have on long car rides (and it speaks volumes about how well our children entertain themselves when left to their own devices).  This time together usually ends up with us talking about two things:

1)  How we met and fell in love.

We’ve explored the many unknowns, under workings and miracles of how we came to meet.  It’s so fun to ask questions and understand the person he was before me, how he prayed me into his life and how he felt courting me.  In return, I express what he meant and means to me, how he’s the person I always dreamed of and how before him, half of my heart was missing.  I mean really, how many times can one talk about feelings when they first met or their first date?  There was a distinct moment I noticed Derek was tall.  We'd been friends for months, but not until I fell in love with him did I notice he was 6'5. There’s always something new to learn about each other.  It’s not like we set out on this topic, but somehow it always seems to find us.  Travel time feels like time travel and we love to twist and turn in our early years of courtship. 

2) What are our goals, ideas and dreams?

I’m a big dreamer and always have been.  I have personal goals like fitness and parenting and big goals as a writer and publisher.  Derek is a highly motivated person as well with personal and professional goals.  We talk about family goals and experiences.  Our enthusiasm is contagious and when one of us gets going, the other feels the magic.  Because of my absolute love for this man, I have no defenses.  I’m an open book and my mind gets going in all sorts of ways.  I talk about risks and new endeavors, see parallels in past accomplishments and use the momentum to push even further. It’s amazing what happens when someone absolutely believes in you.  Derek will share his confidence in me and with his background in psychology; he’ll usually have something interesting about personality types or the power of positive thinking.  It’s like a regular motivational seminar on these car rides.   

On our last car ride, I considered the hours we’ve spent talking about my ideas.  I’m talking about the far-reaching ideas that some people might deem unrealistic.  I really push the envelope and for a moment, just a moment, wondered if it was healthy to constantly want more, even expect more.  How many dreams had I shared with Derek that I had actually accomplished?  Not often, but it’s happened more than once where my insecurities come back to haunt me.  Was I really going to do what I’d set out to?  My goals as an artist and writer can be brutal and as my own boss, I don’t give myself much credit.  That’s when I had the thought, “I’d rather have far-reaching dreams then none at all.”  Of course, I told Derek what I was feeling and we had a discussion about it.  We conclude the joy we experience by imagining and believing such things can happen are worth it.  We would continue to be big dreamers!

I’m so thankful to have someone in my life who lets me share the inner workings of my heart, that he always listens and believes in me and that he give me the platform to be who I need to be.  

Most weekends, Derek and I make it out for a dinner date.  If time permits, we find our minds wander back to these two points of topic.  I love learning new things about him and appreciate all he does to validate and love me.    

A few weeks ago, I found this video on Derek's phone.  I had no idea he had taken it.  

I had no idea I act like a school girl in love.  He is constantly building me up and I know he is one of the reasons I can dream so big.  

May 1998, the day we told his parents we were engaged. I have that puppy love look in my eyes and it's never gone away.

To read about my 30 days of kindness to my husband challenge, click here.  It's blessed our relationship in unimaginable ways. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What Could I Have Done to Help the Man by the Canal?

I love to walk on the local canals here in Mesa.  They zigzag throughout the busy city.  Cars drive by on the busy streets and it gets especially chaotic during rush hour, but out on the canal it’s serene and peaceful.  The water moves at a snails pace and welcomes ducks that swim and search for food.  Occasionally a fish makes itself known and I wonder what else is down in that murky water. 

Last spring, it was one of those days when the sun was shining bright, but the air was blustery and cold.  The baby and Eden where wrapped up in a blanket in the jogging stroller and I pushed them through the neighborhood until we arrived at the canal.

As a woman and a mother, I am always evaluating situations for safety, sometimes subconsciously.  This day was no different.  Sitting near the water, I saw a man about a ¼ mile up the canal.  He was sitting alone.  Was he writing in a journal or working on a piece of art?  I’m not sure if I wanted to respect his privacy or keep my distance, either way I instinctively made the decision to walk on the other side of the canal
The walkway of the canal path sits several feet above the water.  While pushing the stroller, the strong wind gusts seemed to push at the wheels.  The stroller responded and it was like we were in this game of tug of war.  I kept both hands on the handlebar and recognized the potential danger of the stroller getting too close to the water.  It was during this debacle Eden and I both noticed the man, now directly across from us on the other side of the canal. 

His body language seemed full of messages.  He appeared unsettled, thoughtful and unsure.  Was he making a big decision?  Seeking inspiration?  Was he upset?  How many times had I come out to the canal with big ideas, obstacles or insecurities in my mind?  That’s when Eden spoke and with the swirling wind gusts, I could barely hear her:

“Mom, that man looks like he’s going to fall in the water.”

And he did.  He was sitting very close to the water's edge, but he was in fact a man, not a child?  Was it my call to consider he was sitting too close?  Through out the years, I'd seen many people fishing on the canal and they would sit near the water's edge.  Was he fishing?  He must see me, but he wasn’t looking up.  I wanted to respect his privacy, but I also wanted him to know I saw him.  If he was sad, I wanted him to know someone cared.  He had a box next to him, like a tool box or was it a lunch box disguised as a tool box?  Was it full of fishing gear?  Art supplies?  Lunch? 

“Hello,” I said and smiled, but he refused to look at me.  Did he speak English? Perhaps the wind was too loud.  Did he hear me at all?  Again the stroller pulled against the wind and I focused my attention back on the kids.  It was late in the afternoon and I didn’t want to be stuck on the canal in the dark. 

Within 30-45 minutes, I turned back onto our neighborhood street and considered what to make for dinner when my cell phone rang. 

“Honey,” and I heard the desperate voice of my husband on the other end. “Are you alright? Is everything ok?”

“Yes, what’s wrong?” I asked.

Derek explained to me he had just picked up our son at basketball practice and was driving home, right by the canal he knew I was walking on with our children.  There were police cars, fire trucks and an ambulance.  His first thought was something had happened to me or our children, but I immediately knew.  The man – he’d either intentionally or accidentally fallen into the water. 

Why?  Why hadn’t I done anything?  My intuition was something I could always count on, but it had failed me.  I was more than capable of handling an emergency, this emergency.  I could have helped him.  My dad was a psychologist and I’d grown up with a keen awareness for mental health.  I’d been a swimming instructor through the City of Mesa and was trained in CPR.  More then once I’d been the first to witness a car accident or medical emergency and I was at my best under pressure. 

In my mind I could see the man’s face.  Looking back, I could see the signs.  That’s when I realized I could have called someone?  I should have called 911 and said, “There’s a man here and I’m not sure if there’s a problem, but he appears troubled and he’s sitting close to the edge of the canal.”  Why had I cared so much about respecting his privacy? I considered why I didn’t walk near him, but instead walked on the other side of the canal.  Was he really a threat or had I over reacted? And the wind!  It had prevented him from hearing me when I said “Hello,” or had it. His body language had not invited me in. If he had heard me, he didn’t acknowledge it, but that wind pushing the stroller had kept me more focused on my kids then him. 

It was too late. He was gone and I couldn’t believe it. I called the non-emergency police department for information.  I told the dispatcher I’d just seen him and gave her a description.  I told her I should have done something and she said something about hindsight, that I'd done what I thought was best and to not feel guilty about it. Later, I did an internet search and read he had drowned.  The article didn’t say why, just a man had been pulled out of the water and was pronounced dead.

I didn’t go on the canal for a while.  I prayed about the man, about my experience and felt a bit lost.  Wouldn’t God have wanted me to save him?  “Why” was a question I couldn’t answer and it made me mad at myself, very mad.  I knew if I allowed it, this experience could put me in a dark hole.  I tried to keep my distance from the guilt, some days doing better than others.  One evening after work, Derek picked some roses from our backyard and suggested we walk to the canal and spread the pedals where I’d last seen him.  He said I needed closure.  

We left our home and when we turned the corner to the canal, I wondered if I could do it.  I’d failed that young man.  I was the last person to see him.  I could only imagine the heartache and pain his family and loved ones were going through. I held Derek’s hand as we walked back to where I’d last seen him.  On the ground, pebbles had been made into the shape of a heart and white sand had been placed inside.  

A note, maybe from his sweetheart had been pinned down with several large rocks.   

“Are you alright,” Derek asked as he put his arms around me.  I wanted to ask why, but knew the question would remain unanswered.  I pulled the petals off the roses and dropped them in the water, hoping the young man knew I would never forget him.  Most importantly, because of him, I would never miss an opportunity to help someone.

Over the last year, I’ve had two more experiences by Mesa canals.  While driving, I witnessed a man and woman fighting on the canal path.  He appeared to be shoving her.  I called 911 and reported what I thought might be domestic abuse.  I didn’t question if I was wrong, I would let the authorities investigate.  I’d rather be safe than sorry.  And just last week, my daughter Eden and I were driving to an appointment when I saw a woman standing near the water’s edge.  I stopped the car and asked if she was alright.  She wasn’t.  She asked for something to drink and I had a water bottle in the car. I offered her some money so she could go eat.  I told her “God loves you.  He told me to stop and help you.”

I’m glad I’ve been able to help in my own way, but nothing will make me stop asking “What if” or “If only.”  I’ll never know if I could have made a difference to the man sitting too close to the water, but if someone out there is struggling today, please know someone cares and that in honor of this man, I’m not letting another chance go by without helping someone.

I trust God knew what he was doing that day, but I wish I could have been the one to help the man by the canal, to tell him everything would be alright, that I could have offered him a hand and he would have walked away from the water’s edge.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Law of Attraction and The Cat

Over the last year, Eden has said to me many times “Mom, I wish I had a cat.”

So, we set out to find her one.  This last summer, off we went to the pound and looked at the cats, but ended up adopting a dog, a beautiful collie/golden retriever mix named Luna.  Up one dog, but still no cat.

I love this dog!

A few weeks ago on a cold evening in January, I was dropping my son Reef off at basketball practice.  As we pulled into the parking lot, Eden just out of the blue said, “Mom, if I had a cat I would love her and she would be my best friend.  I would take care of her and she would sleep with me every night.”  I knew how Eden felt about a cat and so heart-felt was her little desire, so specific were her motives, I recommitted to doing what I needed to do to get a cat for her.  “Eden, we will find you a cat,” I professed again, this time hoping I would follow through on my commitment.

While Eden stayed in the car with her older brothers, I walked Reef across the parking lot to his practice.  His basketball league practices at a park and the court is outdoors.  I wrapped my sweater tightly around my body and watched for a moment as Reef, in his short-sleeved shirt ran up and down the court.  “Grab your jacket,” I’d said to him as we left for practice, but in my experience, the only thing little boys notice when it’s cold and windy outside is that it’s an adventure. 

Reef’s practice would last for about an hour, so I was going to run up the street to Costco and grab a few groceries.  I thought I’d make a quick potty stop and ran into the park bathroom.  Those of you who live in Arizona know the restroom at the city parks are sparse – cement floors, steel toilet seats and grimy. Well, in the very back corner of that freezing bathroom I saw it.  A cat. A white and gray, purring, warm, fluffy, beautiful cat.  The only thing missing was a bright red bow.

I’ve seen stray cats.  They don’t want to be approached, the are dirty and scared.  This cat looked like it was put there just for Eden.  I bent down and reached out my hand to her.  Her pink moist nose touched my skin and it was love at first sight.  I reached out and she allowed me to pick her up.  When I walked out of the bathroom, Eden was watching from the car.

She didn’t say a word.

Eden, Heavenly Father gave you your cat,” I said, believing all good things come from God.

She waited as I approached her and then, through the car window I handed her the cat. 

“Her name is Princess,” Eden finally said. 
I just couldn’t believe it.  My daughter had manifested the cat, this playful, heaven-sent, tender, gentle cat. 

The cat looks to be about six months old, not a kitten, but not yet full grown.  
Disclaimer: The cat does not have a chip.

What I find interesting, is almost every time Eden and I are out, we now see stray cats. “Can we have that one,” Eden will say as we see a stray cat in a parking lot or in a random neighborhood.  Finally, I had to laugh out loud because I realized her positive energy and desire for a cat continues to manifest cats.  I finally said to her, “Eden, you need to stop desiring a cat because the universe keeps granting them to you.”

I’ve been listening to Abraham Hicks now for about a year.  If you haven’t already, take a listen to The Law of Attraction.  It’s life changing.

Click here to watch it full screen.