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Thursday, January 19, 2017

What I Learned From Taking an Improv Class

I thought I had a little something to offer the world of comedy because at times I’ve been known to be the life of a party.  I’m pretty good at dinner humor.  Get me around roasted chicken and a dinner salad, BAM, I’ve got it.  Someone can say something and I have that perfect pun to punch back with.  I can get my mom laughing, my brother, my sister and we build off each other, pointing out hypocrisy, building off memories from our childhood, making fun of ourselves, somehow current events got mixed in and we have the perfect evening of laughter and fun.  Literally, laughing so hard I've choked on chicken.  We’re all geniuses!

But, from the very first day of comedy class, I learned I’m so not funny. 

(This is the type of statement that will get me a call from my mom and she’ll say something like, “Oh, Laura, you have so much to offer.”   Thank you Mom, I’m ok.  I can handle this one. I love you.)

On that first day of comedy class, I knew I was doomed.  Looking around, I realized I’d gotten myself into a strange sort of torture – where others are supposed to be entertained at my expense.  I had sky-high expectations and with that sort of pressure, I had nothing to say. This was going to force me out of my comfort zone, something I was not comfortable with.  But always up for a challenge, of course I was going to follow through.  I would do my improtu-un-self-conscious-un-filtered-raw-best.  Remember, I don’t drink so this would all have to be done while entirely sober.

 

After that first day of class, I knew I needed to loosen up.  

This is about as wild as I get, dancing
with my kids at Chuckie Cheese.  

No, I wasn’t going to be a comedic pro.  Yes, I had to start from the very beginning, like a kindergartener; I needed to learn the ABC’s.  This consisted of not taking myself too seriously, not worrying about what other people thought, forgetting I might look fat, wondering if I should have worn those other jeans, trusting my babysitter at home, not checking my phone a hundred times and becoming present.  Wow, it’d been a long time since I’d been there.

A normal warm-up in comedy class is a word exercise.  Silly, quick reactions to words without much thought, just reaction.  You learn to lean on your classmates, to help build them up, to say “Yes” to their ideas, to go with the flow, let the process move you forward and just go with it.  After that first class, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back. I can see why comedy class has a non-refundable clause in their agreement. 

But the truth was, I wanted to learn about humor.  I’d been researching it, trying to find TED talks, YouTube videos, understanding the psychology behind laughter, and so forth.  



Attending Tig Notaro's comedy show at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.  
You should watch her clip here on meeting 80's singer Taylor Dane.  Hilarios!

As a writer, I wanted to incorporate more humor into my work.  I wanted it to be natural, like how I felt around Sunday dinner with my family, minus the choking part.  I wondered: Is humor something a person can learn or is it genetic, like curly hair?  After that first class I knew I hadn’t inherited the comedy gene in any way, shape or form.  What a bummer because I wanted to be funny in a big way. (Mom, you don't need to call.  I'm really ok.)

I immediately loved my classmates.  They were brave and smart and I could pick up on their cool quirks, something comedians must have.  There was a man in my class named Eric who had Down syndrome.  I don’t know if it was the mother or big sister in me, but I immediately bonded with him.  I felt this sort of need to protect and help him, explain things when he didn’t understand, validate him – and we became great friends.  Truth was, he really was funny.  At our final performance, he had the crowd roaring.   

I’m so glad I went back the second week of class because something interesting happened.  Time flew by.  I arrived at 6:00 and before I knew it, it was 8:00.  I’d genuinely been laughing the entire time, not just courtesy laughs like I’d offered the week before.  The word games were ridiculous and nothing I’d normally do, especially considering the time I had away from my kids was usually zero.  I didn’t feel the pressure like I normally did to make every minute count.  Laughing was productive enough.  I granted myself that permission.



My classmates treated me like a queen.  Normally, I was running a few minutes late and when I ran in the door at 6:10 for class, they would cheer, “Laura’s here,” as I ran up on stage.  



We would start a game and I don’t know when I’ve genuinely laughed more.  Our instructor was absolutely hilarious and I was sad he had to stick to instruction because just off the cuff, I was laughing at everything he had to say.  Taking a comedy class allowed me a 2-hour opportunity every week to just be goofy, no strings attached and to explore where my mind would take me.

I saw growth in my classmates and could see each of their gifts.  They arrived at humor in their own way – through wit, charm, naivety, power, confidence or insecurity.  Either way, it was really funny and I loved how we built off each other. If they were growing, I probably was too.

So, what about my writing?  Did it change?  I know I have so much more to learn, but I’ve seen how I need to lighten up; how I have to let loose, even though I’m still strung up pretty tight. I write about some serious topics, but I know many of my favorite points of literature are when the author provides that comic relief.  Fault In Our Stars is a book about teenagers dying from cancer, but man, it is a funny book.

My husband,kids, sister and friends came to my comedy show.  




My husband occasionally gets those brilliant moments of comedy genius from me, but not as often as he deserves (think drill sergeant with a mom bun).

On our most recent date night, and we did laugh!

He's a mental health provider, so his line of work doesn't provide bouts of laughter.  When he laughs, I feel like he's given me and him a gift.  I always point out when he's laughing, that's how notable it is to me. I started to wonder: Do my kids see me laugh?  Do they laugh much? I knew the answer before I asked the questions. Ouch.  That side of me that takes life too seriously, that feels the need to make every moment count, that is self-conscious makes it difficult to lighten up and laugh. Laughter is the best medicine and now that I know how to find it, I hope to bring more of it into my home.


I also recognized to do improv takes tremendous talent.  That’s why only certain people are famous for being funny.  They deserve the big bucks.  In the meantime, I’ll keep my day job of being a full-time mom and part-time writer, which doesn’t pay well, but has some of the same perks as stand-up comedy like late-night audiences (my baby was up again at 3:00am!) and uncensored monologue (if my 11-year old says that word again, I'm washing his mouth out with soap). (I call you later, Mom.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My Dear Trash – the title of my blog offended somebody.

A young woman in a facebook group who I had sent a friend request to responded in a way I hadn’t expected. 
I told her I was writing a book called WHAT HAS YOUR SISTER DONE – Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy. “If you know anyone who has a story they’d like to submit, please have them send it to my email at mydeartrash@gmail.com,” I wrote.
“My dear trash, are you serious?” she responded.
Maybe she’d heard of my blog.  Was she a fan?
“Yep, that’s me,” I replied with confidence, not reading into her repulsive tone yet. 
“I will never send anyone to you, no way.”

For a moment, I didn’t understand.  Did she not know I’m advocating for the unborn, searching for those tender stories of unplanned pregnancy, trying to help others in similar circumstances.  And then I realized, My Dear Trash.  Oh my gosh.  Was I serious?  This was awful.

My Dear Trash – finding value where others may not see it.  That’s the core principle this blog was started on.  I wrote it up on my first blog post almost nine years ago.

My Dear Trash – a great title while writing about my latest thrift store finds, or how I dumpster dived and saved a vintage vanity from landfill death. 

My Dear Trash – because we as a society throw so much away, too much away when there’s still value in our trash and I’ve spent almost a decade proving it.  I’ve made a living off of other people’s trash.

My Dear Trash – written by someone who has felt like trash most of her life.  And why would she?  She has a beautiful family, seems to be together (most of the time anyway), oh, but my story had just started.  I’d been peeling away at it ever since I sold used name-brand clothing I found at thrift stores on eBay.  I’ve been trying to find value in my self the entire time, not those designer Rock n Republic Jeans, not that .99 cent used Eileen Fisher cashmere sweater I sold for $100, but me.

My Dear Trash – about so much more then thrift stores and vintage trends.

My Dear Trash – a blog about babies?  My baby?  What type of society would ever deem a baby as trash?  Sickening.  Babies thrown away?  Not in America.  No woman, no mother would consider such a thing, would they. 

My Dear Trash – sexual abuse, that nasty statistic that 1 out of 3 girls in this country experiences that lead me to feeling worthless even when my life was filled with tremendous bounty.  The reality of a pregnancy scare after I was sexually abused, how food addiction and negative body image has been a cover up for shame and hurt, how abortion is not just about women ending their unplanned pregnancy, but about dysfunctional abusive men who continue taking advantage of women.  Do these men find value in women or do they see them as trash?  It had been a lie I’d taken responsibility for way too long. 

My Dear Trash - I was a young girl when I first saw the image of an aborted baby in a book my mom was reading.  Why was that baby thrown away?  I was raised by an activist mom who coined the term “prebirth studies.” She collected stories from women all around the world who had seen their unborn children in dreams or visions.  Ultimately, her research dared her to ask the question “What happens to the soul of an aborted baby?”  Through more research and pivotal stories of abortion, survival, overcoming and second-chances, my mom was able to start a controversial discussion that still continues:  Are our children alive before they are born? 
My mom's book can be found here.

My Dear Trash – With all I knew about abortion, what would I decide when facing my own unplanned pregnancy?

So what do I say, to the girl who’s offended by the name of my blog?  I sent her a link to my most recent post, how my son, this most loved and adored baby who came into my life almost two years ago, is my perfect expression, how his life has given my immeasurable purpose, how his influence has transformed my children outward and I watch in awe as they love and nurture him. 
My beautiful family at Christmas time this year.

I learned in the most meaningful way that children just like my baby deserve a chance at life and that abortion is one of the cruelest, most dysfunctional options a society can ever offer a women. 
  The link to the blog post My Baby is My Perfect Expression is here.
My Dear Trash – because much we throw away has tremendous value, especially if we are throwing away our babies. 

So very thankful was I when this girl responded within moments of my message.  “I understand,” she said.  “You are most loved by God for all you are doing.  Thank you.”

I’m glad she questioned the name of my blog, as it’s given me time to consider the many meanings it has offered to me.  Never could I have discovered a more deserving, meaningful, richly deep and purposeful name.  It was given to me in a dream and I write about this experience and other experiences in my memoir Starving Girl.

My book can be found here.

In other news, December 2016 was my last month at Merchant Square and Antique Plaza.  My workshop is cleaned out. No more vintage furniture.  I’ve given away paint, my collection of old scrap wood and a part of my heart had to close too.  My mirrors, those I’m still holding onto (not sure why) and my giant box of vintage drawer handles and knobs, that’s going to take some time to sort through and part with.  I’ve bonded with many aspects of furniture restoration, seeing something so old, junky, thrown out, forgotten –  but if I spend some time, with a gentle touch, an artistic eye, I’ve had the privilege of bringing these pieces back to life.  Why stop now?  Two shops, a steady cash flow, more opportunities just over the horizon, but the truth is, I’ve out grown the task all together.  I’m a writer now and painting furniture is not going to get me to my dreams.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

What Has Your Sister Done? Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy


I’m working on a book called What Has Your Sister Done? Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy

What Has Your Sister Done? is a collection of stories about girls who faced an unplanned pregnancy and what they decided to do about it.  Some may have kept the baby while others may have placed their baby up for adoption or terminated their pregnancy through abortion.  Because many aspects of unplanned pregnancy aren’t talked about, I’m hoping these stories will open the door and help someone in the same situation, after all, our stories are more powerful than we realize. 

If you want to help, here’s what you can do: 
Write your story.  This can be done the same way you would write a journal or diary entry.  Write about how you felt and how your story progressed.  Share whatever you feel.  There is no judgment here.  Remember, your story just may be what someone else needs to read. 

Stories can be submitted anonymously or you can request names be changed.  You can email stories to mydeartrash@gmail.com or message me on facebook.  I need your story by January 31, 2017. Please message me if you need more time or would like help writing your story.  I can conduct an interview over the phone that takes about an hour.  It has been such a tender experience to hear these heartfelt stories.  By submitting your story, I reserve the right to have your story in What Has Your Sister Done?

Also, if you know someone who has had an unplanned pregnancy, please pass this information on to them.  Feel free to contact me is you have any questions. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.




More thoughts on writing your story?

Start with prayer or meditation.  Allow your mind to open up to your memory.
Outline your experience from beginning to end to give yourself a point of reference if necessary.
Write down the key people who shaped the story?  What were your pivotal experiences with them?
Ask yourself?  What is it I want to share?  Some parts of your story may be too private?  If so, give yourself permission to submit your story anonymously.  Does this help you feel like you can be more honest?  See what you feel comfortable with.
What is it you’ve learned?  What would you change?  Did you see God’s hand in your situation or not? 



Let me know if you have any other questions.  

Friday, December 2, 2016

So, You Want to Write a Memoir


I have written several novels and have published two memoirs, my memoir Starving Girl and my mom’s memoir The Memory Catcher.  

My mom author and researcher Sarah Hinze and I being 
photographed for our local newspaper.  2103

I find reading and writing memoirs meaningful to the things I know to be eternally true.  I feel as we do simple, yet extraordinary things, our personal stories are magnified and meaning is everywhere.  Here are a few tips to get started:

1)     Find the most meaningful part of your story.  For me, it was my first 30-days of fasting.  I wrote in real time, but much of my memoir looked at past experiences.  Look through your blog, facebook, old journals, photos, etc.  Find your angles, quirky unusuals, meaningful life lessons, etc. See if you have one life experience bigger than the others.  What are the common themes?  What part of your life is your best story? 

2)     Don’t get too stuck on dates.  Most biographies do not read like my book, where dates are the start of each chapter, but do try to start a chronological path of each meaningful experience.  Think of Erin Brochovich, Julie and Julia, Eat Pray Love, Wild, The Glass House, etc.

3)     Don’t get lost in the details, at first.  The details will come later.  Be very general, but once you have your outline finished, I want you to put yourself right back in that scene and think of your emotions.  Emotions are the best teachers.  At this point, I want you to get specific.  More ideas will flood your mind.  Keep going.  Go detail crazy. Think of your senses.  Bring in past experiences that might be significant at this point.  Your input has no boundaries.  Ask yourself questions.  Research your own ideas.

4)     The start of your book should be a gripping, emotional story to pull the reader in.  The event maybe didn’t even happen during your “best life story”, but it is a monumental experience that opened your eyes to what?  Love?  Adventure?  Commitment?  Overcoming?  Whatever it is, and you probably haven’t written this scene, start digging to get it done.

5)     I kept my baggage out of my book.  This doesn’t mean I’m not revealing or even vulnerable, but I tried to focused every story on strength, overcoming and self-discovery.  No preaching and no gossiping.  I spoke very kindly of my loved ones, because I love so many of the people who make their way into my book.  I made a point to not reference “You.” Or make generalizations about what most people might think or do.  Everything I wrote about was written from the “I.”

6)     Pray like the dickens.  God has asked us to journal, to keep a family history, etc.  Although writing a memoir is not the same as writing in your journal, please know Heavenly Father will help you ( But you already know this.)

7)     If you don’t think you can write about a certain scene, write it anyway.  If it’s something embarrassing, revealing, shocking, emotional, write it generally.  Think of scenes you’ve read in other books like the scene in Wild when Cheryl had to shot her mother’s horse or when Elizabeth Smart wrote about her rape in My Story.  When I wrote Starving Girl, I imagined everyone close to me reading it.  I had to remind myself most of the people I know won’t even read my memoir.  I had to write the story for me and there were certain necessary scenes I had to make fit.  Second of all, your story is intended for a bigger audience.  Be silly, don’t take yourself too seriously.  Write it for your own sake and decide later if you have the courage to include it in your memoir.  For me, in the writing I found the courage to overcome.  

8)     Write and then, we-write.  Edit, write and re-write.  Write, put it away, work on another scene, then go back and read your previous work.  Rinse and repeat, ok, don’t rinse.

9)     Keep a log of ideas.  I would be out on a walk or folding laundry, and an idea would come to mind.  You don’t want to lose any of this.  I would speak into my phone and email my ideas to my computer.  Don’t think, “Oh, I’ll remember it later.”  This is a trap.  Take your ideas seriously.  Invest in yourself.

10) Listen to motivational talks.  Be inspired.  Read memoirs.  Listen to audio books.  Study your favorite authors.  Research their lives.  When people ask “What do you do?”  reply, “I’m an author.”  Start looking at yourself differently. 

11) Ask yourself, “What is it I want to say?”  What do you wish was out their in literature?  Have you found it?  Write the book you’d want to read.  Say the things you’d want to hear.  Be the voice.  Be strong in your convictions (without preaching). 

12) Do not seclude your audience by clinging to certain religious or cultural differences.  Be more general with these ideas, as they might turn certain readers off. 

13) Keep the flow.  Once a story ends, end it.  Do not analyze things to death.  Allow the reader to fill in some of the gaps.  Don’t write, “My husband is the best.”  Instead, write about a time he proved he was the best.  Show, don’t tell.

14) Allow us into your mind.  Let us hear the pros and cons.  Let us hear your inner battle, the courtroom drama, etc.  The inner growth and struggle is a key part of the story.

15) If you have written on your blog or kept a journal, many of your stories are already in their first–draft format.  If possible, use some of your past writings to propel you forward and think, “I’m so glad I kept this stuff written down.”

Remember, every rule can be broken if necessary to share your story.  So, there you have it.  Writing your own memoir is a thrilling, rewarding journey that I think more women should experience.  Your life story has real villains and heroes, adventures to unknown destinations and gripping accounts of overcoming.  Email me at mydeartrash@gmail.com if you have any questions.  Happy Writing.

Find it on Amazon and Kindle.

Find my book trailer on youtube by clicking here.

Find The Memory Catcher here.


Book trailer here.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

30 Days of Kindness to My Husband And More

I wrote my memoir Starving Girl in 30 days.  I didn’t think it could be done, after all, I’d spent years and years writing my other books, many of which were still unfinished.  What was different about Starving Girl?  I created an exciting dramatic experience in my own life and the story line followed.  

The bottom line was I needed a challenge, presented in my day-to-day living.  Something big enough to inspire me into a new exciting reality.  With that in mind, I started on my next 30-day challenge.  Why 30 days?  Because 30 days is a good base number to form a new habit. (Read here for more ideas about that). 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband was born. 


Like my first 30 days of fasting, 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband was thrilling, but the story behind it was more subtle than 30 days of fasting.  It started first with intention and in a beautiful dance of will, my actions followed.  From day one, I say my husband Derek different.  He was my focus and like a flame in the darkness, I became more aware of his presence.  My every day actions became more narrowed on him.  Before, I’d rush through conversations, a sort of “Get to the point,” perspective.  After all, I’m a busy girl and if I allowed it, our dialogue could be all business:  What are the kid’s schedules?  Who’s picking which kid up where?  Did you call the plumber?  Did you see where I put my shoes?  A marriage should not be a business partnership, even if only for moments at a time.

My husband is such a gift.  In a world full of ill intended, even arrogant men, he is a serving, loving, adorable gem.  I didn’t mean to take him for granted, but I did.  So how did writing keep me on task to change my habits?

It started with my wedding photos.  I pulled out my wedding album and randomly started looking at us.  This was going to be fun.







During my 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband, I found clues everywhere suggesting I could do better as a wife and kept mental notes.  So many aspects of me had slipped, including my patience.  Quick wit could be one of my literal gifts, but over the years it had turned into unintended insults and my tongue snapped like fingers at a jazz concert.  I didn’t mean to be so opinionated, but wasn’t it obvious I knew better.  Small tasks like driving turned into me offering suggestions and pointing out discrepancies.  Just wanting to help was an unnecessary evil.  If I had not set my goal to put kindness first, I’m not sure I would have noticed Derek’s larger-the-life patience, his awareness of my needs, the children’s needs and the purposeful way he provides for our family.    



            I started to see the story everywhere because Derek and I were the story.  His voice became more pronounced and I noticed his deep tones.  One night, when he reached for my hand, I actually had butterflies in my stomach and it reminded me of the romance we’d experience while dating.  I started sending him texts like “I love you” and “Hurry home.”  Always full of compliments, Derek would tell me I’m beautiful and I actually started listening to him.  His words meant something and if he spoke it, I respected him.  After a week of this, I finally felt the pure joy of his compliments.  The words “You’re beautiful,” entered my mind with such love, I could feel my perspective shift.  I was becoming how he saw me.  

With little effort, but a great big thing called intention, I had changed so much.  I loved who I’d become.  My need to be heard and be right all the time had gone away.  In its place was more trust, patience and love. I was surrounded by goodness and practically tripping over my blessings.  Derek’s love for me was life-changing and it was about time I took notice.

The last weekend of the 30-day challenge, Derek was out of town and I missed him terribly.  I thought of those who have long-distance relationships or couples who live apart because of military service.  How did they do it?  Like while fasting, I kept myself busy with the baby and household projects.  That night, I put the baby on my bed to change him into his pajamas when I noticed it – a yellow rose on my pillow.  My story unfolded again and the depth of love in my life was almost more than I could handle.  Derek’s presence was everywhere and I took this beautiful symbol of love to heart.  I would never go back to who I was before the 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband.  Kindness was the gift that kept giving.  How was I going to keep up with all the love coming back to me?  Now that was a challenge I could handle. 

The last day of the 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband, I did something I hadn’t expected.  I said to Derek, “I’m sorry.”  With tears in my eyes, I asked for his forgiveness.  Like a giant teddy bear, he wrapped me up in his arms and told me that was unnecessary.  He didn’t need me to apologize.  I was his perfect wife and he saw me for all the good I was.  Even still, I needed to say it and now, I’m on a new, fresh path in my relationship with my man.  



Now, in this world of girl-power and modern-day feminism, I’m sure somebody could read about my experience and deem me subservient and passive, but let me assure you this is not the case.  Girl power is wonderful, but not when used to dominate.  Feminism is important, but there is still a certain grace we as women carry that needs to be accentuated, not squandered. 

For the last ten years, Derek has taken me on a date almost every weekend.

The truth is, being a writer I've create worlds and stories in my mind, but living out these experiences, even these challenges is something I’m just now realizing I can be doing all the time.  I have loved the new windows of exploration, the journaling and watching the story unfold.  My next 30-day challenge, 30 Days of Service Toward My Children.  During Christmas time, this is going to be uniquely special.  I can hardly wait to get started.   Who’s with me?  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Where Would I Be If Others Would Not Have Risen

10 ½ months of intermittent fasting, and my life is totally different than it was before.  


Dancing with my nieces at my nephew's wedding.

Three distinct things have changed:

1) I have learned to live in the present.  It’s not a perfect science and there are times I still struggle with procrastination or rush, but if I stray, I recognize it and through gratitude (and sometimes hunger), can bring myself back.  I think of others more.  I have fought the good fight and the pressure to feel sorrow for myself or to think I can’t do something difficult has diminished tremendously.  

2) My inner-voice speaks to me with love and patience. Again, not a perfect science, but no longer do I have a negative inner-dialogue.  It’s as if my soul and physical self are finally in alignment. Yeah, they love me!!  I love me!

3)  Food has fallen down the list of priorities and I’m eating for my physical health, not for my emotional needs.  If it wasn’t for intermittent fasting and prayer, I would still be stuck in a mind and body that was doing its best, but most days found ways to sabotage my success. I’ve recognized food addiction and negative body image and because of prayer, could tackle these huge obstacles with success.  Because of this, I've lost weight.

A key component to my experience has been the words and testimonies of others.  I’ve read the scriptures, talks by my church leaders and personal experience from those who’ve over come all sorts of obstacles.  Between my daily runs/walks and time in the car, I have met some amazing friends through YouTube and other audio sources including authors, motivational speakers, spiritual leaders and entrepreneurs.

So meaningful have these relationships become, so necessary where they to lift me up, so essential to my own personal growth and well-being, I had to finally ask: where would I be if others would not have risen?  What if Oprah Winfrey would have decided, “You know what, it’s just too hard.”  What if Corrie ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place would have thought, “My story isn’t that important.  Who am I to think I can write?”  What about Elizabeth Gilbert?  Had she blocked her creative energy I would have never been able to listen to the incredible Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear.   And Brene Brown, her ability to see how shame and vulnerability co-exist to make us stronger.   Tig Notaro, an incredibly talented comediam, Ann Lamott and her memoir Bird by Bird, and Mary Karr and her book called The Art of Writing Memoir.  Cheryl Strayed wrote her story Wild almost 20 years after she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  What if all these talented people would have given up or not even tried?  My mom has been most influential as well as my author friends.  I had the opportunity to meet Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight and I could have cried.  



Actually, I did cry when she walked out on stage.  Her creativity ability is so inspiring and I’ve listened to her interviews as well.  Mother Teresa, Lila Rose, Martin Luther King, Abby Johnson, Reggie Littlejohn, various people who spoke on TED talks on and on these beautiful people, and others, rose to their creative challenge and came alive. If not for them, I would not have healed.  I needed constant companionship along this journey through stories, personal experiences, music, art work and motivational talks.  Thank you.

If you have something to say, say it.  Be brave.  Share your truth.  Come forward.  Take a stand.  Be more than you ever thought possible.  Take risks.  Be vulnerable because I need it.  I need to hear more, be inspired every day, learn and grow from you.  I love stories.  I need stories.  I need you.

I hope my memoir Starving Girl helps others.  

Availabe on Amazon and Kindle.

I know it’s helped me.  Fasting pushed me out of my comfort zone and onto a path of fulfilling my life’s dreams.  

Find it on youtube by clicking here.

I could not have down it without the help of others, many I may never have the chance to thank personally. 



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Loving My Baby Is My Perfect Expression

I know I’m not the only one who sometimes needs someone to hold on to.  Having my baby Canyon in my arms, rocking him to sleep, playing, giggling, comforting him when he’s hurt, all these experiences literally change me physically.  I can feel it.  A part of me grows and stretches yet also feels secure, validated and incredibly loved. 

Sometimes I feel expressions of joy and gratitude to such an extent that I actually need a baby to kiss.  There is this desire to express myself through loving and taking care of him.  Mothering him is my expression.  His perfect head has received too many kisses to count.  His little body, the way he wraps it around my hips when I jolt out the door, how he fits so perfectly into my arms like a jockey ridding a rickety horse, I just love every minute of it. 

He has started kissing me and those kisses are full of drool, but also an innocent passion.  He loves me without words, only through actions.  He kisses me with eyes wide open, his little pouty breath warming my cheeks and we lock lips.  I tend to be a worrier, a bit scatter-brained, overly optimistic, have high expectations of myself, am task minded and on and on.  This little baby makes me be present, grateful and focused on giant moments of split-second heart-warming experiences. 

He’s a baby.  My baby.  I paid such a price for him.  At first, I didn’t think I could take on such a task of another baby, and here’s what I have to say to anyone considering an abortion, please hang on.  I promise, with all the complications and personal obstacles, with all the work and uncertainty, to get one of those kisses from my baby I paid such a high price for, it is worth it.  Even as he sleeps, I watch and wait, ready for more of everything he has to offer.  From his articulate baby babble to the primal way he needs me, if my arms were empty I would be searching my entire life to fill them with something meaningful.  A baby is impossible to replace.

Don’t let the world tell you anything is more important than your baby.  I’ve had more help with this baby than any of my other children.  People step up.  I could never do it alone.  I have teenagers and a baby and everything between. Raising teenagers while raising a baby is like steering a ship while piloting a plane, but each child plays a critical, perfect role in our family.






My husband and my kids are the number one reason this baby is so happy and well-adjusted.  They are constantly reaching out to him.  Each has there own “special”games, songs and experiences.  I could never provide the education, life lessons and personal development to my older kids the way this baby does.  


He’s our family’s peacemaker.  We all strive to be better and do more because of him.


From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I wondered what type of child I would have, how I would learn and grow from such a life-changing experience.  At times, I was discouraged and didn't see how it would all work out.  I’ve read, re-read and loved Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  If you have not read these books, you need to.  They are so rich with enormous wisdom and highly entertaining.  I have been listening to their on-line lectures and a theme I’m finding is in order to grow, you have to get out of your comfort zone.

I can’t travel to Italy, India and Indonesia.  I can’t hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  Little did I know having Canyon would be my 1,200 mile hike and my year-long international travel.   Canyon would push me out of my comfort zone.



My baby is my Mt. Everest, with all the training, dreams, set-backs, visions, occasional oxygen mask and life-changing accomplishment that comes with it.  At the peak, he is my beautiful view of the world of the world, my breath-taking scenery and the wind blowing through my hair.  He is my PhD, my higher education and confirmed thesis. 

The world tries to convince women they can only do one or the other. Since I’ve had this baby, I’ve written a memoir, taken charge of my health, gone cliff-jumping, signed up for comedy/improv classes and more.  I did not have to choose between my baby and other experiences life has to offer.  I can do both.

A baby is worth it.  A living, breathing, one-of-a-kind baby is more dynamic and diverse than any experience the world has to offer.  My baby makes me better.  My baby is my beautiful teacher.  My baby smiles and I have seen heaven.  When we dance, when we cuddle, when he toddles towards me with an open picture book I feel a love that expands the cells in my body.  Breathing reminds me I’m having a physical experience, but the love I feel insists the experience is much, much bigger.  


Click here to see it on youtube.


Click here to see it you youtube.






Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Finally Here - Jester Z Improv Night

Tuesday, November 8 will be a good day to laugh. 
I've learned how to be more spontaneous, lighten up and think outside the box.  
Thank you Jester Z, it's been so much fun.


Tomorrow's the big day. Tuesday, November 8th will go down in history as the day I did my first stand-up comedy act. I know, I know, nothing else is going on, so come to my FREE event at Jester Z. 7:00pm. No excuses.

Jester Z is located at Mesa Riverview, 1061 N Dobson Rd #114, Mesa, AZ 85201 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Day I Wore A Belt

When we were in Flagstaff this summer, I did something I never thought I’d do again.  I wore a belt. 


The “belt-wearing experience” was one of the many celebrations I’ve had on my journey of intermittent fasting.  It’s symbolic of a much greater blessing. 

In my book Starving Girl – my 30-day experience with the miracle of intermittent fasting and prayer, I write about the moment I realized my belly fat was taking over my life. 



My baby was about six months old and I was in the place where I could still make excuses to myself.  Yes, I was unhappy, unhealthy and living in denial, but I’d just had a baby.  Deep down, I knew there was nothing I could or would ever do about my belly fat.  Nothing in my closet fit, except if it was stretchy.  I sang praises to the yoga waistband, the clothing that made me feel like I was going to work out at any minute, even if I didn’t. 

It was during this time I had an encounter with my belly fat.  It was heartbreaking to realize how out of control I was.  It’s no surprise this experience started at Goodwill.  I wrote: 

At Goodwill, I walked over to the jeans rack.  With high hopes, I scanned through the jeans.  I was looking for specific qualities.  The jeans had to be stretchy, low rise and fabulously trendy.  I found three pair that looked like they should fit, and purchased them.  Later that night when everyone had gone to bed, I went into the bathroom and tried on the jeans.  In the mirror I stared, horrified the first pair didn’t even fit over my hips.  It was like my stomach and rear end were having a battle of the bulge contest.  Sure, I was aware my stomach had issues but my backside too?  Ok, I could handle this.  Sometimes sizes ran small, and I convinced myself this was the problem.  I tried on the second pair and wiggled, stretching and pulling, until they barely moved past my hips.  The button and buttonhole were nearly a foot apart.  I thought of the construction equipment that dug up and rebuilt roads.  It would take the chains and hook of such equipment to bring the zipper and button together.  Another hit and miss, but the last pair, the biggest pair I’d found, had the best stretch in the fabric. I pulled the tight material up my thighs.  I sucked in air and postured my body straight and stiff, pulling at the zipper as it reluctantly inched up.  Although I felt my back jar out of alignment, I continued.  I was going to win this battle or lose my mind.  The button dug into my thumb and forefinger as I manipulated it into the buttonhole. I’d done it.  The jeans fit.  Never mind the enormous fat and skin from my belly that hung over the jeans like an udder from under a cow’s belly.  With the jeans forcing my belly fat “up and out,” I lifted it with my hands, amazed it moved, pliable like stretched taffy.  My belly fat—why was it there?  Why did it need to be there?  How had I acquired it?  Should I name it?  Was it always going to be there?  Every other part of my body had purpose, but the belly fat had absolutely no purpose.  Yet there it sat, overflowing out of my hands like an Italian chef kneading pizza dough.  How many shabby chic dressers would I need to sell to pay for a tummy tuck?  Out of my peripheral vision, my rear end waved. “What about me?” it seemed to say.      
These were the three jeans that had been taunting me ever since.  Of course I’d never worn them, and I was too unorganized to take them back to Goodwill, but it was more than that.  I wasn’t going to let them win.  I had not known how or when, but the jeans were going down, so I’d kept them.   

I’m happy to say after just a couple of weeks of intermittent fasting, all the jeans from this horrible experience fit. After three months of intermittent fasting, the same jeans (and many more) were donated to the thrift store because they were too big. 

Donated jeans.

Going through my closet, giving away clothes that don't fit anymore.

Now, every time I wear a belt, I feel an enormous amount of gratitude.  


Well, there's that belt again!

My journey with intermittent fasting is far from over. but this small victory means my belly fat didn't win.


Here's my before and after picture of my journey, so far.